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Phil Miller - Cutting Both Ways CD (album) cover

CUTTING BOTH WAYS

Phil Miller

 

Canterbury Scene

4.19 | 23 ratings

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Tom Ozric
Prog Reviewer
5 stars 'Cutting Both Ways' is one of those amazing collaborations that appeared long after the 'glory days', when the wonderful 'Canterbury Scene' had made its mark - perhaps it just continued to make its mark... This sub-genre of Prog is the one I find closest to my heart. The musicians involved always seem to deliver, album after album, therefore, I am probably not the right person to comment, but, I can only speak in utmost respect about the musicians performing here. Keyboardist Pete Lemer is a long- lost player of the genre. Canterbury afficianados are well familiar with bassist Hugh Hopper, sax player Elton Dean (bless him), drummer Pip Pyle (bless him, too - I'm shedding a tear by now..) and Phil Miller on guitars. This recording basically show-cases a 'who's who' of Canterbury-Prog, a 'Supergroup' of sorts, and is composed and played with that magical Canterbury touch.

Opening with a lengthy suite, 'Green and Purple Extract/Hic Haec Hoc/A Simple Man' wastes no time in grabbing our attention - fantastic production, epic sounding progression as an intro, and great main riff. This riff features a fantastic, extended Synth solo (possibly mini-moog, Lemer's main soloing instrument) followed by Elton's sax solo. This section is played in a kind of 'laid-back' fusion mode, followed by a very reflective section where E.D. gets in some expressive Saxello playing, and Miller's guitar solo is spot-on. This then merges into some more manic soloing from Elton on sax. To read my rambling may sound tedious, but the music on this album is an amazing and breath-taking journey for sure. Difficult to discern the composed parts from improvisation, indeed if there is any - the compositions are quite rigid, however, the first 2 pieces and the last suite on the album are, according to the sleeve notes, recorded as a result of the 'live-in-the-studio' approach. When speaking of Canterbury, 'mellow, wistful, gentle, complex, quirky...' are some of the adjectives used to describe this genre, and that is what's applicable here. 'Eastern Region' is quite nice, with more synth soloing from Lemer and some lightly flanged Bass from Hopper. 'Second Sight' is a track not featured on the vinyl edition of the album, therefore I can't speak of it.

'Hard Shoulder' and 'Figures of Speech' feature Miller and the wonderful Dave Stewart on synths and programming, with some backing vocals from the lovely Barbara Gaskin on the former. These display a different approach to recording, with focus on multi- tracking and utilising the (then) latest developments in music technology, thus confirming the album's title of 'cutting both ways'. These sound a little more synthetic, but still maintain a degree of complexity, and, particularly with the lengthy 'Figures of Speech', faithful to the genre. In some ways, 'Figures of Speech' is the highlight, granted Stewart's somewhat dubious direction he decided to take with partner Gaskin (some decent material on offer there, but far from prog) it actually shows that he has not lost any of the skill and tastefulness that made him such a renowned keyboardist during the 70's. Final suite, 'Green and Purple' features more jamming, with show-offy chops from Lemer and Miller again. Being a release from such a 'sterile' year (musically speaking), 1987, it would hurt for me to award it any less than 5. Fantastic album !!!

Tom Ozric | 5/5 |

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