H - Ice Cream Genius

Year of Release: 1997
Label: Castle Communications
Catalog Number: WEN CD 016
Format: CD
Total Time: 47:46:00

In the beginning of '96 Marillion decided to take a break as a band and concentrate on various solo outings, the kind of things that had been postponed year after year in favour of yet another album and/or world tour. Steve Rothery released his Wishing Tree project, Ian Mosley and Pete Trewavas teamed up with ex-Arrakeen guitarist Sylvain Gouvernaire to record the Iris project, whilst Mark Kelly did the odd production.

Now comes H; for the admiring women worldwide, better known as Steve Hogarth. Starting out as the driving force behind the band A&M simply couldn't sell - The Europeans - Hogarth has been Fish's replacement since '89. Since then he's had a hard time being accepted by Marillion fans, but with the release of each succeeding Marillion studio album, he has proved to be an outstanding singer, and above all a very creative force within the band.

It has to be said though that there are certain things you simply can't do within the structure of a band that is still firmly rooted in the "progressive rock" tradition. Whilst his unique timbre will always be associated with Marillion, Hogarth has managed to write material which comes closer to Talk Talk and Japan than "Market Square Heroes."

So there is indeed a spot of experimentation to be found although the complete result comes down to a very warm and semi-commercial album, including the kind of material that could easily find it's way to MTV. "You Dinosaur Thing" is one of those smart moves what with those eastern patterns on top of this tight rock rhythm. Hogarth must have thought: "If it worked for Led Zeppelin then why not for me?"

The experimental side of Steve again pops up in "The Deep Water." Here his voice sounds so thin it almost flies away on the sound of the string section before this calm is rudely interrupted with some African-like percussive sounds from the rhythm composer. Both a weird structure and strange sounds form the backbone of "Cage," which is a song you'd rather associate with the likes of XTC than with Steve Hogarth. Strange I should say this as Steve is helped out by David Gregory on guitar, yep the same Gregory as in ... XTC!

On Ice Cream Genius Hogarth is backed by some of the world's finest musicians such as ex-Japan and now Porcupine Tree man Richard Barbieri, Blondie drummer Clem Burke, and bassist Chucho Merchan, who previously worked with Eurythmics and Pete Townshend. There's even more of Japan thrown in with the inclusion of Steve Jansen. The icing on the cake comes in the form of producer Craig Leon who is sort of a weird choice if you know that he produced the Ramones' first album!? It's probably the fact that Leon also produced four Fall albums (is that the reason to title one of your songs "Until You Fall"?) that gave him enough credit to do this album.

Would you believe there's even a horn section on this album? Ok, their sound isn't mixed in the Phil Collins tradition, but it works alright for some of the songs. The uptempo songs stand shoulder to shoulder with the ballads. Of the latter selection I have to admit to like "Better Dreams" best with it's splendid classical arrangement and the soft narrative singing of Hogarth. In the closing "Nothing To Declare" one can, again, hear some eastern influences in the distance whilst Steve sings this song in the best tradition to an absolute climax and a treat to end this spectacular record.

With this album Steve Hogarth has proved to us that what is bred in the "cone" will come out in the flesh!

The Evening Shadows (4:27) / Really Like (5:20) / You Dinosaur Thing (5:03) / The Deep Water (8:01) / Cage (7:02) / Until You Fall (3:58) / Better Dreams (7:23) / Nothing To Declare (6:32)

H - Vocals, Piano, Samples, and Machines
Dave Gregory - Guitars
Richard Barbieri - Synthesizers
Clem Burke - Drums
Chucho Merchan - Basses
Luis Jardim - Percussion
Steve Jansen - Percussion
Stuart Gordon - Strings
Craig Leon - 12 String Cloud [?] on #6
Eddie Tan-tan Thornton - Trumpet
Brian Edwards - Saxophone
Trevor Edwards - Trombone
Cassel Webb and Stuart Epps - Backing Vocals
Tim Wheater - Flute

Ice Cream Genius (1997)
Cage (tour ep)
Live Spirit : Live Body (2002)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin UK

Added: April 1st 2000
Reviewer: John "Bobo" Bollenberg

Artist website: www.stevehogarth.com
Hits: 825
Language: english


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