“One more Slow Dance ” - Anthony Phillips' Slow Dance album reissue reviewed by Alan Hewitt.
How do I begin to describe this album to anyone who has never heard it? Or the effect that it had on me when I first heard it under its then working title of “Project Two” back in the summer of 1989?
Without doubt, to my mind this has to be the greatest instrumental album by a modern composer that I have ever heard. Move over your Jarres and Oldfields, this one knocks your efforts into a cocked hat! It is now twenty seven years since the album was released officially and time has done nothing to alter my initial assessment of this music.
So, with that in mind, and with an album that has made such a deep and profound impression on me, just how would I feel about a reissue? Would revisiting this masterpiece destroy the all too fragile wonderment of it? I know from conversations with Anthony himself about it, he had the same reservations, especially when it came to possibly “re-doing” certain sections of it (see our interview with Ant in #98) and how this might not sit well with the aficionados who know the album so well… myself included.
Well, the album is here now in all its glory, and I have to say my worries were completely groundless. Those of you with a 5.1 system will benefit even more from the extra depth and clarity which has been brought to the table on this one but even the new stereo mix brings detail previously unsuspected to the fore. If anything has been “redone” then it has been done so well that I for one cannot spot it and the end result is once again… the perfect album.
However, as with all of the Esoteric reissues, there is much more to this release than just the album itself (although that would be sufficient reason for buying it folks). Oh no, once again the sonic sleuth that is Jonathan Dann has been hard at work and the bonus disc is another treasure trove of previously unheard material. Several of the mixes which have the strings and guitar separated out are truly remarkable and if nothing else, show that this is an album that COULD be performed in the concert hall by an orchestra . Indeed this is another of those albums of Ant’s that SHOULD be heard in such a location. The variants also wonderfully demonstrate the evolution of the album and as usual they are accompanied by an in depth booklet of sleeve notes and accompanying essay by Jonathan which give you just about all the information on the album that you could wish for.
As I said at the beginning of this review, Slow Dance holds a special place in my affections, and I am delighted to say that this new version has merely cemented that place there. It is that rarity of things a perfect album in my book . Excellent stuff, well done all round!
Anthony Phillips: Slow Dance . Esoteric Records ECLEC 325890.