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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Anthony Phillips

Private Parts & Pieces V-VIII

Review by Gary Hill

Perhaps Anthony Phillips is best known as the original guitarist for Genesis. He really wasn't in that gig for all that long, though. Still, listening to his solo work it's easy to hear the stamp he left on their sound. In more recent years Phillips has done a series of albums called "Private Parts & Pieces." This new box set assembles four of those albums as one set. There is a fifth disc here that's exclusive to this. There is a wide range of sound (and instrumentation) here. Phillips really is a master of many styles. I've also reviewed each of the four individual albums here. So, the way these flow is a general review after each album title, followed by the track by tracks. The individual reviews are identical to the disc reviews included here.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2016  Volume 6 at lulu.com/strangesound.
Track by Track Review
Disc One

               
Private Parts & Pieces V: Twelve
A set of musical tapestries woven with acoustic guitar this is all instrumental. It makes its way through the months of the year in fine fashion. Parts of this are very mellow and intricate. Other things rise toward folk rock. Some of it does call to mind the sound of Genesis, but that comes with the territory, really.
January
This comes in very gradually. The acoustic guitar is beautiful and works in some intricate ways. It gets a bit more energy as it continues forward, but still remains basically on the mellow end of the equation.
February
There is a bit of a sense of mystery built into this piece of music. It works forward with some energy and majesty.
March
This piece has a lot more energy. It's still intricate and rather mellow. It does reach upward toward more rocking territory, though.
April
There is no huge change here. This is another powerful piece of acoustic guitar magic, though. This gets into some pretty rocking and crazed territory later.
May
Sedate and intricate, this works forward gradually. There are some rhythmic elements that emerge on this piece of music.
June
There is more of a folk rock vibe to this number. It's energetic and quite pretty. Still, it doesn't lose any of its intricacies to gain that energy. It gets quite rocking before it drops back down to the closing movement.
July
Another with a good chunk of folk rock at its foundation, this is a rather fun number. There is a good chunk of flamenco guitar built into the more rocking parts of this piece.
August
Intricate and yet still managing to summon up some rock tendencies, this is proggy, folky and more.
September
This is more in the intricate and pretty side of the equation.
October
Intricate and quite pretty, this one starts to bring the year back into the slower, mellower end of the equation.
November
There is a real blast of energy and excitement on this cut. It's a powerhouse rocker that's among the best things here. Not all of it rocks, but a lot of it does. In fact, this is one of the most "rock" oriented pieces of the whole album.
December
Intricate musical elements paint some beautiful sounds on this number. It's so potent and pretty.
Disc Two
       

Private Parts & Pieces VI: Ivory Moon
I think most people think of Anthony Phillips as a guitar player. With this album he turned his attention to solo piano. The music here is often very classical in nature. That said there is a lot of range and power built into this stuff. It's a great disc of piano music. It's not the kind of thing to have playing in the background, though. There is too much excitement and melody included for this to be relegated to the backdrop.
Suite: Sea Dogs Motoring
                        

I Sunrise over Sienna

Very classical in nature, this piano solo has a lot of moods and variance in volume and scope. It's quite expressive and powerful.

II Basking Shark
This is much more of a playful piece of music. It has more of a foray into more challenging sounds, too. Yet is also descends into mellower, more classically based intricacies. It builds upward from there in some excellent melodic motifs, too. There are some rather marching movements. This is quite a complex ride, really. It's fairly extended, too.
III Sea Dog's Air
There is more of a playful, dancing joy to the tone of this piece. It's still quite classical at the same time.
IV Safe Havens
This is a very short and rather tentative classically based piano solo. This ends the suite.
Tara's Theme (From Masquerade)
So pretty and expressive, this is a great tune. It's one of the best on this disc.
Winter's Thaw
In a lot of ways this more playful. It's rather a fun piece of music. Yet, it's still quite classical in nature. This is a rather extensive piece of music. Because of that length (it's over nine and a half minutes), it's quite complex.
The Old House
If the last piece was epic in stature, this one is far beyond that. It's almost fifteen and a half minutes in length. It comes in quite classical and very expressive and works forward in that sort of fashion. This really is a suite in and of itself. It's a real powerhouse that goes through a number of movements. At times it leans toward powered up music. At other points it gets very mellow and slow moving. There are some particularly beautiful passages built into it.
Moonfall (From Masquerade)
This has a lot of Beethoven built into it. It's quite a beautiful piece of music.
Rapids
Coming in mellow, but suitably rapid, this works nicely from the start. It takes us through some different moods and melody ranges. It gets pretty frantic and impassioned later. The closing movement is much mellower and very beautiful.
Bonus Track
                

Let Us Now Make Love

This is a solo piano arrangement of a Genesis song. It's pretty and evocative.

