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How We Live: Dry Land (remastered)

There's a distinct possibility that had a certain Steve Hogarth not gone on to spend (and continues to do so) over 25 years as the voice of Marillion, we wouldn't even be talking about How We Live; Dry Land an album that has long proved elusive in the collection of Marillion fanatics.

Having released two albums together in the band The Europeans, Hogarth and guitarist Colin Woore decided to stay together as their band folded. The result was Jump The Gun, or it would have been had a late change of mind (and one which nearly cost them their newly won CBS record deal) not found the pair deciding on How We Live for their name instead. With the addition of sax man Andrew Milnes, bassist Taif and drummer George Jackson (although Manny Ellis appears on two tracks), the band's one and only album, Dry Land, emerged in 1987. For what has long been a footnote in another band's history, it's a bit of a revelation.

Unsurprisingly given when it was recorded, Dry Land is a clean, sharp, clinical slice of intelligent pop music that houses some progressive foundations. The likes of "All The Time In The World" rather bizarrely hits like a Duran Duran meets Rush hybrid as its sharp, yet memorable guitars strike hard, while "Working Town" is a much more heartfelt lament to the many dying, working class areas of the era. "A Beat In The Heart" takes another change of tack however, nodding as it does at the grown up pop of Hue And Cry. Woore proves a wonderful, succinct guitarist, little waste or flash in evidence; instead a deep feel for the song drives his work, while the sax contribution from Milnes is an unexpected boon throughout. The song however that many people will already know in this set is "Dry Land" itself, Hogarth re-recording a reasonably faithful reworking with Marillion for their Holidays In Eden album. Here, the original, adorned by a string quartet, feels a little more stark and spartan, but in truth, the more famous version doesn't stray too far from this blueprint. Here and across the album Hogarth's voice is instantly recognisable as the singer from his early Marillion work, although there's no denying it's more apparent here how his voice has evolved over the years than it is on the more familiar Marilli-fare he'd go on to soon record.

Interestingly it's also easy to hear exactly how Hogarth's future introduction to his Marillion band mates undoubtedly influenced what they would go on to do together, his famous sense of melody and atmosphere already in evidence here. While bonus track (and b' side) "English Summer" and its steel drums actually reminds of what would come for Marillion on the long controversial This Strange Engine track, "Hope For The Future" (the second bonus cut an interesting 12" mix of "All The Time In The World"). If there's one slight disappointment it's that the two bonus tracks, "You Don't Need Anyone" and "Simon's Car", that featured on the 2000 Racket Records (Marillion's own label) reissue of this album, don't find a place here. Especially when the latter is long considered the precursor to the Marillion track "Cover My Eyes (Pain And Heaven)". Although the excellent liner notes featuring Woore, Hogarth and many others make up for that somewhat.

Unfortunately the Dry Land album never did spawn the hit single record label CBS were demanding from the band. Ultimately meaning the writing was on the wall and with no financial backing, How We Live split. Woore would go on to work with Joan Armatrading, while Hogarth was saved from a life delivering milk when Marillion picked up on his vocal performance on this album's "Games In Germany". As the say, the rest is history, but as proved here, what came before the history could have, with a fair wind, been pretty historic in its own right.


Track Listing
1. WORKING GIRL
2. ALL THE TIME IN THE WORLD
3. DRY LAND
4. GAMES IN GERMANY
5. INDIA
6. THE RAINBOW ROOM
7. LOST AT SEA
8. IN THE CITY
9. WORKING TOWN
10. A BEAT IN THE HEART
BONUS TRACKS
11. ENGLISH SUMMER (B-SIDE OF 12-INCH SINGLE)
12. ALL THE TIME IN THE WORLD (12" SINGLE MIX) (A-SIDE OF 12-INCH SINGLE)

Added: September 5th 2016
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Score:
Related Link: How We Live at Cherry Red
Hits: 1429
Language: english

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