CD REVIEW – Anthony Phillips – Archive Collection

Esoteric Recordings has released of a newly remastered 5CD clamshell boxed set of the two original ‘Archive Collection’ albums by composer and Genesis founder member Anthony Phillips. Those in the know, will be aware that Anthony has been a composer of music for television for many years, going back as far as 1976 and it is those compositions that form the backbone of these collections. In March 1998 Anthony issued the first volume of ‘Archive Collection’ and, due to its popularity, a second volume was issued in May 2004. Both titles gathered together soundtrack compositions and rare archive recordings made over the years. But what we have here is not just those, but a new boxed set edition featuring an additional 27 tracks previously unreleased and rare archive material, including a 1966 demo by pre-Genesis band The Anon and also an additional CD of ‘The Masquerade Tapes’, which was music inspired by the illustrated book by Kit Williams. With extensive liner notes by archivist Jon Dann, aficionados of Anthony Phillips’ highly respected work will have a field day.

Archive Collection Volume One was released by Voiceprint in March 1998 and, although made available in subsequent years as a straight repress, this reissue is a re-master that benefits from improvements in audio restoration techniques, the digitisation of Anthony’s back catalogues, and access to multi-track masters. It also has the additional benefit of seeing the original EP length second disc that came with the original release expanded to a full length CD with previously unreleased tracks and variations. These date all the way back to the earliest existing archive recording that Ant was involved with in the form of the demo version of Pennsylvania Flickhouse, recorded by the pre-Genesis band Anon in the summer of 1966.

The album re-affirms Anthony’s absolute mastery of the 12-string. It reminds us of his uncanny ability to tug at the heartstrings, whether on piano (‘Take this Heart’), with guitar and vocals (‘Beside the Water’s Edge’), or in more orchestral format (‘The Geese and the Ghost’). It also has that very nice reminder of early pastoral Genesis, which is no bad thing. And when you hear ‘F Sharp’, you’ll realise that Phillips actually had some influence on the album Nursery Cryme – I’ll say no more…… It is a privilege to hear some tracks new to my ears such as ‘Study in G’ (Hackett wasn’t the only Genesis guitarist gifted with acoustic and classical stylings). It is great to hear the absolute classics ‘Which Way the Wind Blows’, ‘Lucy Will’ and ‘God if I saw Her Now’. Yes, demos are bound to sound less than perfect, some of the ’80’s keys sound dated, and the ’90’s are barely touched but sound promising – all in all it remains a fascinating collection. And I am only talking about Disc One.

One particular challenge with archive recordings is material recorded on obsolete technology. For recording at his home studio at Send Barns, Anthony used a single stereo Revox tape recorder, later supplemented with a second similar machine for some basic multi-track recordings. In late 1974 the first true multi-track recording facilities were used: two TEAC four track machines using dbx noise reduction which had been bought with Charisma Records support to facilitate the initial recording of The Geese and The Ghost. But don’t moan about recording quality – listen to the other qualities of the music.

Disc Two also has some classics, such as an instrumental version of the gorgeous epic ‘Master of Time’, ‘Henry Goes to War’, ‘Greenhouse’, the orchestral ‘Regrets’ and the deliciously short ‘Sleepfall Celeste’. But it ends with the demo version of ‘Pennsylvania Flickhouse’ recorded by the pre-Genesis band Anon. A surprisingly clear recording, a reminder of the era in which the kids were in at the time. And what a privilege to hear history in the making!

Ant & Mike 1969

Archive Collection Volume 2

One particular challenge associated with archive recordings is accessing material recorded on now obsolete technology which require the original equipment to play them so that they can be transferred to a digital format. For recording at his home studio at Send Barns, Ant had initially used a single stereo Revox tape recorder which he later supplemented with a second similar machine for basic multi-track recordings. In late 1974 Ant acquired his first true multi-track recording facilities – two TEAC four track machines bought with the advance supplied by Charisma Records for The Geese and The Ghost. The next upgrade was to an Allen & Heath Brenell Mini-8, an 8-track recorder that used one-inch tape. Phil Collins, Tony Banks and Mike Rutherford also had these in their home studios and the initial tracks for Phil’s albums Face Value and Hello I Must Be Going as well as Tony’s The Fugitive were all recorded on this format. The Brenell would remain until late 1987 when it was replaced with a Fostex 16-track machine. The years of recording using these set-ups generated a large quantity of analogue tapes which couldn’t be accessed in their original form without the respective machines. A further complication was the deterioration in tape condition which meant that the magnetic oxide would shed when played. During digitisation, working machines were obtained for transfer to a digital format. A substantial amount of previously unheard material came to light as a result, enabling the second Archive Collection.

