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Live At The BBC


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Product Details
Performer Notes
  • Personnel: Shawn Phillips (vocals, acoustic guitar); Tony Walmsley (guitar); Peter Manning Robinson (keyboards); Jon Gustafson (bass guitar); Barry DeSouza (drums).
  • Audio Remasterer: Ron Geesin.
  • Liner Note Author: Nigel Cross.
  • Three BBC sessions -- one from May 10, 1971, one from March 19, 1973, and the final one from October 8, 1974 -- are collected on this good-value 14-track, hour-length CD, in fine fidelity. Though not the fault of the artist, fans might be a little disappointed that this doesn't include anything in the way of otherwise unavailable songs. All of the tunes (all Shawn Phillips originals) come from his 1970-1974 studio albums, with the interesting exception of "Salty Tears," which was only available as a B-side to a 1974 single. By far the most interesting of these recordings are from the 1971 session, as all five of the songs are performed by Phillips solo with guitar (which is acoustic, with the exception of "Salty Tears," which is done on an electric one). Phillips did start out as a folk musician, and while these aren't exactly straight folk songs, the sparse arrangements serve as a reminder of that, though both his compositions and vocals here have a roving bite not associated with acoustic folk troubadours. The other two sessions use his bands of the time, and move much more into singer/songwriter rock with prominent keyboards (by Peter Robinson), getting much deeper into jazz-funk fusion on the 1974 cuts, which include John Gustafson on bass. Overall, this set doesn't offer major surprises for those familiar with Phillips' eclectic efforts of the era, which -- somewhat in the manner of John Martyn, though Martyn went to odder extremes -- had an appetite for genre-shifting within the singer/songwriter format that limits his appeal to a cult level. It is, however, a good-sounding souvenir of Phillips performing the material in looser, more live-sounding settings than he brought to his studio albums of the time, Phillips and some of the backup players contributing comments to the liner notes. ~ Richie Unterberger
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