- Music Street Journal
September 30, 1998
- New World Records - "Reviews from Around the Globe"
- The War Against Silence, #147
20 November, 1997
- Review by Carlos J Tavares
- "Striktly For Konnoisseurs" mailinglist
May 26, 1997
- You Dinosaur Thing video review by Lisa Mikita
May 15, 1997
- Q Magazine (Issue 127)
- John "Bo Bo" Bollenberg
- Rumba's (a Finnish rock magazine)
- Tower Records (in-store magazine)
- RockStyle (French magazine)
- Warming-up gig review by Rob Crossland
February 8, 1997
- Review by Paul Rose
February 7, 1997
- Channel 4 Teletext (page 484)
February 6, 1997
- IO Pages (Dutch prog magazine)
- Hitkrant (Dutch magazine)
- Oor (Dutch magazine)
January 24, 1997
Music Street Journal
This solo effort from Marillion front man Steve Hogarth is a very entertaining disc
that covers many musical styles. The music moves from playful to contemplative to
pop to prog with a proficiency and ease that is quite impressive.
"h", as he likes to be called, is joined on this album by Dave Gregory,
Richard Barbieri, Clem Burke, Chucho Merchan and Luis Jardim, along with several
Track by Track Review
The Evening Shadows: A playful texture seems to be lying barely hidden in this
pretty song. The number is about the "animal" within that comes out in
the "evening shadows". "I know he stops me being boring, I think
so anyway, and I don't know if I control him, but I must try to keep him chained."
Really Like: This cut takes on textures of techno, new wave and prog at moments.
Marillion leanings do show through a bit here, but they are minor. "I really
like you, but I wonder what you are really like, Would I dedicate my life, or would
I take a hike, If I knew what you are really like." A few moments of the
composition even have jazzish overtones.
You Dinosaur Thing: Essentially a straightforward rock and roller, this cut features
Beatlesesque overtones and a very intriguing arrangement. You Dinosaur Thing is pop
music at its best.
The Deep Water: Atmospheric tones make up the basic nature of much of this track.
Early on, the song is reminiscent of the title track to Marillion's Seasons End
album, particularly in the vocal performance (but also in tone). A techno beat
joins in after a time, followed by odd sound effects, keys and tribal percussion.
From this point, the cut builds and evolves into unexplored territory.
Cage: A very experimental and alternative texture pervades the early segments of
this cut. A section referring to not feeding the animals seems to pull in sounds
from the first song on the album, and lifts this number up. It alternates between
these two sections, but the end of the song merges the lyrical content of both
with the music of the more upbeat section in a more powerful form to close out
Until You Fall: This is another solid rocker with a poppy chorus. "You don't
know the meaning of a good time, until you fall in love". Until You Fall is
another catchy number that is quite strong.
Better Dreams: Atmospheric and bleak, this song is a showcase of the lyrics that
are a strong commentary on the ills of American culture (LA is used as the example,
but it seems to refer to this culture in general, really). "Can we dream
better dreams than these?" This is a very poignant piece.
Nothing to Declare: A very pretty and sad song, Nothing to Declare is about watching
"a hundred thousand hearts a day, come gliding down... ...through 'nothing
to declare'", but the one who "left me grounded and... ...flew away"
does not return. This song has both contemplative and dramatic tones, and moments
have a Marillionesque feel to them.
The Last Thing: A soulful '60's keyboard sound shows up in the intro to this one.
The piece combines prog, alternative and techno leanings into a very strong
composition that ends a very strong album.
Music Street Journal
September 30, 1998
New World Records - "Reviews from Around the Globe"
Rating: 4 stars
When Fish, front man for U.K. rock sensation Marillion, decided to part company with the
band a few years back, many fans left with him. This was an unfortunate move for them
because Fish's replacement, Steve Hogarth, made the band whole again (even if being whole
meant charting new and different musical territory). Now in 1997, Hogarth has stepped away
from the band temporarily in order to do a little solo work of his own and created "Ice
Hogarth, or "H", as he calls himself for this incarnation is a multifaceted
character. He is both a riveting and tremendously entertaining live performer and a talented,
multifaceted musician. The most striking aspect of "Ice Cream Genius" is the depth
and complexity of the arrangements. H's experimentation with sounds and textures is especially
apparent on "Cage", on which he uses a variety of unusual sampled sounds for the
rhythm track and some refreshingly unusual synth voices for the melody. His toe tapping, pop
sensibility comes through loud and clear on "You Dinosaur Thing" and "Really
As with the string of post-Fish Marillion releases, the real gems on "Ice Cream
Genius" were saved for last. "Better Dreams" is nothing short of genius,
both lyrically and musically. A story depicting a man named Leo whose lives a lie. Nothing
I could say about this song could possibly do it justice. "Better Dreams" is one
of the best songs I have ever heard from H (in any incarnation) and I am moved every time
I hear it. Also powerful is "Nothing to Declare", which rounds out the disc. A
longing piece about waiting for a love who has gone away and who probably will never return:
"A hundred thousand hearts a day
Come gliding down but they don't explain
An empty seat on a sold out flight
A year ago on an empty night
I watched you down but you never came
Through 'Nothing to Declare' like a sign hangin' on my name."
