Monday, April 21, 1997

Marillion This Strange Engine released

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.

  1. Man of a Thousand Faces [7:31] (5/16/97, --)
  2. One Fine Day [5:31]
  3. 80 Days [5:00] (9/29/97, --)
  4. Estonia [7:56]
  5. Memory of Water [3:01]
  6. An Accidental Man [6:10]
  7. Hope for the Future [5:10]
  8. This Strange Engine [15:41*]
* Includes about 10 minutes of silence and then a laugh.

Lyrics by Steve Hogarth and John Helmer; music by Marillion (Hogarth/ Kelly/ Mosley/ Rothery/ Trewavas).

Total Running Time: 56:06

The Players:

  • Steve Hogarth (vocals, percussion)
  • Steve Rothery (guitar)
  • Pete Trewavas (bass)
  • Mark Kelly (keyboards)
  • Ian Mosley (drums)


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 DaysJF “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 DayJF 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 3/6/2022.

Marillion’s “Estonia” featured on This Strange Engine



Writer(s): Steve Hogarth (lyrics), Marillion (music) (see lyrics here)

Released: April 21, 1997 (album cut)

Peak: 1 DF

Sales (in millions): --

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 0.52 video, -- streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

What song would you want played at your funeral? My closest friends would guess I’d want something by Marillion, my favorite band – and they’d be right. If pressed to guess which song, however, they’d likely be stumped. The only Marillion tune most would know is “Kayleigh,” the band’s minor album-rock hit from 1985 about regret over a messy breakup. Yes, it’s my favorite song, but it wouldn’t make a lot of sense at a memorial. No, I’d go with a song inspired by the deadliest shipwreck in peace times since the Titanic. ES

It happened in 1994. 852 people were killed when the cruise ferry Estonia sank in the Baltic Sea. ES The only British survivor of the disaster was Paul Barney, SE a documentary film maker. On a flight from Tallin, Estonia, he recounted his story to an interested passenger. He explained how he dozed off on a bench in a restaurant and then fell off it when the ship was leaning at 45 degrees. Barney climbed out a window, got a hold of a life jacket, and escaped the sinking ship. MN

That intrigued audience of one was none other than Steve Hogarth, the lead singer of Marillion. He’d been with the band since the departure of their original singer in 1988. The shoes weren’t easy to fill. With Fish, the former frontman, Marillion became one of the premiere neo-prog acts of the ‘80s, reaching #1 in the UK with their 1985 album Misplaced Childhood. However, the band’s loyal fan base stayed with the group and, in 1997, they recorded their fifth album, This Strange Engine, with Hogarth at the helm, surpassing the total of four albums they’d recorded with Fish.

Hogarth’s conversation with Paul Barney inspired him to write “Estonia.” However, instead of recounting the disaster, he wrote a song more about the loss of loved ones in general. MN The song also muses about the futility of trying to find answers, saying “you might as well talk to the stones and the trees and the sea.” However, Hogarth also proposes the more uplifting message that “No one leaves you when you live in their heart and mind / And no one dies, they just move to the other side.”


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First posted 10/19/2020; last updated 10/31/2022.

Monday, April 7, 1997

Blur released “Song 2”

Song 2


Writer(s): Damon Albarn, Graham Coxon, Alex James, Dave Rowntree (see lyrics here)

Released: April 7, 1997

First Charted: April 12, 1997

Peak: 55 US, 25 AR, 6 MR, 2 UK, 4 AU, 3 DF (Click for codes to charts.)

Sales (in millions): 1.2 UK

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 191.3 video, 722.32 streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

Blur was an English rock band formed in 1988 by singer Damon Albarn, guitarist Graham Coxon, bassist Alex James, and drummer Dave Rowntree. The band became a major player in the Britpop movement of the 1990s. Blur, and Britpop in general, didn’t gain much attention in the United States.

“Song 2” is the “blaring anthem” from Blur that “sounds least like the rest of its Brit-pop catalogue.” CBC It started out as a joke WK thrown together “one murky, hungover day in the studio.” CBC Albarn recorded a slower, acoustic demo with the distinctive “woo-hoo” chorus in whistle form. Coxon suggested they amp up the speed and the volume, accompanied by a deliberately amateurish guitar sound. WK

Alban recorded a guide vocal with nonsense, stream-of-consciousness lyrics. According to producer Stephen Street, the words were “pure babbling” but at his suggestion the lyrics were left alone, considered perfect as they were. SF Between the cryptic lyrics and loud guitars, this was considered a song written as a parody of grunge. SF It has also been said that Blur were mocking radio-friendly songs and the record industry in general. WK

As the second song on the album, it was given the placeholder name of “Song 2,” but it ended up sticking. WK It was the second single released from the band’s fifth, self-titled album. It ran two minutes and two seconds with two verses and two choruses. It peaked at #2 on the UK charts and was ranked #2 on NME magazine’s year-end list of 1997’s singles. WK It has become a popular sports anthem for soccer and hockey.


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First posted 10/13/2021; last updated 8/25/2023.