Islands are Mountain Tops

Michael writes: “‘Islands are Mountain Tops’ (a title taken from a Marillion song called ‘Fantastic Place’) brings us full circle and in one sense – we are, after all, nearing the end of the book – completes a journey. As one gets older one hopes one gets wiser and better able to integrate all aspects of what it means to be a rock fan – the thought-provoking contemplation, the social bonds and the communal revelry, and just the sheer pleasure and entertainment – into a stable, happy and rewarding life. How wonderful if you find a band who enable you to draw the personal and social aspects of your love for music together in a way that not only sits comfortably with your adult life, but helps you rediscover the enthusiasm and idealism of your youth. Rediscovering Marillion in 2004 brought much of that early idealism and enthusiasm for music back into my life. This time, however, I am older and wiser and, I think, better able to recognise the limitations of rock music as a vehicle for social change. ‘Islands are Mountain Tops’ describes some of the joy and “elevation” I’ve experienced recently, through the work of a band on whom I’d once given up. Of course, the journey isn’t really at an end. As long as we draw breath, there is no end point – we go on living and learning, opening ourselves to new experiences and looking to share them with others. “Happiness,” as they say, “is the road.” And the road, as we all know, is long and winding.”

This chapter mainly features the work of Marillion (particularly the Hogarth era, and with a strong focus on recent albums), though it also contains a short general discussion of ‘prog rock’ (past and present) referencing bands such IQ, Twelfth Night, Pallas, Pendragon, Genesis, Pink Floyd, Rush, Dream Theater, Opeth, The Mars Volta, Porcupine Tree and Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci. It includes a section on the fabled ‘Marillion Weekends’, a travelogue and passages on Steve Thorne and The Reasoning.

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