Mark Hollis, MARK HOLLIS (Polydor, 1998). Tracks: The Colour of Spring; Watershed, Inside Looking Out, The Gift; A Life; Westward Bound; The Daily Planet; and A New Jerusalem.
If Mark Hollis wanted to show that he was no longer a member of Talk Talk, nothing could be quite so revealing as the album design of his first and only solo album, MARK HOLLIS. Gone was anything resembling James Marsh’s lush psychedelic landscapes, aching with sacramental if surreal beauty. Gone, too, were the hand written lyrics. Instead, if you find it attractive, the minimalist cover looks like something Apple might design as a part of its product line. If, however, you find it not so attractive, it looks like the label of some kind of generic grocery store product from the late 1970s: “Beer.” The white background supports a bizarre black and white photo. I’ve stared at this photo many times, and I still don’t have a clue what it is. Frankly, it looks a bit like roadkill on display in a museum. The label on the cd booklet merely states “Mark Hollis” in a plain font. On the actual jewel case, there are two stickers. One states “Made in the U.K.” The other states “Formerly of Talk Talk. 537 688-2.” I presume the latter stick refers to Hollis, not to the U.K.
As with LAUGHING STOCK, MARK HOLLIS came out on Polydor. When Hollis had originally signed to the label, the agreement was for four albums total. Considering that MARK HOLLIS came out in 1998, twenty years ago exactly, the chance of Polydor getting two more out of him seems more and more remote. As to what Polydor thinks of Hollis, it’s impossible to state. Clearly, the label knew what it was getting after SPIRIT OF EDEN. If they didn’t, they were fools, and I’m guessing they’re not fools.