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Anthony Phillips: Private Parts & Pieces I-IV

Privates on parade.

Beyond Anthony Phillips’s career-defining albums like The Geese And Ghost and Wise After The Event (and, of course, as a founding member of Genesis, Trespass), there’s an endless array of projects – soundtracks, albums, suites, soundscapes and collaborations – that have gradually been curated into the Private Parts & Pieces series.

The first four albums, now packaged into a clamshell box, represent around a third of the total. It spans the late 70s to the mid-80s, and ranges from a soundtrack to Shakespeare’s Macbeth to an inspired series of duets with Argentinian guitarist Enrique Berro Garcia.

Phillips’ graceful style provides a unifying thread but his real skill lies in writing descriptive pieces that make for pleasurable ambient listening outside the project they were written for, much like Ry Cooder. This even applies to the bonus CD of out-takes. It’s almost entirely acoustic and there’s a relaxing elegance about the playing, even when it sometimes feels inconsequential.

On the rare occasions when technology intrudes, it can be startlingly effective. On Will O’ The Wisp for example, it’s as if Phillips suddenly spotted an effects pedal in the studio and spent the next two minutes discovering the audio delights of flanging on his 12-string.

Hugh Fielder has been writing about music for 47 years. Actually 58 if you include the essay he wrote about the Rolling Stones in exchange for taking time off school to see them at the Ipswich Gaumont in 1964. He was news editor of Sounds magazine from 1975 to 1992 and editor of Tower Records Top magazine from 1992 to 2001. Since then he has been freelance. He has interviewed the great, the good and the not so good and written books about some of them. His favourite possession is a piece of columnar basalt he brought back from Iceland.