PB 6006 1984
Produced by Anthony Phillips
Released on April 1981
(no chart information)
Find it at GEMM
PB 6006 cover  

It’s unlikely that anyone imagined a totalitarian future this tuneful, so perhaps 1984 is the story of a giant hamster (at least that would explain the cage on the front cover). No matter, since the real story here is how good this album is. Taking a welcome break from the antiquated acoustic music he’s known for, Anthony Phillips dives into the modern world of synthesizers on 1984, creating an instrumental album that sounds uncannily like Tony Banks’ subsequent work (notably The Fugitive). The drumbox and synthesizers can be initially off-putting, leading more than one critic to dismiss 1984 as pedestrian, but on subsequent sittings one discovers the music inside the machine, revealing an album ripe with progressive mind-candy moments. The album begins with “Prelude ’84,” a joyous introduction to the music ahead (the track was wisely chosen to represent the album on Phillips’ Anthology). The extended pieces, “1984 Part 1” and “1984 Part 2,” introduce pleasant themes and veer off into interesting avenues, some dark and others playful. As a relative novice to the synthesizer, Phillips is too easily enamored of effects at times, but the individual moments of melody and grandeur that arise elevate the musical discussion so that the weaker links are easily overlooked. Although Morris Pert is credited on all manner of percussion, the beat is anything but pert here, suggesting that Phillips should have left the drumbox home and engaged Morris more. Richard Scott, responsible for effects and vocal ideas, does throw some neat ideas out there (he would work with Phillips again on Invisible Men). “Anthem 1984” closes things on an elegiac note (maybe the hamster died), adding little in the bargain. Even among Anthony Phillips albums, 1984 is a sleeper. If you’ve dug too deep into the work of Tony Banks or Rick Wakeman trying to get your fix of keyboard prog rock, 1984 could be the vintage you’re looking for.

PB 6006 back cover
PB 6006 back cover

TRACK LISTING

  1. PRELUDE '84    4:19
  2. 1984 PART 1    19:06
  3. 1984 PART 2    15:28
  4. ANTHEM 1984    2:29

    All songs written & arranged by Anthony Phillips

CREDITS

ANTHONY PHILLIPS -- keyboards, drumbox (Roland CR78), occasional guitar, basic percussion, engineer
MORRIS PERT -- percussion (timps, tambourine, gong, congas, bell-tree, vibra-slap, marimbas, vibes, etc.)
RICHARD SCOTT -- basic percussion, effects, vocal ideas, assistant engineer
Chris David -- mixing engineer, vocoder manipulation
Anita David -- vocoder manipulation

REGION RELEASE DATE LABEL MEDIA ID NUMBER FEATURES
UK April 1981 RCA LP/CS RCALP/RCRCAK-5036  
US April 1981 Passport LP/CS PB/PBC 6006  
GER 1981 RCA LP PL 25358  
US April 17, 1992 Caroline CD 1840  
UK   Virgin CD CDOVD 321  

 

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