BACK TO THE PAVILION

You are a young guitarist, talented and hard-working, and join a band of school mates. It’s 1967 and everyone is forming bands, so why not? And this one has promise, it records a debut album in 1969 that is well-regarded but doesn’t sell a whole lot, possibly because of its biblical title or maybe because its genteel psychedelic sounds are no longer in vogue. So the band changes direction and you record another album (called Trespass) but by then you’re no longer sure this is the best setting for your musical aspirations. This has a lot to do with crippling stage fright and struggles with illness. So you quit.

Almost fifty years later, you are still making music and have a catalogue comprising dozens of delicately crafted albums. But everyone remembers you as ‘the first guitarist in Genesis’.

Welcome to the world of Anthony Phillips.

Now Mr Phillips is a fascinating artist; composer, guitarist, keyboard player, songwriter, soundtrack creator for film and television, and creator of library music. Many fans of progressive music jumped on his first solo album, 1977’s The Geese and the Ghost. And liked it too; it’s a lovely LP, with a fine guest vocal by Phil Collins to boot.

The Anthony Phillips catalogue is extensive: around thirty albums under his own name and a dozen collaborations. One thread running through the releases is the quaintly titled Private Parts & Pieces, the first of which appeared in 1978 with the most recent being released in 2012.

Ant Phillips

In 2018 Cherry Red Records gathered together three recent-ish Ant albums and popped them into a pretty box labelled Private Parts & Pieces IX—XI, added a fourth CD of unreleased and re-mixed pieces (named, with admirable consistency but little imagination, Private Parts & Extra Pieces III) and sent it out into the world.

Having collected and enjoyed quite a number of the series, I snapped this box up when it appeared before me, and very happy I was too.

img_7229

Private Parts & Pieces IX: Dragonfly Dreams is the earliest album in this set. Released in 1996, it is a collection of exquisitely executed guitar pieces. Although there are folk (or at least bucolic) flavours, the feel could be best described as neo-classical. Not in an uptight dinner-suited way, but a glass-of-Pimm’s-at-your-elbow, sitting on a shady riverbank, idyllic England kind of way. It’s lovely.

img_7231

Showing his accomplishments on keyboard (piano, mainly) Soirée (Private Parts & Pieces X, 2000) has a stately beauty and quiet presence that make it enjoyable in either foreground or ambient settings. Knowing Phillips as a guitarist of considerable skill, it is a delightful surprise to find a depth and confidence in these pieces. It is also lovely,

img_7234

In 2012 City Of Dreams was released; volume XI in the Private Parts & Pieces series. It is a very different sounding album, full of variety and mostly synthesised. With thirty-one pieces in under an hour, none of these vignettes outstays its welcome, which is nice in terms of it feeling like a tiny Anthony Phillips jukebox, but a tad frustrating if you love one of these brief pieces and want to hear it further developed.

img_7235

Which brings us to the bonus disc, Private Parts & Extra Pieces III. This one also has much variety: guitar-driven fantasias (12-string and electric), piano excursions, synthesiser remarks. There are even a couple of Anthony’s collaborations with fellow guitarist Quique Berro Garcia. 

The pieces—ranging in length from over six minutes to under two—were recorded during various sessions between 1990 and 2012, though there is no sense of this timespan in the listening, probably because all have been remixed for release. No throw-away, this. It’s like an introduction to the music of Anthony Phillips and most enjoyable.

Indeed, that last sentence could apply to this entire box. A lovely, thorough introduction to the instrumental works of a prolific musician who is so much more than the foundation guitarist of some biblically named prog band.

Anthony Phillips — Private Parts & Pieces IX—XI

Esoteric Recordings/Cherry Red (2018)

img_7239

January is about reflecting on some of Vinyl Connection’s acquisitions during the preceding year. Some are 2018 releases, others are re-issues that appeared during the past 12-months.

