Peter, behave now!
Marillion's first has just as little to do with "Clutching at straws" as "Misplaced childhood" has to do with "Holidays in eden". Or as much. The change between "Clutching..." and "Seasons end" is not bigger than any other leap the band made. Not very much. The fact that the band sounds extremely different today is another matter, and they would do so if Fish and the band never split. There would be little evidence of "Fugazi" in Fish's Marillion anno 2005.
But I see your point, of course. I would have issues with listing Crimson Glory as one of my favourite bands. I adored the two first albums. Best music I'd been treated to in my life back then. The third I absolutely hate (still same singer) and the fourth gave me nothing (new singer). It's a bit the same with QueensrÃ¿che. One of my favourites, but man they suck these days, and have for the last three albums. So, yes, I think I know how you feel.
But for the purpose of the poll...
1.Fish's Marillion, two first albums
2.Fish's Marillion, two last albums
3.H's Marillion, Season's end only
4.H's Marillion, Seasons... - Afraid of sunlight
5. As 4., but strike "Holidays in Eden"
6. As 5, but add "This strange engine"
7. As 6., but do not strike "Holidays in Eden"
10.H's Marillion, but not "Radiation"
11.Fish's Marillion, AND "Radiation"
12. ...and so bloody on...
Arena had a style on the first two albums that has little to do with anything they've released since. -If you're being picky about details and blowing them up a bit. Visitor, Immortal, and Contagion... Well, maybe they're around the same feeling or style. But "Pepper's Ghost"? -That's a third direction. I must hasten to add: That's how I've felt about it. If you hear the music in a different way than me, this won't make sense, of course.
Just throwing in my last few cents...