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Private Parts And Missing Links

The next to youngest of the seven “big” members of Genesis (G7, only Ray Wilson being younger) is Anthony ‘Ant’ Edwin Phillips. As a founding member he had a very substantial influence on the band during the formative first three of the nearly fifty years of their existence. He can be heard on only two Genesis records, From Genesis To Revelation and Trespass and contributed as a composer to material that was published on Nursery Cryme and the live albums. Apart from that he has released more material (on records, so-called library music, tv scores, musicals, sheet music and other) than any of the other six … though quantity does not necessarily mean quality. Like Tony Banks he has never performed his music live on stage (except with Genesis, of course), but he has published a number of “Live in the studio” recordings on the radio, on CD or on his Youtube channel. His versatility as a producer and a multi-instrumentalist, particularly his proficiency in playing the 12-string guitar and assorted other string and keyboard instruments, and the variety of styles he uses are without a match – yet the bachelor who lives in London-Clapham is probably the least-known of the “G7”.
Ant ‘The Vicar’ Phillips was born on December 23, 1951 to a wealthy banker and president of an insurance company who passsed on in 1997, and his wife Pauline in London-Roehampton. He has an older half-sister Anne and a brother Rob seven years his younger who plays the oboe.

When he was eleven years Ant embarked on two careers as a guitarist and a composer at his boarding school. It was then that he wrote the song Patricia that was released as an instrumental on the Genesis Archive 1968-1975 and also found its way onto the first Genesis record as In Hiding. 

At Charterhouse he befriended Mike Rutherford, and both became members of The Anon, one of two bands that would become Genesis in 1967. Ant’s early musical influences were certainly varied considering the musical education he received and what happened in pop music in England at the time. The Shadows are mentioned, and also Ralph Vaughan-Williams and Mike Oldfield, particularly in relation to Ant’s first solo album from 1973. He found his personal, idiosyncratic style even while he was still in Genesis, the foundation of which, though it has certainly developed since then. His music has the formalism of the Baroque, the elegant playfulness of classical music, the dynamics of Romanticism, English humour, and, above all, it is free of superfluous elements. His oeuvre ranges from short intermezzi, meditative or picturesque longer instrumentals, suites for guitar and other instruments, songs, rock songs and rock instrumentals to symphonic works.
In his early years Ant would frequently work with Mike Rutherford, While both of them were in Genesis they wrote lots of songs for twelve-string guitar, but only very few of them (e.g. Stagnation) made their way into the studio or onto the stage. In the 1990s Ant recorded some of these songs and released them as bonus tracks on CD. One of those, the Silver Song, would almost have become Phil Collins’ first solo single in 1973, but the project was shelved due to recording issues. In the mean time the version Phil sings on has been published on the 2CD version of The Geese & The Ghost, though.
Extreme stage fright, chronic bronchitis and the realization that Genesis were not heading in a musical direction where he could have helped them onwards caused Anthony Phillips to leave Genesis in 1970 and to start studying music. No other departure of a band member would shake Genesis as deeply as his.

Phil Collins appears a second time in Ant’s career: He sings two songs on Ant’s first solo release (which Ant wrote largely in cooperation with Mike Rutherford). The album is called The Geese & The Ghost and it is Ant’s best seller to this day. It was written in the first half of the 1970’s and was finally released in 1977 as the only album on the Hit & Run label their manager Tony Smith founded especially for it. The album introduced a wide array of music with a wide range of acoustic instruments. The cover features a lovely landscape painted by Peter Cross, who would paint his legendary masterpieces for several other of Ant’s albums.
The next records Ant recorded comply with the record company’s demands for pop hits. Luckily, he found an excellent producer in Rupert Hine and a very fine selection of musicians (drummer Michael Giles from King Crimson and bass player John G. Perry of Caravan and Quantum Jump) for Wise After The Event (1978) and Sides (1979).

At the same time as Sides Ant released another record that was free from any record company’s demands. It consisted mainly of music for guitar and piano written during the 70s. Ant called this album Private Parts & Pieces, a delicate title that would become the label for a whole series of releases.
Back To The Pavilion, the second volume in this series, was released in 1980. One of its highlights is the Scottish Suite, which was originally written as a musical version of Shakespeare’s Macbeth. This also features music from the Six Pieces For Guitar, the sheet music for which Ant published at Josef Weinberger’s publishing house.
1981 saw the release of 1984, an electronic piece consisting of a Prelude, two long movements with recurring motives and an “anthem”.
The third part of the Private Parts & Pieces (or PP&P) contained guitar music Ant wrote and recorded with Argentinian musician Enrique “Quique” Berro Garcia. The nickname of the album came from a fusion from both their names: Antiques.

Ant’s latest return to pop music occurred in 1984. Invisible Men was written with Richard Scott.  He had tackled political issues such as animal rights and the music industry before on his ’78 and ’79 pop records, this time he expressed strong feelings about the Falkland War.
In these years he also worked with Richard Scott and Rupert Hine for the musicals Alice and Masquerade. Alice ran for several weeks.

The next two volumes of the PP&P series were published shortly after Invisible Men. A Catch At The Tables was a colourful mixture of music while Twelve is a remarkable album. On it, Ant set in guitar music the twelve months of the year, reaching a new peak in his mastery of the instrument. The variety of sounds the instrument can make is remarkable – and remarkable it is, too, how easy it is to guess which month is presented when you listen to any piece of the album!
A compilation, Harvest Of The Heart, which is not available on CD, was followed by PP&P vols. 6 and 7: Ivory Moon (1986) presents piano music in Ant’s typical manner between Romanticism and Impressionism as well as two peaces from Masquerade. Slow Waves, Soft Stars (1987) consists of keyboard improvisations that remind the listener of icy landscapes and outer space and also features guitar music, again in collaboration with Quique. The album was featured in a programme on the music TV station VH-1 that Ant hosted in his quirky humourous way. He also played some of the songs on the guitar.

