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Phillips, Anthony: The Living Concert (expanded and remastered)

Although Living Room Concerts have become very much the rage in these most Covid of times, Anthony Phillips was maybe not quite as far ahead of his time as this 1995 release may suggest. Instead the solo guitarist and piano player’s home recording was for a radio programme called Echoes, which broadcast this set via 120 public radio stations across America in June 1993 - as they did for many an artist. For the performance Anthony selected a number of acoustic guitar and piano pieces drawn mainly from the albums The Geese And The Ghost, Private Parts and Pieces and A Catch At The Tables. Along with two pieces from New England, the eighth volume in the Private Parts & Pieces series, was “Conversation Piece”, a solo 12-string version of the first movement of a Guitar Quintet that Phillips had composed in 1976 and which had subsequently been scored with parts for string and wind instruments.

For this remastered and expanded version of The Living Room Concerts, three previously unreleased tracks recorded for the original broadcast have also been restored to the performance. “Jaunty Roads”, “Let Us Now Make Love” and “Lucy: An Illusion” adding hugely to an already captivating collection. With Phillips adding a few little spoken introductions along the way it’s an intimate and involving experience, the obvious guitar skills from the pastoral-prog maestro being counterbalanced with the likes of “Last Goodbyes” and “Collection”, which are beautiful piano laments. The latter also finds Phillips adding vocals to the moving music and while he’ll never be classed as a natural vocalist, the honesty and emotion that comes through really is something special. In fact, for me, the obvious attachment Phillips has to all of the pieces presented here come across in a way that it doesn’t always in the original studio versions and, given his chronic stagefright, makes it something of a collector’s piece in a catalogue of an almost exclusively studio musician.

Long term fans will revel in classic The Geese And The Ghost pieces such as the multi-part “Henry: Portraits From Tudor Times” or “Reaper” and “Flamingo” from Private Parts & Pieces, but the inclusion of the aforementioned “Conversation Piece” was an inspired move as it really captures the mood and tone at this underrated musician’s fingertips. The bonus cuts likewise are rather wonderful, the short “Jaunty Roads” a playful piece of acoustic guitar, while the Genesis piano-piece “Let Us Now Make Love” is simply beautiful. Add in the wonderfully flowing “Lucy: An Illusion”, which also highlights Phillips’ heartfelt vocals and in these three bonus cuts alone, all the bases are covered.

It’s a real pleasure to experience Anthony Phillips’ music in this different setting and it highlights just how much of a pleasure it would have been, over the years, to experience this multi-instrumentalist in a live setting. With that never likely to happen The Living Room Concert - of which original pressings change hands for a few hundred pounds - is a real joy. In fact in the few weeks I’ve had to spend with it, this album has fast become one of my go-to Anthony Phillips releases.


Track Listing
1. REAPER
2. WHICH WAY THE WIND BLOWS
3. HENRY: PORTRAITS FROM TUDOR TIMES
4. CONVERSATION PIECE
5. FLAMINGO
6. FIELD OF ETERNITY
7. SISTINE
8. LIGHTS ON THE HILL
9. LAST GOODBYES
10. COLLECTIONS
11. SLEEPFALL
BONUS TRACKS
12. JAUNTY ROADS
13. LET US NOW MAKE LOVE
14. LUCY: AN ILLUSION

Added: July 25th 2020
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Score:
Related Link: The Living Room Concert @ Cherry Red
Hits: 177
Language: english

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