In my opinion, Marillion has never been given the consideration they deserve, at least
not on the American airwaves. I expect that "Ice Cream Genius" will not be a
sell-out in the U.S. and this is a shame because it's an excellent album. So if you're
perusing the racks and you happen to come across this disc, pick it up. I'll bet you
won't be sorry!
New World Records
"Reviews from Around the Globe" by Robert R. Lewis
The War Against Silence, #147
I keep a short list of impracticably dadaist business concepts around, in case I ever suddenly
find myself massively wealthy, and need to quickly convince large numbers of people that I'm
too deranged to pester for money. I'm not giving up on the notion yet, but I'll blow one of
my favorites: opening an airplane-food restaurant. It would serve tiny microwaved
faux-international entrées, naturally, served in little plastic foil-covered dishes, eaten
with ice-cold miniature forks, accompanied (either five minutes before, or five minutes
after the rest of your meal) by three ounces of some low-grade fruit juice and a small tub
of raspberry preserves that, as best you can tell, is intended for spreading directly on
your napkin. I've vacillated, historically, between thinking that the physical layout of
the restaurant should also mimic an airplane, so that you eat wedged into stiff, narrow
seats, with your food on a tray that bounces up and down at unpredictable intervals, and
thinking that it would be even more amusing to serve such ludicrous food on great, sprawling
oaken tables, under candle chandeliers, surrounded by the severed heads of woodland fauna
and the polished hauberks of an unspecified vanquished enemy. I've gotten good use out of
this joke, but every time I drag it out an impertinent voice in the back of my mind mumbles
something petulant and indistinct about the fact that I usually actually enjoy eating on
airplanes. I ignore it, because everybody knows that airplane food is terrible, therefore
I can't possibly really enjoy it.
On my recent flight to London, though, I finally realized why the experience of eating on
an airplane always seems disproportionately memorable. Airplane meals always interrupt
whatever book I've set out to read on the trip, and this particular repast served as an
intermission in Obscenity, Anarchy and Reality, an abstruse lifestyle polemic by Penn
State philosophy professor Crispin Sartwell, momentarily notorious, a few weeks ago, for
his facetious claim to have developed a formula proving that the Rolling Stones were the
best rock band ever. The book does not elaborate on either the spurious formula, or the
serious and subtler aesthetic and cultural points that underlie it, and frankly there is
rather less obscenity and anarchy in it than I expected, as well. What it is, mostly, is
a paean to the power of unreserved immersion in the present. This is a frequently torturous
subject, as the English language is not very well-suited to discussing the idea of reality,
itself, on the meta-level Sartwell is interested in, which results in an unfortunate
preponderance of sentences, like "The peculiar experience that reality offers us is the
experience of ourselves as real, as belonging to the order of reality, and, at the same
time, and inseparably, the experience of ourselves as particular, as situated within
that order", that are dangerously apt to collapse into meaningless tautological rubble
unless you handle them very carefully, which the incessant roaring hum of airplane cabins
is not especially conducive to. Sartwell's point, however, which he teases variants of
out of Nietzsche's doctrine of eternal recurrence, George Santayana's faith in the
educational efficacy of shock, Tantric sex, Lakota pipe ceremonies, Ralph Waldo Emerson's
belief in the virtue of sincerity, Vaclav Havel's anti-political political theory,
club-wielding Zen masters, and his own erratic past, is a serious one: a vast majority
of human enterprise is dedicated to a frantic evasion of simple, immediate, genuine
experience. Finding joy in the plainest moments of existence is not a good foundation
for aggressive growth programs, and serenity is stubbornly difficult to accessorize,
so Western culture foments discontent and restlessness in order to keep its vicious-cycle
flywheels spinning. The reason airplane meals seem inexplicably meaningful to me, I now
realize, particularly on very long flights taken by myself, is that they are a rare instance
in which, while I eat a meal, I am totally focused on every individual detail of it. I take
off my Discman headphones, so I can hear the flight attendants' questions; I put down
my book, because with a tray of food in front of you there's not enough room in an
airplane seat to do anything but eat it; the meal is an event that relieves the oppressive
monotony of sitting, silently, in one place, for six hours straight, so I scrutinize every
element of the experience. If I'm served them on an airplane, I pay an attention to the
stalest Keebler cracker and clammiest disc of nominal cheese that the most succulent
peanut-crusted pan-seared tuna steak doesn't enjoy if I eat it in a restaurant back on
earth, amidst music, decor, company and ritual. For once, in my endlessly voracious and
multi-tasked existence, I am doing only one thing.
