Lost at Sea 40th Anniversary Reviews



Video Interview with Glenn HERE

Uncut Magazine
9 out of 10 Stars
July 2015


 



Record Collector
5 out of 5 Stars
July 2015
The Wire
2015
Atlanta Journal Constitution

May 27, 2015

Show, rerelease anchor 40th anniversary of Glenn Phillips’ ‘Lost at Sea’
By Jon Waterhouse - For the AJC

In the midst of personal tragedy and music biz roadblocks, Atlanta-based guitar hero Glenn Phillips had the answer: He’d self-release his own album.
No biggie today, but momentous in 1975. Years before the do-it-yourself music movement, only ace mechanics used pro tools back then.











This makes the 40th anniversary of Phillips’ debut solo disc, “Lost at Sea,” all the more significant. With a commemorative rerelease now available, Phillips and all but one of the members of the album’s backing band reconvene for a one-night stand Saturday at Eddie Owen Presents at Red Clay Music Foundry in Duluth.
“We started practicing (for the show) six months ago,” Phillips said. “Everybody wanted to do it. It was a very important period in all of our lives.”
To call it pivotal for Phillips would be a disservice. Beginning in 1967, Phillips wielded his ax in Atlanta’s Hampton Grease Band, which reached cult status soon thereafter. Although the group released its infamous album “Music to Eat” in 1971, and garnered ardent support from the likes of Duane Allman and Frank Zappa, it folded in 1973.














By this time, Phillips’ fretwork had also impressed Lowell George of Little Feat, who urged Warner Bros. Records to sign Phillips as a solo artist. In turn, George would produce the album.
But a contract dispute with Frank Zappa’s former manager, Herb Cohen, who still represented the now-defunct Hampton Grease Band, prevented the Warner Bros. deal from happening.
Around this same time, Phillips’ father committed suicide.















“Then I just felt an incredible emotional need,” Phillips recalled. “When something like that happens, it leaves a hole inside and you want to fill it with something. And music is what I did. So I just felt the need to record, and I had to find a way to do it.”
Phillips had no idea where to start. He had never heard of anyone releasing their own album. So he put down the guitar, put on a detective cap and learned how.
The guitarist borrowed recording equipment, loaded it into his cramped Brookhaven abode and handpicked a volunteer band. Fueled by inner turmoil and artistic catharsis, Phillips put music to tape. The result would eventually speak for itself.













“It had this organic energy,” recalled AM 1690 radio host Mike Holbrook, the former Hampton Grease Band bassist who played on “Lost at Sea.” “It’s totally self-contained with a real freedom of spirit. It has some rough edges, but like the blues, that’s what gives it its level of energy.”

Legendary British disc jockey John Peel felt that energy. After receiving airplay in England, “Lost at Sea” caught the ear of Virgin Records impresario Richard Branson. Branson then reached out to Phillips and flew to Atlanta to persuade the artist to sign to his label.
Phillips recalls Branson arriving at his self-proclaimed “Brookhaven shack” in a Trans Am straight out of “Smokey and the Bandit.”
“My girlfriend at the time asked Richard why he had rented a redneck muscle car,” Phillips remembered. “Flashing a big grin, he said, ‘Because it’s the American thing to do, isn’t it, love?’ He was just a real outgoing, friendly guy.”
With the Virgin release, the album’s European audience grew. Phillips and company went on tour, and the label wound up releasing the 1977 follow-up “Swim in the Wind.”

Although some characterize Phillips’ career as more of a critical success rather than a commercial one — Rolling Stone gave two Phillips projects four-star reviews — he’s performed and recorded steadily ever since. This includes 10 solo albums, one compilation and two Supreme Court discs with collaborator Jeff Calder. That’s not including guest spots with R.E.M.’s Peter Buck and the Grateful Dead’s Bob Weir.

Yet Phillips never thought about rereleasing “Lost at Sea” for its 40th anniversary. It wasn’t until Nigel Cross, owner of British record label Shagrat Records, offered to release a special edition of the disc. Feeding Tube Records agreed to distribute the album in America.
Just as making the album proved to be a profound experience for Phillips, revisiting it would coincide with a change in his life. Phillips, who’s suffered from medically related panic attacks for 40 years, had a debilitating one last year during a doctor visit. The physician thought Phillips was having a heart attack, and Phillips could hear his wife crying in the background.
It was then the musician knew he had to do something. He began researching panic attacks, and he came to the realization his condition began just after his father’s suicide.

