“Watching The Wildlife” - The new Anthony Phillips album; Wildlife reviewed by Alan Hewitt.

Anyone with an interest in wildlife will remember the long-running Anglia TV series “Survival” which for many years rivalled the BBC’s natural history broadcasts. Anthony’s contributions to that series have been many and varied, some more successful than others. This album, on the face of it, is simply a compilation of music from the programmes which Anthony and his collaborator Joji Hirota have contributed to. However, there is a much deeper rationale behind this album as the sleeve notes reveal.

One of the major fascinations of the Survival series was the amazing camera work of photographer Nick Gordon who over the space of many years actively pursued his subjects spending many years literally on location with the very creatures he was filming. Nick’s dedication both to his craft and to the creatures he was filming often put his own life at risk but always made for fascinating viewing and was seldom stage managed - what you saw was what actually happened! Nick’s untimely death a couple of years ago robbed the world of one of the finest cameramen around and also robbed the world’s wildlife of a dedicated and untiring champion the like of which seldom come around.

This album is therefore not only another fascinating look at some of the music which is Ant’s stock in trade these days as a composer, but also a fitting tribute to the work of a man who brought the hidden world of so many creatures into our living rooms.

Not all of the music is from programmes about far flung and exotic places however, but either way it evokes places and creatures which are seldom seen and in many cases, may never be seen again unless action is taken to preserve them. The album finally brings together the very best of the music that Anthony and Joji composed for the Survival series and many of the tracks here are ones which are new to me and I suspect many others too. The music moves from the depths of the Amazon rainforest where so much of Nick Gordon’s working life was spent, to the depths of the ocean where sharks are the kings of all they survey. There are also trips to the plains of Africa and the woods of Norfolk, to the Steppes of Russia and the Pacific island of Midway.

It is fascinating to hear this music properly at last. So much of it was used in its respective TV programmes but underlying the voice over of the various narrators. In each and every case, Anthony and Joji have lovingly created atmospheres and moods which vividly portray the creatures that Nick Gordon so vividly brought to life through his photography - and there can be no more fitting tribute to his work than that!

Anthony Phillips/Joji Hirota: Wildlife Arcangelo Records ARC7274 (Japan)/Voiceprint Records VP435CD.
Track Listing:
“Creatures Of The Magic Water” (1994) Creatures Of The Magic Water - Opening Theme/Green Hell/Jaguar And The Terrapin/Flooded Forest/Hidden Shadow/River God.
“Secrets Of The Amazon” (2003) Secrets Of The Amazon/Killing Grounds/River Dolphins/Faces In The Forest/Final Journey.
“Jaguar - Eater Of Souls” (1999) Onza - Eater Of Souls/Relentless Sun In Half Drowned Lands.
“Serengeti Jigsaw” (1998) Serengeti Jigsaw- Opening Theme/Massacre Of The Termites.
“Web Of The Spider Monkey” (1995) Web Of The Spider Monkey - Opening Theme.
“Dungeons And Dragons” (2000) Island Of Stone/Fireflies/Courting Chameleons/Rock Spires, Crocodile Caves/Dusty Track/Fathomless Caverns.
“Secrets Of A Norfolk Wood” (1998) Storm Breaks/Morning Call/Autumn Dusk.
“Bears Of The Russian Front” (2000) Bears Of Kamchatka - Opening Theme/In The Tundra/Across The Frozen Wastes/Nighthunt/Cubs.
“Gremlins - Faces In The Forest” (1997) Mother Of The Moon.
“Jurassic Shark” (2000) Jurassic Shark - Opening Theme/Ray’s Song/Voyage Of The Whale Shark/Megalodon/Only Good Shark Is A Dead One/Back Through Time - Under The Ocean/Jurassic Shark - Closing Theme.
“Midway - Island Of Life” (1999) Midway - Island Of Life - Opening Theme/Dolphins At Play/ Dolphins, Seals And Rays/Mysteries Of The Wreck/Sunset Flight/Fight To The Death/From The Jaws Of Death- Touching The Face Of God.