The capacity for immersion is, to me, Marillion vocalist Steve Hogarth's defining lyrical
gift. Some rare writers have the ability to derive eternal and universal truths from the
most evanescent and mundane observations, but Steve's talent is subtler and even more
uncommon: he is able to make fleeting and commonplace observations seem timeless and
true without generalizing them in any way. As he exhorts us to see, in Afraid of Sunlight's
"Beautiful", which I think might as well be his theme song, beauty isn't something
you search for, it's something you need only courage to be. When he writes about the inmates
of a North London women's prison, a becalmed life in a mining town, or the tawdry glamour
of a California scam artist's Mustang, it seems to me that he makes a claustrophobic
setting, for the duration of the song, into the entirety of his world, without asking
it to expand to justify his dedication. This can be very unnerving, as we're not used
to anthemic melancholy being based on such self-contained themes. I usually think of
Kate Bush as the queen of empathy, but Kate tends to empathize with her subjects in
such a way that their alien perspectives are rendered sensible, and Steve goes one step
further, adopting alien perspectives so completely that their alienness is actually part
of the rendering. To accept a moment as it is, you have to somehow (maybe this is easier
for you than me) transcend the temptation to try to explain it while it's happening,
because explaining is stepping outside of it. The airplane cracker is memorable because
I am able to eat it without reference to any other cracker, any other cracker-encompassing
world-view, anything. An airplane-food restaurant is a brilliant idea, only backwards:
what I should really do is get a passenger jet, replace the first-class cabin with a
state-of-the-art kitchen, load the diners up in coach, and then serve them the most
gluttonous, decadent meal of their lives, while flying them in an enormous six-hour
circle that ends up at the same airport they took off from. I suspect, however, that
if you think of the airplane as a restaurant, not an airplane, the self-referentiality
will actually ruin everything. In fact, I've probably ruined the idea by explaining it,
and will have to resort to my backup plan, which is to buy a small island, declare it
an independent nation, and then send myself to compete in the Olympics as its representative.
There hasn't actually been much of a gap between Marillion albums, from the listener's
perspective, with the 1996 double-live album Made Again filling the space between 1995's
Afraid of Sunlight and 1997's This Strange Engine, but the band found time for solo projects
all the same. Steve Hogarth's, Ice Cream Genius, is credited obscurely to "H",
and finds him having assembled the odd cast of XTC guitarist Dave Gregory, ex-Japan
keyboardist Richard Barbieri, Blondie drummer Clem Burke, and session bassist Chucho Merchan
and percussionist Luis Jardim. It seems like this ensemble would produce very different
noises than Marillion, but it's a tribute to how thoroughly the rest of Marillion have
integrated Hogarth into the band that at least half of these songs, even with other people
playing them, sound basically like Marillion songs. The haunting opening of "The Evening
Shadows" and the long, drifting "The Deep Water" (at least up until the tribal
percussion comes in toward the end), could easily be out-takes from Afraid of Sunlight.
"Better Dreams" not only resembles that album in scope and pace, but its searing
portrait of Southern California hollowness seems to me very much like a chapter out of the
same novel as Afraid of Sunlight's "Gazpacho", "Cannibal Surf Babe" and
"Out of This World". "You Dinosaur Thing", Hogarth's affectionate and
appropriately unfashionable salute to his own anachronism, is more rock than Beach-Boys pop,
but it has the same wide-eyed giddiness, to me, as "Cannibal Surf Babe". The stylistic
variations in the other four songs are real, but mainly incremental: the spare, playful
"Really Like" would surely have been denser and more propulsive in the band's
hands; "Cage" is bloopy and robotic, where Marillion are soaring and humane;
"Nothing to Declare" approaches Blue Nile austerity. Only the twangy, INXS-like
"Until You Fall" sounds like something Marillion couldn't have been contorted to
produce, but even then, Hogarth got the band from "Warm Wet Circles" to "Hooks
in You" in only one album, so it's not that hard to imagine them somehow reconciling
themselves to these brass stabs and slashing guitar riffs, too.
There's even less need for another lyrical outlet, since Steve writes the lyrics
for Marillion songs, anyway, but this album does see him get through eight songs
without usual collaborator John Helmer, and several of these pieces rank high on
my ladder of Hogarth texts. Rhyming "drunk" with "Munch" (on "Really Like") is a
classic Hogarth touch, and I can't help but smile at "What do you know of being
young? / I hear you're almost twenty-one" ("You Dinosaur Thing"). The showpieces,
though, to me, are clearly the last two songs. "Better Dreams", the evisceration
of petty LA aspirations, is a long, unflinching build-up to the plaintive and
unanswered question "Can we dream better dreams than these?" Such is the nature
of Hogarth's writing that lines that chill me may just make you wince, but
"[Leo] rents a one-room apartment that no one's ever seen", "She bites her
lip as he takes her; / He makes love like he's alone", "He leaves her smudge-eyed
and stranded" and "This is a town full of Leos, / The sun shines on the cars"
(as opposed to the people) all paralyze me with the fear that there are details
of my own life that, seen clearly, are just as horrifically pathetic. "Nothing
to Declare", the album's conclusion, wraps an aching love story around a Heathrow
customs sign. Conventional poetics would turn the airplane traffic into a metaphor
for transience or escape or loss, or cast the narrator's soliloquy as a vigil,
waiting for the departed lover's return, but in Hogarth's version, which ends with
the singer just watching the planes fly over his house, the pain is an end in itself.
