Anthony Phillips - The Man And His Music (Part One) - A Listener’s Review by Alan Hewitt.
Mention the name Anthony Phillips to most people and the reaction is usually one of blank silence or a polite question; “Anthony who?”. Most long-standing Genesis fans will know however, that Ant was the original guitarist in the first Genesis line up until shortly after the release of Trespass in 1970. Not many fans know much about Ant’s musical work after that time which is a shame because they are missing out on some really beautiful music in a surprising number of styles. The aim of this article is to bring some of that music to a wider audience so, after you have read it, go to your local record dealer and order up some of Ant’s albums. It’s a decision I am sure you won’t regret - I haven’t!
1977 - The Geese & The Ghost, Passport Records PP98020.
This is the first of a series of L Ps by Ant and as a first LP is of an exceptionally high standard. Genesis fans will find it particularly interesting because both Phil Collins and Mike Rutherford feature on it. Like most of his L Ps, this one is mainly instrumental with the exception of Wind Tales, God If I Saw Her Now and Collections. The first two are beautifully sung by Phil. However the high point of the LP is reached with the collection if instrumental pieces called Henry- Portraits Of Tudor Times, which if listened to properly has the power to conjure up vivid images of the era on which it is based. Overall, an excellent LP with the first of several stunning artwork sleeves by Peter Cross.
LP Running Time: 57 Mins 15 Secs.
1978 - Wise After The Event, Arista Records SPART 1063.
After using Mike and Phil on his first LP, Ant wisely chose to use other musicians on this one, but to very good effect. Several of the songs here have wry observations within the lyrics and the overall feel of the LP is particularly optimistic. My personal favourite is Now What (Are They Doing To My Little Friends?) which is almost Ant’s version of Peter Gabriel’s Biko; a protest song about the cruelty man dishes out to the animals which share the planet. Once again, in an age where records rarely last longer than forty minutes, Ant gives good value for money with over fifty two minutes of music. Artwork is again by Peter Cross and in the original gatefold sleeve (now deleted) the lyrics are printed along with still more of Peter’s famous song illustrations.
LP Running Time: 52 Mins 6 Secs.
1979 - Sides Arista Records SPART 1985.
This is the LP which Armando Gallo described as being the one which made him wish that Ant had never left Genesis. A fair balance between instrumentals and lyrical pieces which gives a good showcase for the various talents of Ant and the musicians he uses. In particular, listen to the caustic humour of Holy Deadlock; a song which Phil Collins could easily have written to describe his own matrimonial problems at this time. And the haunting Bleak House, a song which owes more than a little to the book of that name.
LP Running Time: 44 Mins 27 Secs.
1979 - Private Parts & Pieces. Passoprt Records PVC 7905.
Originally released as a free LP with the initial pressing of Sides, this LP has since become one of the main sellers from Ant’s back catalogue. The reason perhaps being the inclusion of a couple of unrecorded Genesis pieces. Most of the music on this LP is acoustic guitar and piano and for those who like Steve Hackett’s Bay Of Kings album, this one is a winner. In particular, Tregenna Afternoons, Reaper, and Autumnal, which are marvellous to listen to on a hot summer’s day when you have got nothing else to do - give it a listen!
LP Running Time: 54 Mins 27 Secs.
1980 - Private Parts & Pieces II: Back To The Pavilion. Passport Records PVC 7913.
After the first album in the series, this one came as something of a disappointment. The aim of the Private Parts & Pieces series was to give Ant the opportunity to put music on record which might otherwise might not have been aired in that way. The result in this case seems to be a hotch-potch of ideas with little continuity. The LP does contain some good moments including the electric version of Reaper from PP& PI and the lovely ballads Heavens and Spring Meeting. Once again the artwork is by Peter Cross and his work on this album and its predecessor makes the sleeves collectors’ items as well as the discs themselves.#
LP Running Time: 53 Mins 21 Secs.
1981 - 1984 RCA Records RCA LP 5036.
For those of us who had become used to Ant’s guitar work, this LP came as quite a surprise. A totally keyboard orientated album, divided into four “movements” all of which capture moods very well, in particular the strident Prelude ’84 which, with other pieces; Anthem 1984 was given “Single Of The Week” status by Record Mirror. Variations on some of the music from this album were used in the ITV series Rule Britannia which some of you may have seen.
LP Running Time: 41 Mins 20 Secs.