Steve Hogarth Official Website
 



Reviews

 


Music Street Journal

Overall Review

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 additional musicians.

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 the piece.

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
Yes0001@aol.com
September 30, 1998
 


New World Records - "Reviews from Around the Globe"

Rating: 4 stars

Information: http://www.marillion.com

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 Cream Genius".

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 Like".

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 shaving.

'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 video.

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")

Valerie Potter
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 smiled graciously.......

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.

Rob Crossland
 


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 misdemeanours."

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.

Paul Rose
 


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 Porcupine Tree.

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
 


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
webdesign by mark bredius 1997-2017