Back To The Pavilion was the title of Private Parts and Pieces II, released in 1980.

19 comments

  1. Totally unknown to me Bruce.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thus neatly demonstrating the point of blogging!

      Liked by 1 person

    2. I’m with 1537 on this one (though of course I know Genesis)… You’ve demonstrated the point of blogging twice! And to two handsome, fine example of masculine men, too! Hahaha this is all awesomely news to me and I will definitely investigate further.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I had a few of the early APs, including The Geese and the Ghost, but I kinda lost track of him over the years. Nice to know he’s persevered. Thanks for the precis, I’ll hunt some of those up.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The Geese and the Ghost is the one you still see around occasionally, though the first few are all worthwhile. But then, so are these later ones. I was pleasantly surprised.

      Like

  3. Trust you to do this kind of take. Since I’ve been doing this CB thing you have reminded, steered and helped me rediscover albums from my past. i own 3 of Anthony’s output, the first two (wore out Wise After the Event) and 1984. No secret how I got to him. Lost track but actually listened to the one i mentioned wearing out a while back. Great take and will make a note to have a listen to his more recent music. Thanks Bruce

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Like our yellow friend, I am not familiar with this chap at all. No surprise, right enough… I have yet to really check out Genesis.

    Anyhoo, that City of Dreams art is really quite something. Very emotive (for me at least)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Agreed on the cover art, J. Having a think for neolithic monuments, I really love the painting on the box too. There’s something about standing stones…

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Steve Hackett has always responded to his most devoted fans’ complaint that reviews of his recordings always focus on his Genesis pedigree, that he’s nonetheless thankful for that because the association has “greased the wheels” for all of his solo output. In other words, “bugger off because I’ve got a good thing going here.”

    I think the same sentiment can be applied to Ant as well. But for his own Genesis pedigree, we wouldn’t get to enjoy his amazing work. Great review, Bruce. I gotta get me some more Anthony Phillips. – Marty

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I dragged a mate along to a Steve Hackett concert 16 months ago and the set was very generously sprinkled with Genesis music. Of course SH had a much bigger Genesis catalogue to draw from than AP!
      However, that in no way diminishes the import of the comment you shared, Marty. And we’d all want artists like SH and AP to be able to get their music out to people. so if they don’t mind, why should anyone else?!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I quite like that description of a piano excursion – and by the sounds of it, a pleasurable jaunt!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That one was the surprise (of the four) for me, Geoff. Perhaps I was expecting the rolling, romantic style of Rick Wakeman’s New Age piano albums, but this was something else; more pastel, more impressionistic. Which I guess might explain why that album has a Renoir painting as a cover image.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. “You are a young guitarist, talented and hard-working”

    Aw shucks, thanks!

    Oh wait, I’m supposed to keep reading? Oh, OK… 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I had The Geese and the Ghost years ago but gradually grew tired of it and never kept up with Anthony Phillips career thereafter. Time for a re-appraisal methinks …

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Some of Anthony’s music still washes over me without making an impact but there’s a lot to savour in his extensive repertoire, too. After same random sampling I must say I particularly like Private Parts & Pieces VIII: New England. And I had no idea Ant was such an accomplished pianist as well as a fine guitarist. Thanks for the prompt, VC.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. His pianistic skills impressed me too. Although I love PP and P VII (some really nice ambient keyboard work) I don’t know VIII. So thank you for the prompt too!

        Liked by 1 person

  9. Add me to the list of the previously unaware but now enlightened! I *love* the cover art of Dragonfly Dreams and City of Dreams.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Me too. Responding to Geoff (above), I realised there was probably a reason for Mr Phillips choosing Renoir’s ‘Bal du moulin de la Galette’ as a cover image. Not that particular ‘Art on your sleeve’ painting, of course, but something impressionistic.
      I wonder if you’d rate his pianistic skills, JDB?

      Like

Comments and responses welcome for all posts: present or past. Please join in!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: