Anthony Phillips – Archived Collections Vols 1 & 2: Album Review

An extensive collection of the new and the old from the archive of the prolific Anthony Phillips.

Release Date: 28th January 2022

Label: Esoteric recordings

Format: 5CD Clamshell Box

Esoteric/Cherry Red Group continues to do the legacy of Anthony Phillips proud. Dare we say ‘ex-Genesis guitarist’ yet again? Perhaps ‘founder member’ is more fitting, particularly as there are snippets in this set that date back to those days of pastoral tranquillity when the birth of Progressive Rock scene was a glint in its mother’s eye, awaiting the arrival of those first pioneers.

So, for the record, the contents of the current Archive Collection pull together the two double CD volumes of the first and second Archive Collection series. The sweetener is an additional set – The Masquerade Tapes – which is of previously unreleased material. The go-to man for all things Ant Phillips, Jon Dann, makes his mark too with a new essay in the package and the Esoteric/Dann combo ensures that the legacy and music is dealt with respectfully.

The mass of material he’s acquired in composing for various sources including his own solo work was the starting point for the initial 1998 release of the first volume of the Archive Collection, its partner appearing six years later. The new version, with a bright sonic polish naturally, adds a number of pieces to form expanded versions of the collections.

A significant portion of the liner notes (this part written by Ant) is given to the inclusion of Pennsylvania Flickhouse – the final track of Vol. 1 and the chance to hear a demo from The Anon should you have not sourced it previously. The pre-Genesis band featuring Phillips, Mike Rutherford, Richard Macpahil, Rob Tyrell and Rivers Job. It’s weight lies more as a historical document rather than giving any inkling as to how the story would branch out. Very much a sign of the times and an indication of the influences of the era that drove the young Charterhouse boys to turn to music as a form of expression.

Elsewhere, Vol. 1 flits between the 60s and 70s with a few more ‘up-to date’ exceptions. Demos, instrumental mixes, alternate versions and even the ‘kiddies mix’ of the title track from his first album (yes – The Geese And The Ghost – has anyone thought of writing the story that title suggests?) all play out. Some still sound lo-fi despite some digital polish but there lies the charm as you feel as though you’re there in moments of creation and hearing something that’s intimate and personal. A window on the creative process.

The musical variety throughout the collection offers a surprising breadth. However, the Philips trademark of intricate guitar work – where he’s at his most creative IMHO – stand out on the likes of In Absentia and our Man In Japan

The second volume of ‘antiques and curios includes the lengthy Scottish Suite – and as with most, the detail in the liner notes is the place to go for the gestation of the music – and what comes through is the sheer variety of uses for the music. Musicals, film themes, music for educational films, soundtracks and even doodles with a certain Mike Rutherford (whose head pops above the surface on the odd occasion) in 1974’s Shady Arbours. One that updates (somewhat) e famous Rutherford/Phillips twelve string combo of those Trespass days.

The Masquerade Tapes meanwhile, is a relaxing journey through a series of pieces that defy the long gestation period and the ever evolving chops and changes with the actual purpose of the music. Again, the detail in the booklet notes tells the whole story and fans will appreciate that the music created will be no longer considered wasted.

Over a hundred pieces could seem quite mind-boggling to the casual fan who might have a finger on the pulse what with Phillips being a significant (although long forgotten) part of the Genesis story. For those more studious types, the releases of the Archive Collections (and the Private Parts & Pieces sets), the continued exploration of the Phillips attic proves a real delight. The end result being that however deep you are with Ant Phillips, there are many treasures to be unearthed and enjoyed.

Here’s Deep In The Night from the Archive Collection Vol II:

Anthony Phillips: Website / Facebook

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