Featuring the best material from their first two albums as well as their classic debut single "Market Square Heroes," 1984's Real to Reel is an excellent live document of Marillion, the undisputed leaders of the short-lived mid-'80s progressive rock revival. In fact, these recordings make a strong case for the many fans who actually prefer the band's more refined live versions over their rather flat studio counterparts. For the uninitiated, Marillion basically picks up where Peter Gabriel-era Genesis left off, writing complex, multifaceted, and unashamedly overblown compositions topped with dense, often incomprehensible lyrics from vocalist Fish. Thematically, the darkly ironic "Assassing" and the flippant "Garden Party" are complete polar opposites and clearly display the band's incredible creative scope. But the album's centerpiece has to be the dramatic, ten-minute war chronicle "Forgotten Sons." The CD reissue also features an excellent bonus track titled "Emerald Lies."
AllMusic Review by Eduardo Rivadavia