Imagine yourself immersed into a magical realm, a place with no shortage of imagination and no limits or boundaries. This is the alternate reality of The Geese and the Ghost. It’s a world all of its own created by former guitarist and founding member of Genesis, Anthony Phillips. He crafts beautiful melodies infused with equal amounts of folk and classical influences to create an imaginative listening experience. His first solo effort is an absolute monster of an album, held together by Phillip’s skillful songwriting and careful attention to detail.
The world Phillips creates on The Geese and The Ghost is made all the more believable by his knack for being a patient songwriter. Although his ability as a multi-instrumentalist is astounding, it’s the way he takes his time that allows each song to bloom and flourish . The third track, ‘Henry: Portraits from The Tudor Times’ is an epic 6-part song that doesn’t rely on vocals to make an impact on the listener. Instead, it uses a wide array of instruments to help make Phillips’ vision a reality. Everything flows smoothly in this world, from the simple, but beautiful guitar and flute melodies played throughout the song, to the epic ending that’s brought to life by the sound of cannons being shot off in battle.
It’s not just the lengthy tracks that pull their weight, however, as even ‘Chinese Mushroom Cloud’ manages to be memorable and effective in less than a minute. The intricately picked guitars, and moody violins build up the perfect atmosphere into the title track and the second magnum opus on the album. It’s effective for the same reason the third track was – that is, it often repeats straightforward, but tuneful structures while constantly progressing throughout the song. In a way, the songs are instantly accessible, but complex enough to not grow old with repeated jamming sessions. In fact, surprises are around every corner, and the more you listen to The Geese and The Ghost the more you learn to appreciate the little details that make it so great.
Despite the fact that Phillips is the obvious talent behind the music, much of the album wouldn’t be the same without the additional musicians involved. The great Phil Collins lends his soothing vocals on ‘Which Way The Wind Blows’ and ‘God If I Saw Her Now.’ The latter of the two is especially solid, as it mixes Collins signature sound with the relaxed vocals of Viv McCauliffe. They prove to be a perfect match, and they compliment each other nicely as they sing over the song’s lightly picked guitars.
For those willing to dive into the music a little further, The Geese and the Ghost is even better when heard in the form of the double disc re-issue of the album which contains unreleased tracks, demos and alternative versions that are more vital to the listening experience than one might expect. The ‘Master of Time’ demo is a little too good to be labeled as such, and it could have easily been placed on the original release of the album. The basic versions of the songs on the second disc are essential as well, as they are stripped down to the basics and paint a clear picture of Phillip’s talent as an instrumentalist.
The Geese and The Ghost isn’t a record that’s easy to describe, but it goes down incredibly smoothly. With influences ranging from folk to classical, it’s progressive, but also very unique in its own right. Fans of Genesis will likely eat it right up, but the strong instrumentation is enough to please anyone who appreciates good music. It’s a hidden gem from the ’70s that manages to stray from the typical progressive formula and create its very own world of resonance and sound.
Release date: 1977
1. Wind-Tales (1:02)
2. Which Way The Wind Blows (5:51)
3. Henry: Portraits From Tudor Times: (12:11)
– i) Fanfare 0:56
– ii) Lute’s Chorus 2:00
– iii) Misty Battlements 1:15
– iv) Henry Goes To War 3:36
– v) Death Of A Knight 2:33
– vi) Triumphant Return 1:46
4. God if I saw her now (4:09)
5. Chinese Mushroom Cloud (0:46)
6. The Geese And The Ghost: (15:40)
– Part One (8:01)
– Part Two (7:39)
7. Collections (3:07)
8. Sleepfall: The Geese Fly West (4:33)
*tracklisting does not include disc 2 of the re-issue which is highly recommended to get the most out of this substantial release.