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Phideaux - Ghost Story CD (album) cover



Crossover Prog

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5 stars This is a wonderful album blending PHIDEAUX's varied folk, prog and psychadelic influences into a consistently stellar set of well-crafted songs. Apparently much of this music was originally written when PHIDEAUX and drummer Rich Hutchins were in the band Satyricon in the mid 1990s, and properly recorded for this album which was released in 20004.

Much like a great Tull or early Genesis album (and you'll hear influences from those bands here), multiple listens reveal more subtle details and the high crasftsmanship of the songs. The music is sincere and sophisticated, exploring many moods and varied musical styles, featuring strong melodies, fine arrangements and excellent production.

Starting out with two more straight ahead rockers in Everynight (a raw psychadelic/punk rock feel with heavy fuzz guitar) and Feel the Radition (particularly fun and catchy) the album then settles into a more folk-prog vibe, alternating between serene, beautiful moments and more aggressive passages. Through the course of the album one creative moment after another unfolds, and it's an immensely satisfying musical experience. Highly recommended!

Report this review (#94037)
Posted Wednesday, October 11, 2006 | Review Permalink
3 stars Wow, what a great Crossover Prog artist!

I had only just heard of Phideaux Xavier and his 'Gothic Pop-Prog' stylings when I decided to place an order for the coolest-looking album in his discography. GHOST STORIES is a fantastic mixture of traditional pop music that should appeal to the masses well, and that complex, deep, emotional Prog music that we have all come to love. With appeal like that, it isn't too difficult to see why someone would go for this album right away!

The only real set back I feel is that, while catchy and easy to get into, the more starightforward tracks (Which outnumber the true 'Prog'' songs by quite a margin) will undoubtedly become tiresome eventually, leading to my initial excitement coming to a slow halt, ultimately stagnating my overall enjoyment experience. But, this is great music while it lasts, and while I do feel that it's Pop-Rock tendancies will cause it to be an every now and then type of album, the quality of the music lyrically and technically is quite high.

I do plan on getting more of Phideaux's albums, as I enjoyed this one immensly. It just isn't an epic, nor is it essential. It's bubble-gum Prog, and while it may not compare to the work of the past luminaries of this vast genre, I don't see any reason not to enjoy it for what it is; fun music. It isn't prolific, indulgiant or intelligent per say, but who said that all Prog must contain these elements to be worthy of a listen? Crossover Prog fits this type of music perfectly, as it reminds me very much of Peter Gabriel's solo work in that the song structure and such is quite simple and straightforward, while not losing the originallity that is truly Progressive. Good stuff. Simple, but enjoyable. Three stars.

Report this review (#166509)
Posted Sunday, April 13, 2008 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
4 stars I guess you could call this a concept album, or at least say there is a theme that runs through this record. All the songs have subtitles including the title of the album which is "Ghost Story (A Lullabye In Nine Movements)". At the end of the final track Phideaux says "This story dedicated to my sister, Jeri,who has forever heard my haunting...with love, Phideaux." What I love so much about Phideaux's early records are the well crafted songs that he creates. And this album is full of them, it's just a great listen. Besides the great lyrics, the incredible music here is a blend of Psychedelic and Rock, with the bonus of a fabulous singer of course. I'm one of the few who prefers this album along with "Fiendish" and "Chupacabras" more than his latest "Doomsday Afternoon".

"Everynight (After Dark,The Wild Things Roam)" opens with a brief instrumental section before whispered vocals arrive. A good beat with normal vocals follow a minute in. I like the fuzzed out guitar that comes in. Nice. Just a good catchy tune. They just seem to jam after 3 minutes. Great section. "Feel The Radiation (Ignorance Is Bliss,Or Is It Abys ?)" opens with drums that get heavier and some snarly bass. Vocals join in, at times they're processed. The guitar makes some noise 2 minutes in and gets even better after 3 1/2 minutes. "A Curse Of Miracles (The Fool On The Hill Who Never Sees The Gift, Wanders Aimlessly...)" opens with strummed guitar as Jagger-like vocals come in. This is one of my three favourites on this album. The guitar sounds amazing and the bass is deep. Vocal melodies come and go. Nice guitar solo 4 minutes in. It ends with one final outburst of instrumental music and vocal melodies. The guitar isn't bad either. "Kiteman (A Boy Who Discovered It Was Possible To Get Too High)" is my favourite track. The acoustic guitar from Xaviar is joined by the electric guitar and it sounds fantastic. Vocals come in. More chunky bass as Phideaux sings so beautifully. Awesome tune. I really like the Krautrock style guitar playing in this one. Check it out, especially 4 minutes in.

