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9 May, 2004

Misunderstanding 'Marbles'

Over the last week or so, I've been hearing criticism of Marillion from those who thought that the 2CD edition of 'Marbles' was to be exclusive to pre-orders, and that those who failed to pre-order would only be able to buy the 1CD version, missing out on several tracks.

That certainly isn't the way I remember the deal when it was first announced, and I signed-up for it.
The deluxe campaign edition, in a hardback 128-page book mentioning the names of those who pre-ordered before the end of December 2003, was indeed exclusive to pre-orders (though I believe a few spare copies are still available).  After the official release date, a second 2CD edition containing the same CDs in cut-down packaging (a standard jewel case) was made available to everyone, though is only being sold from the band's own web store.  There's also a 1CD edition, which is available from any CD retailer, but which obviously omits some of the music (4 tracks, or 34:40 mins).

The point is that 'Marbles' is a double album, and the 2CD editions offer the full version. The 1CD retail edition is an extract of the composition; it's been called a "glorified sampler". 'Marbles' is not a 1CD album, with 'bonus' tracks on the 2CD editions; those 'bonus' tracks are part of the composition, not add-ons.

Hence, it was never the case that 'Marbles' would be a single disc album, and those pre-ordering would receive exclusive bonus tracks - no exclusive music whatsoever was offered. Pre-ordering provided exclusive artwork and one's name in the remarkable packaging, but no extra music.

The practical effect of '1CD album/1CD album with second disc of bonus tracks' is much the same as '1CD extract/2CD full album', but the emphasis and intent is very different; if you only hear the 1CD version, you're not hearing the full thing.
Compare it to 'Brave'. The 1998 remaster is 2CDs, but the entire album is on disc 1, whilst disc 2 offers orchestral, acoustic and remixed versions plus demos: bonus tracks which aren't part of the complete composition. Disc 1 takes the story from the Severn Bridge to, well, back to the Severn Bridge, and on to a happy ending, with no reference to material on disc 2. 'Marbles' is different. Though it's not (overtly) a concept album, the 'arc' of the composition fills disc 1 then continues on to disc 2. To only hear the single disc version is to miss content that's supposed to be present.

So buy the full thing, okay?

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