Press File: Sides


Anthony Phillips - Sides (Arista SPART 1085) **

ZZZZZ. Uh.  What? Oh yes.  Pardon me.

"Sides", the new album by Anthony Phillips, a founder member of Genesis.  Nice free gift to the first 5,000 purchasers too in the shape of a free copy of his "Private Parts And Pieces" LP previously available in the States only.  Lots of pretty guitar and piano on this, very restful and certainly one of the more worthwhile marketing hypes (like the Solid Senders' live freebie).

And I was well on the way to enjoying "Sides" after the first couple of songs.  "Um And Aargh" is as lucid and articulate an anti-record biz song as I've heard.  It's the story of his encounters with those key arbiters of taste, the A&R men: "This is much too good for the people" he said/I said "Don't people  have minds of their own?"  This send-up is delivered at tongue twisting speed by a vocalist credited as "The Vicar" (a teaser for Genesis-genealogists) with high-impetus guitar and arrangements by Phillips.

In the light of that the next track "I Want Your Love", comes off pretty well too although it's all fuzzy, phasey romance - just that far the dynamics are working well.  But that's the point at which he starts to waft away into a damp dream of soft, repetitive music and words with all the coherence and lucidity of a bank of fog (images that are often sustained well enough in their own terms but mean little to the outsider).

I was still game coming round the turn hoping for perhaps a couple more goodies.  No go though.  Two instrumentals of limited appeal beyond some spunky percussion from a selection of Ray Cooper, Frank Ricotti and Morris Pert and two long songs both profoundly soporific.  Though one seems to be a lament for a misused mother and the other a hymn of praise to a lover (spiritual rather than sexual) they epitomise the album's "wistful" i.e. droopy approach.

Mooning over women - worse, over the idea of women - is dull and a hint degrading.  The excellent "Um And Aargh" should tell him where his strength lies and that's in satirical comment founded on personal experience.  We're all big boys now.  Who needs fairy tales and lullabyes?

Phil Sutcliffe, Sounds, 1979

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