The Anthony Phillips Band — Invisible Men
(Esoteric Recordings ECLEC 22603, 1983/2017, 2CD)
by Peter Thelen, Published 2017-12-04
By the early 80s, Anthony Phillips had already recorded seven solo albums, beginning with the heavily orchestrated The Geese and the Ghost in 1977, then moving on to more song oriented releases like Wise after the Event and Sides, both demonstrating his capability for catchy tunes and clever hooks, all the while remaining true to his progressive rock roots. Interspersed with those were a series of releases of mostly instrumental acoustic based music titled Private Parts and Pieces — by 1982 the first three in that series had already been released. And somewhee in there (1981 to be precise) was 1984, an electronic keyboard-based instrumental suite, on which Richard Scott provided some basic percussion, vocal ideas and effects, and Morris Pert (of Brand X) played additional tuned percussion. Phillips and Scott would continue to colaborate on various projects, and by early 1982 Phillips had the idea to produce another song-based album, but more commercial, in an attempt to widen his audience, and for this endeavor Richard Scott would be his primary collaborator, both in songwriting and all aspects of production. The two went to work creating the album Invisible Men, playing most of the instruments themselves, and bringing in other musicians as needed on drums, saxes, percussion, trumpet, trombone, and more. Percussionist Joji Hirota was included in many of the promotional photos as the third man in the Anthony Phillips Band. The album was first released on the Passport label in late 1983, a rare instance where the US release preceeded its UK counterpart by nearly six months.
The original album comprises most of disc one on this latest two-disc reissue, starting with the brilliant Caribbean flavored “Golden Bodies,” moving onto the powerful “The Women Were Watching,” with lyrics referencing the Falklands war just one year earlier, as did the dark and twisted “Exocet.” Most of the lyrics and accompaniment are lighter and brighter, with tracks like “Sally,” “Traces,” “Love in a Hot Air Balloon,” and others. Vocals are shared by Phillips and Scott, the latter turning in particular effective performances on “Going for Broke” and “Falling for Love.” “Guru” is an especially interesting cut, with Phillips singing lead voice and powerful sax and horn sections highlighting the piece throughout.
Through the years, there was always a rumor of a second Invisible Men album sitting on the shelf somewhere, unreleased. That matter is explored here on the second disc of this reissue set, which contains a dozen songs in varying degrees of completion, some are there with vocals and arrangements, others exist only as instrumental pieces. There are also some alternate versions and demos of songs from the original album release. The booklet features exhaustive documentation on who played what on each of the tracks, as well as some insights into the unreleased material on the second disc. All taken, Invisible Men was the nearest that Phillips ever ventured toward commercial pop music, yet with that said, it still carries his unmistakable signature.
Jazz Composer Mark Lomax, II Releases Epic 12CD Set – In addition to being a fine jazz drummer, Dr. Mark Lomax, II is a composer in residence at Ohio State University, where he has been very busy on the compositional front. The year 2019 is the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first ship bringing African slaves to North America, and in commemoration of this, Lomax has produced 400: An Afrikan Epic, a 12 volume set of CDs featuring a variety of different musical ensembles. » Read more
Chicago-Based Surabhi Ensemble Tours the World in January – Surabhi Ensemble was formed more than a decade ago in Chicago with the aim of bringing together musicians from varying traditions to make music. Saraswathi Ranganathan, who plays veena, assembled a cast that includes Arabic oud, Spanish guitar, and percussion from Africa and India. This month, the group will be sharing their sounds with concert-goers in Southeast Asia, Europe, and Africa. » Read more
Seaprog Festival Seeks Donations – Seaprog is a small festival in Seattle that highlights creative music from many genres with artists from around the world. It's also a US non-profit organization. They're seeking donations to help keep the ball rolling. Starting in 2013, the organization has been growing, and has featured such artists as Free Salamander Exhibit, Jack o' the Clock, Nik Turner, Cabezas de Cera, Miriodor, Thinking Plague, and many more. » Read more
The Seventeenth Dream of Dr Sardonicus Festival Tickets Now Available – Fruits de Mer Records and their merry crew of psychedelic explorers are getting set to present the next The Seventeenth Dream of Dr. Sardonicus Festival. The dates are set for August 2-4, 2019 at The Cellar Bar in Cardigan, Wales. They've also announced that the legendary Groundhogs will top the bill. » Read more
Charles O'Meara (C.W. Vrtacek) RIP – A true musical original has left us. Charles O'Meara, who recorded under the name C.W. Vrtacek, was a wild-card musical talent, ranging from complex progressive rock to introspective modern compositions, with stops at many places inbetween. » Read more