ALBUM REVIEWS

ANTHONY PHILLIPS 

 

ALBUM RATING SYSTEM

*****

An excellent album. Strong effort from beginning to end! A must own!

****

A very good album. A few low points but, overall, a decent effort. Recommended. 

***

A good album. Several weak points detract from the album, but it's still worth owning.

**

A mediocre album. Unless you're a real fan, you might not like this album very much.

*

A poor album. Stay away from this one unless you are a hardcore fan!

 

Anthony Phillips - The Geese & The Ghost (1977)

WOG RATING: ****

Anthony Phillips’ solo debut, The Geese & The Ghost, which was actually started out as being an Anthony Phillips and Mike Rutherford duo project, began its gestation in 1974 with Mike Rutherford in between Genesis commitments. The album was completed in 1975, but did not find its way to release until Phillips unearthed the project in 1977. Considered by many to be among Phillips’ finest moments as a solo artist, Geese has some elements and instrumental pieces that could almost fit seamlessly on Genesis albums like Foxtrot or Selling England By The Pound, but still manage to be distinctly Anthony Phillips. At this point, the musical styles and similarities of Phillips and Genesis as a collective had only just started to deviate, so you have a very telling collection of music almost outlining what Genesis may have been like had he not left the band in 1970. Of course, the fact that Mike Rutherford makes an appearance and Phil Collins also provides guest vocals on “God, if I Saw Her Now” and “Which Way the Wind Blows,” certainly doesn’t hurt the comparison of this effort and the early works of his former band.

The 2008 Voiceprint Records digitally remastered reissue sounds absolutely superb with a level of clarity and depth that far outshines prior CD versions of this release. The packaging in this new reissue is also second to none, complete with new liner notes, detailed musician credits, periods pictures and an incredible bonus disc of rare and largely unheard period recordings and demos! These rare recordings include, for the first time officially on compact disc, “Silver Song” with Phillips accompanied by Collins and Rutherford. Fans will also note that "Henry" includes an added section of the song that was omitted from the original release. So, technically, you get yet another previously unheard track on the first disc! This album is truly a must own from Ant’s catalog and is a wonderful place to start if you are unfamiliar with his early works. This newly repackaged edition is the definitive version of this album. The only minor complaint that I can find with this reissue that prevents it from being absolutely flawless from a fan perspective is the lack of inclusion of "Only Your Love" another rare track from this period featuring Mike Rutherford and Phil Collins. Why it was excluded, I have no idea. I can only hope it will be released on a future Archive disc in Phillips' catalog. Overall, highly recommended! 

 

 

Anthony Phillips - Soundscapes: An Anthology (2003)

WOG RATING: ***

A double disc retrospective sounds like it would offer a fairly well-rounded overview of Phillips' career. Unfortunately, this is not the case with Soundscapes. This 2-CD set is a nice introduction to the volumes of Ant's more recent solo efforts with a few scattered older pieces, but some of the major highlights of the early part of his career, including material from numerous classic projects such as The Geese & The Ghost, Sides, Wise After The Event, and 1984, are completely ignored here. Granted, there are probably copyright issues involved that have made their inclusion difficult, but using the word "Anthology" without mention of specific dates would lead the consumer to believe it is an all-encompassing collection, which it is not.    
In addition, this set has a few major mistakes. For example, track six on the first CD is actually "Dawn Over The Lake" and not "Heart of Darkness" and track four on the second CD is actually an edited version of "The Reaper" from The Living Room Concert and not the "Opening Theme" from Sail The World. There are also a number of errors in the publishing information for the included tracks. Snapper/Recall Records clearly did not put much effort into the creation of this compilation, which is a shame, because the fidelity of the compact discs themselves is excellent. Like Snapper's Steve Hackett compilation, The Genesis Files, its a great listen, but it leaves much to be desired as an all-encompassing history of the artist.
 

 

Anthony Phillips - Radio Clyde 1978 (2003)

WOG RATING: ***

The session that Anthony Phillips recorded back in 1978 with Radio Clyde in Glasgow was a widely circulated bootleg for years. Frankly, all of the copies I heard of the recording were so many generations away from the master tape that there was more tape 'hiss' than actual music being heard. Now, 25 years later, this official CD has been released offering the recordings in a level of sound quality that far transcends that of the old bootleg tapes. Unfortunately, the master tape was never found, but apparently Phillips was given a first generation copy of the performance back in 1978 which has served as the source for this release. Since a standard cassette tape was the production source, the quality is not perfect, but it is surprisingly good.
 
While the session was recorded to promote the Wise After The Event album, Ant does perform selections from The Geese & The Ghost, the then unreleased Private Parts & Pieces album, and even a few gems that we hard to come by including tracks like "Conversation Piece" which was not released until a later radio session Phillips recorded in 1993 which later became The Living Room Concert album. Since Ant does not tour in support of his projects, these radio sessions provide a rare glimpse into a side of his music we typically don't get to hear. Radio Clyde will clearly be a value to anyone who appreciates this era of Phillips career.

 

Anthony Phillips - Archive Collection: Volume Two (2004)

WOG RATING: ***

I was fairly impressed with the assortment of rarities, demos, and gems that made up Phillips' first Archive Collection some six years ago. That being said, I expected this collection to be "the stuff not good enough to make the first volume." How wrong I was. In fact, as a whole, Archive Collection: Volume Two is by far a better release. As was the case in the previous collection, the packaging remains first rate with excellent liner notes and annotations about each piece. Even the sound quality is surprisingly good, which is impressive in itself given the fact that some of these tracks are rough demos from the early '70s!
Personally, I have always found these types of releases enjoyable. Outtakes, demos, and the like demonstrate how some of the material we have come to love over the years has evolved from its most infantile stages. Or, in some instances, a first glimpse at long lost songs that have never seen the light of day in any form. Any fan of Phillips work would find this anthology of rarities a worthy addition to their collection. For the passive fan or the Genesis fan who might be curious to explore the album, you will see a few familiar names scattered among the collection's impressive 45 tracks, including appearances by Mike Rutherford and John Silver. Among the tracks that make up Archive Collection: Volume Two there are some really beautiful guitar and piano pieces, a few really fascinating alternate takes, and other distinctive tidbits recorded between 1971 and 1988. There are a couple of clunkers in the set, but not too many. All in all, I found the release to be a thoughtful insight into Phillips' career.
 

 

Anthony Phillips - Wildlife (2007/2008)

WOG RATING: ****

Depending on whether you bought this album in Japan or Europe, this title originally surfaced in late 2007 or early 2008 respectively. The project is comprised of numerous epic instrumental pieces Anthony Phillips composed as scores for wildlife films between 1994 and 2000 in an on-going relationship with renowned wildlife filmmaker Nick Gordon. Also featured prominently on this project is Phillips long-time collaborator Joji Hirota, who many fans will know from the Missing Links series of albums in Ant's back catalog. This touching tribute to Phillips' collaborative and personal relationship with Gordon, which spanned approximately fifteen years from 1989 until Gordon's untimely passing in 2004, is made all the more beautiful and haunting by the heart-felt dedication by Phillips in the liner notes, which gives great respect to Gordon and his passion for the wild.  

While being very different from Anthony Phillips rock or progressive style projects, I will tell you that this music is really stirring. Sometimes, soundtrack work just doesn't come across well as an album, because it requires the crutch of the visuals of film or video to make a lasting impression. This is not the case here. Not even by a long shot! In fact, it's some of the most beautiful instrumental work I think Phillips has ever done in the thirty plus years that he has been releasing music as a solo artist. If you enjoy instrumental music, Wildlife is an album you will most certainly enjoy again and again.

 

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