I think Sartwell would have me walk through Heathrow customs, after the flight on
which I read his book, just content to be walking through Heathrow customs, not
singing somebody else's song about it to myself, but attaching songs to my surroundings
is, I'm afraid, the only way I know to truly inhabit them.
The War Against Silence, #147
20 November, 1997
Review by Carlos J Tavares
ICE CREAM GENIUS is Steve Hogarth's (h) debut CD. Somehow he escaped from Marillion's
tentacles and recorded this musical extravaganza. h sings and plays piano, accompanied
by Dave Gregory (XTC) on guitars and Richard Barbieri (Porcupine Tree, ex-Japan) on
keyboards, being the rhythm section constituted by (ex-Eurythmics) Clem Burke on the
drumkit and Chucho Merchan on bass.
"I have an animal inside me..."; in this way the metamorphosis begins: THE
EVENING SHADOWS. Dr. Jeckyl and Mr. Hyde, or maybe just an ugly duckling scratching
the surface? This uneasiness is shadowed by a piano swarmed with apathy. "Doo bee
doo bee doo...". REALLY LIKE, actually... I really like it! This second track is
the catchiest one, perhaps due to the simple pop that's layered or by the spell cast
from Barbieri's Prophet V. It's trance vibe is... good gracious... very danceable!
YOU DINOSAUR THING was the wise choice for the first single. Reminiscent of the extinct
T-Rex rock'n'roll, it glows by the irony that irradiates. It's dedicated to the overrated
current revivalists that explode trough the British charts; "You're just another
spotty fool who started a group". Really rocks. Luis Jardim performs an incredible
percussion groove in THE DEEP WATER, which serves as vehicle that guides us through
its tensile and hypnotic atmosphere. CAGE could have been part 2 of the first track,
since h's introspection progresses. A close proximity to Peter Gabriel's recent works
lurks between its sections: "Nothing fell into the cage today, that's fastened
to my door [...] do not feed the animals...". UNTIL YOU FALL accentuates fondly
the 70's musical spirituality the album breathes. Electric and eclectic, makes you
want to get down... Absorbing lyrics, conducted by precious musical arrangements,
should have deserved a better recognition by the media and public. Doo bee doo bee doo...
Carlos J Tavares
"Striktly For Konnoisseurs" mailinglist
Castle 1997 Rating: B-
Marillion's singer Steve Hogarth (h) releases his first solo album with mixed results.
He is certainly trying to distance himself from Marillion, hence a solo album. The
album is for most part mellower than the stuff he does with Marillion (or How We
Live or The Europeans). The closest comparison for most of the songs would be the
quieter sections of Marillion's Brave. As with any singer the vocals are front and
centre and there is no doubt that this album is to show off Hogarth's voice. Not all
the songs are quiet (ambient?), "You Dinosaur Thing" is the catchiest song
I've heard in many years and certainly is a criticism of all the trends that come and
go as the wind blows (Spice Girls anyone?. "I'm so bored with you, It didn't take
long, I hear all about you, Every day of the month, You sounded so in control of it,
On Radio 1, But I don't believe you, ... And though they all scream for you, ... all
dream for you, Retro's out ... Boneheads in, You Dinosaur thing." Other notable
tracks are "Cage", for the lyrics that take the animal's point of view, while
being locked up in a cage, and "Nothing To Declare". Hogarth was very much
attempting to make an album to give him a separate identity from Marillion, unfortunately
for him it is those exact fans that are most likely to buy the album. Some notable players
on the album include Richard Barberi on synths (Porcupine Tree, Japan), Dave Gregoryon
guitar (XTC) and Luis Jadim on percussion (Asia and others). Most recommended to
Marillion fans and those that enjoy very quiet mellower songs.
"Striktly For Konnoisseurs" mailinglist, May 26, 1997
You Dinosaur Thing video review by Lisa Mikita
What an amazing 4:15 of visual and audio delights! This video needs to get played.
How about a phone campaign? Directed by Niels van Iperen the video starts with h
unwrapping the mirror" (if you have the YDT CD-single, this will make a lot more
sense!) and singing the opening lines with the appropriate yawns. We also see h eating
an ice cream.
Throughout the video various magazines are parodied. First up is MDMA (Sorry, I don't know
what that stands for) with the headline "h: the unsung hero". h is dressed as a
hippie complete with long blonde hair, flowers in his hair, round 60's glasses, and silk
daisy pants. It's shame this character didn't make it on the YDT sleeve as it's hysterical.
In another shot the hippie is playing h's psychedelic pink guitar.
