Slow Dance

Anthony Phillips

On 1990’s Slow Dance, Anthony Phillips manned the synths, classical and electric guitars, programmed the drum machines and samplers, and wrote everything. Considered by many ‘Ant’ (Phillips’ well-known nickname) fans to be the high-water mark of his solo career, Slow Dance has been expanded and remastered featuring the original album on one disc and a second disc of ‘Slow Dance Vignettes’ that comprise alternate mixes, demos and previously unreleased snippets from this sprawling piece of work.

A founding member of Genesis with Peter Gabriel, Mike Rutherford and Tony Banks, Anthony Phillips played guitar on the group’s seminal From Genesis To Revelation and Trespass albums, but left in 1970. From there, he studied orchestration and harmony, taught music, and continued recording and composing. He has released several solo albums, most notably his 1977 debut The Geese & The Ghost, co-wrote the stage musical "Alice,” and saw a heavy demand for his music in television and film. Phillips also became one of the most successful composers of library music, with his tunes being used again and again in TV and movies throughout the world.

“Part One” of Slow Dance builds from a main theme peppered throughout the near 25 minutes. Beginning sweeping strings lead into classical guitar, and in the first third of the way there is an interplay of percussion. The pastoral leanings here are quite reminiscent of early Genesis. Phillips is very careful to give his synth and string instruments space to move round one another as he presents the main theme over and over across this part one and the ending main phrase, played on electric and classical guitar mixed together, reiterates this man’s particular prowess.

“Part Two” begins from a plucky guitar-played arpeggio, then we are back to the orchestra, horns moving us along this time over strings. Things move at a slower pace at the start of this suite, but there is decidedly more guitar color early on. At about the twenty minute mark Phillips brings in more drum programming and gets things up and moving, strings battle with quick strikes, then everything drops out to allow synth strings and droplet-like sounds to sweep us to the end.

Those "Slow Dance Vignettes” reveal some stunning moments, truncated though they may be. There's “Themes From Slow Dance” — a sad string orchestration. “Guitar Adagio from Slow Dance” has Ant playing an infectious, light-hearted melody with thin and clean sounding electric (here’s where one could make an Oldfield comparison), while “Clarinet Sleigh ride” has a running keyboard bed under a wintery-themed synth mix.

Recorded over a seven-month period, Slow Dance is true rock orchestration and showcases Anthony Phillips’ playing as much as his composing. This updated reissue brings the sound of the record to even clearer heights and the extras sweeten the entire package.

~ Ralph Greco. Jr.

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