“All those years, I’d thought my anxiety was about the uncertainty of the future, but it was never about that,” he said. “It was about my past. Over the course of the next year, I learned how to control stress, and for the first time in my adult life, the monkey is off my back.”
Now four decades after the fact, as Phillips readies to perform the entirety of “Lost at Sea” in concert, he’ll set sail with a deeper level of self-awareness, both personally and musically.

CONCERT PREVIEW
Glenn Phillips
8 p.m. May 30. $15-$18. Eddie Owen Presents at Red Clay Music Foundry, 3116 Main St., Duluth. 404-478-2749, eddieowenpresents.com

GLENN PHILLIPS TIMELINE
1966: Phillips begins playing guitar.
1967: Hampton Grease Band forms.
1968: That summer, Hampton Grease Band starts the trend of performing free concerts in Piedmont Park.
1969: Hampton Grease Band plays legendary free concert in Piedmont Park with Grateful Dead and others.
1970: Hampton Grease Band performs at Atlanta International Pop Festival alongside Jimi Hendrix, the Allman Brothers Band and others.
1971: Columbia Records releases Hampton Grease Band’s “Music to Eat.”
1975: Glenn Phillips releases “Lost at Sea.” Virgin Records releases it in Europe.
1977: Virgin releases the follow-up “Swim in the Wind,” which garners a four-star review in Rolling Stone.
1980-now: Phillips puts out eight additional solo albums, one compilation and two albums with Jeff Calder as Supreme Court. The 1993 Supreme Court disc “Supreme Court Goes Electric” receives a four-star review in Rolling Stone.
2015: Shagrat Records and Feeding Tube Records release the 40th anniversary edition of “Lost at Sea.”

Creative Loafing
May 2015

The tragedy and triumph of Glenn Phillips’ 'Lost at Sea' 
40th anniversary reissue celebrates Hampton Grease Band guitarist’s legacy
By Chad Radford @ChadRad

May of 1973 was a dark time for Glenn Phillips. The guitarist and co-founder of Atlanta's late '60s and early '70s art-rock trailblazers the Hampton Grease Band was set adrift when the group broke up. His spin-off project, the Stump Brothers, was about to call it quits, too. Then, tragedy struck.

Phillips' relationship with his father, Charles, wasn't ideal. Against his father's wishes, Phillips pursued life as a musician rather than go to college and secure a more traditional career. As a result the two were estranged from one another. Then one night in May, his father paid a visit to the Brookhaven duplex where he lived. Phillips was braced for criticism, but before leaving his father said, "You've really got it made. You're doing exactly what you want, don't ever give this up."

The two made peace. But just a few hours later, his father committed suicide. "That was the most traumatic experience of my life," Phillips says, looking back on the night that unfolded more than 40 years ago. "It was his 50th birthday, he knew he was going to do it. I didn't. He made our last moment together something important. Being a musician, my way of dealing with it was to do something musically — turn it into something positive."

Phillips immersed himself in a whirlwind of songwriting. A mysterious and beguiling batch of instrumental rock songs began taking shape. Songs with titles such as "I've Got a Bullet With Your Name on It," "I Feel Better Already," and "Lenore" revealed an abstract narrative driven by confusion, vulnerability, and a sense of triumph. Phillips' ecstatic and expressive guitar playing took on a lyrical role channeling the murk and mire of his fragile emotional state.
It's a confusing sound, one in which not everything is clearly heard. He called the album Lost at Sea. And when the needle sinks into the record's deep black grooves, the lo-fi din of "I've Got a Bullet With Your Name on It" resonates with the subconscious on the same level as classic albums such as the Beach Boys' Pet Sounds and Joy Division's Unknown Pleasures — somewhere between devastation and catharsis.

As powerful as these songs are, giving the music a proper release was as trying as the story behind the music's origins. Following the Hampton Grease Band's demise, Phillips befriended singer and guitarist Lowell George of Southern country and R&B rockers Little Feat.

