Now & Then
Phil Vincent is in imminent danger of over exposure with three releases about to hit the market at the same time. The three releases are a solo album called ‘Secrets’ and two band projects called Circular Logik and Tragik. Note the “K” in each band as he gets a bit stressy if you use a “C”.
Hard RoxX has had its fair share of success and failures over the years we have been going. The failures can wait for another day but I take great pride in the fact that Phil has always credited us with breaking him in Europe. As a result he burnt me a CD of this release to listen to during my latest spell in hospital.
Maybe it was the morphine but listening to ‘Poetic Justice’ I went through one of those musically induced religious experiences that you never forget. Previous examples include the first time I saw Thin Lizzy live, an Ace Frehley acoustic track that Tommy Vance played on the radio and a US hardcore outfit whose debut album featured a gunman walking into a children’s playground with a gun!
I don’t expect to reach such a high again, you never do the second time around (Thin Lizzy being the exception that proved the rule) however‘ Poetic Justice’ sees Phil performing to his usual high standards (honed over countless excellent solo albums) only with punchier guitars (shredder Damian D’ercole), more keyboards (Phil) and razor sharp drumming (Dirk Philips).
Openers ‘Giving In’ and ‘Can’t Find The Words’ are a match for the best that Phil has produced on his own, although I am particularly partial to the little guitar twirl at the beginning of the former. ‘Black And White’ rocks big time and if you don’t get melancholy listening to ‘Jessica’ you are a heartless bastard (I cried liked a total wuss!). As a result ‘Shadows Of Loneliness’ seems out of place until the majestic swathes of keyboard chords end the track. ‘At The Shore’ builds up slowly before ending with some crashing chords courtesy of Damian D’ercole, a theme that is followed on ‘Long Way From Home’. At times you fear that Damian may just fall asleep such is the effect wrung from every chord, however Phil keeps him awake with some ‘Maxell - Break The Sound Barrier’ effect keyboard playing.
The foot tapping head banging‘ Before It’s Gone’ ups the tempo. This is followed by ‘Jaded’ the only track I am not too sure about. It rocks but is too deliberately discordant (and modern?) for my tastes. The album ends on an emotional low note thanks to the morbid, but rocking, ‘Remember’ and the weepy ballad ‘Never’.‘ Remember’ highlights what a great drummer Dirk Phillips is, trust me, high on morphine I heard every beat of the drums synchronised with each guitar chord to the nano second (I guess they fix that in the studio these days) whilst ‘Never’ reminds me that Phil is a massive Paul McCartney fan.
I had begun to worry that Phil Vincent was losing the plot by not working with other musicians. Whilst ‘Poetic Justice’ doesn’t mean that I am right it certainly makes for convincing listening. BTW Phil, I still think you need more keys!!! Krank it up mate and sod all those air guitarists!
11/10 (Morphine assisted)
Matthew Honey Hard RoxX 2
Review taken from FIREWORKS Magazine issue #6, by Phil Ashcroft
PHIL VINCENT - CIRCULAR LOGIC (Song Haus)
Phil Vincent's career is like a Chinese banquet, before you've had the chance to swallow one course here comes the waiter with the next one! The prolific American multi-instrumentalist allegedly has an album finished before the previous one's hit the streets, but this time he's even outdone previous efforts by delivering a double album containing two hours of music just 8 months after his last album, 'Tragic'.
Featuring 10 songs on each disc, 'Circular Logic' has given Phil the opportunity to stretch out a little more in various directions, and has resulted in his strongest album to date. The catchy riffs and vibrant keyboard fills are still there, but it's in the little departures that the main strength of this album lies with Phil wearing some of his influences on his sleeve. Everyone from Journey to Pink Floyd and all points inbetween go to make up an album of great depth and diversity. Another change is he's hired a rhythm section for this one, and no offence to Phil's abilities on those instruments but bassist Glenn Cipalone and especially drummer Dirk Phillips have not only performed very well, but also given Phil the space to concentrate on other things.
There are the usual elements like the heavy guitar riffs on songs like 'Rise Up', 'Too Far Gone' and 'Take It Away', but on a lot of songs the keys are even more prominent than before, like the intros to 'Tupelo Drive' and the 10 minute epic, 'If'. On 'Torn' his admiration for The Beatles comes out and the song also features a nice guitar solo from Michael Reisenbeck. When making notes for this review I put an asterisk next to anything I thought was particularly good. I ended up with 11 from 20, and the other 9 are pretty good too, but the Aldo Nova/Jeff Cannata strains of 'Time In, Time Out' and 'If You Ever Want Me' are feelgood AOR at it's best. Talking of Cannata, I think it's him that Phil's voice reminds me of, although he does have a tendency to try to sing too high on the rockier tracks, especially the openers on each disc. His voice is a bit of an acquired taste anyway, but for the most part he makes the best use of what he's got. Other highlights are the pompy and bombastic 'Long Hard Look', the ballad 'Second Chance' which is just vocals and layers of keys, and the aggressive but melodic 'Almost Home'. The two epic songs, 'If' and '3.45am', are the most mature and adventurous things he's ever attempted with different parts and time changes, the film soundtrack type intro to the latter even puts me in mind of Giuffria's 'The Awakening'. There's an instrumental on the second disc called 'Another Hit & Run' that's pure pomp, and is a sequel to the slow and moody 'Hit & Run' from the first disc, and shows yet another side to Phil that I'd like to see him explore more. Despite the diversity on show it's the catchy hard rock with punchy keyboard stabs that Phil excels at, and if you want to know what he's about just check out a 4 song sequence on disc 2. It starts with the riffy 'Shining Through', then continues with 'In The Balance' and the hooky 'Doin' My Best', up to the quality melodic rock of 'Heart Of Stone'.
Along with the continuing improvement of his writing and playing this is his best produced album to date, with a powerful compressed guitar sound, live sounding drums, and those big keyboards. A job well done! Phil, you've earned a break! Well maybe not.
Melodic guitar rock recalls '80s hair metal bands
By VAUGHN WATSON
Journal Pop Music Writer
Who he is: Singer-songwriter Phil Vincent
What he plays: Melodic guitar rock. Vincent's influences are The Beatles, and such '80s hair metal bands as Dokken and Whitesnake. "I still love that stuff," he said. "And that's still huge overseas. That's why my stuff is selling so well over there."
Vincent recorded Thunder In The East , his latest album, in a style similar to such rock artists as Trent Reznor and Moby, the techno DJ. He played every instrument -- guitar, keyboard, bass and drums.
"I took about 10 years of piano lessons; I picked up the guitar and drums without formal training," Vincent said. "With rock music, you don't need formal training. It sounds too sterile if you do that."
Because he recorded the songs on his latest album live, rather than piping in digital instrumentation, several of them, such as Friend or Foe , sound like they were recorded at a concert. There's an element of Footloose here, but Into Temptation , with its prophetic keyboard intro, does a good job of capturing the full orchestration and arena-rock vibe of the hair metal bands that Vincent grew up with.
History: Vincent played in a cover band about 10 years ago. He decided in 1996 to go solo. "When I saw the movie The Wedding Singer, I said, 'I don't want that to be me,' " Vincent said. "I'm just making the best of it right now, because it can all be gone in a second."
Recording: Vincent records at night in his basement studio in Cranston. "Usually," he said, "I do most of my writing at night and the loud stuff -- drums, guitars -- on the weekend."
He recently signed with Song Haus Music Group, a label based in Utah. The label is selling Thunder In The East in Europe through AOR Heaven, an Altheim, Germany, distributor. Thunder In The East , released in March, is Vincent's fifth album. He plans to release his sixth, Tragic , in January 2001.