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Anthony Phillips - 1984 CD (album) cover


Anthony Phillips


Symphonic Prog

3.77 | 118 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars Review Nš 378

Some consider Anthony Phillips as one of the true unsung heroes of the progressive rock music. A major influence on Genesis' classic early sound and his suddenly departure from the band in 1970 was regarded as a major blow in much the same way as Peter Gabriel and Steve Hackett's departures, some years later. Phillips cited several reasons for his decision including, the stage fright, the ill health and the disillusionment with the band's collective musical work. It would take almost seven years for his debut solo studio album 'The Geese And The Ghost', released in 1977, to be materialised. In addition to writing the album and recording the demos, he spent the intervening years studying composition, orchestration and piano. By 1980 Phillips had released four solo studio albums and had a fifth one being readied for release. As none of his previous albums had set the world alight, a change was on the cards and so Phillips started playing around with synthesizers, an instrument that he had not fully explored on his previous albums. The result of that exploration was his next studio album, named after George Orwell's apocalyptic view of the future, '1984'.

So, '1984' is the sixth studio album of Anthony Phillips and was released in 1984. Unlike 'The Geese And The Ghost' and 'Wise After The Event', albums I intend review on Progarchives, the list of musicians on '1984' is very small and very few musical instruments were used. The line up on the album is Anthony Phillips (piano, keyboards, Roland CR-78 drum box, guitar and basic percussion), Richard Scott (basic percussion, effects and vocal ideas) and Morris Pert (percussions). So, '1984' is an instrumental electronic album with some vocal effects and some variety of percussion.

The cover art of the album shows a picture of a small cage, which is probably a reference to Winston's cage, affixed to his face, cited on the '1984' book. '1984' is a world's famous novel, written in 1949 by George Orwell, an English writer and journalist who also wrote another famous and satirical novel named 'Animal Farm', in 1945. '1984' is a literary political fiction novel of the social fiction subgenre. On the story of the novel, the individual is always subordinated to the date and to the Party, which manipulates and control the humanity. The principal protagonist, Winston Smith, is a civil servant who works in the Ministry of Truth and is responsible for revising historical facts and changes them in order to perpetuate the Party and its big leader, the Big Brother. This kind of life, created inside Smith a great disillusion what caused him to rebel against the Big Brother. That led to his arrest, torture and later conversion. Many of the terms and concepts used on '1984' such as the Big Brother and Orwellian became contemporary, and are related to propaganda, lies and manipulation, in service of the totalitarianism, especially in the political regimes of only one-party.

A completely electronic, instrumental keyboard album recorded by a rock guitarist, '1984' remains quite a peculiarity. Consisting of four connected pieces, the album is both musical and sonic an excellent piece. The sheer creativity of the music is dynamic and even listening to it all of these years later. I was still taken aback by its adventuress qualities and depth. The first track, 'Prelude '84', is a mix of chord progressions influenced by Tony Banks and some Rick Wakeman like flourishes. Towards the end of the piece, a guitar with a bit of crook starts. The second track, '1984, Part 1', begins with keyboard chords accompanied by some embellishments and underlaid by the rhythm machine. This is interrupted by some bombastic transitions, then to go into a synthesizer solo, then a driving theme is initiated leting Phillips doesn't fall asleep, topics and moods are constantly being changed. The third track, '1984, Part 2', the cheerful arpeggio tones, which begin with a quick rhythm, are reminiscent of the Mike Oldfield's instrumental pieces. It sounds similar to '1984, Part 1'. This isn't strange because both are parts of the same track. The fourth track 'Anthem 1984' is an atmospheric sad looking theme, as if Anthony Phillips was already seeing all humanity in the Orwellian's cage. This short keyboard number is characterized by a wide keyboard sound, which makes this piece sounds like a 'hymn-like'.

Conclusion: '1984' is completely different from 'The Geese And The Ghost' and 'Wise After The Event'. 'The Geese And The Ghost' is a very beautiful and almost an acoustic classic album clearly influenced by the medieval era and its music flows together as a continuous piece. It represents a real trip back in the history of time. 'Wise After The Event' is essentially an album composed with a collection of beautiful guitar tracks. But, surprisingly, on '1984' all music was totally composed for keyboard instruments. Everybody knows that Phillips is a brilliant guitarist, especially on classical guitar. His previous albums were mostly acoustic guitar based. However, '1984' is totally dominated by synthesizers, apart some real percussion played by Pert. Then, we were also able to know that Phillips is also a brilliant keyboardist. So, '1984' is an excellent album, where the sound of the keyboards is floating, rhythmic and melodic. The album is very melodic and harmonious and confirms that Phillips is also a great songwriter. This is a great addition to your collection.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

VianaProghead | 4/5 |


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