Archive Collection Volume Two was released in May 2004 and as with Volume One this reissue is the first remaster. This time round, the oldest recording, however, is ‘Windmill’ from 1971. There is a pleasing diversity, with recordings from 1973, pieces from the Sides period, songs from a 1979 “Library” project, pieces from the Invisible Men sessions and some from the context of the Alice musical. Some “soundtrack” pieces have very different quality, including music for Shakespeare’s Macbeth, a surrealist student film called Fantomas, a documentary about the Middle East and for Alice. As with the last set, some of the instrumentals are remixes of previously released songs, and there are demos. Some never saw the light of day, for which you have to wonder why (‘Picardy Pictures’). Some other things of note:

The delightful ‘Deep In The Night’ was written by Ant and Mike and developed in 1969 in the same session that produced Archive 1’s ‘Beside The Water’s Edge’ and anyone else pick up on a distant echo of ‘Snowbound’ or ‘Evidence of Autumn’ like me? Talking of Genesis, ‘The Old Wives Tale’ is an instrumental version of the early Genesis song ‘Little Leaf’ (1968). ‘The Scottish Suite II’ contains almost all the unused material from 1976’s Macbeth project that Ant had not used on Private Parts & Pieces II: Back To The Pavilion. Certainly an entertaining exhibition of the songwriter’s soundtracking talent. ‘Tregenna Afternoons’ is a delightful, alternate, lengthy version of the classic number, and the instrumental mix of ‘Falling For Love’, performed by the Anthony Phillips Band, has some nice additional lead guitar parts by him. And buried slightly in the jazzy mix of the opening theme from Fantomas is John Silver playing the brushes on the drum kit. Finally, take a listen to the experimental ‘Will The Last Man Off The Ice Rink (Please Turn Out The Lights)’ (1973) and see if you find any resemblance to a techniques used by Phil Collins in Drones, or even …Maybe I’ll Lend You Mine After All, a number Collins would record four years later with Brand X.

Ant in 2019

Masquerade

An approach by a publisher to illustrate a children’s book would prompt artist Kit Williams to write his own story instead of creating the illustrations for another author’s work. In the story of Masquerade, a hare called Jack Hare is tasked with carrying a treasure from the Moon to the Sun. On reaching the Sun, Jack finds that the treasure has been lost and the reader is then challenged to discover its location. For the book, the story was accompanied by a series of fifteen detailed paintings which concealed clues, riddles and puzzles which when correctly deciphered, would reveal the whereabouts of a piece of treasure. Kit Williams made a real prize which would be buried in the ground, an 18-carat gold and jewelled pendant of a hare, which was encased in a clay container. On 7th August 1979 at Ampthill Park in Bedford Kit Williams buried it near the monument Katherine’s Cross, with writer and broadcaster Bamber Gascoigne acting as a witness.

With the book a bestseller, the adaptation of the story into a musical began to be considered. This review won’t go into the ever so long and ever so convoluted machinations of managers, publicists, musical theatre types. Those who know Rupert Hine’s or Rod Argent’s life story may also know some of the musical’s history. Suffice to say, once the dust settled over the years, Anthony Phillips picked up the pieces, with re-recordings, re-writings and revised opportunities, using them eventually in one or two areas of work. And how interesting it is therefore to have gathered all the pieces together in whatever format for the 5th CD of this archive collection. Yes, in places timebound (some songs in whole or in part using the ARP 2600 and the Polymoog together with the Roland CR 78 drumbox that were used for the first stage of his album 1984. But there is so much pleasurable within this collection. The archivist and all others associated with this disc alone deserve praise! Oh, and btw, just nine days into the show’s run in March 1982 the news broke that the jewelled hare at the centre of the book had finally been found and after 31 performances the show closed for good. That’s life for you!

So let me wrap this up for you. It is an absolutely excellent archive release. It may be one for diehards and completists, but in this collection are long lost gems, forgotten gems, never-seen-before gems, and new-version gems. Yes, a gem of a release. Dip into those archives.

My thanks to Jonathan Dann, Archivist from the Anthony Phillips website for the photos.



