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Phillips MacLeod - 1980 Phillips MacLeod

ARTIST: Phillips MacLeod
ALBUM: Phillips MacLeod
LABEL: Polydor
SERIAL: PD-1-6255
YEAR: 1980


LINEUP: Robert Phillips - vocals, guitars * Sean Macleod - bass * Andy Newark, Art Wood - drums

TRACK LISTING: 01 Young Girls * 02 Four Time Baby * 03 On My Way Home * 04 East Side, West Side * 05 The Night We Met * 06 Down By The River * 07 Lu Ann * 08 If You're The One * 09 Little One

I used to love the small anecdotes that would appear in the long gone (but not forgotten) AOR Classics (The Definitive Guide To AOR And Pomp Obscurities, to give its full title!) from time to time tucked away in the reviews, which usually referred to either airplane timetables, unplayed sealed vinyl and wind!. My small anecdote relating to this album, the second of a pair, is that I only brought it to take advantage of some postage savings being offered after buying a batch that contained a rather beat up copy of Glory, 'Danger In The Game' and Nielson Pearson Band - S/T, (which was an error because I thought I was buying one of their westcoast classics that followed this). In truth I wasn't too fussed about this album and that was mainly due to a not so promising review (which Eric mentions in his review of Le Partie Du Cocktail, from 1979) which actually led me to ignore the actual content of the AOR Classics review for this their second, released in 1980, as it actually does recommend this album and note a major shift in quality together with the removal of one of the beards (which they actually failed to notice). But as usual I was only interested in the numbers, a measly 5 in this instance. Oh well, off went my cash, received the albums, played this once (may not even had bothered to flip the thing over to listen to side 2) and promptly left it on the shelf. It was only when a recent discussion point was mentioned on Glorydaze that one Saturday evening I finally gave it some attention, (looked like they were sulking after being unloved, unplayed for 11 years, 20 March 2001 to be exact), tell you what, I didn't even buy the debut! (which I am looking to resolve).

Before I spill the beans, a little bit of background. I do only mean a little, in fact, I have nothing to add from Eric's review, even my scoop of their Christian names being Robert and Sean had already been mentioned, while they hailed from Philadelphia and Tony Peluso (Kidd Glove and Player) was in the producer's seat and I nicked both of those facts from AOR Classics (I'm next up to be interviewed as part of the Leveson Inquiry for Phone Hacking, one of the biggest news stories in the UK at the moment). To be perfectly honest, when I first started piecing this article together I have found it quite difficult to get my head wrapped round this one because some tracks like 'If You're The One' and 'Four Time Baby', are good but far from great when you first receive them, but still a joy to listen too, maybe a case of a different time and a different place. It's just that at the time of release, these songs could be found 2 a penny of many like sounding albums. So step aside from all this doom and gloom I may be prevailing, because this album doesn't deserve it, anyway the main objective of this review is to raise the rating of 5 given initially by those AOR Classics boys. So what tracks are likely to prick the ear of the deliberator and alter the scores? (where is 'Mystery Man' Mustafa Ameen when you need him, to alter the score.. hehelped a judge with his score card in the recent Amir Khan v's Lamont Peterson boxing title fight).

The Songs
'Young Girls' have more in common with classic power pop, while one side of my brain is Fountains of Wayne, the other side it's bonkers Kim Mitchell, how I missed those catchy hooks on this is a mystery, probably mystified by looking for silkier AOR sounds at the time.

Packing a more seedy punch, is 'Four Time Baby', parts are clinical Queen, and I don't mean the huffing and puffing (that can be heard monetarily) from 'Body Language' more the thrust of Led Zeppelin and in some way strangely, Slaughter. Just catch the snippets of the running up of harmony vocals it's really reminds you of the Brit Queen Boys.