You see him in various guises; the punk, Bowie, afro, and I think the dude from Oasis
(the red leather jacket). Next magazine is Billboard, affectionately called 'hboard' with
the headline "h Donates $1 Million to Buddhist Foundation". Guess what h looks
like on this! Yup, Here's the Buddha.
h shops around Kensington Market, carrying a guitar case, and is even mugged by a 'fan' at
one point. h is also seen "playing" violin while on Kensington Market. "Like
you fell out of bed" shows h wiping the sleep out of his eyes, his hair a mess, and
'HQ magazine' (GQ) has "The Great h Issue" as it's headline. 'H' (Q magazine)
"h changes his name ... His new name is" and unfortunately I can't read the last
word!!! Aaarghhh! It might be just h but I don't know.
'Hogue' (Vogue) magazine is the Glam Rocks Back issue and h as Bowie is the Glam Rocker of
the Year. Last up is his Michael Stipe character throughout the entire last chorus and
before the fade out.
Interspersed with all this is h in the Gaultier jacket he wears everywhere-he's the only
dude I know that wears a wool coat indoors! He steams up a mirror and writes "h"
on it at a shop. A little toy dinosaur is seen a few times throughout the video and the
actual fade out is just h.
Most of the video is shot so that it looks like they're looking at the mirror. The guitar
solo was kind of annoying because it was just a very quick review/preview of the entire
h was right - it is great. One drawback for fans is it's the single edit version which is
shorter than the album version. Now our job is to get it played.
Lisa Mikita, May 15, 1997
Music News Network
Q Magazine (Issue 127)
Presumably, by hiding behind an initial, Steve Hogarth is hoping to disassociate
his solo debut from his career as singer with Marillion. However, despite assembling
an impressively diverse selection of musicians around him, ranging from Blondie
drummer Clem Burke to Japan/Porcupine Tree's Steve Barbieri on synthesizers, these
songs would not have sounded amiss on Afraid Of Sunlight, the last studio album he
recorded with his old band. That said, the unusual spin Hogarth puts on the slightly
fey love songs, Cage and Nothing To Declare, amply demonstrates his charm and
ingenuity as a solo songwriter, while his deceptively savage put-down of young
retro whippersnappers, You Dinosaur Thing - complete with ironic Eastern
flourishes - proves that he still has teeth.
* * *
(out of *****. Three stars = "Good. Not for everyone, but fine within its field")
Q Magazine (Issue 127), April 1997
John "Bo Bo" Bollenberg
In the beginning of '96 Marillion decided to take a break as a band and concentrate
on various solo outings, the kind of things that had been postponed year after year
in favour of yet another album and/or worldtour.
Steve Rothery released his Wishing Tree project, Ian Mosley and Pete Trewavas teamed
up with ex-Arrakeen guitarist Sylvain Gouvernaire to record the Iris project whilst
Mark Kelly did the odd production.
Comes H, better known as Steve Hogarth, for the admiring women worldwide. Starting
out as the driving force behind the band A&M simply couldn't sell: THE EUROPEANS,
Hogarth has been Fish's replacement since '89. Since then he's had a hard time being
accepted by Marillion fans but with the release of four studio albums he has proved
to be an outstanding singer and above all a very creative force within the band.
It has to be said though, that there are certain things you simply can't do within
the structure of a band that is still firmly rooted in the 'progressive rock' tradition.
Whilst his unique timbre will always be associated with Marillion, Hogarth has managed
to write material which comes closer to Talk Talk and Japan than 'Market Square Heroes'.
So there is indeed a spot of experimentation to be found although the complete result
comes down to a very warm and semi-commercial album, including the kind of material
which could easily find it's way to MTV. 'You Dinosaur Thing' is one of those smart
moves what with those eastern patterns on top of this tight rock rhythm. Hogarth must
have thought: "If it worked for Led Zeppelin then why not for me ?"
The experimental side of Steve again pops up, in 'The Deep Water' where his voice
sounds so thin it almost flies away on the sound of the string section before this
calm is rudely interrupted with some African like percussive sounds out of the
rhythm composer. A weird structure and sounds form the backbone of 'Cage' which is
a song you'd rather associate with the likes of XTC than with Steve Hogarth. Strange
I should say this as Steve is helped out by David Gregory on guitar, yep the same
Gregory as in ... XTC !
On 'Icecreamgenius' Hogarth is backed by some of the world's finest musicians such
as ex-Japan and now Porcupine Tree man Richard Barbieri, Blondie drummer Clem Burke
and bassist Chucho Merchan who previously worked with Eurythmics and Pete Townshend.
There's even more of Japan thrown in with the inclusion of Steve Jansen. The icing
on the cake comes in the form of producer Craig Leon who is sort of a weird choice
if you kow that he produced the Ramones' first album !? It's probably the fact that
Leon also produced four Fall albums (is that the reason to title one of your songs
'Until You Fall' ?) that gave him enough credit to do this album.
Would you believe there's even a hornesection on this album. Ok their sound isn't
mixed in the Phil Collins tradition but it works allright for some of the songs.
The uptempo songs stand shoulder to shoulder with the ballads. Of the latter selection
I have to admit to like 'Better Dreams' best with it's splendid classical arrangement
and the soft narrative singing of Hogarth. In the closing 'Nothing To Declare' one can,
again, hear some eastern influences in the distance whilst Steve sings this song in
the best tradition to an absolute climax and a treat to end this spectacular record.
