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Cutting Both Ways

Artist: Phil Miller
Phil Miller - Cutting Both Ways CD
Label: Cuneiform
Regular Price: $14.95
On Sale For: $12.47 
Year: 1989
Format: CD


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For his debut solo album, recorded in 1985/86, the erstwhile National Health, Hatfield and the North and Matching Mole guitarist PHIL MILLER teams up with PIP PYLE (drums), HUGH HOPPER (bass), ELTON DEAN (saxes) and PETE LEMER (keyboards)to perform four tracks more or less live in the studio. Two denser layered compositions featuring PHIL MILLER (guitars/guitar-synth) and DAVE STEWART (keyboards/programming)complete the CD, giving the album a satisfying breadth of style. This is a thought-provoking instrumental set which blends jazz and rock in the Canterbury tradition without falling prey to the clichés or self-indulgence that discredited the Jazz-Rock genre long ago. The result sounds rather like National Health might have done had Phil Miller taken over following the departure of Dave Stewart and Alan Gowen. For me, this is the logical next step after "D.S. Al Coda" and anyone who liked that album, the Gilgamesh records or Soft Machine 6 and 7 will love this one. Although the opening number finds the band in perhaps over-familiar territory, the rest of the album is solid gold. There is a fine balance between composition and improvisation throughout. Phil Miller and Elton Dean, particularly, shine in their solo slots while Pip Pyle propels the entire group to a higher level with his crisp, masterful drumming. Hugh Hopper's full-bodied bass takes centre stage in "Second Sight", Pete Lemer turns in deft solos on "Eastern Region" and the final track but otherwise the rhythm section concerns itself more with support, space and dynamics. Nobody over-plays, everybody serves the music faithfully without self-indulgence. The performances are relaxed and spontaneous and everyone sounds like they're enjoying themselves. These tunes are among the most memorable of Phil Miller's career and constituted the core repertoire of his band In Cahoots for many years afterwards. This record has languished in undeserved obscurity for too long; do yourself a favour and check it out.
Phil Miller (guitar); Elton Dean (saxes); Hugh Hopper (bass); Pip Pyle (drums); Pete Lemer (keyboards)
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