BLUEPRINT magazine – Trevor Hodgett
”Steve Phillips is without a doubt one of the greatest acoustic blues guitarists Europe has ever produced and is currently one of the finest anywhere in the world’’.
FOLK ROOTS magazine – Robert Tilling
’’Steve Phillips is most often described as one of Europe’s most impressive Blues performers, and I cannot disagree with that. I have seen him in concert many times and it seems his stature grows with each performance and in particular his Blues voice is stronger than ever’’
ROCK ‘N’ REEL magazine. 2007
‘Solo’ (CLARION RECORDS)
When Mark Knopfler was putting together his Notting Hillbillies a decade or so back, his first choice for guitarist was longtime friend and compatriot Steve Phillips. On the evidence here it’s not hard to see why.
Phillips is clearly a blues fanatic and his latest collection, Solo, sees him paying tribute to some of those who’ve fed his addiction since the early 60s, and the stylists who encouraged him to spend his life playing.
Highlights include a haunting reading of Blind Willie McTell’s ‘Statesboro Blues’ through a phenomenal partial rewrite of Billie Holiday’s ‘Don’t Explain’, given a richly brooding atmosphere, to an exhilarating twelve-string rattle through ‘Hobo Blues’. Then there’s a pulsating and spirited version of his own ‘Tampa’s Guitar Boogie’, a hypnotic version of trad number ‘All Out And Down’ – a gospel-tinged piece of early blues magic, and the closer, his own ‘Don’t Ever Change’, a gently appealing piece of National steel wrapped in a love song.
Distinctive and delightfully unpredictable.
BLUES IN BRITAIN
The Blues & Beyond Festival, Gloucerstershire, 2006.
The earlier artists of the evening worked exceptionally well creating an electric atmosphere ready for the headliner, STEVE PHILLIPS.
Base in North Yorkshire, Phillips is well-known not only as a solo acoustic performer but, of course, for his long association with the charismatic Mark Knopfler.
Knopfler and Phillips have a life long love of acoustic blues. This concert proved that Phillips is one of our finest performers. His material includes songs from, among others, Willie Brown, Fred McDowell and Big Bill Broonzy, alongside his own engaging original material.
Using a resonator guitar as well as a beautifully toned twelve string instrument, Phillips performed throughout with tremendous energy and I thought his vocals were even more heartfelt than ever.
Phillips is a strong and highly respected slide player and his version of Fred McDowell’s “Write Me A Few Of Your Lines” captured much of the original’s powerful rawness. I was very impressed with his original and compelling composition “Bad Water Rising” commenting on the sadness of the recent hurricane in New Orleans, while his slide work on “Tampa’s Guitar Boogie” was as good as you can get.
This was a pretty enthralling set from, without doubt, one of our very finest blues performers bringing this very enjoyable day to a perfect close.
Bob Tilling, 2006.
fROOTS (formerly Folk Roots – essential worldwide roots music mag)
STEVE PHILLIPS – Solo – Clarion Records CL CD 002
Ex-Notting Hillbilly Steve Phillips is not as prolific as some in producing albums or in writing original material but when he does get around to releasing a new album it’s always worth listening to.
Steve seems happiest when he’s meticulously recreating, remodeling or repolishing a yesteryear musical gem. Opening with Robert Johnson’s ’Hellhound On My Trail’ Steve pristinely picks his way through other country blues by Blind Willie McTell, Willie Brown, Tampa Red and Robert Lockwood Jnr. and broadens out with versions of Billie Holiday’s ’Don’t Explain’ and Russ Columbo’s ’Prisoner Of Love’. The two original songs, ’Forever More’ and ’Don’t Ever Change’, that Steve has written for the album are both in a traditional blues vein.
His guitar playing is as immaculate as ever, teasing every last nuance from his six and twelve string acoustics as well as amplified guitars – all of which resonate with pleasing tones. He takes the same care with his breathy vocal delivery which hardly rises above a whisper but still injects all the feeling each song requires. Steve is a master of leaving space around and between the notes of his guitar and the words he’s singing. Blues with a feeling.
(January/February 2006 issue 271/272) review by Dave Peabody.