OK, OK, I agree. EMI is betting on a sure commercial move when they launch on the market this tempting dish for all the definite Marillion fans as well as for those newcomers to their works. Its clear that EMI has the best material, both in quality and interest, of this British band (the Fish years, agree or not) and they dont miss even one opportunity to make money on their back. Ive had the chance to read some critics that "destroy" this box set, of no less than 12 CD-singles! because they consider it just that: a commercial move . No way! The progVisions way of looking at it is to comment only on the musical content of the albums, and not on the artworks or on the business profits that surround the launching of some of them.
For this very reason, "The singles 82-88" is with a couple of limitations Ill mention later- an indispensable box set to conclude the discovery of the best days the most representative progressive band of the 80s had. In a beautiful black box with a drawing of the "Jester", you can get all the singles issued by EMI, Mark Wilkinsons original artwork included (though at a minor scale, of course), from the bands first Mini LP"Market Square Heroes" to the last Fish-Marillion maxi ("Freaks" (live) from "The Thieving Magpie").
It is true that buying this (expensive) box has advantages and disadvantages. On the disadvantage side, we have the length of the CDs. It is really short, which means that after a while, it becomes relatively heavy to listen to it (but this is inherent to the format. The people who bought the record versions had it even worse, given that we also had to turn the record half way through it); there is no photo booklet whatsoever and/or additional information; the reduced size of the "sleeves" doesnt allow the best view to enjoy the artwork. The only positive point is the possibility to get all the Marillion-Fish material (edited versions, previously unreleased tracks, 12" versions, live tracks, etc. ) within the same pack. Youll be able to listen to "Margaret" live; the long studio version of "Cinderella Search" and many other things.
The most demanding among us will miss "Welcome to the Garden Party" and "Brief Encounter", two mini LPs that were issued in 1986. What is the reason for this? I dont know, even though I guess it is because the former was issued as a limited edition to support the Milton Keynes show, while the latter was an "American presentation" of the band while they were on tour with Rush in those lands.
I dont have anything to criticize about the content of the box, which explains that it got a sure 5-star grade. The rest is worth one star, given that a clever fan shouldnt fall for this kind of marketing techniques and should buy quickly the whole collection of all the re-mastered Marillion albums by EMI, which include, on top of ALL the tracks of this box set, many demos, comprehensive booklets, alternate versions, live versions, etc., as well as "Brief Encounter" as an extra part of the "Real to Reel". You have the ultimate word.
By the way, executives from EMI, instead of issuing twice the same material, why dont you look through your archives and offer us a little box with interesting Marillion tracks? Fish sang "Tutti Frutti" with Queen; Marillion have done live versions of "Lets Twist Again"; alternate takes of "The Unstition Waltz" and a very long etc. , so, there is more than enough interesting material in stock.