"Wily Creilly (The Monster Speaks, The Body Snatcher Pleads...)" has a pastoral intro. Organ after a minute. It kicks into gear 1 1/2 minutes in with vocals and some excellent bass. I like the instrumental interlude 3 1/2 minutes in, and the chunky bass a minute later. Great tune. "Beyond The Shadow Of Doubt (A Result Of Some Unpleasant Premonitions)" is the longest and proggiest track but the one I like the least for some reason. Kind of spacey to open with distant sounding vocals. Drums, vocals, bass, piano and strummed guitar lead the way. The sound does get fuller with guitar. "Ghostforest (The Smoke Of A Thousand Souls)" opens with samples and processed vocals before it kicks in with a fantastic driving beat with vocals. A top three track for me. The vocals, bass, drums and guitar all sound amazing. "Universally (Gardening By Moonlight)" opens with processed vocals and acoustic guitar. Reserved vocals follow as guitar continues. Emotional track. The organ is a nice touch. The guitar starts to rip it up 4 1/2 minutes in as drums pound. This should also be in my top three. Haha. "Come Out Tonight (A Quantum Hayride From Outer Space To Inner Peace)" opens with a guitar line repeated over and over as reserved vocals come in. Bass and synths join in, then drums and organ. Love the organ runs. Beautiful sound 3 minutes in.

Highly recommended to those who simply love great songs.

Report this review (#178770)
Posted Sunday, August 3, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars I wasn't enthusiast about Phideaux's prior releases and again, the patience paid!

This third work (if you take into consideration the pre-historical "Friction") is finally a good one. The music is much harder and catchier than usual. It is actually a second attempt to release earlier songs. The whole was remixed and re-recorded with a fine result, to be honest.

The first two songs are really excellent in this aspect. "Every Night" is a very much alternative rock- oriented. Heavy guitar and drumming were quite unusual on a Phideaux effort so far. "Feel The Radiation" holds some psyche sounds and it is not too far from a PT track. Excellent start by all means.

But of course, this is no hard-rock music. Phideaux just combines harder elements with more subtle (at times even close to folk) ones. This conveys a really nice feeling ("Kite Man").

The man is also quite melancholic at times. A song as "Beyond The Shadow Of Doubt" is a real highlight on this album. It combines again a soft and light intro and evolves towards a heavy beat and scary mood. All things come back to where it all started: softer and more relaxed.

The new-wave oriented "Ghost Forrest" is probably a reminiscence of the times during which Phideaux played with "Sally Dick & Jane": the band even played in both temples of the new-wave / punk New-York scene: the CBGB and Max's Kansas City! Rather a strange debut for a prog artist. Anyway, this is another excellent song. But this album holds plenty.

It is a very nice surprise to listen to such a good effort (especially after the disappointment of his earlier works). There are no weak songs, and the symphonic closing "Come Out Tonight" is another melodic jewel. Highly recommended.

Four stars.

Report this review (#182294)
Posted Friday, September 12, 2008 | Review Permalink
3 stars Good, but still far from great

As most people here in Progarchives, i was introduced to (or, even better, i introduced myself to) the Phideaux Xavier band by their magnificent latest release, called Doomsday Afternoon, which is both Phideaux best and most popular album ever, and from Doomsday Afternoon i went back, discovering the previous album this band made prior to Doomsday. One of those discoveries was this album, called Ghost Story, released in the same year as Fiendish.