With this album Steve Hogarth has proved us that what is bred in the 'cone' will
come out in the flesh !
John 'Bo Bo' Bollenberg, April, 1997
Rumba's (a Finnish rock magazine)
There is hardly any duller topic to sing about, than naming the more
succesful pop-artists as dinosaurs. Mr. H may keep moaning alone, as
his popularity won't grow to dinosaur-measures, although the single
is, in it's conservative way, ingenious. There are "hooks" and a
real, machine-made "string arrangement".
Rumba's, April, 1997
Tower Records (in-store magazine)
"Stop me and buy one" (Singer/Songwriter section)
The game is up for H although it has probably served its purpose. The
lazy, beautifully intoned honey voice on ICG [rated 4/5] belongs to
Steve Hogarth of Marillion who has come up with a bunch of hauntingly
atmospheric songs that are a long way off Marillion's usual fare. There's
a touch of BabyBird's offbeat storytelling about them, particularly
'Cage' which starts off with an annoying whispered vocal and plinky-plonk
keyboards, but which opens out into a chillingly beautiful song with
words conjuring up unnerving images - "Nothing fell into the cage
today...do not feed the animals..." H most definitely has a future
as a solo artist if his day job ever falls through.
Tower Records (in-store magazine), March, 1997
RockStyle (French magazine)
"H", What's that ? Simply the name of the solo project by Steve Hogarth, in
parallel of Marillion. For a long time, this charismatic singer felt like doing something
alone, far away from the progressive meanderings of his band. So he grabbed the chance to
do it, as the other members of Marillion did (Iris, the Wishing Tree). The result is Ice
Cream Genius, incomprehensible title and very private joke (see interview). Steve Hogarth
is surrounded by very good musicians like David Gregory (XTC guitarist), Richard Barbieri
(Japan, Porcupine Tree) on keyboards, Clem Burke (Blondie's drummer) and Chucho Merchan
(has played bass with Eurythmics and Pete Townshend). Steve Hogarth provides us, with his
first solo album, music which can surprise or even disgust Marillion fans. But after all,
who cares ? It would have been useless to do something like a Marillion-encore, and by the
way to do it badly. So Hogarth's viewpoint was to let his imagination speak, to mix all the
musical influences that have left their marks on his career: new-wave tendancy with The
Europeans, pop with How We Live and cool, romantic prog with Marillion. This very beautiful
album, hard to classify, must be tasted without moderation. The eight tracks are sumptuously
sang, with intimate moments alternating with rock compositions. Without doubt, Steve Hogarth
is a sensible man, generous and full of talent. An artist to be immediately discovered.
-They rated this album 4 out of 5.
RockStyle #19 February/March, 1997
-Translated from French by Stephane Mayere
Warming-up gig review by Rob Crossland
For those of you in any doubt that the h gigs in London, Paris, Koln and
Amsterdam should be the hottest tickets in town, here goes...
Last night the h band played to a packed and initially somewhat mystified
audience of diners in a converted school near the Welsh border. The band
were, as could be expected, quite awesome, starting up with a gorgeous
sequence from Aziz Ibrahim (Asia, Simply Red) on guitar. Aziz's
playing is a perfect counterpoint to Richard Barbieri's synthesisers - I
reckon he should do a guest spot with the Porkies - it would be fantastic!
As if two guitarists of the stature of Aziz and Dave (Gregory from XTC),
Chucho's bass playing, Richard's soundscapes and the constantly changing
backdrop of Clem Burke's percussion were not enough.
There he was. H.
Bunches, keyboards, the smile of an imp and the voice of an angel. The
audience were won round in about five seconds, and one of those priceless
moments happened at the end of the gig, when a lady said to Steve: "That was
very good, young man. You deserve to become really famous one day." He
Steve's voice and sense of humour were well on form but amazingly a couple
of the band admitted to stage nerves before the gig! Some oldies, a lot of
newies and some surprises are in store. I'm not going to spoil your fun by
giving away the set, but the locals were asking when the band would be
playing there again!
If you're still undecided, I promise that you will kick yourselves hard if
you miss a chance to see this band perform. My worries about sound at the
Garage are pretty much dispelled too because no lesser maestro knob
twiddlers than Privet and Stewart are looking after that end of things.
I guess most of the audience were local folks, dining at their favourite and
fairly up-market restaurant. A few Freaks who had got to hear of the event
through Steve's appearance on local Radio Shropshire earlier in the week
were in fine voice on stage left, and some misguided soul asked in jest for
'Dislocated Day' when Richard was introduced - much to his apparent
amusement. Seeing a Porcupine Tree T-shirt at a quiet gig in the middle of
nowhere went down well, too!
