Phil Beer

Phil Beer - Rhythm Methodist
Hands on Music HMCD21

This is Phil Beer's first solo album in nine years and offers two CDs - one of songs and one of instrumentals. The music on this CD confirms what we already know. Phil is a multi instrumentalist of extraordinary talent who can also produce and engineer a recording to a high standard. The instrumental collection has some interesting arrangements of a variety of mostly traditional tunes though for me the highlight is the slide guitar on his version of Linda Thompson's 'Telling Me Lies'. Terrific musicianship throughout. Our hero plays just about everything but also has creditable help from the likes of Steve Crickett and Nick Quarmby.

The collection of songs is a different matter. The title is a reference to his religious upbringing, but 'Unfettered' might have been a better choice. Phil has been let loose with all the 'toys' at his disposal and nobody to gainsay him. This is a delightful plundering of the catalogues of Dylan, Steely Dan and Jackson Browne via Jimmy Cliff. Each song has his individual stamp on it and I reckon these arrangements were a labour of love. I particularly like his cover of The Band's epic 'Acadian Driftwood'. Six minutes or so of real passion. I was also enchanted by his acapella rendering of Jackson Browne's 'Our Lady of the Well' in duet with Deb Sandland.

I feel ashamed to admit that I had forgotten that this man has one of the best voices we have in these islands. This release comes as a timely reminder.

Phil Thomas

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This album was reviewed in Issue 64 of The Living Tradition magazine.