Disc Three
                     

Private Parts & Pieces VII: Slow Waves, Soft Stars
This set from the Private Parts & Pieces series is a bit less cohesive than some of the others. A lot of this leans toward New Age music, with electronic space sounds dominating big chunks. Yet there is a section where we're taken into acoustic guitar based music. All in all, this is good, but not one of my favorites of the series. It is a nice change, though.
Ice Flight
          
(I) Flight of the Snow Petrel: Glacier Bay
Trippy electronic music creates something akin to space sounds here. This is like new age in so many ways. It's pretty and echoey and very trippy.
(Ii) Flight of the Whale-Birds: Blizzard Mountain
The synthetic elements still drive this. The piece is less spacey in a lot of ways. It's still set very much new wave sort of territory, though. There are some different movements here.
(III) Flight of the Albatross: Ice Island
This is the shortest movement of the suite. It's not a huge change, either.
(IV) White Heaven
The atmospheric, textural elements driving this piece are pretty.
(V) Cathedral of Ice
This is a pretty piece of music. It's still set in the same textural territory, but it has some great melodies.
Beachrunner
Intricate acoustic guitar drives this. The accompanying layers of sound and this somewhere in between the music we've heard to this point of this album and the acoustic guitar based stuff of Parts and Pieces V.
End of the Affair
This one brings us back further into the atmospheric directions. Acoustic guitar does manage to weave some rather classical elements into this piece of music.
The Golden Pathway
Here we have another atmospheric musical adventure.       
Behind the Waterfall
This really does feel like being behind a waterfall. There is a steady wash of sound that gets intensified by something that could be seen as the water hitting the ground.
Carnival
Now here we're in more folk rock styled sounds. It's acoustic guitar based and feels like traveling music.
Through the Black Hole
Here we get a real space journey. It's pretty trippy stuff.
Pluto Garden
The atmospheric new age styled elements here really make me think of Mike Oldfield at times.
Sospirando
This acoustic guitar solo makes me think of an old Christmas carol at times. There is also a bit of a Spanish flair here.
Elevenses
Here is another intricate acoustic guitar solo. It's quite pretty.
Goodbye Serenade
Mellow acoustic guitar intricacies make up this pretty song.
Bubble and Squeak
This is fast paced and fun. It's very much a folk music styled thing.
Vanishing Streets

A pretty atmospheric cut this is more in keeping with the earlier sounds of the disc.

Slow Waves, Soft Stars
The title track comes in with more synthetic textural sounds. It moves forward slowly and methodically on that sort of track.
Disc Four
                 

Private Parts & Pieces VIII: New England
This entry in the Private Parts & Pieces series is perhaps a bit better rounded than some of the rest are. For one thing, it's not entirely instrumental, a couple tunes have vocals. Secondly, there is less one musical arrangement (acoustic guitar, piano) dominating. This is just a nice soft rock album, really. Sure, it's more prog than it is anything else, but it has classical and folk music both built into it.
Aubade
This short piece is very atmospheric and quite pretty.
Infra Dig
More of a folk rock jam, this number is fast paced and lots of fun.
Sanctuary
Here we get a full rock arrangement. It's a soft rock sound, but it's quite a cool little pop rock piece really. I love the vocals and the variety that it brings to the table.
La Dolorosa
The intricate acoustic guitar patterns on this are both beautiful and powerful.                      
New England Suite (I)
Fast paced folk styled music is the idea here. It's a cool acoustic guitar solo.
New England Suite (Ii)
This does continue the basic musical concept while moving it in new directions. It's energetic and fun.
New England Suite (iii)
The closing movement does a lot to carry the theme of the first two parts. I think I like this one the best of the three. It does a good job of pulling it together.
Last Goodbyes

 Here we get a piano solo that's very classical in tone and quite pretty.