Both album, besides being released in the same year, have another characteristic in common: neither is able to catch my attention effectively nor have songs that truly stand out (there are only two notable exception in this album, which are the songs Beyond The Shadow Of Doubt and Come Out Tonight). So, besides the nice production and mixing, songwriting and instrumental and vocal work, nothing exceeds the average. This is nothing but a good folk / pop rock album with a bit of considerable progressive influence, nothing more. The instruments that truly stand out here are the vocals, which basically carry the album by themselves, and the few, but meaningful keyboard parts.

This album also gets better towards the end, because, in the beginning, there are just some simple pop songs and towards the end things get more serious, specially from the song Beyond The Shadow Of Doubt onwards, though the opening track is not a pile of rubbish. The highlights are Everynight, Beyond The Shadow Of Doubt and Come Out Tonight.

Grade and Final Thoughts

As i said before, Ghost Story is, in my opinion, just an average album. The songs are not exactly brilliant, there are some songs that are just dull, like Feel the Radiation, and it feels like the album has way too many songs, having only 18 minutes of good music in an album that is 50 minutes long. Because of that, i believe Ghost Story deserves the 3 stars grade.

Report this review (#187387)
Posted Wednesday, October 29, 2008 | Review Permalink
3 stars Working backwards can be difficult sometimes. The first Phideaux album which I heard all the way through was Number 7 (TADRDACB). Then I got Chupacabras and Doomsday Afternoon in fairly short order. These three albums are totally stunning. Naturally as a new fan of Phideaux, I decided to explore some more. Ghost Story is the next highest rated album on Prog Archives and Allmusic Guide gives it a very favourable 4.5/5. It seemed like the natural choice.

What makes it difficult to work backwards, is that I now know that Chupacabras was something of a turning point. Ghost Story has the makings of what will make Phideaux so phenomenal on those aforementioned follow up albums, but it hasn't gelled yet. The compositions are much shorter and overall the rock is a little more on the straight forward side. Phideaux, was by no means a run of the mill "generock" band. All the songs are still story tellers and there really are some great tracks on this album. It isn't all there yet.

What I miss most from those later works (that sentence is a bit of a mind job), is female lead vocals and the gratuitous use of piano. I have put down my reviews for Chupacabras and TADRDACB and in both cases highlighted those features as standouts.

Now that I have established my feelings regarding expectations for the album, let's see what it's made of. Everynight is the best song from the first half. It has the feel of Party and the better aspects of Ruffian on the Stairs from its successor. Great vocals, fuzzy guitars. Feel the Radiation is of a similar feel as well, but it is probably the most conventional track. On a later effort I could see the band tying these two together.

The Curse of Miracles is also very straight forward. It almost has a touch of U2 to it. Not something you hear very often on this site. The Kiteman is alright. If one song captures the condition of the album, this would be it. Close but not quite. Wily Crilley, is a bit of an odd one. It is probably the point where the album starts to make a swing towards more interesting sounds, but still doesn't blow me away.

Out of the gate comes the darker and moody (Is that piano I hear!?) track number 6: Beyond the Shadow of Doubt. This is both the longest and strongest track on Ghost Story. This is a short but excellent Phideaux epic. Nice vocal modification too. This is ALMOST the band that made Chupacabras. Ghostforest isn't bad. It feels a little more like the earlier tracks and sort of isn't appropriate sandwiched between two excellent tracts. As you may have guessed, Universally is another great piece. Great acoustic guitar. Just solidifies this little idea that I've got that Phideaux is a fan of Jethro Tull. This one came from the same band that will bring you Titan and Fortress an album later. The same can be said for Come Out Tonight, another mellow track with some strange sounds starting to creep in. This is the final track and the last of the three show stoppers.

In closing it is a solid album. Good, but not essential. Has one heck of a captivating cover. If you are interested in a more conventional sound or are an explorer of Phideaux's sound, don't hesitate to pick this one up. For the discerning progger who wants to get in on this Phideaux character we've all heard so much about lately, you can pass this one over and get started with Chupacabras.