George, impressed by a demo recording of Phillips' songs, took a tape to Warner Bros. and offered to produce it. The label was interested. But when Columbia Records had dropped the Hampton Grease Band, Frank Zappa signed the group to his Bizarre/Straight label, which included a management deal with Herb Cohen that still lingered. Cohen was embroiled in a lawsuit with Warner Bros. and, out of spite, told the label if they wanted to release Phillips' record it would cost $100,000.

Warner Bros. wasn't about to hand over that much cash. But the urge to release the music was so great that Phillips took matters into his own hands.

It was decades before the DIY movement was the order of the day in the wake of punk and indie rock. "I started calling around to figure out where to get records mastered and pressed," he says. "The information was there."
Phillips had already assembled a solid cast of musicians to play the songs, including Jimmy Presmanes (drums), Bill Rea (acoustic guitar), John Carr Harriman (cello), Mike Holbrook, and Martin Hoke (piano, vibes, marimba). About two years after his father's death, he filled the two-room duplex where he lived with his girlfriend, Lenore Thompson, with borrowed equipment and recorded Lost at Sea. "There were wires everywhere," Thompson says. "Amps in the bathtub. Keyboards in the living room. They would play and record live. I was knob jockey, but Glenn and Bill were the 'ears,' and I would set knobs to their specifications."

With the music recorded, the work was only partially complete. "There was a mastering place Downtown, so I strapped the tape to my bike and rode all the way from Brookhaven, with my dog," Phillips says.

To handle the release, Phillips created his own imprint, Snowstar Records. But running an independent label was uncharted territory for the music industry. Operating without distribution meant selling records out of his home and at gigs. Ultimately, the album fell into obscurity in the States.

No one is entirely sure how it happened, but a copy of Lost at Sea made its way overseas and landed in the hands of famed U.K. DJ John Peel. Peel began playing the songs. As fate would have it, the songs eventually caught the ear of Richard Branson, and soon Phillips signed to Virgin Records.

Upon release, Lost at Sea was a critically acclaimed album in the U.K. Later, the group was flown over for a tour with Steve Hillage. "I love wild guitar playing and there were similarities in Glenn's playing to John Cipollina, Mike Bloomfield, and some of the guys who played with Captain Beefheart, so it was love on first hearing," says Nigel Cross.

Cross is the founding editor of Bucketfull of Brains magazine, and runs the London-based label Shagrat Records, which in April co-released a 40th anniversary reissue of Lost at Sea with the Florence, Mass.-based Feeding Tube Records.

Pressed in an edition of 500 copies, the album is bulked up with the addition of a second LP including pre- and post-Lost at Sea demos along with unreleased and live material. "I remember playing the demos on the first side of the bonus LP for Richard Branson," Phillips says. "I remember he drove up in this muscle car — have you ever seen Smokey and the Bandit?" He drove up in that car. Lenore said, 'What are you doing in a redneck muscle car?' And he said, 'It's the American thing to do, isn't it, love?'"

For the reissue, the album's proto-DIY aesthetic is faithfully preserved, with a few additions. "I didn't want to tinker with the original LP and sleeve at all, but when Glenn sent me those extra tracks, there was enough for a great bonus disc so we had to expand it," Cross says.

Tony Poole, who mastered the bonus LP and did the artwork, sourced the original typeface and did the additional layout for the gatefold design. "We also had some more illustrations from Kenneth Smith, whose crazy creatures gave the original release a lot of mystique," Cross says. "I asked Glenn to write some notes about the additional tracks and I had to ask Phil McMullen of the Ptolemaic Terrascope magazine to write an overview, as he is one of a very few U.K. journos who has kept the flame burning for Glenn in the years since Virgin."

To celebrate the album's reissue, most of the original lineup for the Lost at Sea band (all but Martin Hoke, now a former Republican representative from Ohio) reunites on Sat., May 30, at Red Clay Music Foundry in Duluth. The group will play the album in its entirety, along with Phillips' second record, 1977's Swim in the Wind.