A good old chinwag followed 'till about 2.30am, new friends were made and
phone numbers exchanged. Yours truly performed a duet of Captain Beefheart's
'Big Eyed Beans from Venus' with an XTC fan who had brought along his vinyl
copy of 'Oranges and Lemons' for Dave Gregory to sign. He had his day made,
and I think Dave was pretty happy too!
Even though plainly tired, Steve as always chatted at length with anyone who
greeted him, and the rest of the band couldn't have been more friendly or
appreciative of the audience. I got to meet Clem too - one of my heroes. I
also added a couple of the Stone Roses' albums to my collection on the way
home after hearing Aziz's startling eastern flavoured guitar work. Next week's
pocket money is going on Asia's 'Arena' on which he also features. Remember
that name, Aziz Ibrahim.
[ Note: Aziz Ibrahim was never a member of Stone Roses. He just filled in when their guitarist left. ]
An evening I will never forget in most excellent company. My thanks to H,
The band, the crew, and the lovely people of Oswestry who gave them such a
warm and rousing reception.
I scream genius indeed. Get to see them if you possibly, possibly can.
Review by Paul Rose
I know everyone's saying "Oh, it sounds nothing like Marillion",
but - bearing in mind I've been a fan since Fugazi - if someone
had handed me Ice Cream Genius and told me that it was the new
Marillio album, I'd have believed them. Sure, it doesn't sound
EXACTLY like other Marillion albums, but it almost follows the
progression we've been seeing over the last few albums. Yes,
there are the Japan influence in there. Yes, you can hear Porcupine
Tree in a couple of songs. But more than anything, the recent
Marillion sound is strongest, and it's not just in the vocals
(whether this suggests H influenced the band, or the band have
influence him, I don't know).
Track by Track:
THE EVENING SHADOWS. Like much of the album, this song is stripped down to
vocals, keyboards and some percussion, with the occasional guitar drifting
in. It dips and peaks, but mostly maintains a steady, gentle pace. The piano
reminds me of Enya's first album. Slightly Floyd-ish at times. Would have
fitted in well on Brave or Afraid... "Doo bee doo be dooo"
REALLY LIKE. Mmm... nicely 80s. Keyboards, guitar - all reminiscent of many
eighties synth-rock bands. Early Talk Talk? Yes, that'd do for me. Perhaps
my least favourite track. Doesn't really go anywhere. "If I could strip away
that outer skin, Find a way to get you drunk..."
YOU DINOSAUR THING. A great rock and roll song. The most up-tempo track on
the album, and the most obvious choice for a single. Lyrics suggest its about
music snobbery, and the rise of bands such as Oasis, while out Marillio chums
are snubbed by the popular music press. Is going to be a real stomper live.
Kicks the hell out of Hard As Love, in my opinion. Some distinctly Marillio
moments. "You're just another spotty fool who started a group".
THE DEEP WATER. Drifting, majestic... deep! Whispered, Brave-like vocals,
landscaped keyboards, piano dipping in and out, vast soundscapes, and
thunder... Pretentious? Moi? Ho ho. Halfway through this eight minute-long
song, a drum pattern kicks in. The vocals pick up, the tempo picks up pace.
Things take a distinctly, uh, ethnic turn. Vocals almost obscured by the
music. Pure Porcupine Tree. "You are the deep water, You are the thin ice."
CAGE Hmm... More whispered voice. Strange, barren, industrial keyboard
sounds. Reminiscent of Peter Gabriel. There are moments where it could be a
quieter Depeche Mode track. Maybe. Starts off slow and quiet, but picks up
pace nicely. Nice, big, brassy finish. Very Gabriel. "And I say... Do not
feed the animals..."
UNTIL YOU FALL The second real, up-tempo rocker. Again, I prefer this to the
likes of Hard as Love. Vague Sixties influences, but at the same time quite
Marillion-esque at times. More brassy bits "What I mean is mean Mr Mean's
BETTER DREAMS Another whispering, mellow track. Very Brave-ish. Haunting
strings. Epic, hollow synthesiser. Lovely! "Take a gun and go shopping, Take
a drug for the pain."
NOTHING TO DECLARE Mmm, yes. Love this. A simple piano line, stabs of
strings, for some reason - and please humour on this - I could imagine Fish
singing this. More 80s keyboards, but there's a great big slab of Marillion
in there too. A fantastic rhythm to this track. One of my favourites. "I'm
watching the aeroplanes coming in, Waiting for a miracle..."
As with ALL good records, Ice Cream Genius has been a real grower. It's
diverse, sure, but what good record isn't? But no way does it not sound like
Marillion, which, I imagine, is exactly what H doesn't want to hear. Ah
well... A word of warning, however, when I say it sounds like Marillion, it
sounds like Marillion NOW. If your record collection extends to a copy of
Fugazi, a couple of Pendragon albums and something by Jethro Tull, then
you're not going to like Ice Cream Genius. If, however, you like H-era
Marillion, and your tastes in music are as diverse as they should be, you'll
adore this album. A great filler until Strange Engine.
