I go with the sentiment that four albums of such quality makes it difficult to choose.
Purely on the basis of personal preference, it's between Clutching At Straws and Script For A Jester's Tear. For me, Fugazi has 4 stonkingly fantastic songs in Assassing, Jigsaw, Incubus and Fugazi. MC has a great first half and the gorgeous Blind Curve. But, I like nearly all of CAS and all but one on Script; hence those having the edge as a whole.
I got Script on the same day as Pink Floyd's "The Final Cut", playing Script first - and have never regretted doing so, despite being more than a little partial to Floyd. I don't think there is a single song that can be called "weak" on Script, either musically or lyrically and have never understood or accepted the criticism of the lyrics as being "too wordy" or "6th formy". They are articulate and have a clear meaningful message which thankfully avoid the tired, gratuitously repetitious, formulaic, predictable, old-hat lyrics that pass for so-called musical "maturity" in some quarters. For me, Script was a breath of fresh air. Curiously, my least favourite song on Script is.... *gulp* Garden Party....
The aforementioned four tracks from Fugazi are just awesome. The "Yin" version of Incubus adds further layers to what was already a quality song (especially the rearranged "piano" section - "You can't brush me under the carpet ...etc" and the twin guitars following). Assassing and Jigsaw seem to be two sides of the same coin; one relentlessly driving (even the "quiet" section still drives) whilst Jigsaw has, arguably, one of the finest melodies in the Fish / Marillion catalogue, perfectly in keeping with the lyrics. The play between the sadness and the venom in the lyrics to Fugazi (track) is just terrific and the music sets it off perfectly. For some reason, I have a particular fondness for the end part of Fugazi...
MC is the album I have most difficulty connecting with but it still gets played quite happily.
I always thought that CAS, in the context of following the commercial success of MC, should have elevated Marillion beyond the threshold into "supergroup" status. As we know, it just didn't happen; so close yet so far. Lack of marketing? Problems with EMI? Questionable management? I guess we'll never know for sure. Perhaps it was epitomised by the lack of what had become the traditional gatefold sleeve (I remember being somewhat disappointed by the single sleeve). With hindsight, it has the appearance of someone somewhere having already decided to reduce promotional support for the band; many months before the subsequent departure of Fish.
CAS, at least to my ears, comfortably sits above Misplaced Childhood, both musically and lyrically, although I agree with those who suggest Incommunicado doesn't sit well in the overall framework of the album. One other thought of the album which has held to this day is that CAS fell between two stools; was it intended to be a concept album? The linking of the first three songs, the segue between Torch Song and Slàinte Mhath and the "Happy Ending" all suggest a "concept" that, for whatever reason, wasn't followed through to make CAS a continuous piece - as suggested by torch-light. Is this what is meant by a couple of other posters who said they thought something was "missing" from CAS? - just a thought. My favourite song on CAS is White Russian. The lyrics are poignant, spat out with controlled rage, and sadly continue to be hugely relevant and will undoubtedly be so for many many years to come. For anyone who wants a moment of cathartic release, just try doing the vocals to this song; I mean REALLY go for it. [Health and Safety warning: voice loss is a possibility
Although I've written more about CAS that Script, I ultimately can't decide between the two so my vote remains uncast. I couldn't find an emoticon for fence-sitting....