Fugazi, the second album from veteran prog rock band Marillion, was always going to be a difficult serving in the group’s bookset reissue campaign. Not that it is a bad album – far from it – but it isn’t a friendly album. Off the bat, the title, much like “FUBAR” and “SNAFU,” is a sanitization of “f***ed up.” The art shows the band’s mascot, the jester, flopped in bed while his surroundings warp in sinister ways, as pertains to various songs on the album. The written accounts of this era speak to cocaine nights and first singer Fish tripping on acid, attempting to reach prog nirvana.
Behind the scenes, the band was having difficulty locking in a drummer, eventually coming to Ian Mosley, who has been behind their kit ever since. The dreaded sophomore release already packs certain pressures in the minds of listeners. The cliche holds true: you have years to write your first album, but only months to write your second. Add to that a final product with problematic production, thin and sonically brittle.
This bookset, the last one chronicling Fish’s time with Marillion, does a good job in addressing what it can. Aesthetically, the bookset form is an elegant way to sum up an album’s wide footprint. It offers a significantly sized brick of text to put the record in context, adds art and photos, extra CDs and video discs, and wraps it all in Mark Wilkinson’s skilled yet unnerving painted artwork. Crucially, the album itself has been addressed, offering the best audio version this release has yet seen.
But a lot of what made Fugazi thorny was Fugazi itself. It sounded like an angry, agitated, kind of paranoid set of songs, and remastering can only shape that into its most optimal version of itself. I suspect the band, along with Parlophone Records, understood this outright, which is why this second record follows after Script For A Jester’s Tear, Misplaced Childhood, and Clutching At Straws. In some sense, this is for the fans because it would be a hard sell to a new listener.
That said, I recommend it highly to said fans. It is a release that had issues from the very start, but all involved have done a stellar job in celebrating what was there, without leaving listeners to grouse about what wasn’t.