Phil Ryan (musician)

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Phil Ryan
Birth name Philip Ryan
Born (1946-10-21)21 October 1946
Port Talbot, South Wales
Genres Rock, psychedelic rock, progressive rock
Occupation(s) Musician, composer
Instruments Keyboards, trombone
Years active Since 1964
Associated acts Pete Brown & Piblokto!, Man
Neutrons, Pete Brown

Phil Ryan (born 21 October 1946 in Port Talbot, South Wales)[1] is a Welsh keyboardist and composer, best known for his work with Man and Pete Brown.

Early career[edit]

Born in Port Talbot, Ryan played trombone in the National Youth Orchestra,[1] but his rock career started in 1964 when he joined Neath band The Smokestacks, which also featured vocalist Gary Pickford-Hopkins.

Eyes of Blue[edit]

In 1966 Ryan and Hopkins joined with John Weathers, Ray "Taff" Williams and other members of another Neath band, The Mustangs, to form The Eyes of Blue, who turned professional. They won the 1966 Melody Maker Beat Contest, winning a one-year record contract, but had to record songs chosen for them, rather than their own material and neither of their singles, "Heart Trouble" / "Up And Down" and "Supermarket Full of Cans" / "Don't Ask Me To Mend Your Broken Heart", sold well.

The Eyes moved from Decca to Mercury Records and recorded their first album Crossroads of Time in 1968, which was produced by Lou Reizner. Reizner then used The Eyes as the backing band for American singer-songwriter Buzzy Linhart's album Buzzy.[2] They collaborated with Quincy Jones on the score of the movie Toy Grabbers, some tracks of which appear on their second album In Fields of Ardath (1969) and they also appeared in the movie Connecting Rooms.[3]

The band Strawberry Dust supported The Eyes; Weathers produced and co-wrote their album, Women & Children First (1970), on which Ryan played, although Reizner renamed the band Ancient Grease. Ryan also arranged the strings for Reizner on the Caetano Veloso's third self-titled album called either his 1971 album or A Little More Blue.

The Eyes of Blue's third and final album, Bluebell Wood, was released under the pseudonym Big Sleep, and the band broke up shortly afterwards.

In 1970 Ryan and Weathers joined Pete Brown & Piblokto! playing on one single, "Flying Hero Sandwich" / "My Last Band". When bassist Steve Glover broke his wrist, he was replaced by Michael "Will" Youatt,[4] and when Piblokto disbanded Ryan and Youatt joined Clive John, who had just left Man, in a short-lived venture called Iorworth Pritchard and the Neutrons.

Man[edit]

In April 1972 Ryan and Youatt joined Man, Clive John re-joined at the same time.[5] The band recorded Be Good to Yourself at Least Once a Day which received good reviews. A party on 19 December 1972, with Dave Edmunds, Help Yourself and others, was issued as Christmas at the Patti, a double 10" album, which topped the "budget" album chart. Man then recorded the double album Back into The Future, half in the studio, and half live at The Roundhouse.[6] The album initially sold well, rising to No 23,[7] and was tipped to be album that would make the band, but pressing was restricted by a lack of plastic during the oil crisis.

In November 1973 Ryan and Youatt tried a test recording with John Weathers, which interested United Artists A&R man, Andrew Lauder. Ryan and Youatt left Man in December 1973.

Neutrons[edit]

To record the Neutrons first album Black Hole Star, Ryan and Youatt assembled several friends and former band-mates, including drummers John "Pugwash" Weathers (then with Gentle Giant), Dave Charles and Pique Withers (later known as Pick Withers); guitarists Martin Wallace and Ray "Taff" Williams, who had been in Eyes of Blue and Piblokto!, violinist Stuart Gordon (ex Incredible String Band) and vocalist Caromay Dixon.[8]

Most of the album was recorded in April 1974 at Chipping Norton Recording Studios, supplemented by the test tracks recorded the previous November. Released in September 1974 Black Hole Star featured Neutrons' logo, designed by Rick Griffin, whilst the track "Mermaid And Chips" written when Ryan was with Piblokto! credits Pete Brown. The album spawned one single "Dance of the Psychedelic Lounge Lizard"/"Suzy and the Wonder Boy", The A-side being dedicated to Graham Bond, whilst the B side was not on the album, although it features Dave Edmunds on slide guitar.[4]

The second album Tales From The Blue Cocoons was released in April 1975. The performers were similar to the first album, except Weathers was replaced by Stuart Halliday and Stuart Gordon did not play. The title was a parody of those used by other Prog Rock bands, notably Yes's Tales From Topographic Oceans, and was chosen by Ryan as he liked the aerial photos of Woodstock, showing the fans in blue cocoon-like sleeping-bags.

Ryan and Youatt were having musical differences, so, unlike the first album, none of the tracks on the second were jointly written by the pair, whilst the uncredited "Welsh R Blunt" dates from when Ryan was in Piblokto! and had also been played, but not recorded, by Man.

