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Anthony Phillips

Invisible Man (Remastered and Expanded Edition)

Review by Gary Hill

When I recently interviewed Anthony Phillips he mentioned his quirky catalog (my words not his precisely) and that it was caused by record label pressure. I have to believe that the main album here is a major example of that. The sound  on this disc is very much tied to the electronic pop music of the 1980s. That doesn't make it bad. It does make it a bit odd for Phillips and perhaps too dated to hold up completely well. All that said, the music on that main disc does still work reasonably well despite that. For my money, though, this set is really worth having for the second disc of unreleased music. There are some real gems there. All in all, that makes this a set well worth having.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2017  Volume 6 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
CD One

    

Invisible Men
      
Golden Bodies

When the electronic sounds start this, you might think you've turned on a Devo album. As other instruments join it takes on a real 1980s pop music vibe. The vocals bring a bit of Queen to it. In fact, this feels a lot like 1980s Queen to me. It's bouncy and fun, but dated.

The Women Were Watching
Although that electronic pop vibe is still all over this, the cut has a bit more prog rock built into it. I really love the powered up stuff on the tune.
Traces
A mellower cut, this is more purely prog rock. It still has a lot of that electronic element along with pop music sounds. It's just more involved and intricate. It's also a particularly effective piece.
Exocet
I really dig the mix of progressive rock with 80s electronic music on this cut. This is a powerhouse that's complex and involved. It's one of the highlights.
Love in a Hot Air Balloon
Bouncy and fun, this has a dated vibe, but it's just so compelling that it doesn't matter.
Going for Broke
While this is definitely set into a fast paced 80s (thereby dated) sound, it is a killer tune. It's catchy and fun. I love the guitar solo section on this thing.
Falling for Love
A soulful kind of cut, this is very dated in texture. It's also quite strong.
Sally
This is another highlight of the set. It does a great job of combining that 1980s electronic sound with a cool prog rock texture. At times this makes me think of ELO just a bit. It's so cool.
I Want Your Heart
Comparisons to The Buggles are not out of place on this number. It's another fun one.
Guru
Another that does a great job of combining that 80s vibe with more of pop prog element, this is a classy cut.
It's Not Easy
The chorus on this is potent. The whole cut works well.
My Time Has Come
This seems free of that 80s vibe for the most part. It starts with a mellow guitar ballad approach and rises up to more rocking after that. It's one of the better cuts here.
Bonus Tracks
             
Trail of Tears

This instrumental is keyboard dominated and quite interesting. In a lot of ways it makes me think of something Rick Wakeman might have done in the same time period. There is a cool shift to dramatic space rock later in the piece.

The Ballad of Penlee
Quite a pretty ballad, I really like this as much as (and maybe more) than a lot of the stuff on the album proper.
Alex (Atmosphere Studios Version)
This instrumental covers a lot of musical ground and is very compelling. There are definitely elements here that make me think of Genesis. This is another strong cut. I like the sound better on this than on the stuff that makes up the album proper.
CD Two
           
Out-takes and Demos
   
(Previously Unreleased)
                
Gimme Love

This is a mainstream rock balladic cut. For some reason it makes me think of The Bee Gees (not the disco stuff) just a bit. Mind you, the vocals are different. It just feels like the kind of song they might do.

Falling for Love (Alternate Version)
I like the mix on this much better. That said, this is an instrumental version. It lands perhaps closer to a fusion kind of sound. It has some tasteful guitar work.
My Time Has Come (Instrumental Mix)
Again, I really like the mix on this a lot. This cut definitely feels more like what one expects from Anthony Phillips. The clean guitar sound is lush and full.
Golden Bodies (Demo)
Again, I think I prefer the sound on this to the actual version. This is a bouncy kind of fun-loving tune.
Mysterious Constitution of Comets
This piece is so cool. It's an instrumental that's dramatic and mysterious. It has some exceptional instrumental work. It gets quite powerful before it ends. This is full on progressive rock and stronger than anything on the album proper. This set is worth owning for this tune alone.
She's Gone
This is an intriguing instrumental. It is not as strong as the previous cut, but it's still effective.
Graciella
The guitar sounds on this are so cool. This is another that makes me think of Genesis a bit, but there is more of a New Age kind of vibe to this. The cut is another exceptional track and another reason to own this.
Over and Over Again
This piano solo is quite pretty, but there seems to be some noise on master tape. It's not enough to really mar the cut, but it is noticeable.
Tonight
While the first parts of this land more in that electronic territory, this works out later into some powered up soaring prog rock that's particularly strong. It's another great instrumental.
Alien
To me this feels like a cross between Alan Parsons and The Moody Blues. The tune is the first with vocals for a while. It's also both catchy and proggy. It's more of a ballad.
Refugee from Love
Now, this feels closer to the kind of stuff on the album proper. It has a definite Buggles vibe to it.
Something Blue
This ballad is quite pretty. The guitar is intricate and beautiful and the vocals bring the beauty home.
Holding You Again
This instrumental is very pretty. Piano is the principal element, but there are other things filling out the arrangement.
Darling
Here we have another exceptional instrumental. This is quite a pretty piece that lands between New Age and prog.
Shadow in the Desert
With much more of an electronic vibe, this instrumental has its charms.
Finale (Atmosphere Studios Version)

Built with much more of a full band vibe, this prog rocker really does feel a lot like Genesis. It's a powerhouse instrumental that's another that makes this worth having.

 
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