|Studio album by|
|Released||October 1983 (US)|
13 April 1984 (UK)
|Recorded||April–September, October–December 1982|
|Studio||Englewood Studios, Clapham, London and Atmosphere Studios, central London|
|Label||Passport Records (US)|
Street Tunes (UK)
|Anthony Phillips chronology|
Original UK cover.
Invisible Men is the eighth studio album by English multi-instrumentalist and composer Anthony Phillips. It was released in October 1983 by Passport Records in the United States and in April 1984 by Street Tunes in the United Kingdom. After he released his Private Parts & Pieces III: Antiques, the third instalment in his generic album series, Phillips started work on his next full studio album. Phillips was pressured by his US label Passport Records to deliver more radio friendly songs, and produced Invisible Men as a collaborative effort with musician and songwriter Richard Scott.
Phillips would not release a complete and arranged album of solo material until Slow Dance (1990).
Background and recording
In early 1982, Phillips released Private Parts & Pieces III: Antiques, the third instalment in his generic album series containing incomplete compositions, demos, and out-takes. For his next release Phillips committed to a full, standard album, his first since 1984 (1981). At this point in his career, Phillips was pressured by management at his record label, the independent US-based Passport Records, to deliver more commercial and radio friendly songs. Also in early 1982, he had bought a house in Clapham, south London and has since called Invisible Men his "mortgage album". He set up studio in his home which he named Englewood Studios, and did additional recording in Atmosphere Studios in central London. To help him with the project, Phillips invited musician and songwriter Richard Scott to assist in its production. Phillips credits Scott with his enthusiasm, but recalled that musically he would push him into areas that he was uneasy with despite his confidence and inexperience, having recently graduated from university and wanting to get into music. When it came to the vocals, Phillips was inspired to take them on himself as former Genesis band mates Mike Rutherford and Tony Banks had done vocals on their solo albums, and that he was unable to find someone suitable. Phillips had used different guest singers on Sides (1979), but felt that it did not work as well as he had expected. Feeling his vocals were inadequate, Phillips took singing lessons from John Owen-Edwards, who had worked with him on a musical project and had also coached Rutherford.
After the backing tracks and rough vocals had been put down for about five songs, Phillips presented his work to his manager Tony Smith and recalled that he was "extremely impressed". This was when Phillips was enthusiastic about the album until it became increasingly difficult for him to maintain such a level of interest. During recording at Atmosphere Studios, session drummers were brought in to play parts originally programmed on a drum machine as well as singers for additional vocals. Phillips wrote about this period: "The money was flowing out. It wasn't a wholly happy time." In addition, pressure was placed upon him to change his image and to present the album under the Anthony Phillips Band moniker which he did not agree with.
Invisible Men was cut by Ian Cooper at Townhouse Studios in London. Phillips encountered problems in finalising the album's release in the US as Passport rejected two cuts that Cooper had prepared, coupled with the opinion that none of the songs were suitable for a single. After the second cut was rejected, Phillips recalled that Cooper "was a bit beside himself - he just didn't know what else to do", and received notes from the label's engineer in New York with suggestions to improve it, which Phillips expressed some disagreement on. Following a three month delay the label suggested a new mix but realised it would cost additional money, so it agreed to release the album.
"Exocet" is a political song inspired by the Falklands War between Argentina and the United Kingdom, which took place during the recording of the album. In one incident in the conflict, an Exocet missile struck a British warship and killed 20 crew members. One of Phillips's musician friends, Argentinian guitarist Enrique Berro Garcia, had to leave the United Kingdom. The end of the song includes a segment of a news report of the war, which was originally a recording error but Phillips decided to keep it. Upon finishing the album, management of Street Tunes Records, the UK label that released it in the country, deemed "Exocet" too political and ordered its removal. It was replaced with "It's Not Easy". The track "The Women Were Watching" also concerns the Falklands War.
Invisible Men was released in the United Kingdom on 13 April 1984 on Street Tunes, an independent label. Phillips was pleased with the label's enthusiasm towards the album. A 12-inch single of "Sally" was released which Phillips believed was not the best track for a single. The 1996 Blueprint reissue states that its track order was rearranged to the originally intended order.
On October 13, 2017, Esoteric Recordings (a Cherry Red Records label) released a 2-disc deluxe edition of the album. Disc 1 contains a new remaster of the original stereo mix of the album. Disc 2 contains 16 previously unreleased demos and contemporaneous material. The deluxe edition also includes an illustrated booklet with a new essay by Jonathan Dann.
- "Sally" (Phillips) - 3:53
- "Golden Bodies" (Phillips, Scott) - 3:16
- "Going for Broke" (Phillips, Scott) - 3:30
- "Exocet" (Phillips, Scott) - 3:19 (US version) / "It's Not Easy" (Phillips) - 4:47 (UK version)*
- "Love in a Hot Air Balloon" (Phillips, Scott) - 3:42
- "Traces" (Phillips, Scott) - 4:49
- "I Want Your Heart" (Phillips, Scott) - 3:51
- "Falling for Love" (Phillips, Scott) - 3:33
- "Guru" (Phillips) - 4:42
- "The Women Were Watching" (Phillips, Scott) - 4:46
- "My Time Has Come" (Phillips) - 4:46
2017 reiussue bonus disc
- "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)"
Credits adapted from the album's 1984 release.
- Anthony Phillips (aka "Vic Stench" and "The Vicar") – vocals, Fender Stratocaster, Polymoog synthesiser, bass guitar, ARP 2600 synthesiser, organ, piano, Colorama electric guitar, Yari classical guitar, Roland Jupiter-8 keyboard, Rickenbacker electric 12-string guitar, Mellotron, editing block, tubular bells, Fender Rhodes guitar, Les Paul guitar, church organ, bass, contrabass, camp bass
- Richard Scott – Roland TR-808 keyboard, vocals, scamp, Stratocaster, vocoder
- Paul Robinson – drums
- Bimbo Acock – saxes
- Morris Pert – tambourine, kalimba
- Joji Hirota – marimbas, wood blocks, tambourine, timpani, shakers, jawbone, cabasa, bell tree
- Martin Robertson – soprano saxophone
- Uti Koofreh – backing vocals
- Jeff Dunne – drums
- Martin Drover – trumpet, flugelhorn solo
- Malcolm Griffiths – trombone
- "Ralph Bernascone" – "sarrusaphone"
- Jonathan Snowden – piccolo
- Jack Emblow – accordion on "Darling"
- Kitty Grant – backing vocals on "Gimme Love" and "Refugee From Love"
- Anthony Phillips – production
- Richard Scott – production
- Trevor Vallis – production
- Ian Cooper – cutting at Townhouse Studios, London
- Elliot Brothers, C and M Audio, Mike Rutherford, Andrew Latimer, Lob Tumsey, Dave Hill, Robin Clarke – equipment thanks
- Simon Heyworth – remastering
- Thompson, Dave. Invisible Men at AllMusic
- Phillips, Anthony (1996). "Here are Ant's thoughts on the Invisible Men album from an interview he did for our sister magazine The Pavilion back in 1996..." The Waiting Room Online. Retrieved 20 October 2018.
- Parkyn, Geoff (April 1984). "Anthony Phillips – Anthony Phillips interview on the 'Invisible Men' album and the 'Alice' musical". Genesis Information. No. 31. pp. 3, 5, 7. Retrieved 13 October 2018.
- Anthony Phillips website
- Cherry Red Records website
- Invisible Men (Media notes). Anthony Phillips. Street Tunes. 1984. STLP 0013.