Anthony Phillips Rarities by Barbara Kirk. Memorabilia: TWR Archive.
Outside of the many solo and band recordings Anthony has released there are a wealth of rarities. Guest appearances, B sides and music for adverts on television are among them and they are a treat for the Phillips collector.
The earliest collaboration between Ant and Mike Rutherford post Trespass appeared on a Charisma collection called Beyond An Empty Dream. It was a hymn called Take This Heart and it was recorded by the Charterhouse Choral Society - at that time Ant was composing church-type music, mainly organ dominated. I notice that in 1980 there was another Charisma various artists compilation called Songs For A Modern Church which given the format of religious songs in a secular style ie Lindisfarne’s Clear White Light, neglects to include this song which would have been so appropriate.
In 1974 Mike and Ant along with Phil Collins recorded Silver Song for a Radio One session and possible single release. This was written around the time that John Silver left Genesis. A solo version appears on the session that Ant did for Radio Clyde in 1978 (but not that many people are aware of the existence in demo form only of the B side to this single which was called Only Your Love - AH).
1977 saw the release of the Intergalactic Touring Band album, a various artists concept devised by Passport Records founder, Marty Scott, this was in fact Passport Records’ first US release. Ant plays acoustic guitar on Reaching Out which was a lovely song by Annie Haslam of Renaissance about homesick travellers in space thinking about their home planet. It isn’t his own composition but it makes me think how well Annie’s voice would be suited to songs of his. This was the first recorded work Ant released prior to the appearance of The Geese & The Ghost.
On the B side of the We’re All As We Lie single is the track Squirrel, the song whose lyrics appear on the inner gatefold sleeve of the Wise After The Event album. It would have been included on that album but was dropped due to reasons of space. The printers of the cover had to credit it as appearing on the “forthcoming single”. It is a very sparse track compared with the others on the album with it having just voice and piano. It could have come off Private Parts & Pieces II (one of my very favourite Anthony Phillips albums) with the way it is multi-dubbed.
Souvenir, the B side of a drastically edited Um & Aargh (where the unintelligible “something obscene” is repeated twice) . This is very much a poor relation to I Want Your Love off the Sides album with Dale Newman taking the lead vocals.
The Radio Clyde Session* which I briefly mentioned earlier comprised acoustic songs, versions of tracks both available and unavailable on album. Each track was prefaced by Ant talking about them and the tracks performed were: End Of Season/Flamingo/Reaper/ Wise After The Event/Master Of Time ( a new song or a very old one as it turns out - AH)/Silver Song/Now What (Are They Doing To My Little Friends). Given his relentless perfection in the studio and at home, all of these were, because of BBC and Musicians’ Union rates regarding studio time, were done in just one take. Ant himself says it was a case of “wham, bam, thank you ma’am” which is despicable to this writer! Unfortunately the tape we have of this at home was recorded too fast which gives it all a chimpunkish sounding quality - does anyone out there have this at the right speed?
* Thankfully since this feature was written a recording has been issued on CD which corrects the speed problem.
In the same year, Ant recorded the music for the film Tarka The Otter. This would have been the follow up album to The Geese & The Ghost but there were commercial considerations to be adhered to. Instrumental music (unless it’s that tuneless mass of unoriginality described as “house” or “hip hop” etc these days) had a hard time in the marketplace. And so did Ant’s soundtrack which got passed over in favour of some hybrid of Local Hero and Que Sera which pitifully pulled Henry Williamson’s classic nature story down to the level of Disneyesque banality. The Ant score is FAR supoerior to the David Fanshawe aberration which was used and shows his skill with both acoustic and electric instruments and also with orchestral arrangements (as on the soaring Regrets from Wise After The Event). The author’s son; Harry Williamson also played on this and helped to arrange it all. Two extracts were used elsewhere; a band section entitled Otters appeared on a cassette of out-takes culled from Nik Turner’s Sphinx and the dramatic orchestral section used to herald the hunting sequence was re-edited for a Britoil commercial. For some time there was a complete cassette of the Tarka Music available on the Ottersongs label but it was deleted for legal reasons. It originally came with a sleeve designed by Harry Williamson until it was replaced by a new one by Barbara Kirk. The cassette in itself is a sort of Private Parts & Pieces II and a half - trailer for a complete recording (featuring contributions from Didier Malherbe of the group Gong) which will appear when a deal sorts itself out under the title - Tarka* - A Chronicle of Ancient Sunlight. A film company are also interested in using the score, so see the film when it comes out or get it on video!
* Sadly the film never materialised although thanks to the film company Amy International, the score and sound recording to Tarka were finally completed and the resulting album was released under the title Tarka in 1988.
