Market Square Heroes
|"Market Square Heroes"|
|Single by Marillion|
|B-side||"Three Boats Down from the Candy" / "Grendel"|
|Released||25 October 1982 (UK)|
|Format||7", 12", picture disc|
|Recorded||Park Gate Studios, Battle, East Sussex, September/October 1982|
|Length||8:52 (7"), 26:07 (12")|
|Marillion singles chronology|
"Market Square Heroes" is the debut single of neo-progressive rock band Marillion, released in 1982 with "Three Boats Down from the Candy" as the B-side. The 12-inch single included an additional track, the 17:15-minute-long "Grendel", making it an EP in terms of overall length.
The A-side is an anthemic rock song whose lyric vaguely describes the rise of civil unrest under some charismatic leader in the face of increasing unemployment; the original title was "UB 2,000,001". According to Marillion's singer and lyricist Fish, the "market square hero" is a "would-be revolutionary with all the necessary charisma and presence of a leader without direction or goals, just a sense of frustration and anger". The track was the band's "first attempt at deliberately writing a hit record and a 'simple' rock song to juxtapose against our meandering but dynamic 'epics'."
Members of the band have attributed the inspiration behind the main character in the song lyrics to a person they knew in Aylesbury who went by the nickname of 'Brick'. In a 2009 interview, Mark Kelly stated: "I don't know whether Brick was a leftie, a militant or a skinhead but he was the inspiration for the character singing, "I'm a Market Square Hero" Fish made reference to this theme and introduced Brick as a "leftie hero" before he performed the song with his former Marillion bandmates in Aylesbury at the 'Hobble on the Cobbles' concert in 2007. Brick died in 2011.
Musically, "Three Boats Down from the Candy" (the first song co-written by keyboardist Mark Kelly) and "Grendel" are more typical of the progressive rock style. "Grendel" is a long and complex composition that drew frequent (mostly unfavourable) comparisons with "Supper's Ready" by Genesis. As Fish himself admitted later,
"We were concerned about the similarity to the lengthy composition by Genesis called "Supper's Ready" which also meandered and burst into sections, the end one in particular, which would add conviction to the many critics opinions that Marillion were more than influenced by Genesis."
Inspired by John Gardner's novel Grendel, the lyric looks at the Beowulf myth from the perspective of the monster. Neither Marillion nor Fish have ever played the track live after 1983. In spite (or possibly because) of this, it developed into a cult favourite among die-hard fans; it is not uncommon to hear someone in the audience yell "Grendel!" at Marillion's or Fish's concerts even in the late 2000s.
Having categorically refused to play "Grendel" again for almost 30 years, Fish announced in May 2012 that he will be performing "Grendel", as a one-off event, at a fan club convention to be held in Leamington Spa in October that year.
In 2008, on the 25th anniversary of the release of Marillion's debut album, their founder and first drummer Mick Pointer (later with Arena) who had been dismissed from the band after the 1983 tour, formed a band which took that tour's setlist and a detailed recreation of its stage show back on the road as "Script for a Jester's Tour". This band, which makes heavy use of a slightly modified version of Marillion's classic-era logo and is sometimes promoted as "Mick Pointer's Marillion" (despite Pointer being the only former Marillion member in the lineup), continues to play occasional shows which always include "Grendel", "Market Square Heroes" and "Three Boats Down from the Candy".
The record was produced by David Hitchcock, who had incidentally also produced the Genesis album Foxtrot with "Supper's Ready" on it. Hitchcock was also contracted to produce Marillion's upcoming debut album, but was heavily injured in a car accident when he drove home in a state of physical exhaustion after finishing work on the single. EMI used this occasion to convince the band to replace him with Nick Tauber, a more "modern" producer best known for his work with Toyah.
The cover art was designed by Mark Wilkinson, who went on to create all Marillion artwork until 1988 and most of Fish's solo artwork after that. The cover introduced two distinctive visual elements that would identify the band in the years to come: the figure of the "Jester" and the logo, designed by Jo Mirowski.
The radio edit replaces the line "I am your antichrist" with "I am your battle priest". A limited edition (2,500 copies) picture disk of the 12" for "Market Square Heroes" was available through an offer made by The Web, Marillion's fan club.
The single did not enter the upper reaches of the UK singles charts, peaking at no. 60; however, sales remained stable for some time due to people backtracking on the strength of later, more successful releases. The song came fourth in Kerrang! magazine's Singles of the Year 1982.
None of the tracks on this release were included on Marillion's debut album Script for a Jester's Tear, which appeared in early 1983. Re-recorded versions of "Market Square Heroes" and "Three Boats Down from the Candy" would form the B-side to the 1984 single "Punch and Judy". These re-recorded versions would later be included on the 1988 compilation album B'Sides Themselves, along with "Grendel"; "Market Square Heroes" is also on the 1997 compilation The Best of Both Worlds.
The original single versions of "Market Square Heroes" and "Three Boats Down from the Candy" would eventually become available on CD in 1997, when EMI released them on the bonus CD of the remastered Script for a Jester's Tear album. A CD replica of the single was also part of a collectors box-set released in July 2000 which contained Marillion's first twelve singles, and the subsequent facsimile of the collectors box-set, The Singles '82-'88.
The first time that a version of "Market Square Heroes" would become available on an album was on the 1984 live album Real to Reel, although a live version of "Three Boats Down from the Candy", recorded at the 1982 Reading Festival, was included on the "Reading Rock" festival album.
On 26 August 2007, Fish performed "Market Square Heroes" at the Hobble on the Cobbles festival in the market square of Aylesbury, the original "setting" of the song in the town where Marillion was formed. The other members of the band (except singer Steve Hogarth) joined Fish on stage for this song. This surprise one-off reunion was the first occasion the 1984-88 lineup has shared one stage since the split in 1988.
- "Market Square Heroes" – 4:20
- "Three Boats Down from the Candy" – 4:32
- "Market Square Heroes" – 4:20
- "Three Boats Down from the Candy" – 4:32
- "Grendel" – 17:15
- Fish – vocals
- Steve Rothery - guitars
- Mark Kelly - keyboards
- Pete Trewavas - bass
- Mick Pointer - drums
- 2009 Interview with Mark Kelly of Marillion at Aylesbury Friars website
- Hobble on the Cobbles 2007, Market Square Aylesbury. Fish and Marillion perform "Market Square Heroes" at www.buckstv.co.uk
- Announcement of Brick's death on Aylesbury Friars Facebook page, 2 May 2011
- Fish to perform Marillion epic Grendel at convention, access date 2012-07-09
- "Mick is joined by Nick Barrett (Pendragon), Mike Varty (Credo/Landmarq/Shadowland/Janison Edge), Ian Salmon (Arena/Shadowland/Janison Edge) and Brian Cummins (Carpet Crawlers) for some very special shows across Europe. Script for a Jester’s Tour faithfully recreates the energy and drama of the original “Recital of the Script” tour that took the UK by storm in the early ‘80s. Fans can expect to hear the remarkable “Script for a Jesters Tear” album performed in its entirety, together with favourite tracks of the time, such as “Market Square Heroes” and the cult epic “Grendel”." Mick Pointer Marillion - Script for a Jester's Tour, access date 2012-07-09