This gives way to more straight forward melodic pace with 'On My Way Home' which contains a delightful mix of Riggs and Boston, without all the guitar histrionics but still keeps the odd trick in the book and falls back into a safe home run. 'East Side, West Side' really carved from the same stone, not spectacular , pompless, but more rock n roll, a less clean Angel, but nevertheless enough power to keep your whites clean, but you will be unable to remove that stain of catchiness from your melodic brain.

'The Night We Met', the chorus is just perfect. A smoother Todd Hobin (I have been meaning to review some of his output), but still let fly with some impressive guitaring, making my previous review of Magic sound pretty amateur. How these guys didn't get snapped up for songwriters duties for other artists I don't know, maybe they did, but I would imagine some AOR detective would had sniff them out, because the odour left would be very sweet and melodic and too overpowering to avoid. Even if they were lost somewhere in Nashville.

'Down By The River' is just the type of tune only Americans or Canadians seem to excel out, a chugging AOR innocence, with lots of 'clean moon light' like with most if not all, not a keyboard in sight, just very good AOR, with guitar being top dog with the harmonies, lyrics, feeling being the main objectives to fulfil. This has values; it has collaboration between the two guys, and bags of integrity.

But the best is 'Lu Ann' - really felt that I have heard this before by another artist, but just can't place it, it's a flower, it sprouts sweet fragrances, it beautiful. Not to be confused with Foreigner's 'Luanne', this is Boston put into a cocktail shaker, then tossed up in the air, and pour out in layers of melodic wonders. Exceptional classic, it will have Frontiers artists falling over themselves to cover it.

Fellow practitioners of similar musical output could be a coalition of the obscure Level (a sealed copy recently went for 308 on eBay) to fellow label brothers at the time, Shelter. Phillips/Macleod likewise offer a platter of song bravado here, actually as I mentioned that both albums were released on Polydor, he did have me stretching for the Shelter album when I first heard the excellent 'Lu Ann', which led to me thinking, Polydor always meant to me Rainbow other than Shelter or Phillips/Macleod. What else did they release AOR wise in the late 70's to early 80's?

'If You're The One' - is a little ripper of the song, quite basic, where 'Little One', has more going for it, with real classic rock mixture going on, with a swagger, midway, like a UFO guitar break, seem to be starting something from the Boston Tea Party (I am referring to the 1773 incident), is that a youthful Tommy Shaw singing?.

In Summary
Parts of this was like rediscovering a work of art, pulling back the cellophane to be heard yet again, while it's not a master, it does leave a very fine impression. If you take the time to re- read the reviews in AOR Classics Issue 13 (available in the downloads section) and if you read it closely, they do give this album a good right up (whereas the debut does get a battering), however I'm sure that 5 is a misprint and should be 8. This album stings you gently so you won't even notice it until it's far too late and the melodic fever begins and you are diagnosed with a case of earworm (medical definition being songs that won't get out of your head). As someone once said, 'good playin, good singin'.

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#1 | swazi on May 26 2012 12:24:53
Does anyone have these tracks to download in the meantime ? flower
#2 | gdazegod on May 26 2012 14:58:53
Nope. I've only seen the debut, which most of us have as a file share.
#3 | richardb on June 09 2012 20:20:42
If I recall correctly "The official encyclopedia of HM" described this as "heavy rock with sledgehammer guitar" which is a bit wide of the mark (quelle surprise!). To think I get accused of using hyperbole in my reviews (lol!). It's therefore nice to see this album finally receive a far more accurate review Graham. Standout cuts for me are "Four time baby" and "The night we met". Richard B
#4 | super80boy on July 04 2013 15:17:03
Recently bought a SS copy of this one since you had reviewed them in such grand detail, thank you! I enjoyed this album with its plentiful guitar riffing and straight up, sometime basic AOR sounds. Agree, 'Lu Ann' is a standout with solid guitars all over the place.
#5 | gdazegod on March 13 2016 01:04:56
This really is a tasty LP, with more than a nod to Foreigner.

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