Across the autumn and winter of 2022, Neil Campbell released a trio of impressive albums, concluding with Alive in Prohibition, a live solo performance recorded at Liverpool’s Prohibition Recording Studios on Thursday 5th May 2022. Released at the beginning of December, the album features 26 exquisitely performed tracks, culled from Neil’s 20 year career, and enjoyed by an attentive audience.
As the welcoming applause subsides, Neil commences the evening’s performance, taking us back some twenty years, with two tunes from the Through the Looking Glass sessions. Although not included on the the original album, In and Out of Day Out and Into Night would later surface on the 2011 remixed, remastered and expanded version. Now if any proof were needed as to Neil Campbell’s credentials as a classical guitarist, then In and Out of Day Out and Into Night confirms and endorses. This is followed by the beautiful, and somewhat of a favourite of mine, Through the Looking Glass, Part One, which not only reaffirms his skills, but also makes us aware of Neil’s considerable compositional talents.
The choice of the Prohibition Studio and Live Music Venue seems to be the perfect one for this recording. A small, intimate venue in Liverpool’s beautiful and cultural Georgian quarter, you can tangibly absorb the atmosphere from the recording. Neil’s guitar is pristinely clear throughout and acoustically matched to the environment. Again, as the warm applause subsides, Neil perfectly executes four pieces which take us to circa 2004. Night Sketch 13, along with Night Sketch 11, and taken from the Night Sketches album, are employed to link movements Four and Two from the …Looking Glass suite. Sublime and a perfect fit.
The music for the evening’s performance is selected from across Neil’s solo and collaborative albums, with the aforementioned Through the Looking Glass solo album featuring prominently, as does 2008’s Ghost Stories. Always a treat to hear Neil’s Mr S Meets JSB from Ghost Stories. Companion album releases Tabula Rasa Suite (2014) and eMErgence (2015) make up much of the mid-section of this album, and in particular here, the stripped down versions of Private Collection 1 & 2 are particularly enjoyable. And the gems keep coming; The Line taken from Particle Theory, which this year is marked by a 15th anniversary remastered release, is another prime example.
So, Alive in Prohibition is a great selection of the music culled from across Neil Campbell’s career, impeccably performed, a joy to listen to, and once again demonstrates Neil’s mastery of his instrument. The concert also reminds us of Neil’s varied ‘influences’, so along with the classical composers Bach and Satie, to mention just a couple, you may well hear the likes of Reich, Glass, Fripp, Oldfield, Metheny and Hackett. Need I say more to recommend this album to you?
A live celebration of his music! Talking of which, Alive in Prohibition arrived prior to the festive season and enjoyed many spins over that period. On a personal note, it allowed me to rekindle a past family tradition, and as an antidote to the usual musical Christmassy detritus, to share my late father’s passion for classical music and in particular classical guitar music. Segovia, Bream, Williams, Yepes, Lucía, Peña, just a few that spring to mind. I feel sure he would have welcomed Campbell into his play list.
To conclude, three albums in just over as many months, each with their own distinct sound and each emphasising different facets from Neil Campbell. So captivated with the title track of the first of this trio of releases, Berlin Suite & Other Short Stories EP, performed with cellist Nicole Collarbone, I was compelled to replay the ten-minute opening tune before listening to the rest of the tracks. A few weeks later saw the release of Neil’s Faldum, again with Nicole Collarbone’s cello, this time around joined by Amy Chalmers on violin. The closing tune required an extra spin on this occasion. In fact, so enamoured was I with this stunning concept album, it rightly found its way into my top five selections from 2022. The icing on the cake, Alive in Prohibition!
01. In and Out of Day Out and Into Night (4:27)
02. Through the Looking Glass, Part One (6:32)
03. Night Sketch 13 (1:41)
04. Through the Looking Glass Four (2:22)
05. Night Sketch 11 (2:24)
06. Through the Looking Glass Two (1:53)
07. Terra Firma (3:17)
08. Private Collection, Part One (4:30)
09. Private Collection, Part Two (2:53)
10. Private Collection, Part Four (3:43)
11. Erik’s Song (1:39)
12. Dance to the End of Love (3:27)
13. Tabula Rasa Suite, Part 1 (2:15)
14. Tabula Rasa Suite, Part 2 (2:04)
15. Tabula Rasa Suite, Part 5 (2:21)
16. There, Again (3:28)
17. Ghost Story 2 (2:18)
18. Ghost Tango (3:25)
19. Ghost Stories Sketch 2 (1:53)
20. Ghost Stories Sketch 1 (1:01)
21. Mr S Meets JSB (3:43)
22. Three Fountains (2:34)
23. Dreams Combine Like Shadows (2:57)
24. Secret Swim tt Moonlight (1:57)
25. The Line (4:02)
26. Solid Ground (3:06)
Total Time – 77:52
Neil Campbell – Guitar
Record Label: Independent
Country of Origin: U.K.
Date of Release: 2nd December 2022