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


Anthony Phillips


Symphonic Prog

4.02 | 353 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars The debut album by the first Genesis guitarist appeared in 1977: the worst time imaginable for music of such quiet refinement, as any Punk Rock scholar will tell you. But in retrospect it was a welcome anachronism, showing all the delicacy and charm discarded by his erstwhile bandmates, who at the time were busy reinventing themselves as Arena Rock superstars.

Thematically and musically the album was a graceful throwback to those halcyon days when the gentle resonance of Phillips' 12-string guitar defined the embryonic Genesis sound. The longer tracks, including the two-part title suite and the pocket-narrative "Henry: Portraits From Tudor Times", were co-written with Genesis bass player and Charterhouse School pal Michael Rutherford, with disarming results suggesting a more sheltered path the young band might have followed after the "Trespass" album.

Phillips' solo ambitions were modest by comparison, and reflected a pastoral English romanticism way beyond the merely eccentric Genesis archetype. The lush fantasy artwork by Peter Cross, arguably one of the album's stronger selling points, sets the mood with its Anglophile's daydream of olde Albion. And the opening "Wind-Tales" overture actually plays in reverse, drawing the listener backward toward a distant age (the early 1970s) already lost to memory.

That nostalgic impulse, so out of step with changing times, was in fact a virtue in disguise, helping the album survive the populist backlash of Punk on the unassuming strength of music so fragile it almost disappears in mid-performance. The shorter songs in particular seem lighter than air, all but evaporating in their evanescent unplugged simplicity. "God If I Saw Her Now" is a good example: one of the prettiest ballads in the greater Genesis family tree, despite the word 'pretty' being a rank obscenity in 1977.

In no way can such a retrograde curio be considered a lost Progressive masterpiece. That gossamer homemade sound, carefully nurtured over three years of intermittent recording, contrasted too sharply against all the bombast and bloat infecting Prog's higher aspirations in 1977 (both volumes of ELP's "Works" were released the same year, while Pink Floyd was laying down the monolithic foundations of "The Wall"). The album was awkwardly unhip even to some Genesis fans, already accustomed to Dancing on Volcanoes at the time.

Thank goodness, I say. Progressive Rock, even when it doesn't exactly rock, should always run contrary to popular trends. That silver lining didn't help Anthony Phillips when he was struggling to complete the LP and find a distributor, but in its own shy, unassuming manner the album sounds ageless today.

Neu!mann | 4/5 |


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