Certain bands can take you right back to the place you first heard them weather its Pulp with Lip-gloss or Are You Blue Or Are You Blind by The Bluetones, there are bands who can take you right back there. The band I’m talking about today are one of these and it’s track eight on their debut album that takes me straight back to 1995. I was 17, I was wearing a Sleeper T-shirt and I was standing in the middle of a record shop in Torquay in South Devon when I first heard the single, and boy did it sound fantastic.
I would like to introduce……. Marion
The classic Rough Trade Records would release the band’s debut single Violent men which would gain them their first fan base before moving on to sign for London records right at the beginning of the Britpop explosion in the latter part of 1994. In their second single Sleep we find the band releasing quite possibly best single from their forthcoming debut album and possibly the first Britpop single using a harmonica! The single storms along with the blast of pure harmonica and a guitar riff hiding behind it ready to pounce and punch you right between the eyes. The song sounded like no other in 1995 with its self-importance strut, Distortion overlays and lead singer Jamie’s Perfect vocal.
Now we come to what I believe is Marion’s greatest glory, they went and released the single Toys For Boy’s and with it a single cover that would dress my bedroom wall. The song begins with an opening riff that sounded like nothing else at the time and when the drums kick in you know they mean business and let’s be honest this is want Marion was all about for me. I always thought Marion were a cross between Gene and These Animal Men after a heavy session of speed! Marion were at the top of their game and with their quite brilliant performance of I Stopped Dancing on the BBC’s Britpop Now television program they were gaining quite a fan base. With the release of the singles Lets All Go Together and Time the band would release their debut album This World And Body to critical acclaim and one of my all-time favourite albums from the period. Their debut album is one of only a handful of album I’m my collection I would have given my right arm to have had written. The whole album is chock full of sweaty speed freaked sing-alongs with one of the best vocalists from the Britpop generation.
So we waited two years for another glimpse of what the band would come up with next and they would go on to release the single Miyako Hideaway. Sounding like a completely different band altogether but also sounding like the Marion we knew and loved. With their second album The Program they seemed to have a slight groove going on and the opening track is a belter. A song that I would imagine Rick Witter from Shed Seven would love to shake his Maracas to whilst swinging his hips. The opening track The Smile is one hell of an opening track and quite ballsy not just to change their sound but to place it at track one.
I’ll be honest now, I hate the last 95% of all the write ups that I do for this blog because most end the same way. Yep 1997 happened and Marion’s second album was released in March 1998 and despite being made up of songs that reflected a band going through change and diversifying their sound the album didn’t even chart in the UK. They disbanded a year later and Marion as a band were no more. Lead singer Jamie Harding was recording music but nothing was released whilst the most of the other band members were involved in the music industry in some sort of way.
Until 2006 when Jamie and guitarist Phil Cunningham started working together and started write new material for a possible new band. A one off show was planned to debut new songs and old material from the Marion back catalogue and they decided to keep the bands original name. The band played several more shows and each time the shows sold out to bigger crowds. But this crazy thing called life keeps getting in the way of Marion’s success and the band hit problems including their new bassists Che breaking his neck and Jamie being admitted to hospital needing open-heart surgery due to a blood condition. Fast-forward to 2001 and with a shuffle around of members I’m pleased to announce that the original line up has reformed and started to play again. The Marion website has not been updated since 2012 but Jamie has been hosting an Indie night in Manchester and quite regularly updates his official Facebook account.
So do yourself a favour and go hunt down eventing Marion. You’ll find a British band with one of the most distinctive singers from the 90s being backed up by a band who played with such passion and enthusiasm. The energy that the band portrayed weather in the studio or playing live (One of the greatest bands to play at the Phoenix festival in 1996) shone through every note sung, every string plucked and every drum skin hit.
Not just another British band but a band who helped put Britain on the musical map of the world and showed how it should be done.