Forty years later, the darkness has lifted. But the songs that Phillips wrote while reconciling his father's suicide still bear weight. "All my music has been a memoir," Phillips says. "You take who you are, try to find some truth in yourself and the music, and learn things about yourself. When you're a kid growing up, you're self-absorbed. You take what's happening around you as a reflection of something about you. It isn't until you get much older that you realize it wasn't about me. Music helped me figure these things out — that's not saying I have it all figured out."



Terrascope
May 2015
GLENN PHILLIPS – LOST AT SEA

(2xLP on Shagrat/Feeding Tube/Snowstar Records)


Glenn Phillips is arguably the greatest guitarist you’ve never heard of – and the only argument in that statement is over whether or not you’ve heard of him. Draw a line between the nimble dexterity of a John McLaughlin and the soulfulness of a Richard Thompson and somewhere down the track you’ll find Glenn Phillips, stopping off at stations named “heartfelt” and “ferocious” along the way.

So runs the opening paragraph of the sleevenotes of this gorgeously produced and presented 40th Anniversary Deluxe Edition double LP reissue of Glenn Phillips’ 1975 LP ‘Lost at Sea’. Given that I have the honour of having been asked to write the notes, I repeat them word for word here without apology. Credit for the fact that this reissue exists at all must go to Nigel Cross, who coordinated the project, and to Tony Poole who remastered it – but at the end of the day, what really matters is the music, and in ‘Lost at Sea’ Glenn Phillips gave us an album which remains “a fascinating album of solid rock riffs and tantalising melodies which, whilst obviously a product of its time, stands up pretty well to this day and well deserves the accolades afforded to it by the Melody Maker readers of the period” [MM readers voted ‘Lost at Sea’ into second place in the import albums of the year back in 1975]

I was obviously on fire when I wrote those sleeve notes as I can’t think of a better way of paraphrasing now, almost a year later. What’s of particular interest will be of course the second LP of previously unreleased songs which, together with a new introduction and contemporary photos from Glenn himself, turns this album from the merely extraordinary into the truly deluxe.

Side One of LP2 consists of four tracks recorded in July 1974 which predate the album itself. ‘Lenore’ (one of my favourites on the origonal LP) and ‘Dogs’ were re-recorded later for the album itself, and two more, ‘Second Time Around’ and the gorgeous ‘Veronica Lake’ which, with its sweeping, epic, wash of echoing guitar, sounds for all the world like a soundtrack to an unmade film noir, have never before been released. Side Two (or side four if you want to be picky) consists of four live performances by the band from February 1976. Acoustic guitarist Bill Rea plays bass for these shows (although he had yet to switch to the fretless bass sound which became such a feature of later albums), and again two of the songs will be recognisable to fans: ‘Creeper’ and ‘Sex is so Strange’ were both to be featured on the follow-up album ‘Swim in the Wind’. The band obviously had a much more jam-oriented approach to live performances which isn’t really hinted at on the LPs, and the two unreleased numbers here amply demonstrate their on-stage empathy, both ‘The Howards’ (which harks back to the days of Glenn’s former band the Hampton Grease Band, to these ears at least) and ‘Brookhaven’ leaving one slack-jawed at the sheer virtuosity.

There’s no hiding the fact that I’m a huge fan of Glenn Phillips. Here at last though is a collection which genuinely does credit to both the genius and the geniality of the man.

(Phil McMullen)


Forced Exposure
April 2015

"In collaboration with Nigel Cross's Shagrat label, and Glenn's own Snow Star concern, Feeding Tube is tickled to release the 40th Anniversary Deluxe edition of Glenn Phillips's first album released under his own name, Lost at Sea. Originally issued by Snow Star in '75, then licensed by Virgin in the UK, after Peel started playing it, LAS has long been a favorite of people of true refinement. Glenn had joined the legendary Hampton Grease Band while still in high school. He played with them their whole six-year span, and was a key component of the sound on their sole album -- the sprawling Music to Eat (which should be part of everyone's collection). Following the dissolution of the Grease Band, and some additional personal troubles, Glenn decided to record LAS at home, using his working live band of the moment. The results were amazing. Glenn had always been able to conjure up flash for his solo spots with the Grease Band, but the playing here rose to a whole new level. The album is one of the best homemade prog LPs of the era. Hints of McLaughlin, Zappa, and Duane Allman all manage to coexist in an instrumental jungle that is dense, angular, and boss. Packed inside the original fantasy art sleeve, now a heavy-duty Stoughton gatefold with pics and notes by Glenn and Phil McMullen (of Ptolemaic Terrascope), this new set has also grown an extra LP. The music is of a piece, and a truly excellent expansion of this singular album. It was a long time coming, but we think it was worth the wait. Dig fast, they won't last" --Byron Coley, 2015. Limited edition of 500.

