Portrait 1987 / Esoteric 2016
Fruitful promise unfulfilled: future prog figure’s first shot at big time that never came.
Today, Steve Hogarth’s name is synonymous with MARILLION, but it would be futile to look for art rock on the only album by the band the singer emerged from; rather, this group were a continuation of new wave that he and guitarist Colin Woore had tried to achieve with THE EUROPEANS before that. The vista of “Dry Land” – whose soulful title track h revisited in his most famous position – is much warmer and naturally textured, though, the joyous “All The Time In The World” keeping the moment in motorik groove, where funky six-string chords bounce off sax-sent shards
Steve’s slightly strained vocals may stifle a song’s space somehow, yet “Working Girl” builds a romantic suspense whose pellucid buzz extends to the very end – via silky reflection of “India” and velvet rumination of “Lost At Sea” – to impressively display Hogarth’s voice and Woore’s instrumental caress. There’s a touch of concept in there, as a dewy-eyed “Working Town” is linked to both the aforementioned opener and “In The City” with its anxious reggae ripple, but it’s in “A Beat In The Heart” that all the strains of the band’s DNA come together – with a sweet ’80s nostalgie now. Single cuts, bonuses on this reissue, only increase such an emotion, leaving no regret about the group not making it: what they left is a delicious, pearl-shaped time capsule.