Channel 4 Teletext (page 484)
"h" are ex-marillion man Steve Hogarth, and a band including Richard
Barbieri, formally of Japan and now working with avant-garde noiseniks
Hogarth's clear yet understated vocals shine through on moody Japan-style pieces (the mellow 'Evening Shadows' or fragile 'Better Dreams') and bouncier 80's style synth-pop track 'Really Like'.
But Marillion fans may be attracted more by the rockier, riff-led 'Until You Fall' and 'You Dinosaur Thing'.
-They rated this album 2 1/2 out of 5.
Channel 4 Teletext (page 484), Februari 6, 1997
IO Pages (Dutch prog magazine)
"What's the last thing people would expect from me and who are the last people that
I would make music with?" That's the question Mr. H (better known as Steve Hogarth)
asks himself in the included text. Well, to answer the second part of the question:
Guitarist David Gregory (XTC), keyboardist Richard Barbieri (Japan, Jansen / Barbieri,
Porcupine Tree), drummer Clem Burke (Blondie), bass player Chucho Merchan (Eurythmics,
Pete Townsend), percussionist Steve Jansen (Japan, Jansen / Barbieri) and producer Craig
Leon (Ramones) are not immediately musicians you would expect to make a CD with the singer
of prog-dinosaur Marillion. To answer the first half of the question: yes and no. Yes,
because Ice Cream Genius contains a few very unusual and deviant songs and no, because
the intense atmosphere of the wonderful albums Brave and Afraid Of Sunlight are still very
much present. But Hogarth doesn't take things too seriously. It was more about having fun
with a couple of exciting musicians, preceding the realization of the new Marillion album
and apparently it worked out great. To get into the mood he made the band members dress up
in various outfits in various colors while playing the songs. The fact that this album is
released under the name H probably debits this. The opening of the first song The Evening
Shadows is a bit like The Party off of Holidays In Eden: piano and vocals, beautiful
atmospheres by Barbieri. Halfway through it gets a bit rocky due to a raw guitar sound
and "doo bee doo bee's", after which the original melody returns. Very strong.
Really Like is more like Japan, due to the synth-arpeggio's and drummachine. You Dinosaur
Thing is the single: up-tempo, strings, Marillion style. The Deep Water is remarkably calm
thanks to the effects, atmospheric synths and piano and sounds a bit like the underrated
band, The Blue Nile. Cage has a strange rhythm, a whispering Hogarth and excellent guitar
by Gregory. A bit new wave-ish. Until You Fall sounds the most rock-ish due to the raw
guitar sound. Better Dreams is a delightful calm song with strings and acoustic guitar,
after which the cd ends with Nothing To Declare. A threatening opening, computer ritmes,
beautiful vocals and Ryuichi Sakamoto (Yellow Magic Orchestra)-like sounds from Barbieri.
Ice Cream Genius is a terrific album and H is more than a well-known rock-artist's hobby.
Hopefully this great cd inspires Hogarth to make an equally great new Marillion album.
IO Pages, February, 1997
-Translated from Dutch by Mark Bredius
Hitkrant (Dutch magazine)
Singer/composer Steve Hogarth is going through a very creative and productive period. Within the
last three years he made, together with his band Marillion, two strong studio-albums, a double
live-album and now his first solo project. And not just an album: Ice Cream Genius became
an atmospheric jewel with beautiful compositions. Hogarth was assisted by guest-musicians David
Gregory (XTC) Clem Burke (ex-Blondie) Richard Barbieri and Steve Jansen (ex-Japan). Dutchman
Niels van Ieperen shot the coverphotos.
-They rated this album 4 stars out of 5.
* puke ** weak *** OK **** Cool ***** Mega cool
Hitkrant, February 1997
-Translated from Dutch by Bart Jan van der Vorst
webdesign by mark bredius 1997-2015
Oor (Dutch magazine)
Even though he didn't last long in "his" bands, Europeans and
How We Live, Steve Hogarth has certainly shown (during the mid 80s) to
have a weakness for unusual compositions and the occasional musical
experiment. Hogarth isn't a genius, not a pretentious man, but he is
a restless singer and keyboardist with a healthy sense of humor.
It rather amazes me that he's able to put up with the strictness of
Marillion, the 37-year old Brit's employer since 1989. Ice Cream Genius,
his first solo album, can easily be seen as an outlet to make up for seven
years of prog. ICG is a curious album, full of sultry moods, tropical
rythmhs, unexpected retro, peculiar lyrics, sweet romance and funny sounds.
As a whole it's not very consistent and that's exactly ICG's charm. Diverse,
surprising, dynamic, thanks to the expertise of his strong one-off band
called "H" : guitarist David Gregory (XTC), drummer Clem Burke
(Blondie), bass player Chucho Merchan (Eurythmics, Pete Townshend), keyboardist
Richard Barbieri and percussionist Steve Jansen (both Japan, Porcupine Three).
It will be difficult to find a distinct audience for it. ICG isn't commercial
enough for the charts and too intangible for the average Marillion fan.
But it does make a tasty dessert.
Oor, January 24, 1997
-Translated from Dutch by Mark Bredius