In 1988 it finally became possible to record Tarka with a large symphonic orchestra and solo musicians (Ant and Harry Williamson on guitars and keyboard instruments) and release it on record. Tarka is based on a book about an otter and it consists of three movements and an “anthem”. Ant wrote it in the late 70s together with Harry Williamson.
The first instalment (on cassette only) of a new series of releases titled Missing Links was released the year after that. This series is dedicated to the music Ant wrote and writes for television, various projects and so-called libraries (archives from which TV stations, movie-makers and others can borrow music that is not commercially available elsewhere), i.e. to the music with which he earns his living. Finger Painting contains music of varying sophistication from 1979 onwards.
Slow Dance (1990) comes across as a mixture of 1984 and Tarka. Recorded partly with electronic instruments, partly with natural instruments (amongst which were strings and horns as ensemble or as solo instruments), it consists of two movements that are about 25 minutes each. Changing rhythms guide the listener through many different motives.
The 1990s began with the re-release of most of Ant’s records on CD. Many of them had gone out of print on vinyl.  It also began with a particularly precious work of Ant’s: PP&P 8 – New England (1992) was commissioned by Virgin Records’ Venture label. It contains guitar suites, pieces for soprano saxophone (Martin Robertson) and guitar, pieces for guitar and piano and many more very refined arrangements – and in excellent sound quality.

Further releases for the Venture label would have been great, but with the take-over of Virgin Records by EMI in 1992 the sublabel Venture was discontinued. The more than two decades since saw Ant busily working for music libraries and TV, which left him little time to release his own projects. Hence, most of his releases since then consist of library/TV music, compilations and back-catalogue re-issues (sometimes with bonus material).

In 1994 Ant had the opportunity to release music he had written for a TV series about the Whitbread Round The World Race on a CD called Sail The World. The same year saw the release of Missing Links 2 – The Sky Road, which includes not only TV and library music but also other remarkable pieces left over from previous years.
In 1995 Ant released the Gypsy Suite he had recorded with Harry Williamson with both of them playing the guitar at the end of the seventies. The album also includes demos for the first two movements of Tarka.
In 1996 Ant Phillips and Helmut Janisch compiled the lyrics to all of Ant’s songs to that date and released them in a lyrics book (his song-oeuvre has hardly expanded since then). With the book came a CD called The Living Room Concert with extracts from a studio concert that was recorded for the radio. The Anthology compilation kicked off a second batch of re-releases on Ant’s new label Blueprint Records (a division of Voiceprint). Various other anthologies were to follow in years to come.
PP&P 9 – Dragonfly Dreams (1996) is another mixed bag on which Enrique Berro Garcia can be heard again.

The year after that Ant began a cooperation with one of his former students, Guillermo Cazenave from Spain, that proved durable but not very fertile musically. They recorded an album called The Meadows Of Englewood based on improvisations, two videos and the Live Radio Sessions CD. The album was named after the road Ant lives in in London.
TV music was also released in 1997: The double CD The Music Of Nature that accompanied the TV series Survival has lots of music by Ant. Time & Tide, volume 3 of the Missing Links, has TV music Ant wrote with the Japanese percussionist and flautist Jiji Hirota.
Riding on the nostalgia wave that surrounded the Genesis Archive 1968-75 Ant established a third series of releases under the Archive Collection label. Volume one was published in 1998 and included a demo version of The Musical Box. Later that year Ant wrote and recorded a couple of new piano pieces. They were released in autumn 1999 as PP&P 10 – Soirée.

At the start of the new millennium and 25 years after the initial broadcast, where the tapes ran fast, his 1978 studio concert for the Scottish radio station Radio Clyde was finally released on CD – this time at the intended speed. In 2004, volume 2 of The Archive Collection appeared.
2005 marked another highpoint in Ant's oeuvre. After years of preparation, a grandiose collection of nearly 60 new pieces recorded on a wide range of items from Ant's extensive collection of lute instruments came out under the title Field Day.
When Wildlife, an album with music Ant wrote for wildlife documentaries, was released in 2008 it was the first such album of Ant's that did not carry the Missing Links label. The Missing Links series grew into the fourth volume in 2009. Pathways & Promenades consists mainly of pieces that had originally been used in various samplers since the 1980s that had been out of print for a long time. In 2010, Ahead Of The Field came out; it contains a library project from 1985.
In 2009 Ant also provided valuable input on the acoustic guitar for Steve Hackett's “living room album” Out Of The Tunnel's Mouth, thus closing a gap: Apart from Ray Wilson, who has yet to work with Collins, Gabriel and Phillips, each of the G7 has worked with every other G7.
No less than two new releases came out in 2012. Ant published Seventh Heaven with Andrew Skeet, a double CD set with 36 brief pieces for orchestra and solo instruments, some of which are arrangements of previously released pieces. After a 13 year break, the Private Parts & Pieces series continued with #11. City Of Dreams contains mainly brief keyboard pieces. Ant has also worked on other people’s albums as a composer or musician.

There is still hope that the music from Ant's musicals will one day be published, that he will record new material (perhaps with a band) and find the time for musical projects of a larger scale.

Little else is known about Anthony Phillips’ life, apart from the fact that he occasionally plays cricket; his club are the Send Occasionals.

Newcomers to the music of Anthony Phillips will find his Anthology or the Private Parts & Pieces 8 – New England good starting points.

by Andreas Lauer, updated version 2013 (original 1999)
English by Martin Klinkhardt

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