Although he can only be heard on the first two albums, the name Anthony Phillips (guitars, keyboards and vocals) will always stay connected with Genesis. After all, he was one of the founders of this band. The man has built up an impressive discography as a solo artist and may be less well known then the albums his former band released without him. His debut album The Geese And The Ghost (1977) was for the most part instrumental. Its successor Wise After The Event (1978) contains ten songs with vocals and should perhaps be considered the most accessible work of Phillips' entire back catalogue.
The album will appear again in a series of reissues of Phillips' work by Esoteric Recordings. It is a "Deluxe Edition" including four discs of audio. Three of them contain the original album. One CD includes a new stereo mix, another one a remastered edition of the original album and a DVD with a 5.1 surround sound mix. The fourth disc includes demos, outtakes and extras. The latter is really only interesting for the diehard fans. It all comes in a nice cardboard box with a mini poster of the cover and the lyrics of the album on the back of it. The extra 20-page booklet tells the history of the album. The exceptionally beautiful artwork by Peter Cross is worth mentioning here.
Then the music. The majority of the albums of Anthony Phillips often contains some minimalist soundscape-like music. The songs on Wise After The Event are much more moderate in song structure. The main musical instrument he used on this release is the twelve-string guitar. Something Phillips also let out on the first albums of Genesis. This way the music sounds quite pastoral or moves towards a folk like kind of style.
Phillips succeeded in his debut to tie his buddies Mike Rutherford of Genesis and Phil Collins. Also in this sequel he found some big names. The rhythm section consists of former Caravan bassist John Perry and King Crimson drummer Michael Giles. For the production he managed to get Rupert Hine. He was basically responsible for the compilation of the musicians involved. It was also Hine who helped Phillips to sing on this album. And it must be said, though Phillips is not a great singer, he is certainly not without merit here. His thin voice fits perfectly with the pastoral character of the music. Not as powerful, but occasionally reminiscent of early David Gilmour (Pink Floyd).
Strongest asset of the album is the more than ten-minute title piece. It starts with a strong part performed on the electric twelve string guitar, later combined with strong vocals and pumping bass of John Perry. Halfway through the song there is a very nice party for the twelve string, again with strong references to Genesis, after which it fulminates in the last beautiful vocal piece. The following is a charming coda with guitar on a bed of keys. The subsequent Pulling Faces is of an entirely different order. Here Phillips also plays strongly on the six-string guitar and synthesizer. Furthermore the song contains very strong drumming by Giles. Although nothing really severe, this is the most exuberant song on the album. A composition like Greenhouse has something of the old Genesis drama. On the other hand a track such as Now What (Are They Doing To My Little Friend) gives the listener a rather romantic feeling. When you hear a piece like Birdsong And Reprise you can't deny that The Beatles influenced Phillips as well.
Although the album was initially very sweet and maybe even sounds flat here and there, this is absolutely a piece of work that increasingly reveals its secrets. Lovers of the old Genesis will want to have this album in their record collection. If they haven't got it yet, of course. In the safe environment of the studio he shows that he is a gifted musician and songwriter. The album came out in 1978, with very little commercial success.
Hearing the original and new stereo mix after each other it is difficult to decide which one I prefer. However when I heard the 5.1 surround sound mix I didn't want to hear those stereo mixes again, because this was the best possible way I heard Wise After The Event in its entirety. As for the disc with the demos, outtakes and extras it is nice to hear different versions of the songs that also partly appear on the original album.
Compliments go out to Esoteric Recordings for bringing the music of this excellent musician and composer to a bigger audience. It must have taken a lot of time and effort to come up with this beautiful package, that's for sure. I am already looking forward to hear the other reissues of this former Genesis member, because there is much more to come...
**** Henri Strik (edited by Astrid de Ronde)
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