Sunrise and Sea Monsters
I love the acoustic guitar that runs along at the heart of the first movement cut. This one lands very much in a jazzy kind of folk prog motif. A saxophone weaves some beautiful melodic lines. A dropped back movement around the three minute mark really does call to mind Genesis. As it approaches the five minute mark it fires out into fast paced prog jamming that has a lot of jazz built into it. It gets a little crazed. That crescendoes and we're eventually brought back to mellower territory from there. This instrumental works out to more of a fusion styled jam as it continues its steady march forward. This thing just keeps building and expanding. The piece is about ten and a half minutes in length and Phillips puts that time to good use.
Iona
This short instrumental feels a lot like Genesis. It's quite intricate and pretty.
Cathedral Woods
Here we get a very pretty and classically oriented piano solo.
If I Could Tell YoU
This is another piano based cut that's pretty.
Jaunty Roads
Here we get a very short little acoustic guitar piece.         
Spirals
A piece that's very Genesis-like, this is quite pretty.
Pieces of Eight (I) Pressgang
This fast paced and playful bit has a lot of Celtic music built into it.
Pieces of Eight (II) Sargasso
This movement takes us more into intricate Genesis territory.
Pieces of Eight (III) Sea-Shanty
Delicate acoustic guitar weaves melodic lines of sound on this song. It's a nice way to resolve the suite in style.
In the Maze

This is an intricate instrumental with some jazz and Genesis stylings both built into the system.

Unheard Cry

 A second song with vocals, this is very much a folk prog number. It's quite mellow, slow and pretty.

Now They've All Gone
Piano works out in a rather classically styled arrangement. This closer is a nice piano solo that works really well.
Disc Five
                 

Private Parts and Extra Pieces II
This disc is exclusive to this box set. It includes a number of intriguing pieces, with things that didn't make the other albums for one reason or another. There are also some variant mixes and things of that nature. 
Cathedral Wood Link
Here we have a pretty piano piece. It's short, but sweet.
Jongleur
This time acoustic guitar is the instrument of choice. This piece works through a number of shifts and changes staying focused between folk and classical territory. Phillips really shows that he has advanced mastery of the instrument.
Sanctuary (Piano Mix)
We're back into piano territory on this number. This is a beautiful piece that's mostly classical in nature.
Emerald Forest
This comes in with an electronic texture that seems to skate along the path shared by prog and new age music.
Unheard Cry Link

This is a very short piece that's quite pretty. It's mostly vocal with some atmospheric textures to keep the voice company.

Skylarks over the Water
As the acoustic guitar leads this out it has a bit of an Asian flair. The piece works out from there in fine fashion.
Sir Isaac (From Masquerade)
This time around we're back into piano territory. This is very classical in nature and quite pretty.
Across the Forbidding Horizon
Guitar opens this. It has a very intricate approach, but also lands in the territory of progressive rock. This is a piece that seems related to the kind of music Phillips did in his time with Genesis. This is quite a pretty and intriguing piece of music.
End of the Affair II
Here we get a pretty New Age styled cut with textural keys and acoustic guitars at its heart.            
Autumn Falls
Here is another New Age styled piece of pretty textural sound.
Beachrunner II
Acoustic guitar drives this piece in fine fashion. It's part classical and part folk music.
Highland Dawn
A keyboard based track, this is very pretty.
Sanctuary Link
Here we get a very short acoustic guitar piece.      
Unheard Cry (Guitar Demo)
As you might guess from the parenthetical, this is an acoustic guitar based version of a song from one of the earlier sets. It's very pretty.
Moonfall (From Masquerade) (Demo)
As it says, this is a demo of the earlier piece. I find it beautiful and powerful in both version. This, like the final version, is a piano solo.
Pluto Garden (Alternate Mix)
This roughly one minute tune is an echoey New Age construction.
Cathedral of Ice (Alternate Mix)
Just under two minutes in length, this is another New Age electronic piece. It's textural and slow moving.
A Place to Rest
Here is a pretty acoustic guitar solo.
The Riddle of the Sands

The closing piece is another acoustic guitar number. It's actually a pretty involved journey. It's an extended piece, too.

 
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