Anthony Phillips was the original lead guitarist with Genesis, and along with Tony Banks and Michael Rutherford, was largely responsible for the group’s early guitar-based sound. Released in 1977, this was Phillips’ first solo album, and it’s now the first in a series of reissues from his extensive back catalog. Although Phillips’ lushly layered acoustic and electric 6- and 12-strings predominate, he also plays keyboards, percussion, bazouki, drums, and bass, as well as singing on one cut. Rutherford plays nearly as many instruments, Phil Collins contributes vocals to two songs, and nearly a dozen additional musicians play orchestra strings and woodwinds. A bonus CD contains 12 additional tracks, including demos, unadorned basic tracks, remixes, and previously unreleased material.
The compositional scope of this music is highly ambitious, reflecting the grandeur and pageantry of its themes, from lilting love songs (“God if I Saw Her Now”) to majestic programmatic suites spanning the delicate to the dramatic (“Henry: Portraits from Tudor Times”) to neo-classical instrumentals (“Sleepfall: The Geese Fly West”). The songs present a gentler and more melodic side of early progressive rock that has largely been forgotten, while providing a lesson in the intelligent use of timbre, rhythmic variation, and dynamics to create movement and passion without resorting to bombast. Fans of Genesis’ Trespass album should be especially pleased. Phillips is a magnificent guitarist and composer who has never received adequate recognition. Hopefully these reissues will help to remedy that.