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Phillips, Anthony: 1984 (remastered and expanded)

Even amongst his own fans, Anthony Phillips' 1984 album (released three years earlier) splits opinions. For some the nearly 100% electro nature of this work is way too far removed from the gentle, pastoral, progressive work he is best known for. To others it is a crowning glory and a pinnacle of the electronic scene – Steven Wilson no less stating in the booklet that accompanies this 2CD/DVD set, that 1984 is one of his favourite electronic albums of all time. Personally, I sit somewhere in between; the stark, almost drab themes often fitting the album's title perfectly, whilst in other places a kind of naivety shows through that somehow dampens the whole experience. I can't help but wonder what the results might have been had Vangelis got his hands on this material, although others liken this album to Rick Wakeman and Tony Bank's solo works.

Phillips is credited with keyboards, drumbox, occasional guitar and basic percussion, while Morris Pert and Richard Scott also have percussive credits; the latter adding 'effects and vocal ideas' as well, although the album remains instrumental. In this remastered setting, I have to say that there's a gravitas and weight behind 1984 that my old vinyl copy refuses to release (and I'm a vinyl advocate over digital) and while there are still aspects of the album that I find a little twee and undoubtedly dated – most of the percussion for example – the chance to reappraise it reveals a much more rewarding experience than I anticipated.

All that said, disc two is the main event here (although the 5.1 mix of the album on disc three offers many otherwise unheard discoveries), the early stage mixes – some of which haven't been released in this state before – extremely revealing. And without some of the drumbox in place, easier to swallow. During the recording of 1984, Phillips was asked to put together the music for an ITV TV series, Rule Britannia and cleverly these previously unreleased excerpts are placed, as Phillips recorded them, chronologically between the album's Part One and Part Two demos. For me the broad strokes and atmospherics moods of the six pieces that form "Rule Britannia Suite" are worth the price of admission on their own. That the other recordings and the addition of the wonderful 'Genesis on piano' demo of "Poly Piece" (which was initially intended for the Sides album but deemed out of step with the more song oriented outlook that album took) are also excellent, is a wonderful bonus.

If I was being picky, then I personally would have liked this reissue to come in the same clam shell style box that house the other recent Phillips reissues by Cherry Red (they do look nice on the shelf as a set…). However with a double sided poster, excellent liner notes featuring new interviews with those involved and a separate piece by Phillips himself, all coming in a sumptuous five panel digi-pack that recaptures the austere mood of the original release beautifully, it's hard to complain too much.

1984 may still be an album that splits Phillips fans, however what isn't up for dispute is that this is the definitive version. Once again Cherry Red have pulled out the stops to ensure this is a reissue of real value, the booklet revealing and interesting, while the bonus material itself makes it a must have for long term followers of the ex-Genesis man's work.


Track Listing
DISC ONE 1984: THE NEW STEREO MIX
1. PRELUDE '84
2. 1984 PART ONE
3. 1984 PART TWO
4. ANTHEM 1984


DISC TWO 1984: BONUS MATERIAL
1. PRELUDE – '84 (early stage mix)
2. ASCENSION
3. 1984 – PART ONE (early stage mix)


RULE BRITANNIA SUITE:
4. SALLY THEME
5. SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY
6. RESPECT
7. CHURCH
8. MILITARY
9. POWER IN THE LAND


10. 1984 – PART TWO (early stage mix)
11. ANTHEM 1984 (early stage mix)
12. 12. POLY PIECE (demo)


DISC THREE: DVD - 1984:THE NEW 5.1 SURROUND SOUND MIX
1. PRELUDE '84
2. 1984 PART ONE
3. 1984 PART TWO
4. ANTHEM 1984

Added: June 19th 2016
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Score:
Related Link: 1984 at Cherry Red
Hits: 1426
Language: english

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