OK, we can all imagine the existence of tribute bands for Genesis – there are plenty of them around. The same goes for Peter Gabriel, and to a lesser extent Phil Collins. But a tribute band for the man who, although a co-founder, was only part of Genesis for just one album, that is special to say the least. Or obscure. Yet such a project has just seen the light of day.
I’m talking about Anthony Phillips, of course. The youngest founder of Genesis has just turned 70. Even though he left the band over 50 years ago, he will always remain connected to the British legends. But Phillips has always continued to produce his own music and has shown a high degree of versatility in doing so. Many demos and sketches ‘Ant’ made over the years were left unfinished, and some ended up as bonus tracks on reissues. And this is where The Ant Band comes into play. Its origins lie in the Anthony Phillips Event 2014, organised by the German Genesis Fanclub at the time.
On the occasion of his 70th birthday, some musicians who performed Ant’s music live during the 2014 event, along with others, recorded an album. The Ant Band, as they call themselves, has mostly taken unfinished or unpublished songs (demos, sketches, etc) and recorded them as band versions. A Light on the Hill is the name of this curious album. It contains a total of fourteen songs with the special feature that a certain Steve Hackett contributed a solo on one of them.
Don’t worry, I won’t walk you through all the individual tracks, but a few merit being highlighted in more detail. This starts with F Sharp, the song to which Phillips’ successor within Genesis, Steve Hackett, has contributed. He does this in the form of a short but sharp and characteristic electric solo at the end of the song, which once served as the basis for The Musical Box. God If I Saw Her Now is one of those beautiful musical miniatures that Phillips has patented, this time vocals are provided by German singer Nina Morgenstern. She does so with gusto, receiving some help from brothers Robin (vocals) and Tom (guitar & keys). The latter, a true musical centipede, is the driving force behind the project. Proceeds from the sale of the album will go to the Corona Künsterhilfe, a German charity that supports artists during the COVID crisis. Quite a sympathetic gesture.
There are a few more songs worth checking out: Salmon Leap, once part of Scottish Suite (from 1980’s Private Parts & Pieces II), is a masterpiece that is probably closest to the music of latter day Genesis. There are a few acoustic gems on A Light on the Hill: Study No.1 in E Maj and the ultra-short Postlude: End of the Season. Sanctuary is a pleasant vocal track from Private Parts & Pieces VIII. Others of note include Sistine, Stranger, Lucy: An Illusion and Master of Time. The closing instrumental, almost pastoral Slow Dance is also worth mentioning. They are especially pleasing to the ear, vocal poppy songs with a melodic tune. Somewhat in the vein of Crowded House, certainly no bad comparison. The sound quality is good, especially for an independently produced album. Craftily written songs with lots of melody and acoustic guitars; an ode to the master, made with lots of love and respect.
Furthermore, it remains a sympathetic but above all obscure album which will not cause too much of a stir. I personally prefer to listen to the originals. The cover design falls completely into the ‘creative madness’ category, a parody of the cover of The Geese and the Ghost, depicting Phillips as a guitar playing garden gnome…
01. Sistine (3:47)
02. F Sharp (2:59)
03. Sanctuary (4:01)
04. God If I Saw Her Now (3:35)
05. She’ll Be Waiting (4:12)
06. Study No.1 In E Maj (excerpt) (2:50)
07. Unheard Cry (3:46)
08. Salmon Leap (from Scottish Suite) (4:12)
09. Postlude: End of the Season (0:38)
10. Stranger (4:24)
11. Lucy: An Illusion (3:41)
12. Moon’s Lament for the Sun (from Masquerade) (4:26)
13. Master of Time (4:08)
14. Slow Dance (excerpt of part 1) (5:25)
Total Time – 52:04
Martin Brilla – Synthesisers, Piano, Organ
Jan-Peer Hartmann – Classical & Electric Guitars
Damian Krebs – Drums
Sascha Krieger – 12-String, Acoustic, Electric & Classical Guitars, Bass, Synthesisers, Mellotron
Andreas Lauer – Accordion
Thomas Lehr – Synthesiser, Piano, Organ, Mellotron
Kirsten Middeke – Flute
Nina Morgenstern – Lead & Backing Vocals
Robin Morgenstern – Lead & Backing Vocals
Tom Morgenstern – Guitars, Bass, Keyboards, Backing Vocals, Drum Programming
Peter Musto – Synthesisers, Organ, Mellotron, Flute, Glockenspiel
Gereon Schoplick – Classical & 12-string Guitars
Thomas Waltner – Synthesisers, Flute, Recorder, Mellotron, Glockenspiel
Bert Wenndorff – Piano, Organ, Synthesisers, Mellotron, Backing Vocals
Steve Hackett – Electric Guitar
Record Label: Independent
Country of Origin: Germany
Date of Release: 3rd January 2022
The Ant Band – Bandcamp