This Strange Engine

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This Strange Engine
Studio album by Marillion
Released March 1997
Recorded August–November 1996 at The Racket Club in Buckinghamshire, England
Genre Neo-progressive rock, soft rock, pop rock
Length 70:49
Label Castle Communications (Europe, US), Pony Canyon (Japan)
Producer Marillion
Marillion chronology
The Best of Both Worlds
(1997)The Best of Both Worlds1997
This Strange Engine
Singles from This Strange Engine
  1. "Man of a Thousand Faces"
    Released: 15 May 1997
  2. "Eighty Days"
    Released: 29 September 1997
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 2.5/5 stars[1] 5/5 stars[2]

This Strange Engine is the ninth studio album by British rock band Marillion, released in 1997.


It is the first of three albums in three consecutive years that Marillion released on a contract with Castle Communications, after being dropped by EMI Records following the relative lack of commercial success of Afraid of Sunlight in 1995; peaking at No. 16, Afraid of Sunlight had been the band's first studio album not to reach the top ten of the UK Albums Chart. Without the promotional efforts of a major label, This Strange Engine continued Marillion's decline in mainstream success; it reached No. 27 on the UK Albums Chart and stayed there for two weeks.[3] The album sold significantly better in the Netherlands, home of one of the band's most loyal audiences, reaching #10.[4]


Most of the tracks are soft rock styled but relatively lengthy compositions.

The first single released from the album was "Man of a Thousand Faces". A music video was also released of this track. The second single from the album was "Eighty Days". Neither single received any mainstream radio airplay. For the first time, no singles from a Marillion album entered the UK Singles Chart.

"Estonia" was written after singer Steve Hogarth met Paul Barney,[5] the only British survivor from the accident where the passenger ferry Estonia sank in the Baltic Sea on 28 September 1994, killing 852 people. This is Marillion's only song to feature a balalaika.

The album concludes with its most epic composition, the title track "This Strange Engine", which is an autobiographical account of singer Steve Hogarth's life.[6]

On the UK version, if you let the last track carry on playing, at approx. 29 minutes and 30 seconds there is a hidden track of Steve Hogarth having a fit of laughing, which brings the length of the title track to just over 30 minutes.

The Japanese release of This Strange Engine (on the Pony Canyon label, released in March 1997) contains the bonus tracks "Beautiful (Acoustic)" and "Made Again (Acoustic)", originally from the albums Afraid of Sunlight and Brave.

A remix version of the album, titled Tales from the Engine Room, was released in January 1998.

The US release of This Strange Engine (on the Velvel label, released in October 1997) contains the bonus tracks "Estonia (Positive Light Remix)", which would also be included on the remix album, and "80 Days (Acoustic)".

Track listing[edit]

All music composed by Marillion.

No. Title Lyrics Length
1. "Man of a Thousand Faces" Steve Hogarth, John Helmer 7:33
2. "One Fine Day" Hogarth, Helmer 5:31
3. "Eighty Days" Hogarth 5:01
4. "Estonia" Hogarth 7:56
5. "Memory of Water" Hogarth, Helmer 3:02
6. "An Accidental Man" Hogarth, Helmer 6:12
7. "Hope for the Future" Hogarth, Helmer 5:10
8. "This Strange Engine" Hogarth 30:24 (actual music 15:33)
Total length: 70:49
Japanese release bonus tracks
No. Title Lyrics Length
9. "Beautiful (Acoustic)" Hogarth 4:50
10. "Made Again (Acoustic)" Helmer 5:15
US release bonus tracks
No. Title Lyrics Length
9. "Estonia (Positive Light Remix)" Hogarth 11:44
10. "80 Days (Acoustic)" Hogarth 4:20


Chart positions[edit]

Year Chart Position
1997 UK Albums Chart 27[3]
German Albums Chart 48[7]
Netherlands Albums Chart 10[4]


  1. ^ Franck, John. "This Strange Engine overwiew". Allmusic. 
  2. ^ Sollow, Stephanie. "This Strange Engine overwiew". 
  3. ^ a b "Marillion chart positions in the UK". The Official Charts Company. 
  4. ^ a b "Marillion chart positions in the Netherlands". MegaCharts. 
  5. ^ SH: I had a chance meeting ... with the only British survivor of the Estonia tragedy,, Retrieved 8 April 2012.
  6. ^ SH: The story of my early life,, Retrieved 8 April 2012.
  7. ^ "Marillion albums chart positions in Germany". Media Control GfK International. 

External links[edit]