Stomp & Stammer
 (May.15 issue)
Written by Tony Paris 
 
Something Lost, Something Found:
Glenn Phillips Reflects on His Fiery First Musical Memoir


It’s been forty years since the release of Lost At Sea, guitarist Glenn Phillips’ first solo album. Forty years! That means it’s been that long since I interviewed him for my high school newspaper, Phillips being the first local Atlanta musician I interviewed. Ever.
It doesn’t seem like just yesterday that I was ready to graduate. Thankfully, it seems more like six or seven lifetimes ago. But the music on Lost At Sea sounds just as fresh, just as new, just as real as when I first took it home and listened to it in my parents’ basement four decades ago.

I’ve always heard Lost At Sea as a triumphant record. Not one of good over evil, nor one of joy over tragedy, which it most certainly is, but one of the triumph of the human spirit in the face of adversity. When you think you have nothing left, the will to break through, to create something better, on your own terms, wins out. It’s that “do it yourself” attitude that fuels Lost At Sea, DIY before there was DIY, independence from the norm, from the expected, indeed, from the required.

In 1975, no one was releasing their own records by themselves. Bands were looking to get signed by a major label at best, or a regional label at least. Having gone the major label route with the release of the Hampton Grease Band’s Music To Eat on Columbia Records, Phillips knew that to make the record he wanted, he had to do it on his own terms. By himself. Phillips recorded the album at home in his small, two-room Brookhaven duplex, produced it himself, pressed it himself and distributed it himself. The release of Lost At Sea
pre-dated the independent label Stiff Records in England and the many indie records punk spawned, including The B-52’s “Rock Lobster” and “Radio Free Europe” by R.E.M.

Lost At Sea was before punk, but, by it’s very nature, was punk. It certainly was different from anything else you could find in a record store at the time. An instrumental album, it was raw and visceral – and just as emotionally charged as any record with a vocalist. It roared with the thunder of Bruce Springsteen’s Born To Run, and gave guitarist Jeff Beck’s Blow By Blow a run for its money, two albums it shared shelf space with in record stores the first year of its release, but certainly didn’t share near the recording nor advertising budget.
To mark the anniversary of the landmark album, which certainly influenced local musicians in Atlanta and elsewhere to record and release records on their own, as well as to inspire others to follow their heart and not let their dreams die, Phillips’ Snow Star Records, in conjunction with Shagrat Records in the U.K. and Feeding Tube in the U.S., is releasing a 40th Anniversary Deluxe Edition double vinyl set of Lost At Sea, featuring a flat transfer of the original analog master along with a second LP of previously-unreleased pre- and post-Lost At Sea recordings. In addition, Phillips will be performing Lost At Sea in it’s entirety, for the first time ever, reuniting with original recording musicians Mike Holbrook (bass); Jim “Mad Dog” Presmanes (drums); Bill Rea (acoustic guitar); and John Carr Harriman (cello); Saturday, May 30th, at the Red Clay Music Foundry.

In case you haven’t been paying attention the last forty years, or just graduated from high school yourself, Phillips and I discussed his career. I started:

The history of the Hampton Grease Band is as much legend as it is rumor, even though you attempted to set the record straight in the liner notes that accompanied the 1996 re-release of Music To Eat on CD. One “fact” fans of the record like to cite is that it is “the second worst selling album in Columbia Records’ history,” as if that in itself is a badge of honor. Was that the case?

A few months after the record was released, we were told by Columbia that it was their second worst seller, beaten only by a yoga record. Over time, that story has mistakenly been repeated as it being the second worst seller of all time, which given the fact that this took place 44 years ago, may not be the case. It was an extremely poor seller (at the time). The sales people at Columbia didn't know what to make of the record, and as a result, some of them marketed it to stores as a comedy album, where it was filed alongside Don Rickles and Bill Cosby.

