Sunday, June 15, 2008

Shawn Phillips - Moon Shine

OK i must admit that this is deffo not something i would have been listening to back in the early 80's. But as i have matured and aged i realized that if i stayed that angry "young" man all my life I'd probably be an angry dead young man or in jail so I've learned to soften my pallet a bit.... That's not to say that i don't bust out the Black Flag or Celtic Frost anymore just that I've learned a time and place for everything....

Anyway, i played this song on my radio show (when it was alive) when i had my kid there and they both really liked it as well. Enough to ask me to record it for them on tape.

and after a somewhat tumultuoius Saturday i need something a little mellow:

So here is the lowdown on this dirty hippy....

Shawn Phillips
Genre: Rock, Country, Roots
Years Active: 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, 1990s 2000s

Shawn Phillips is one of most fascinating and enigmatic musicians to come
out of the early '70s singer-songwriter boom. The mere fact that he was a
musician as much as a singer and songwriter made him stand out, and helped
him attract a dedicated following. His refusal to shape his music -- which
crosses between folk-rock, jazz, progressive, pop, and classical -- to anyone
else's expectations has allowed him to hold onto a large and dedicated cult
following, without ever achieving the stardom that his talent seems to merit.

Shawn Phillips was born in 1943 in Fort Worth, Texas, the son of best-selling
spy novelist Philip Atlee, who moved the family around the world at various
times, including the South Pacific. After hearing "Malaguena" at the piano,
he took up the guitar at age seven, and by the time he was 12, he was playing
the chords to Carl Perkins songs. Phillips' musical experience transcended
rock & roll, however -- in the course of his family's travels, he got to live
in almost every corner of the globe, including Tahiti, and absorbed the music
that surrounded him wherever he was living. He returned to Texas in his
teens, with some training in classical music but a love for performers like
Jimmy Reed and Ike & Tina Turner, among other blues and R&B performers. He
did a hitch in the Navy, and then went back to Texas before retreating to
California, where he played around the early-'60s folk circuit.

Phillips made his first record, an overproduced single of Bob Gibson's
version of "Frankie and Johnnie" for Columbia, which he followed with two
albums, I'm a Loner and Shawn, neither of which was successful. Phillips went
to England, where he performed and wrote songs with Donovan, in a
professional relationship somewhat clouded in controversy. Phillips claimed
in interviews during the 1970s that he co-wrote "Season of the Witch," as
well as a major portion of the songs that finally surfaced on the album
Sunshine Superman, but only ever received one co-author credit for "Little
Tin Soldier" on the Fairy Tale album. While staying in England, the range of
his work vastly expanded, partly with the help of the use of various
controlled substances.

He was ejected from England for playing without a work permit, and tried
living in Paris for before he headed for Italy. He settled in Positano, a
tiny fishing village. By the late 1960s, Phillips' musical expertise had
broadened to include not only different kinds of guitars, but also the Indian
sitar. After a few years of trying, he recognized that he'd started too late
and would never master the sitar in the traditional manner, and instead began
learning to make his own music on the instrument.

In 1968, he went to London with a the idea for a trilogy of albums and
recorded a major portion of it in collaboration with Traffic members Steve
Winwood, Chris Wood, and Jim Capaldi, and Caleb Quayle. No record company was
willing to commit to such an ambitious body of work by an unknown artist, and
the material languished for more than two years, until Phillips came to A&M
Records. Producer Jonathan Weston listened to his work and decided to try and
release an edited version of the music.

This became his A&M debut album, Contribution, which ranged freely between
uptempo folk-rock ("Man Hole Covered Wagon") to introspective quasi-classical
guitar pieces ("L Ballade"), and works mixing sitar and acoustic guitar
("Withered Roses"). The album got positive reviews, but it was when Phillips
embarked on his first U.S. tour, in conjunction with his next album, Second
Contribution, late in 1971, that he was discovered by much of the press.
Critics in the New York Times and other publications displayed unbridled awe
at Phillips' prowess on a range of instruments, including electric and
acoustic six- and 12-string guitars and the sitar, and his singing range, a
full three octaves from baritone to counter-tenor, as well as his
songwriting. He was one of the few singer/songwriters to play double-necked
six- and 12-string guitars (a standard feature of progressive and metal
bands) on stage, in intimate locales such as New York's Bottom Line, and to
test the full range of the hybrid instrument.

Writers lavished praise on Phillips for his unusual lyrics, haunting
melodies, daunting musicianship, and the ambition of his records -- he was a
complete enigma, American-born but raised internationally, with a foreigner's
keen appreciation for all of the music of his homeland and a seasoned
traveler's love of the world's music, with none of the usual limits on his
thinking about music. He slid between jazz, folk, pop, and classical sounds
-- it was nothing for Phillips to segue from a progressive-style mood piece
with a 50-piece orchestra into an R&B-based number driven by his electric
guitar, and back again. "The Ballad of Casey Deiss," from Second
Contribution, was a case in point, a song about a friend who died when he was
struck by lightning, scored for acoustic guitars, electric guitars,
vibraphone, and the horn section of a full orchestra, as well as
multi-layered vocals.

A third album, Collaboration, followed, along with another tour, and then
Faces, Bright White, and Furthermore. His collaborator was conductor/arranger
Paul Buckmaster, the man responsible for the choral accompaniment on the
Rolling Stones' "You Can't Always Get What You Want." On tour, he was booked
into clubs with artists such as comedian Albert Brooks, singer/songwriter
Wendy Waldman, and Seals & Crofts, and usually worked solo, surrounded by a
half-dozen guitars, or sometimes with a single accompanist, Peter Robinson,
on keyboards.

Phillips never achieved major stardom, despite his critical accolades. He
never courted an obvious commercial sound, preferring to write songs that, as
he put it, "make you feel different from the way you felt before you started
listening," primarily love songs and sonic landscapes. He made nine albums
for A&M before moving on to RCA with Transcendance in 1978, which mixed his
guitars with a 60-piece symphony orchestra and members of Herbie Hancock's
band, produced in collaboration with arranger/conductor Michael Kamen. He
also contributed to movie music by Manos Hadjidakis, and appeared in the
movie Run With the Wind.

With 15 albums behind him since the mid-1960s, Phillips has a following, in
America, Europe, and Japan, and he has performed at different world music
festivals. A cult figure whose peers include Van Dyke Parks and, perhaps,
Leonard Cohen (though Cohen's public profile is enhanced by his following, as
an established poet and author, in the literary community), he remains an
enigmatic figure on the music landscape. His work remained sufficiently in
demand in the 1990s, however, to justify a best-of compilation from A&M in
1992 that included notes by Phillips and one new song. In 1998, eight of his
LPs were re-released via the Wounded Bird label.
~ Bruce Eder, All Music Guide

Never fear I will be back soon enough to balance out the "Hippy"....

Shawn Phillips - Moon Shine


Anonymous said...

My uncle gave me a few Shawn Phillips albums a few years back, and I haven't listened to them yet. Thanks for the tip, I'm going to dig those up now...

Anonymous said...

You Know How I feel about this Cut

sekanblogger said...

I've been a Shawn fan for 35 years.
Got to see him twice.
He is currently touring.
Amamzing guy.
His list of famous friends includes everyone from the Beatles to John Denver.
He's a relatively unknown guy who should be legend.