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Phillips, Anthony: Private Parts & Pieces IX - XI

Although there are other albums in his lengthy catalogue that haven't yet been reissued, this latest Private Parts & Pieces box-set from the Esoteric/Cherry Red label brings not only that side of Anthony Phillips' catalogue to a conclusion, but also includes the songwriter's latest solo effort to date, 2012's City Of Dreams. In many ways, two of the albums presented here, parts IX - Dragonfly Dreams and XI - City Of Dreams, seem to take the PP&P idea back to its starting point, with fewer bespoke compositions being revealed on those two albums, while Part X - Soiree, heads in the other direction entirely. Therefore on IX and XI we get a larger selection of left behind musical sketches that are either presented, as the early Privates had been, much as they were, or polished up to be revealed for the first time.

The first of the albums gathered here was released in 1996, and in many ways is a two part story, Dragonfly Dreams opening with nine similarly themed, if differently executed ideas which rely strongly on Phillips' pastoral, instrumental acoustic guitar. Unusually "She'll Be Waiting" provides a vocal, the track beautifully sung by Terry Medhurst and dedicated to 'someone sadly departed'. Elsewhere we have the short and evocative "Still Time" and the brighter play of "Sarah Blakeley's Evening", which between them offer surprisingly different takes on similar themes. Add in the synth driven duo of "Lostwithiel" and "Under The Ice" and the variety is impressive, if a little disjointed. Although that is in itself sometimes half the fun of these albums. The second part of Dragonfly Dreams (Phillips himself imagining this to be a vinyl album with an A and B side) finds his on-off collaboration with Quique Berra Garcia highlighted once more, five of the nine tracks finding the guitar pairing gently and enigmatically working off each others' skilled fretwork. The most interesting piece for many, however, may well be the 17 minutes of "Chinese Walls", an idea initially worked on in 1986 and which caused much soul searching by Phillips, presented here as a beautiful, pensive piece that may well be one of the most involving of any from the PP&P albums.

A collaboration album with Guillermo Cazenave would follow in the same year, before Phillips released the third in his Missing Links album series with Joji Hirota, Time And Tide, in 1997. Two years further on and Part X of the Private series, Soiree, saw the light of day, Phillips heading back to the sound and source of the sixth part, Ivory Moon, with his completely solo contributions being piano only. As is often the case in this often misunderstood musician's work, the results aren't 'prog' in any shape or form, the patient ponderings the sound of a talented musician sitting at his piano and gently pouring his heart out. As ever in these albums, as he resided in the present, so Phillips delved into his past, "Creation" a piano piece that he presented to his band mates in Genesis before he departed that band, although, what turns out to be a rather captivating track fell on deaf ears and remained shelved until Soiree set it free. In general the tracks here are a little longer than that which the PP&P releases sometimes allow and it's telling that much of it was written especially for this album, rather than being brought together from past sessions. Hence some of Phillips' oldest piano pieces rub shoulders with some of his (then) newest, making a fine collection in the process. Soiree may not please those who are more engaged by Anthony Phillips' guitar work, but that doesn't stop it from being one of the strongest Private Parts & Pieces collections of the 11 released so far.

The eleventh however proves more of a challenge, 2012's City Of Dreams created purely through electronics and while albums in this nature, such as 1984, prove amongst the most exhilarating of Phillips' considerable catalogue, to these ears, the format doesn't quite lend itself so readily to this setting. Thirteen years and six albums had come and gone between Soiree and City and Phillips had in the meantime been in ever increasing demand for his TV and library music work, and so it was only natural that as he created in that mindset, so he also amassed the City collection from those electronic sessions. This time one of the most intriguing pieces arrives in the shape of "King Of The Mountains", where, rather unusually for Phillips, electric guitar is used to quite breathtaking effect as a solo weaves and darts over washes of synth; the combination proving remarkably effective. However, for all that "Astral Bath" proves an ambient salve and "Tuscan Wedding" feels like the chimings of Mike Oldfield, too often the extremely short pieces feel much more like the incidental music of a TV show or movie, as a quick grab of one kind is replaced by another; the tracks mainly fading out before they ever really get going. Unfortunately, given that it is the most recent of any of Anthony Phillips' albums, of all the PP&P releases, arguably City Of Dreams is the least satisfying and most reticent to reveal its inner secrets.

