Steve’s reviews (2)

BULES IN BRITAIN

STEVE PHILLIPS – Live in concert.

The Ards Guitar Festival, Northern Ireland, 8/10/05

Brave man Steve Phillips! Well if you were a guitarist would you fancy following Arty McGlynn – Ireland’s greatest and most seminal traditional guitarist – on stage after McGlynn had electrified the audience performing with his wife Nollaig O’Casey, herself an extraordinary fiddler and singer?

But of course Phillips himself is a master and in his own way a match for his predecessor on stage and from his opening number he enraptured the audience.

Variously playing six string and twelve string acoustics and a glorious steel bodied guitar, Phillips’ technical skill was formidable but more impressively he is a pleasingly unflashy musician whose aim is ever to communicate the meaning and the spirit of the songs.

A beautiful ’Mississippi Blues’ was played exquisitely and with great finesse on six string while The Delmore Brothers’ ’Deep River Blues’ was played crisply and with effortless seeming panache and ’Hobo Blues’ played on twelve string marvelously evoked the rhythm of a train.

Phillips’ vocals are less technically astounding than his guitar playing but he sings affectingly as on an intense version of Billie Holiday’s ’Don’t Explain’.

A slide version of Robert Johnson’s ’Standing At The Crossroads’, played on steel bodied guitar was spine-chilling while his own ’Will You Miss Me’, best known through his recording with The Notting Hillbillies, and here played on six string, was dark and poetic. ’Drinking Wine Spo Dee O Dee’ provided a rousing finale.

Concert review written by Trevor Hodgett for Blues In Britain – issue 48 December 2005.

 

BLUES MATTERS – UK blues magazine. (Adrian Blacklee)

STEVE PHILLIPS  – Solo – Clarion Records CL CD 002

This “Notting Hillbilly” performs completely solo on this CD and demonstrates his love and skill for “Country Blues”. All 12 tracks are carefully crafted with the majority based on traditional songs, most going back to the 1930s and represent tunes by the likes of Blind Willie McDowell & Robert Johnson.

Steve is a renowned acoustic & steel guitar player but on this CD he also demonstrates his clear & precise vocals that are faultless, especially highlighted on the Billie Holiday track “Don’t Explain”.

There is not much else that can be said about Steve Phillips, he is a “rare talent” in the Country Blues field and is respected throughout the music business by both musicians and fans alike.

Pure genius! (August 2005)

 

LIVING BLUES (USA) – The No.1 American blues journal.

STEVE PHILLIPS – Solo – Clarion Records CL CD 002

The U.K.- based singer-guitarist Steve Phillips has been touring  and recording since the late 60s, and this set of 12 titles, including four poetic originals, finds him in great form.

On all of his previous releases he has worked with other musicians (including Mark Knopfler and  the Notting Hillbillies), but this is his first and long-awaited solo set. Phillips plays acoustic and slightly amplified guitars here, including some powerful and engaging  acoustic 12-string slide. His original Hobo Blues pays tribute to the Atlanta School of 12-string players, but this beautifully crafted song is very much his own, and his version of Robert Jr. Lockwood’s ‘Take A Little Walk With Me’ finds his vocals at their most expressive and natural. Alongside his blues material, Phillips offers jazz titles from Billie Holiday and Russ Columbo, both including inventive chord sequences. Phillips has been widely admired in Europe for his highly skilled slide guitar work.

Maybe before long someone will bring him to the United States to hear why. (August 2005.)