Phil Lanzon Ditties/Cargo Records UK [Release date 02.08.19]
Hot on the heels of last year’s ‘If You Think I’m Crazy’ Uriah Heep’s keyboards player Phil Lanzon is back with another solo album, which again sees him working with producer Simon Hanhart and arranger Richard Cottle. That album topped the GRTR! Reviewer’s Albums of the Year so no pressure Phil on this one then… Of interest to Grand Prix fans is that guitarist Mick O’Donohue guests on the album (our Live Ed is particularly excited by this!).
‘Azura’s Theme’ a big orchestral piece to start the album off on, the sort of theme Alan Parsons or Jeff Lynne would revel in. ‘In The Rain’ has Lanzon’s distinctive Hammond playing it on and John Mitchell guesting on vocals. A fine piece of melodic rock and one of the album’s more instant songs.
Like last year’s album ‘If You Think I’m Crazy’ there are plenty of musical avenues explored, this time we get a bit of big band swing on ‘Forty Line’. One of the album highlights for me, especially as the first part of the song is AOR before it goes all big band, musical genius in my book.
‘Road To London’ sees Phil take the lead vocal for a jaunty folk song (if you want a Heep comparison ‘Lady In Black’ comes to mind on the chorus). It is a proper solo album as he indulges in his musical loves that wouldn’t fit Uriah Heep, although his keys playing recalls the mighty Heep at times as you’d expect.
‘Rock ‘N’ Roll Children’ is about how we should take more notice of what children say and features an impressive vocal from a GRTR! fave Miriam Grey. She also pops up on ‘Face To Face’, another of a growing number of songs covering the rise of social media and lack of personal contact we now have. Meanwhile on ‘Look At The Time’, the majority of the song sounds like Uriah Heep, bar a little easy listening harmony vocal break – very reminiscent of the 70’s.
‘48 Seconds’ commemorates the tragic San Francisco earthquake of 1906 and is a glorious prog/pomp treat. There is so much going on here that you hear a different piece of music on each subsequent listen. It also features a rip roaring Hammond solo and an impresive choral section. This song more than any other really shows Phil Lanzon’s love of the cinematic and epic musical soundscape.
Not as instant as ‘If You Think I’m Crazy’, however it is a grower and I guarantee it will make my year end of best of list. Phil Lanzon has come up trumps again, no mean feat considering the quality of last year’s album and he shows no sign of lacking musical ideas or memorable tunes. ****
Review by Jason Ritchie
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