“Avian Migration and Spectral Apparitions (That’s The Geese & The Ghost to you!)” - The UK re-issue edition of Anthony Phillips’ debut album reviewed by Alan Hewitt.
Ok, so I have already reviewed this album once or thrice during TWR’s twenty one year history - so what?! I can categorically state that WITHOUT this album, TWR would not exist and we all would have been saved so much trouble! Seriously though, this album is responsible for so much in my life that I couldn’t resist saying something about its latest incarnation.
Now some thirty one years old, The Geese & The Ghost marked the re-appearance of Genesis founding father; Anthony Phillips on the music scene after his departure from the band in July 1970. Not that he hadn’t been active in the intervening years, far from it, as this album so forcefully demonstrates! History has already related how this album became Ant’s first solo album by default as Mike Rutherford gradually had less time to focus on it while Genesis duties beckoned. Nonetheless, his presence on the album is easily recognisable.
|With the New Wave currently rampaging through the UK music scene by the autumn of 1976, the outlook for a project such as this looked fairly bleak. This album is no three chord trick, far from it. In fact, it is everything that the purveyors of Punk found to be anathema: lyrical, lush, inventive and above all: MELODIC! This is not really surprising when you begin to read the sleeve notes to this edition so excellently compiled by Ant’s archivist; Jonathan Dann. Much of the music harks back to the period both before and immediately after Ant left Genesis and the trademarks are all there to see and hear. The glorious use of twelve strings which Ant and Mike used and which created such a unique sound on Trespass are here on the title track and elsewhere.|
The album has been described as Pastoral in flavour - it has also been described as “music to wash dishes to” by those less inclined to listen with open ears! Yes, there is no doubt that in some cases, the use of acoustic instrumentation can give that impression. However, listen to the impressionistic Chinese Mushroom Cloud and Henry Goes To War from the suite of pieces known as Henry: Portraits From Tudor Times, and you will soon find a harder edge lurking beneath the surface.
Anthony was lucky to be able to enlist not only Mike but many other equally talented musicians for this project including Jack Lancaster and John Hackett as well as the wonderful vocal talents of Viv McCauliffe and of course, one Mr Philip Collins. Phil’s presence on the album has never detracted from the sheer quality of the music and Ant has never traded on his “Ex-Genesis” associations. However, on this album you have some truly wonderful examples of Phil’s vocal delivery and the duet between him and Viv on God If I Saw Her Now is still one of the most delightful songs that I have ever heard! Also for the first time we hear Ant’s own voice on the plaintive Collections and a fine performance it is, too!
I think when I first reviewed this album all those many moons ago I said that on it there is “God’s plenty” and that opinion certainly hasn’t changed. However, in this case, that “plenty” has been augmented by a second disc replete with much more music. Here Jonathan Dann’s dedication to the cause of documenting Anthony’s archive really pays off. Thanks to Jonathan, not only is the album itself restored to its original form but also thankfully now using the ORIGINAL recordings rather than copies which was the case when the album was first transferred to CD because the masters were unavailable (lurking in Ant’s archive but that was the last place anybody thought to look at the time, apparently!) No such problems here, but the second disc also gives us a marvellous behind-the-scenes look at the development of the album through a series of alternative versions, demos and other material that clearly show that neither Ant or Mike were afraid to be experimental. The real jewel in the crown here though is the appearance of a song which has become a legend among Genesis fans: Silver Song. Originally written by Ant in 1969 as a tribute to the departing drummer; John Silver, this song has been through many permutations in its long and chequered history. However, what we have here is the version which features both Ant and Mike accompanied by Phil Collins, recorded in the autumn of 1973 and considered as a putative single by Charisma but subsequently shelved and out of the public gaze officially although much bootlegged until now - a delight to hear!
As albums go, this is without doubt the most influential album of modern music that I have ever heard. And to think it all started with fancying the album artwork - there is certainly more to this particular book than its cover though, I can tell you! The Geese & The Ghost remains one of my favourite albums and even now after some thirty years of listening to it, this new version still manages to bring something new to the proceedings - a rare gem polished to an even deeper lustre this time round - excellent stuff!
The Geese & The Ghost Voiceprint Records VP432CD
Track Listing (Disc One): Wind Tales/Which Way The Wind Blows/Henry: Portraits From Tudor Times : Fanfare-Lute’s Chorus-Misty Battlements-Lute’s Chorus Reprise-Henry Goes To War-Death Of A Knight-Triumphant Return/God If I Saw Her Now/Chinese Mushroom Cloud/The Geese & The Ghost Part1/The Geese & The Ghost Part 2/Collections/Sleepfall: The Geese Fly West.
Track Listing (Disc Two): Master Of Time (Demo)/Title Inspiration/The Geese & The Ghost - Part One (Basic Track)/Collections Link/Which Way The Wind Blows (Basic Track)/Silver Song (Basic Track)/Henry: Portraits From Tudor Times (Basic Track): Fanfare-Lute’s Chorus-Lute’s Chorus Reprise-Misty Battlements/Collections (Demo)/The Geese & The Ghost Part Two (Basic Track)/God If I Saw Her Now (Basic Track)/Sleep fall (Basic Track)/Silver Song (Unreleased Single Version).