Eight­ies reis­sue finds Phillips plays pop.

Prog - - Limelight - SS

Some­times artists change di­rec­tion be­cause that’s where the muse leads them and some­times be­cause cir­cum­stances de­mand it. Phillips is re­fresh­ingly can­did about the cir­cum­stances lead­ing up the record­ing of his eighth al­bum re­leased in 1983. The two-disc set, fea­tur­ing the orig­i­nal al­bum and ex­tra demos and out­takes, cap­tures him at some­thing of a cross­roads in his per­sonal life. As Jonathan Dann’s ex­cel­lent and de­tailed liner notes make clear, Phillips ur­gently needed to reach out to a wider au­di­ence; in other words, make some money.

Col­lab­o­rat­ing with Richard Scott in 1982, quixotic en­coun­ters with the Roland 808 drum ma­chine spawned sev­eral chart-ori­en­tated tunes in short or­der. The sonic land­scape here is quintessen­tially 80s pop: stilet­tothin synths, bright gui­tars, bursts of syn­thetic hand­claps, brash sax and hook-pan­der­ing ti­tles like Golden

Bod­ies and Love In A Hot Air Bal­loon.

Though Go­ing For Broke’s for­mu­laic ap­proach, full of syn­thi-bom­bast, rolling tim­pani and those self-mo­ti­va­tional lyrics that urge in­di­vid­u­als to throw cau­tion to the wind when there’s noth­ing to lose, in the dy­ing mo­ments, where it jumps out of its se­quencer-driven groove it pro­vides a star­tling glimpse, com­plete with a blis­ter­ing gui­tar solo, of what a post-Gabriel Ge­n­e­sis might have sounded like had Ant re­turned to the fold. Through­out, the al­bum is up­hol­stered with lus­cious chords pressed into the ser­vice of toe-tap­pers rather than Phillips’ more usual pas­toral ru­mi­na­tions.

It might be a far cry from the acous­tic alchemy and in­ti­mate warmth of Phillips’ classics such as The Geese And The Ghost, but that was the ob­ject of the ex­er­cise and as such it’s an en­ter­tain­ing di­ver­sion. Phillips’ own as­sess­ment was that In­vis­i­ble Men was a mis­step but while many of the songs es­chew the more thought­ful, in­ti­mate side of Phillips’ cat­a­logue, many con­tain a de­gree of craft that’s not only ad­mirable but sur­pris­ingly catchy.

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