SLEEVENOTES THE INSIDE STORY OF A CLASSIC ALBUM COVER
From page 7 of Classic Rock Magazine February 2005
‘Script For A Jester’s Tear’ by Marillion
RELEASED: 1983 HIGHEST UK CHART POSITION: 7 SLEEVE DESIGN: MARK WILKINSON MARK WILKINSON HAD DESIGNED THE sleeves for Marillion’s first two singles before being asked to work on the band’s debut album, ‘Script For A Jester’s Tear’. The jester character – which appeared on Marillion sleeves for many years – was dreamt up with the help of vocalist Fish, and it became central to the design.
“We came from a similar background and period, and both had that glamorous notion of the lonely guy in his bedsit trying to come up with a song,” Wilkinson explains.
“But Fish wasn’t too specific about what he wanted. It was literally a case of a seedy bedsit and a mattress on the floor in a very rock’n’roll flat. The themes were also pretty loose, and it was like a shopping list of trying to get a rubber plant, mattress, discarded newspapers and drug paraphernalia in there; the original drawings were a lot harder, and showed a razor blade and maybe even syringes. I remember EMI were very against that, so we had to be a bit circumspect.” However, the potential use of drug- related imagery wasn’t EMI’s only worry about the design for the ‘Script...’ sleeve. Various items that were scattered around the bedsit had to be altered for the final version: “They were so hot on that,” Wilkinson recalls. “I had to change the brand names on some of the items at the very last minute. So the Coke can logo became Mark, the Fairy Liquid bottle Jo, and the coffee jar and ashtray also had to be altered.” Even the sheet music the jester is playing, which is on the table, gave EMI cause for concern: “Apparently somebody in the music department at EMI did try to play the music that was on the screwed up bit of paper, though obviously it was nonsense,” Wilkinson laughs.
“But it’s my favourite Marillion- related piece,” he says of the finished artwork, “as it was the first one that set out the world of the jester, which was pretty effective. I really wasn’t so keen on ‘Fugazi’, and hated the back cover of ‘Misplaced Childhood’.” Prints of some of Wilkinson’s sleeve designs (he has also done the artwork of the forthcoming Judas Priest reunion album) are available to purchase at www.the-masque.com