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Anthony Phillips Invisivle Men

Anthony Phillips - Invisible Men

The 1984 album and its 2017 remaster


The series of Anthony Phillips re-issues by Cherry Red / Esoteric has now reached Invisible Men. Unlike the previous re-issues of the regular studio albums Invisible Men has not been remixed – neither in stereo nor in 5.1 surround.

The album was not a big hit at the time, so they probably do not expect a major audience response this time either. There is, however, a second CD with bonus tracks, and everything has been remastered and comes with a fine booklet.

The original album was released by “The Anthony Phillips Band”; the artwork that shows part of Ant (for the first time), but not completely and not alone, kind of indicates that. He had found a partner in Richard Scott that participated in the songwriting and the lead vocals. A band of two, as it were. Apparently this was not worth mentioning anymore in the re-issue.

UKI have listened to the complete album CD for the first time now – I had stopped buying albums by Anthony Phillips for years after the disappointing 1984 (released in 1981), so I did not know Invisible Men very well. Realized that the album is not as bad as I had feared. More sophisticated arrangements, more acoustic instruments, more real drums, and it could have given its predecessors Wise After The Event and Sides a run for their money. Surprisingly, Ant’s voice is better than ever before on the album – taking singing lessons apparently paid out better than it did for his former band mate Rutherford (they had the same teacher).

Stopped short upon reading the new credits, for under the caption “THE 2017 REMASTERED & EXPANDED EDITION” it says: "All tracks mixed by Jonathan Dann, except Something Blue mixed by Anthony Phillips and Richard Scott"

Since Jonathan Dann was not the original mixer of the album this raises the question whether this is not a remix after all. A direct comparison (of the opening track) shows: No. Definitely no remix – the information probably refers only to the bonus CD.

The album itself has audible sound differences because of the remastering:

The bass (below 100 Hz) has been lowered to -6dB while the medium ranges from 1.2 to 5kHz are raised by about 2 dB. From the 5 kHz mark the trebles are slowly lowered (-5dB at 10 kHz). Lifting the middle frequencies makes the new master sound clearer, though the weaker bass sounds also give it a thinner, colder sound. Good thing the overall volume has been lowered by some 2dB compared to the original CD release. This means there are only occasional limited peaks; this is, in fact, a general tendency because the “loudness war” is history now thanks to Spotify.

US
Whether you really need the CD with the bonus tracks is up to you. I like it almost better than the album proper, as it is more varied. There are some very good recordings on it that are not just outtakes. The first track, Gimme Love, is (apart from the slighty boring drumbox) a good song with great guitars and a passionate Richard Scott as the singer. The same goes for Refugee From Love that could have been a regular track, no problem. The alternate instrumental version of Falling For Love was recorded two years after the album, and it gives us a hunch how the album could have sounded with a better arrangement. Alien sounds a bit like Moody Blues, at least as bombastic, but interesting enough. Tonight is a superb demo that could have become a good song. Something Blue was first released as Classic Guitar Solo on Private Parts & Pieces vol. IX, but here we get the complete version with Richard Scott’s vocals. Finale, a rough version of which can be found on Archive Collection #2, has been recorded with real drums for this album, and it would not have been bad on the original album.

The artwork design is top notch. We get a four-panel digipak with a good booklet that includes lyrics and a poster. It also contains the US design of the original artwork and three facsimiles of the lyrics for Traces, Sally and Guru. Can’t complain!

Author: Tom Morgenstern, English by Martin Klinkhardt


Invisible Men is available on 2CD at amazonUK and in digital format on iTunes

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