Tracklisting:

Disc One
Archive Collection Volume One: Disc One

  1. Back To Pluto (1987)
  2. Promenade (Alternate Version 1986)
  3. Take This Heart (Demo 1972)
  4. Beside The Water’s Edge (Demo 1977)
  5. The Geese And The Ghost (Kiddies Mix 1975)
  6. Which Way The Wind Blows (Alternate Version 1975)
  7. Rowey Song (1972)
  8. Lucy Will (Demo 1978)
  9. God If I Saw Her Now (Demo 1970)
  10. In Memoriam Ad (Demo 1970)
  11. Hunt Song (Demo 1977)
  12. Rule Britannia Closing Theme (1981)
  13. Exocet (Instrumental Mix 1982)
  14. Study In G (1978)
  15. Holy Deadlock (Vocal Mix 1978)
  16. Catch You When You Fall (1978)
  17. F Sharp (Demo 1969)
  18. The Geese And The Ghost (Demo 1969)
  19. F Sharp 2 (Demo 1969)
  20. Rowey Reprise (1972)
  21. Slow Dance (Single Demo 1990)
  22. The Burnt-Out Cattle Truck Hits The Road (1991)
  23. The Women Were Watching (Instrumental Mix 1982)

Disc Two
Archive Collection Volume One: Disc Two
(Tracks 6 – 18 Previously Unreleased)

  1. Kip Pj (1978)
  2. Queen Bettine (Demo 1972)
  3. What Is The Meaning? (Demo 1969)
  4. Farewell (Demo 1969)
  5. Cradle Song (1978)
  6. Master Of Time (Instrumental Version 1973)
  7. Lucy: An Illusion (1978)
  8. Henry Goes To War (Guitars Only Mix 1975)
  9. Sleepfall Celeste (1976)
  10. God If I Saw Her Now (Alternate Version 1975)
  11. Make The Best Of A Bad Situation (1982)
  12. Regrets (Initial Orchestral Run-Through 1977)
  13. Nightmare Link (1978)
  14. Greenhouse (Instrumental Mix 1977)
  15. In Absentia (Demo 1971)
  16. Stranger (Demo 1970)
  17. Master Of Creation (Demo 1969)
  18. Pennsylvania Flickhouse (The Anon Demo 1966)

Disc Three
Archive Collection Volume Two: Disc One

  1. Guitar Song (Demo 1973)
  2. The Anthem From Tarka (Demo 1988)
  3. Deep In The Night (Demo 1977)
  4. Bleak House (Instrumental Mix 1978)
  5. Our Man In Japan (Library Piece 1979)
  6. Child Song (Demo 1973)
  7. Old Wives Tale (Solo Version 1976)
  8. Scottish Suite II (I) Leaping Salmon
  9. Scottish Suite II (II) The Witching Hour
  10. Scottish Suite II (III) Two Truths
  11. Scottish Suite II (IV) The Letter
  12. Scottish Suite II (V) Walpurgis Night
  13. Scottish Suite II (VI) Sweet Reaper
  14. Scottish Suite II (VII) Why Sinks This Cauldron?
  15. Scottish Suite II (VIIIx) Her Last Sleepwalk
  16. Sally (Instrumental Mix 1982)
  17. Windmill (Demo 1971)
  18. Tregenna Afternoons (Demo 1973)
  19. Lofty Vaults (Library Piece 1979)
  20. Variation On A Theme Of Fantomas (Demo 1973)
  21. Picardy Pictures (Demo 1972)
  22. Polar Lights (Library Piece 1979)
  23. The Ridolfi Plot (Demo 1978)
  24. Falling For Love (Instrumental Mix 1982)

Disc Four
Archive Collection Volume Two: Disc Two

  1. Highland Fling (Library Piece 1979)
  2. Prelude #1 (1981)
  3. Siesta (1981)
  4. Bubble And Squeak (1981)
  5. Guru (Instrumental Mix 1982)
  6. Shady Arbours (1974)
  7. West Side Alice (1983)
  8. Vic’s Tango (Demo 1983)
  9. Seven Long Years (Instrumental Mix 1976)
  10. Romeo And Juliet (Library Piece 1976)
  11. I Saw You Today (1978)
  12. The Anthem From Tarka (Alternate Mix Of Demo 1988)
  13. Quadrille (From Alice) (1983)
  14. Desert Suite (I) Sand Dance
  15. Desert Suite (II) Pipelines
  16. Desert Suite (III) End Theme
  17. Fantomas Opening Theme (Film Music 1973)
  18. Sistine (Instrumental Mix 1982)
  19. Sisters Of Remindum (Basic Mix 1977 / 1978)
  20. Will The Last Man Off The Ice Rink (Please Turn Out The Lights) (1973)
  21. Finale (Instrumental Mix 1982

Disc Five
Archive Collection: The Masquerade Tapes
(Previously Unreleased)

  1. Overture
  2. Moon
  3. Sun
  4. Tara’s Theme
  5. Craw
  6. All Horrors Of The Night
  7. Penny Pockets
  8. Hare B Minor
  9. Destiny
  10. Fire
  11. Yellow Carpet
  12. Masque Moon
  13. Moon’s Lament For The Sun (Vocal By Lindsey Moore)
  14. Last Of The Heavy Hares
  15. Only A Dream


http://www.anthonyphillips.co.uk/

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