“A Light On The Hill and other stories” - The Ant Band tribute album reviewed by Alan Hewitt.
Tribute albums are a mixed bag at the best of times. Sometimes the best of intentions can fall flat on their face, and when you are confronted by music such as Anthony Phillips' which is not your average three chord fodder, it is a brave musician who ventures into those waters! Thankfully the musicians here, a group of mainly German ones, are more than equal to the task they have set themselves.
Following in the wake of the excellent Which Way The Wind Blows release by the Rocking Horse Music Club back in 2019, this could so easily have been a damp squib. Instead what you actually have here is a pocket resume of Ant's solo career including several of my personal favourites, all viewed from a fresh perspective by the musicians involved. Yes, these are interpretations rather than note for note copies and as such, the results are fascinating!
Beginning with the war story that is Sistine which is given a much more rocky treatment with Robin Morgenstern delivering an impressive vocal. I admit this takes a bit of getting used to after years of hearing the rather sedate original, but it works incredibly well.
Back to the beginning (almost) next for F# which, as we all know, eventually became the basis for The Musical Box. Mr Hackett senior gets his chance to shine here with some impressive licks but it is the ensemble twelve string playing of Sascha Krieger and Tom Morgenstern which impresses me the most on this one.
Sanctuary, one of the handful of genuine love songs in Ant's catalogue doesn't quite work as well and is given a rocked up arrangement which rather spoils some of the delicate nuances of the original but I could imagine fans lapping this one up in the live context - if such a thing were ever to happen again.
God If I Saw Her Now on the other hand works incredibly well. Nina and Robin Morgenstern more than do justice to the vocal duet and the other musicians evidently enjoyed the chance to perform this classic.
She'll Be Waiting is another delightful song from Ant and here the heavier rocky arrangement works perfectly with Damian Krebs providing the percussive muscle which drives the song along.
Study No 1 in E Major taken from the Six Pieces For Guitar music book published aeons ago by Josef Weinberger is another dekight as indeed are the rest of the tracks selected here. Fans undoubtedly familiar with the original performances will, I am sure be equally delighted with the interpretations on display here. This is not easy music to play in the first place and the fact the assembled musicians have managed to bring something fresh and new to each and every track is a credit to their abilities making this a bona fide tribute to the music of Anthony Phillips.