This Strange Engine
Released: April 21, 1997
Peak: -- US, 27 UK, -- CN, -- AU
Sales (in millions): --
Genre: neo-progressive rock
Song Title [time] (date of single release) Click for codes to singles charts.
Lyrics by Steve Hogarth and John Helmer; music by Marillion (Hogarth/ Kelly/ Mosley/ Rothery/ Trewavas).
Total Running Time: 56:06
3.210 out of 5.00 (average of 21 ratings)
Awards: (Click on award to learn more).
About the Album:
“If any self-respecting Marillion fans could have looked into a crystal ball back in the mid-'80s (at the the band's pinnacle) to see where the band's path was headed, most would likely have been shocked and amazed to see how it all turned out. If the Fish-led incarnation steered the band down an often dramatic path of intricate, ambitious material, Marillion's new boy, Steve Hogarth, slowly beat it out of them – but not necessarily in a bad way.” JF “Marillion…toes the line between various genres, from top 40 to progressive rock…While this is a disadvantage from a marketing perspective, it does help if you're looking for music that is out of the ordinary. After 15 years, the band is still going strong, while keeping their sound fresh and innovative.” RS
“This Strange Engine features the Mach II Marillion lineup in all its commercial glory.” JF On “their most accessible, well-rounded and plainly enjoyable work since 1991's Holidays in Eden,” LS the band “balances the band's strengths with their propensity to seek new directions.” JT It “combines everything that one associates with Marillion (complex arrangements and deep lyrics), with a few twists and turns here and there (primarily in the form of acoustic guitars). Vocalist Steve Hogarth fits in very well with the subtle guitar work of Steve Rothery and the ambient keyboard of Mark Kelly” RS as well as “Ian Mosley's tight drum sounds.” JF
“Hogarth helms the new, nimbler Marillion with an iron hand, and if occasionally they're still vulnerable to the charge of overindulgence, the deft pop melodies and substantial musicianship demonstrate that everyone recognises where the edge is these days.” RB
“Man of a Thousand Faces has a convincing momentum.” RB “The accoustic, intimate atmosphere…reminds [one] a little of Crowded House, when they're playing live.” EL
That song and “the uber-commercial 80 Days” JF “are tailor made for radio, with their crisp verses and thundering choruses engaging the listener.” JT “'80 Days' and 'Man of a Thousand Faces' show traces of the backbone that has been noticably lacking these last few years.” LS The latter, with its “easy' sound [and] friendly flow,” EL “features perhaps one of the finest Hogarth-led choruses in recent history” JF and is “one of the most insightful homages to the wear and tear of touring.” JT
Two more slices of “primo power pop” RB come in the form of “the quasi-Journey strains of One Fine Day” JF and Accidental Man. The former sports a “wonderful bluesy guitar sound that is…a bit like Eric Clapton's "Wonderful Tonight.’” EL
Estonia is the most powerful song on the album. Its theme makes it a prime candidate to play at a memorial service, which recognizes the seriousness and sadness of the song while also acknowledging that this song has an overwhelming capacity for touching the universal soul.
From the understated Memory of Water come the lines ‘I wonder if my rope's still hanging from the tree/By the standing pool where you where you drank me/And filled me full of thirsty love/And the memory of water.’” JT “Melancholy, sadness, in a quite simple way (soundwise)...beautiful. This one can't do much wrong because of the vioins.” EL
“Hope for the Future jangles through its mad key changes in pleasing Crowded House fashion.” RB This has a “‘come and sit around the fire’-sound…very nice and cosy.” EL
As “the album's sole proggy track,” JF the title song “builds into the kind of swirling prog-rock that hasn't been heard in these parts for years.” LS “Replete with Pink Floyd-style sax solos,” JF it “is a slice of the songwriter's childhood, a magical juxtaposition of wonder and lower middle class struggle. It is clearly a progressive piece, a throwback to Marillion's days with Fish, but it also reminds us how they are still capable of outdoing themselves, and entertaining whoever is lucky enough to be listening.” JT “The guitar work in the title track and ‘Man of a Thousand Faces’ alone make this release worth getting.” RS
Notes: Second versions of "Estonia" and "80 Days" appear on some CDs.
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First posted 3/14/2008; last updated 8/8/2021.