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Anthony Phillips - The Geese And The Ghost CD (album) cover

THE GEESE AND THE GHOST

Anthony Phillips

 

Symphonic Prog

4.02 | 353 ratings

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4 stars There's a saying that you prepare for your first album or novel your entire life. While Anthony 'Ant' Phillips had released two albums with Genesis in 1969 and 1970, The Geese and the Ghost is his first solo work and took the better part of a decade to complete. Originally envisioned as joint project with former bandmate and schoolmate Mike Rutherford, the album had to be delayed due to Rutherford's touring and composing duties while Phillips was also occupied with studying classical guitar, which only allowed for sporadic recording sessions. Thus, while the album had its genesis (pun intended) back in 1969, with a lengthy 12-string guitar duet which eventually became the title track, it was mostly recorded in 1974 and 1975. However, it wasn't completed until 1976 and not released until 1977. By then, Phillips wrote a few more tracks and released The Geese and The Ghost as his first solo album.

Rutherford is listed as a co-composer on the two longest tracks and the short interlude Chinese Mushroom Cloud, which is actually reprised in the title track. Phillips and Rutherford play various guitars and keyboard instruments, but it is their 12-string acoustic guitar work that really shines. Genesis drummer Phil Collins sings on two of the songs. John Hackett, younger brother of Genesis' guitarist Steve Hackett, plays flute on a few tracks. Ant's brother Rob contributes oboe.

Wind-Tales is a very short orchestral instrumental that sets the album's pastoral mood. The album includes some guest musicians contributing classical instruments such as cello, oboe, cor anglais, flute, recorder, and violin, but they are not credited for this track, so I assume it's just Ant playing it on Mellotron.

Which Way the Wind Blows is sung by Phil Collins and he does excellent job, imbuing the lyrics with just enough emotion. Interestingly, Phillips revealed that he played electric guitar in the style of classic guitar on this track. Ant also plays Mellotron at the track's end.

Henry - Portraits from Tudor Times is the album's highlight for me. It is one of the album's two epics that Phillips co-wrote with Rutherford. It is an instrumental multi-part song that aurally depicts Henry VII's incursions in France due to French support of Perkin Warbeck as pretender to the English throne. The fact the several themes are reprised adds to the track's cohesiveness. The Henry Goes to War section is the album's most aggressive and Ant even rips a few electric guitar licks. The Lutes Chorus reprise was cut from the original album, but restored in the 2CD reissue.

God If I Saw Her Now is a duet between Vivienne McAuliffe and Phil Collins dealing with the male character reminiscing about his unrequited love for another girl. Phillip's introductory guitar passage reminds me of Bach's Prelude in C Major from the Well-Tempered Clavier.

Chinese Mushroom Cloud is a short and ominous instrumental is reprised in the middle of the title track, so I'm not sure why it's listed separately as a standalone track.

The title track is another lengthy instrumental. The focus is on the acoustic 12-strings, but it also contains a bit of more traditional rock instrumentation, such as electric guitar, bass guitar and drums. The song's title derives from two ARP Pro Soloist synth effects that are fairly buried in the mix. The geese honking effect is encountered at 4:40 and 13:20 and the ghost at 4:55 and 13:40. Part two starts at the 8 minute mark and includes a reprise of the Chinese Mushroom Cloud melody at 8:10. Part II is livelier than Part I.

Collections is a piano ballad played and sung by Phillips. It features lush orchestration, but according to the album credits, only John Hackett is featured of the guest musicians, which implies the orchestral accompaniment is mostly provided by Ant on the Mellotron.

Sleepfall: The Geese Fly West is a melancholy tune played on piano with flute, oboe and Mellotron accompaniment. The geese synth effect is featured here, as well.

The CD reissue includes a bonus CD, the bulk of which consists of demo/basic tracks for all the proper songs on the album (i.e. all except for Wind Tales and Chinese Mushroom Cloud). However, there are two previously unreleased Phillips songs included as well. The first is Master of Time, sung by Phillips, which was intended for the album. The other is Silver Song, a song written by Phillips and Rutherford as a farewell to former Genesis drummer John Silver. There is an instrumental demo version and a vocal version, featuring Phil Collins' singing and drumming. The vocal version was intended to be released as a single in 1973, but was never released by Charisma Records. It's a catchy and enjoyable song, though I find it somewhat ironic that Phil is the one singing of missing a drummer whose role in Genesis he occupied at the time.

The album also has beautiful cover art that suits the music perfectly and references several songs: medieval imagery (Henry: Portraits from Tudor Times), the sunset (Which Way the Wind Blows), a ghostly apparition (The Geese and the Ghost), geese (The Geese and the Ghost and Sleepfall: The Geese Fly West). The back cover's armored goose makes me smile every time I see it.

I recommend The Geese and the Ghost to fans of early Genesis and of acoustic guitar music, such as performed by Gordon Giltrap and Blackmore's Night.

Replayer | 4/5 |

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