Three times out of five I like this one.

Report this review (#254819)
Posted Tuesday, December 8, 2009 | Review Permalink
3 stars Xavier Phideaux introduce himself to prog fans.

This is the first album by Phideaux that I find really interesting. "Fiendish" contains some ideas for the future and experimental proto-songs; "Ghost Story", instead, is the real first Phideaux album of songs that it could be consider well-packaged for the audience.

The most important elements of Phideaux style are still present here: apocaliptic sounds, filtered voices, bombastic arrangement with a lot of keyboards but also space for acoustic guitars and for simple and intimate melodies. Beyond The Shadow Of Doubt is a masterpiece, the first song with a lot of references to '70s english prog bands like Yes, Genesis and Pink Floyd. In this song acoustic gentle sections dominated by piano, acoustic guitar and the voice of Xavier, are followed by other more aggressive with distorted vocals, great tempo changes and a fantastic use of organ and other keyboards. The highlight of the album and one of the most beautiful song of the career of Phideaux.

Another gem is Wily Creilly: the intro with guitar, organ and filtered voices is amazing. Then the main part of the songs reminds me Pink Floyd very much, especially the Syd Barrett era (when I listen to this song my mind goes immediatly to "Arnold Layne" and "See Emily Play"). This song, along with Beyond The Shadow Of Doubt is the most proggy of the album.

A Curse Of Miracle, Kiteman and Feel The Radiation are very good tracks too, with excellent melodies, but also with few elements typical of progressive rock: however, these three pieces are really good, with structures built up with great use of acoustic and electric guitars. Kiteman in particular is really enjoyable.

The rest of the album is good too but maybe not at the same level. But solid three stars for this one (really near to get the fourth)!

My final rating: 6/10.

Best song: Beyond The Shadow Of Doubt

Report this review (#450315)
Posted Friday, May 20, 2011 | Review Permalink
kev rowland
Crossover Team
3 stars Although back in the day Phideaux Xavier sent me his second, fourth and fifth albums to review, I had never previously come across his third release, 2004's 'Ghost Story'. With him making his complete back catalogue available free as digital downloads I felt I ought to correct that and listen to this album some 16 years on from when it was originally released. One of the things I noticed, even before playing it, is that this is very much a group album instead of the rather larger ensembles which often appears. Here Phideaux (vocals, guitars, bass) is joined by the ever-present Rich Hutchins (acoustic and electric drums, gongs), Mark Sherkus (organ, piano, synths (MiniMoog), guitars), Gabriel Moffat (Fx) and guest Sam Fenster (bass). This is a small line-up indeed yet is the perfect size for a wonderful collection of songs. At times we find Phideaux channelling his inner Lou Reed, while at others it is incredibly psychedelic. Take "Kiteman" for example, it is really only the production that lets one know this is not from 1968 or 1969. In many ways this makes me think of Jeremy Morris, another musician who seems to be at home in whatever genre takes his fancy.

Vocals are very much front and centre, while acoustic guitar is also a mainstay of the songs, and it could almost be Cat Stevens with other instruments kept to the rear, so the emphasis is on the man behind the microphone. Rich is always there, providing the correct emphasis, which may be dramatic drum fills, a hard-hitting snare, or just sitting there doing nothing which at that moment is the proper accompaniment. The electric guitars, often fuzzed and distorted, are the ones which take us into more progressive territory, making us think at times of Pink Floyd and at others of Gong, with the overall result being an album which appeals across the board. Looking at the reviews on PA it is something of a shame to realise that there has not been a Collaborator/Expert review of this album for some 12 years, and given the amount of exposure the more recent releases have been getting I am quite surprised. This may be different in many ways to what he is now more well known for, but this is a delight and one which progheads need to rediscover, especially if they enjoy shorter more psychedelic material as opposed to more drawn out affairs.

Report this review (#2447414)
Posted Saturday, September 12, 2020 | Review Permalink

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