'Dutch Progressive Rock Pages'
How We Live - 'Dry Land' - Y2K re-issue
reviewed by Bart Jan van der Vorst
Tracklist: Working Girl (3.58), All The Time In The World (4.47), Dry Land (4.36), Games In Germany (4.31), India (5.04), The Rainbow Room (5.12), Lost At Sea (4.23), In The City (5.33), Working Town (3.45), A Beat In The Heart (4.28), Bonus Tracks: You Don't Need Anyone (4.44), Simon's Car (4.45)
This latest outing in the seemingly endless string of re-releases from the Marillion stable is quite an interesting feat. Before joining Marillion, vocalist Steve Hogarth had played in two other bands: the moderately successful Europeans and the unnoticed How We Live, which was basically a duo of Hogarth and Europeans guitarist Colin Woore.
They managed to sign a record deal with Sony, recorded this very one album, failed to breakthrough and got shown the door while the recordings ended up on some shelf in the Sony archives. For the last decade, after Hogarth had become "that bloke who used to be Fish" (as Hogarth himself jests in the new liner notes of this re-release), this was a very much sought-after item within the Marillion fanbase, a goldmine Sony always failed to recognise and they refused to re-release the album, or to license it back to Hogarth and Woore.
Hogarth himself actually once said in a stage-interview in Germany that anyone who owned or found a copy of the album should bootleg the hell out of it.
But that was 1998 and all of a sudden, two years later, Hogarth did manage to get the rights of the recordings back and re-release the album. And with two bonus tracks, full lyrics (including the bonus tracks) and new "Y2K" liner notes, this is one of the better Racket releases.
The album shows clearly what most fans have long suspected, and what Marillion have always denied: Holidays in Eden was really Steve Hogarth's album, as this is almost a blueprint of Marillion's 1991 album, not in the least case of course for title track Dry Land, which Marillion covered on that album. But other tracks also sound naggingly familiar and songs like India or Playing Games in Germany wouldn't be out of place on Holidays in Eden either.
But more obvious are the two bonus tracks. The first of which, You Don't Need Anyone, has also been tried by Marillion during the recording sessions of Holidays in Eden (and can be found on the second disc of its 1998 remaster), and the second one, Simon's Car, formed the basis of Cover my Eyes.
But more so this album shows where Marillion's drive to copy the styles of popular bands (which was most evident on This Strange Engine, and Radiation) came from, as Dry Land unashamedly (and admitted by Hogarth in the liner notes) borrows from successful eighties' bands like Duran Duran (All the Time in the World), early Simple Minds and Spandau Ballet (The Rainbow Room, A Beat in the Heart), Eurythmics (In the City) and even A-ha (Lost at Sea and Working Town).
But whereas the two mentioned Marillion albums still have to prove how they will stand the test of time, Dry Land in fact sounds remarkably fresh and fun after 13 years of confinement, and you know what? The compositions aren't half as bad as you might expect. If you grew up with the music of the eighties (like yours truly) then this albums just sounds familiar and new at the same time.
In conclusion, this is definitely no prog so if you are not into Marillion then forget about this album. Also, if you are a Marillion fan, but still sobbing for Fish' departure with the band, then this might not be the best buy for you either - however, if you are a fan of Marillion, and think that Holidays in Eden is their best album ever, then this is of course a must-buy for you. In any case, if you appreciate Hogarth's work with the band, and don't mind the occasional fix of eighties' pop rock, then this can be a highly enjoyable addition to your collection.
Conclusion: 7 out of 10.
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