Ant’s association with Harry Williamson (the Piranhaphone nickname stems from a guitar Williamson used on the Sphinx Xitintoday album) also includes work on a children’s story set to music called Caspar & The Snow Princess, this was written by Geoff Gilbertson, an author whose book; The Dark Gods inspired Gospel According To The \Men In Black by The Stranglers (although the sleeve credits do not mention this). It was very much in the same vein as Gong’s Fairy Tales album, one of the best albums for children of all ages. Originally the story was going to be marketed only in the French speaking territories, with Gilli Smyth narrating the story over Ant and Harry’s music but the label which were going to put it out objected to its lack of commerciality, In the end, the music, titled Gypsy Suite* was re-edited and used on a Mother Gong cassette called Battle Of The Birds* which was also issued on the Ottersongs label but later deleted because Ant was unsatisfied with the editing. This is another unofficial Private Parts & Pieces type recording with the emphasis on Ant and Harry’s acoustic work and the story is of Irish origin, in a way a celtic variation on Cinderella as Wassillissa (from Battle of The Birds) was a Russian variation.
* Eventually both of these projects were given official release albeit in drastically re-worked form.
Ant’s television work has comprised music for documentaries. Commercials and plays. Apart from the Britoil ad he has also done music for adverts for Oil of Ulay, British Lamb (contrary to his vegetarian beliefs). He did the music for a skiing documentary which incorporates what became the chiming keyboard figure that opens Sally on the Invisible Men album. Prelude ‘84 incidentally form the 1984 album was also used as a trailer for the BBC’s evening programmes.
An ITV play which starred Pauline Collins - I vaguely remember it was a murder mystery, featured some original music by Ant as did a series called Rule Britannia (which I’ve never seen). This was a six part series portraying Britain and its history and cultural traditions - AH. A Granada play: God’s Chosen Car Park included about a minutes’ worth of Ant’s keyboard work accompanying God’s supposed arrival in a Sinclair C5! If more work had been used I believe it would have been an extension of K2 or 1984.
Ant has also done stock music. Stock music is what accompanies the Test Card, commercials or plays if a musician hasn’t been specially commissioned to write a score, and a lot of this is available on the Atmosphere label (1984 was recorded at the Atmosphere studio) but it is only available to TV companies and NOT to the public. These work in a similar way to the BBC sound effects albums and comprise specific music for suggested scenes.
Anthony Phillips has not always ignored the commercial market. In 1981 he went through a phase of composing for other acts to earn a bit more and the Bucks Fizz album I Hear Talk (RCA) includes a composition he co-wrote with Roy Hill called Tears On The Ballroom Floor. This came out ironically enough at the time that the band had their serious car accident.
The Invisible Men album threw up a rarity in two countries. My copy is the US version on Passport Records with a literally blank faced Ant and Richard Scott on the cover, and a full face photo of them on the back (the UK edition features a computer print out on the front and the blank faces on the back cover - AH). It includes a song called Exocet which is in complete contrast to the rest of the album. This was left off the UK edition probably due to sensitivities about the Falklands conflict. Instead, the UK album contains the rather innocuous It’s Not Easy. This track was substituted after Going For Broke and Exocet came out on the 12” single of Sally (there was no 7”). If Exocet had been the A side and had Street Tunes had enough publicity, then Ant may have had a somewhat controversial hit single on his hands!
The Phillips/Scott partnership also extended to the writing of a musical: Alice which had a run at the Leeds Playhouse before sinking without any further performances. The germs for Alice had gone back to the Phillips/Williamson partnership when it was originally intended as a straight re-telling of Lewis Carroll’s story. The version for which Scott wrote the lyrics set the tale in the future where there was no such thing as love or creativity only a roboticised society ruled over by the spider-like Queen of Hearts who advocated marriages and not to stray into a time warp area called The Yesterways. I saw the show which can only be described as Mother Gong’s Robot Woman meets Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Cats. Much as I admire Anthony’s work I can’t help thinking that Richard Scott’s story led nowhere - Alice didn’t have many adventures when she went into The Yesterways and we didn’t really see how the Queen of Hearts fell from power. I feel that it would have worked better if there had been an album first with various singers taking parts (say: Toyah Wilcox in the title role taken by Sally Ann Triplett) with maybe a book insert telling the story in the way that Intergalactic Touring Band did.
A song from the show; Walls & Bridges later emerged on Private Parts & Pieces IV - A Catch At The Tables as an instrumental piece called Lights On The Hill. This was also on the Cherry Red Records compilation Harvest Of The Heart which was a valiant effort to spread the word about his music in the UK beyond the hardcore following. It also included Trail of Tears, a rhythmic drum box-led 1984 out-take and Erotic Strings, a short synth piece featuring Ralph Bernascone on Sarrusaphone, which is the very same piece that backed part of the Pauline Collins play mentioned earlier (these tracks eventually appeared on the CD version of Private Parts & Pieces IV - AH)