As ever in this series the whole shebang comes housed in a wonderful clam shell box, with lengthy liner notes that go into great detail about the albums contained and the time in which they were recorded. And, as before, it also comes with a bonus disc of further material that spans the time of the three albums included and beyond. Thanks to that, we are treated to a mix of piano, twelve string and synth work that makes for an odds and sods collection that feels very much like a cohesive album in itself and as such � and has been the way throughout this reissue series � is as good, if not better than some of the main releases. With all of the material on this disc exclusive to this release, fans will once again be delighted by what they'll discover.

In Soiree this box set contains one of the best albums Anthony Phillips has released under the Private Parts & Pieces banner. Conversely, City Of Dreams may be one of the least exciting, while Dragonfly Dreams sits somewhere in between. Add in an excellent bonus disc of material and this final remastered reissue in the Private Parts & Pieces series wraps things up rather nicely, with a big 'well done' deserved by all those involved and not least Anthony Phillips himself, who has been part of the process at every step.


Track Listing
DISC ONE:
PRIVATE PARTS & PIECES VOL. IX: DRAGONFLY DREAMS
PART I
1. OPENERS

2. IN THE VALLEYS

3. SOMETHING BLUE

4. QUANGO

5. LOSTWITHIEL

6. UNDER THE ICE

7. SARAH BLAKELEY'S EVENING

8. SHE'LL BE WAITING

9. STILL TIME
PART II

10. HILLS OF LANGUEDOC

11. LUIGI PALTA'S CONFESSION

12. THE TEARS OF PABLO PARAGUAS

13. MELANCHOLY FLOWER

14. NIGHT SONG

15. CHINESE WALLS

16. OLD FAITHFUL

17. SUMMER PONDS & DRAGONFLIES

18. LOST AND FOUND


DISC TWO:
PRIVATE PARTS & PIECES VOL. X: SOIREE
1. SAD BALLERINA

2. FINAL LIGHTS

3. SULTRY LEAVES

4. FIVERS

5. CREATION

6. KEEPSAKE

7. VENETIAN MYSTERY

8. SCYTHIA

9. CANTILENA

10. THE OREGON TRAIL

11. PASSACAGLIA

12. GAZEBO

13. PASSEPIED

14. FALLEN FLOWER

15. NOBLESSE OBLIGE

16. HOPE OF AGES

17. OBEZAG

18. RAIN SUITE

19. AFTER YOU LEFT

20. SUMMER'S JOURNEY


DISC THREE:
PRIVATE PARTS & PIECES VOL. XI: CITY OF DREAMS
1. CITY OF DREAMS I

2. PILEDRIVER

3. KING OF THE MOUNTAINS

4. CORAL ISLAND

5. ASTRAL BATH

6. CITY OF DREAMS II

7. AIR & GRACE

8. TUSCAN WEDDING

9. MYSTERY TRAIN I

10. SUNSET POOLS

11. SEA & SARDINIA

12. WATCHING WHILE YOU SLEEP

13. NIGHT OWL

14. THE DEEP

15. CITY OF DREAMS III

16. MYSTERY TRAIN II

17. STAR'S END

18. DOOM FLOWER

19. NIGHT TRAIN TO NOVROGOD

20. SEA OF TRANQUILITY

21. 39 STEPS

22. LAKE OF FIRE

23. REALMS OF GOLD

24. CITY OF DREAMS IV

25. DAYS OF YORE

26. ACROSS THE STEPS

27. ACT OF FAITH

28. GRAND MASTER

29. MYSTERY TRAIN III

30. ANTHEM FOR DOOMED YOUTH

31. THE HOMECOMING


DISC FOUR:
PRIVATE PARTS & EXTRA PIECES III: ALL TRACKS PREVIOUSLY UNISSUED
1. HIGH ROLLER

2. PIANO DRAMA MOVEMENT I

3. SUNSET DRIFTER

4. LOSTWITHIEL LINK

5. ROADS IN BETWEEN

6. SHIMMERING PEAKS

7. CASTLES AND COURTSHIPS

8. BRAND NEW CADILLAC

9. OCEAN OF STARS

10. PABLO DRIES OUT

11. LOST MONOLITH

12. A SIMPLE MAN

13. NIGHT SONG (ALTERNATE MIX)

14. FIREFLY

15. CONSTELLATION OF HOPE

16. PIANO DRAMA MOVEMENT III

17. HEAVEN'S GATE

18. LOST AND FOUND (ALTERNATE MIX)

Added: May 2nd 2018
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Score:
Related Link: Private Parts & Pieces IX - XI at Cherry R
Hits: 629
Language: english

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