Neutrons toured to promote the album, but Taff Williams left shortly after the start of the tour, so former Help Yourself guitarist Richard Treece stood in, but Neutrons had disbanded by July 1975.

Man Again[edit]

Ryan played on Clive John's solo album You Always Know Where You Stand With a Buzzard, and briefly started a solo project Road of Cobras, before rejoining Man in September 1975, along with bassist John McKenzie. One of the Road of Cobras tracks "Something is Happening" ended up on the next Man album The Welsh Connection[8] which reached No 40 in the UK Album Chart.[7] Differences arose during the US tour to promote the album, and on the subsequent European tour Ryan and McKenzie announced they would be leaving, and the rest of the band agreed to call it a day. The MCA record deal was for 3 albums, but MCA eventually agreed to a live farewell album, All's Well That Ends Well recorded at the Roundhouse on 11–13 December, although the final gig was in Slough on 16 December 1976.

Pete Brown[edit]

After Man's breakup, Ryan started working with Pete Brown again and also toured with Gallagher & Lyle, including a 1978 BBC "In Concert" session,[9]

Ryan continued to work with Brown despite moving to Denmark, where his wife Bolette came from. In the 1980s he wrote film scores, including one for the BBC with Pete Brown. They collaborated for 12 years, and Brown formed his own label Interoceter, which issued two Pete Brown/Phil Ryan albums: Ardours of the Lost Rake and Coals to Jerusalem. They began touring in 1993, and a compilation of the two albums was issued on CD as The Land That Cream Forgot.

A new Brown/Ryan album Road of Cobras, including Maggie Bell, Arthur Brown, Mick Taylor and Jim Mullen, is due for release in May 2010, meanwhile Ryan and Brown have been acting as producers for soul artist Andriah.[10]

Man Yet Again[edit]

Ryan rejoined Man in 1996, playing on the albums 1998 at the Star Club (1998) and Endangered Species (2000), before leaving again in 2001, to look after his wife, who was terminally ill. Ryan rejoined Man in 2007, remaining with the band when it split in 2008 and playing on the Kingdom of Noise album (2009). He remains in the band to date.[11]

Discography[edit]

With The Eyes of Blue

Crossroads of Time (1968)
In Fields of Ardath (1969)
Bluebell Wood (1971) (issued under the pseudonym Big Sleep)

With Buzzy Linhart

Buzzy (1969)

With Ancient Grease

Women and Children First (1970)

With Pete Brown and others

"Flying Hero Sandwich" / "My Last Band" Pete Brown & Piblokto!
Things May Come and Things May Go But the Art School Dance Goes on Forever Pete Brown & Piblokto! (only on re-release that includes above single)
My Last Band (1977) Pete Brown & Piblokto/Pete Brown & His Battered Ornaments (only on above single)
Party in the Rain (1983) Pete Brown & Ian Lynn
Land That Cream Forgot (1996) Pete Brown & Phil Ryan
Coals to Jerusalem (2003) Pete Brown & Phil Ryan
Ardours of the Lost Rake (2003) Pete Brown & Phil Ryan

With John St. Field (Jackie Leven)

Control (1971)

With Man

Be Good to Yourself at Least Once a Day (1972)
Christmas at the Patti (1973)
Back into The Future (1973)
The Welsh Connection (1976)
All's Well That Ends Well (1977)
Rare Man (1999)
Live at the Rainbow 1972 (1999)
1998 at the Star Club (1999)
Endangered Species (2000)
Keep on Crinting: The Liberty/UA Years Anthology (2006)
Live at the Keystone Berkeley, 9 August 1976 (2008)
Kingdom of Noise (2009)

With Neutrons

Black Hole Star (1974) (United Artists UAG 29652)
Tales From the Blue Cocoons (1975) (United Artists UAG 29726) (reissued as a pair(BGOCD 598)in 2003)

With Clive John

You Always Know Where You Stand With a Buzzard (1975)

With The Flying Aces

Seashell (2002)

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Melody Maker article 10 November 1973
  2. ^ The Tapestry of Delights, Vernon Joynson – ISBN 1-899855-15-7
  3. ^ Allmusic Biography of Eyes of Blue by Bruce Eder Retrieved 7 February 2010
  4. ^ a b Sleeve notes by Michael Heatley to CD reissue of Black Hole Star/Tales From The Blue Cocoons
  5. ^ NME Biography of Man Retrieved 1 February 2010
  6. ^ Joynson, Vernon (2006). The Tapestry of Delights Revisited – Man (1st ed.). Telford: Borderline productions. pp. 531–532. ISBN 1-899855-15-7. 
  7. ^ a b Chart Stats for Man Albums Retrieved 17 March 2009
  8. ^ a b Dutch Progressive Rock Pages on Neutrons written by Nigel Camilleri Retrieved 7 February 2010
  9. ^ Mannerisms II "Man & roots/offshoots Information Booklet" by Michael Mycock, P19
  10. ^ News on petebrown.co Retrieved 7 February 2010
  11. ^ Manband Archive listing current line up Retrieved 8 February