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John Phillips | Pay, Pack and Follow (Eagle)
Though it pains me to speak ill of the recently deceased, these much trumpeted 'lost' recordings of 'Papa' John Phillips, - ex hippie figurehead and self-styled 'Wolf King of LA' â?? produced by and featuring Mick 'n' Keef of some famous rock group, should have stayed lost. Recorded at various studios between '73 and '79, no doubt interspersed with hefty bouts of substance abuse, the recordings will prove of interest to hardcore Stones aficionados, but alternately tedious and embarrassing to just about anyone else. That's not to say there aren't a few bright sparks â?? the countryfied Exile-isms of Oh Virginia and the dirty rock'n'roll of She's Just 14 (don't ask) are perfectly serviceable in a seedy '70's sort of way; but perilously suspended between crass journeyman blues (Pussycat) and hideous, Undercover of the Night-era slickness (Sunset Boulevard, Wilderness of Love). The lyrics are predictably dirty, rock'n'roll tales of booze'n'excess, whores'n'gamblers, love in the gutter â?? the usual deal. One notable exception is Zulu Warrior, an early contender for most cringeworthy release of the year, as Phillips bemoans the fate of South Africa's proud 'Bantu Fighters' over a backdrop of piss-weak 12-bar nonsense interspersed with horrendously sloppy cod-African drumming. The whole mess comes to an end with the conveniently titled 2001, a lazy ballad in which Phillips hopes "May all the people on this lovely planet still be here in the years 2001." Made it, Papa, but only just.
CWAS #8 - Summer 2001