Anthony Phillips: Wise After The Event

Deluxe four-disc edition of the guitarist’s 1978 solo album.

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Anthony Phillips’ solo career would surely have been higher profile if it hadn’t been for unfortunate timing.

After leaving Genesis in 1971 he left a six year gap before releasing a largely instrumental fantasy concept album, The Geese And The Ghost, at the height of punk in 1977. (Genesis manager Tony Smith had to actually start a new label, Hit & Run, to get it released in the UK.) _Wise After _The Event followed the next year, and here we have the remastered original and new mixes, outtakes and demos, along with a DVD with 5.1 surround sound. The new mix is by and large similar to the original, but sounds nicely buffed up, with Phillips’ vocals given a little more space. He is ably served by Michael Giles on drums, John Perry (ex-of Caravan), on bass and Mel Collins on winds. Producer Rupert Hine has said that the album was aimed more at a mainstream audience, and it certainly is more song-based, with Phillips singing on every track. This gives us the best of both worlds, as what it loses out on the more elaborate structural forms of Geese it gains in sharper focus and stronger tunes. Birdsong And Reprise, for one, sounds like it could easily have held its own on Genesis’ Trespass, with its typically spangly lattice work of 12-string guitar picking, surging chorus and lovely coda with Collins playing flute. The same can be said of the more strident Pulling Faces, which has a strong pop melody allied to a complex shifting structure. The verse quite deliciously decelerates into the choruses and the song finishes with a grand instrumental flourish. On Now What (Are They Doing To My Little Friends)?, Phillips sings a Brian Wilson-esque falsetto over rippling piano and harp. This haunting ballad, which fades out enigmatically into a sea of phasing, contains the most overtly emotional moments of a fine album that’s well worth rediscovering.

Mike Barnes

Mike Barnes is the author of Captain Beefheart - The Biography (Omnibus Press, 2011) and A New Day Yesterday: UK Progressive Rock & the 1970s (2020). He was a regular contributor to Select magazine and his work regularly appears in Prog, Mojo and Wire. He also plays the drums.