Anthony Phillips' album Invisible Men arrived in American stores in fall 1983, following the third volume of the founding Genesis guitarist's Private Parts and Pieces. Phillips envisioned more of a commercial pop sound for the album, which he crafted in collaboration with co-writer Richard Scott. That album, which featured different track listings in the U.S. and in Phillips' native U.K. (where it saw release in spring 1984), has been reissued by Cherry Red's Esoteric Recordings imprint as a greatly expanded 2-CD set. (Alas, unlike most of the other titles in the label's Phillips series to date, no surround mix has been included.)
Phillips made the decision to handle most of the lead vocals himself on Invisible Men, in addition to co-producing with Scott and playing multiple instruments including guitars, bass, and various keyboards. Scott lent vocals to a couple of tracks, as well as programming the fashionable drum machines utilized in the album's production. A cool, then-contemporary sheen is evident throughout the original 12 tracks. (The politically-inspired "Exocet" was included on the U.S. version, while the breakup drama "It's Not Easy" replaced it for the U.K. edition. Both songs have been sequenced into the album proper here.) The AOR-style "Sally," complete with its big hook and Big '80s saxophone, and brassy story-song "Guru" were among the earliest tracks earmarked for the album, and set the tone for what followed.
While trying to conform to a more accessible sound, the never-stagnant Phillips still delivered an eclectic array of songs including the Caribbean-tinged beach ode to "Golden Bodies," and the similarly light "Love in a Hot Air Balloon," with its triumphant trumpet and bright bounce. Phillips and Scott also wrote other variations on the familiar pop theme of love, including "Traces" and the rhythmic "I Want Your Heart." The sleek "The Women Are Still Watching" and clanging, dark "Exocet" were both in a socially-conscious vein, composed in response to the Falklands War, the ten-week conflict between the U.K. and Argentina that claimed the lives of 255 British military personnel, 649 Argentine military personnel, and three Falkland Islanders. The impressionistic and experimental "My Time Has Come" is something akin to progressive AOR/pop, synthesizing all of the styles Phillips incorporated into Invisible Men. Scott took the lead on the frenetic, arena rock-style "Going for Broke" and gentler "Falling for Love," the latter featuring Martin Drover on a flugelhorn solo.
Though a surround mix is missed, a bonus disc of sixteen previously unissued outtakes and demo recordings is included in this collection. These come from every stage of the album's development and beyond. Five tracks ("Mysterious Constitution of Comets," "She's Gone," "Graciella," "Over and Over Again" and "Tonight") are instrumentals written and recorded during initial album sessions. "Alien" and "Holding You Again" were session outtakes; the latter would, in altered form, find life in Phillips and Scott's 1984 stage musical Alice. Still other outtakes weren't completed ("Darling," "Shadow in the Desert") but are presented here in their most complete form. Among the fascinating selections are a later instrumental re-recording of "Falling for Love" and a demo of "Golden Bodies" with alternate lyrics. Three more bonus outtakes - the pensive "Trail of Tears," atmospheric "The Ballad of Penlee," and sweeping, melodic "Alex" - have been appended to the first disc.
The reissue of Invisible Men is a housed in a digipak and includes a fold-out poster as well as a 24-page booklet with co-compiler Jonathan Dann's informative essay, full lyrics, and track-by-track annotations for the bonus material. Paschal Byrne has remastered from transfers made of the original master tapes. This latest addition to Esoteric's Anthony Phillips library is available at the links below!
CD 1: Original Album and bonus tracks
- Golden Bodies
- The Women Were Watching
- Love in a Hot Air Balloon
- Going for Broke
- Falling for Love
- I Want Your Heart
- It's Not Easy
- My Time Has Come
- Trail of Tears (remix of track first issued on Harvest of the Heart, Cherry Red, 1985)
- The Ballad of Penlee (previously included on Invisible Men, Blueprint BP211CD, 1990)
- Alex (Atmosphere Studios Version) (unreleased version of track included on Invisible Men, Blueprint BP211CD, 1990)
CD 2: Out-takes and Demos (all tracks previously unreleased)
- Gimme Love
- Falling for Love (Alternate Version)
- My Time Has Come (Instrumental Mix)
- Golden Bodies (Demo)
- Mysterious Constitution of Comets
- She's Gone
- Over and Over Again
- Refugee from Love
- Something Blue
- Holding You Again
- Shadow in the Desert
- Finale (Atmosphere Studios Version)