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Gastkritiken - Which Way The Wind Blows

Rocking Horse Music Club

Which Way The Wind Blows - guest reviews

The Music Of Anthony Phillips


In our Website-Special we have taken a closer look at the tribute project of American band Rocking Horse Music Club, who did a whole album with music by Anthony Phillips - plus they are planning to do two live shows in November 2019. Please check our in depth and analytical review here. But now - we would like to know: What do YOU think about the record? We have published the first three guest reviews here, but feel free to add yours by sending an email to Christian.




... according to Thomas Jesse


Anthony Phillips … a name that melts in my mouth. Listening to an album of his is always a treat for me, particularly if it’s from the 1970s.

Listening is actually not quite enough because you also have to spend more than a passing glance at the artwork Peter Cross created for the albums. It is like Ant’s music: You keep discovering new details.

I first encountered the music by the former Genesis guitarist in 1978. And his music gripped me – though he is one of the quieter ones in the world of Genesis. Little wonder that he has, to my knowledge, never been covered before. Well, other than from a number of fanclub members at the brilliant Anthony Phillips Event [2014 in Germany]. But the maestro was present himself.

I was therefore surprised to hear that a band from New Hampshire, a bunch of Americans, tried their hand at this very British music that moves between the Middle Ages, classical music, rock, prog, folk, and pop. The project did not involve just the seven band members. As if they wanted to pay homage to Ant there are no less than 27 musicians on the cover. Of those, the brothers Hackett and John Helliwell of Supertramp are the best-known guests.

So what does it sound like? Wait a second, I need to point out the visual treat. A treat indeed, because our fanclub’s very own Helmut Janisch has done a great job based on Peter Cross’s album designs. As we know it from the design Helmut did for the Lyrics Book.

What is the music like now? The selection covers mostly songs from The Geese & The Ghost, Wise After The Event and Sides. It is completed with the Silver Song and Something Blue, a track from the sessions for Invisible Men.

I won’t discuss all the tracks in detail, just throw a streak of light on some of them: Highlights on the album are a fantastic Nightmare (this incredible, seemingly un-ending saxophone solo!), Collections (without strings, with slide guitar) and Sleepfall (with John Hackett’s delicious flute solo), those two tracks from The Geese & The Ghost that have been given an overhaul and a more modern arrangement. Spot Something Blue – a song with a touch of jazz and wonderful vocals by Evelyn Cornier!

Which Way The Wind Blows was a bit of a disappointment. Noel McCalla, whose work on Smallcreep’s Day I really enjoyed, does a job here, too, but he is a far cry from Phil. Admittedly, that’s a very high standard. Steve Hackett’s solo is a very pleasant things with lots of routine.

And that’s another point. Anthony Phillips’s compositions are so demanding that you have to have a lot of courage to cover them. The courage was rewarded. This is a fine, well-balanced album that does not have the flair of the originals (how could it!) but dresses them in a light modern way with a lot of good sense. The Rocking Horse Music Club manage to show the timeless quality of this wonderful music. They do it with brave new arrangements and full of reverence for the originals. A must buy!

 




... according to Christian Gerhardts


A tribute album to the music of Anthony Phillips? I must admit that those plans seemed a bit eccentric and very ambitious when I first heard of them. After all, Anthony Phillips has not written any big hits and he does not have the big number of followers others in the world of Genesis have. The project interested me, the more so since I find much of Ant’s music inaccessible. A release like Harvest Of The Heart is a lot of material, and apart from The Geese & The Ghost and, perhaps, Sides his other albums were hard to get into for me.

The first runthrough revealed: This is an album of great songs, and the fresh sound makes it easier to get into the music. Plus the vocals are better (or better produced) than in the originals. Songs like Paperchase or Pulling Faces come alive, and this helps rediscovering Ant’s originals. Guest musicians like Steve Hackett and Noel McCalla add much to the project and made me much more curious for the new versions. In my opinion, the very best piece on the album is Something Blue. I really had to look for the original, and it sort of doesn’t exist anyway.

Brian Coombes and his band have created a fine album that does not only do justice to the work of Anthony Phillips but also offers fans an opportunity to approach Ant’s work from a completely different angle.

 




... according to Helmut Janisch


When I found out that Rocking Horse Music Club planned to play Ant Phillips’ music live and release a tribute album I was so thrilled that I bought tickets for the shows and offered my humble services for the album and the event poster. This brought into contact with Brian Coombes and gave me a bit of insight into the creation of the album. Originally I was only to do the front cover, but it soon extended to the complete design for the CD. After Peter Cross gave his permission for the use of his original artwork and Ant also agreed I created a collage of various elements based on the poster I had designed for the fanclub’s Anthony Phillips Event in 2014. Some of those elements are hard to see now they are scaled down to CD size. A gatefold LP version would be ever so lovely.

The band wanted The Geese & The Ghost, Sides and Wise After The Event to be the dominant elements in the cover artwork. This and the different proportions (compared to the poster) gave the CD artwork its own special touch. I had tremendous fun reassembling Peter Cross’ lovingly made and often quirky artwork in his own spirit. As he wrote to me when I had completed it, I seem to have retained his ideas.

An album is more than just the packaging, though. Luckily, as with many Phillips albums, cover design and the music are on the same level and complement each other. When I first listened to the CD I had similar impressions as Andreas Lauer mentioned in his review. The opening track and one or two other tracks had me less impressed than, for example, Paperchase, Something Blue or Nightmare – those sent shivers down my spine. But this has changed with time, and now I think the whole album is brilliant. Let’s not forget that Brian Coombes and the guys were not about copying. They wanted to give the tracks a new, modern touch, a slightly different direction. They have achieved their goal in my opinion, without denying or abandoning the originals. The support of well-known musicians is a nice bonus, but the album would not have been the worse without it because the band members all have a very high level of musicianship. My favourite member of them is Justin Cohn with his gorgeous voice.

Which Way The Wind Blows is a great album all around. If you already have it you should buy some more copies and put them in the Christmas stockings for dear friends or relatives.

 



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