There’s the rumor that a second Hampton Grease Band album was recorded for Frank Zappa’s Bizarre/Straight label but never released.

Zappa was a fan and supporter of the band. His involvement with us dates back to 1967, when he recorded a conversation with some of us that was later used on his LP Lumpy Gravy. After Music to Eat came out in '71, Zappa and Duane Allman convinced Bill Graham to book us at the Fillmore East, even though Graham had never seen or heard the band. We played there June 5th and 6th, 1971, with Zappa and The Mothers of Invention, the weekend that John Lennon and Yoko Ono sat in with them.

At one point that weekend, Frank asked me if I'd give him a guitar lesson in his dressing room. I was taken aback and told him he didn't need any guitar lessons from me, but he said he wanted help with his picking technique. He told me that when he played fast runs, he did it with hammer-ons and pull-offs and that he wanted to learn how I was able to pick all the notes when I played fast.

Columbia dropped us not long afterwards, at which point Frank signed us, but we broke up before the second album was recorded. Bruce had heard the Mothers were looking for a new vocalist, and he decided to leave the Grease band and audition for Zappa in California, but he didn't get the job.

Little Feat’s Lowell George was also a very early supporter of your guitar playing. The quote that you are “the most amazing guitarist” he’d ever seen is still a point of reference in articles about you. In fact, George tried to get you signed to Warner Bros. Records before you released Lost At Sea on your own.

I met Lowell in 1970, the first time Little Feat played in Atlanta. Grease Band drummer Jerry Fields [and I] had a side project group called the Stump Brothers, and we opened up for them. Lowell loved the band, and he and I became friends. After that, he'd call me when Little Feat was in town and ask me to sit in with them.

 Before I recorded Lost At Sea, Lowell took a tape of me to Warner Bros. and sold them on the idea of signing me, and Lowell was going to produce the album. Then Herb Cohen heard about it. Technically, I was still signed to his and Frank Zappa's company because of the Hampton Grease Band deal, even though Herb hadn’t spoken to me in a year, and he and Zappa were no longer partners. At the time, Herb was involved in lawsuits with both Zappa and Warner Bros., and he had an extremely combative relationship with both of them. Because of that, Herb told Warner's that they couldn't do anything with me unless they were willing to buy out my contract, which he'd let them have for $100,000. That was the end of my deal with Warner Bros.

There was certainly a pioneering spirit to your recording and releasing Lost At Sea on your own. Was it a bigger challenge than you expected?

Prior to Lost At Sea, I'd never heard of anyone putting out a record on their own. Of course, that doesn’t mean it hadn’t been done before that, but it certainly wasn’t as commonplace as it became a few years later.

Most people I talked to at the time thought the idea was kind of nuts, and the fact that I had no money, no professional recording equipment, no band, and no record deal didn’t exactly sell anybody on it. So yes, it was much more difficult to do it on your own back then than it is now, but thankfully, not impossible.


In the original liner notes to Lost at Sea, you mention your father’s suicide as a catalyst for making the album. Yet the songs themselves were inspired by living friends.

While the writing of every song on Lost At Sea wasn’t initially inspired by my father’s suicide, the performance of those songs was definitely driven by the emotional struggle I was going through at the time. That record was motivated by my effort to turn a traumatic event into something positive.

When I made Lost At Sea, my intent was to hopefully create emotional instrumental music that was timeless and would retain its meaning over the years, regardless of trends or fashion. Ever since then, I’ve always thought of my solo albums as a sort of an instrumental musical memoir. On the other hand, I do enjoy working with lyricists and have made two albums with Jeff Calder under the name Supreme Court  And of course, there was the Grease Band, where myself and Harold Kelling painstakingly wrote all of the band’s music, while our lyrics were usually an afterthought. “Halifax” is a good example of our convoluted songwriting process: I had written a ridiculously complicated 20-minute piece of music which the band labored over for weeks on end. Then it dawned on us that there were no lyrics. So I pulled an encyclopedia off the wall, opened it to a random page, and told Bruce, "Here, sing this," while I extracted random parts of the text about Halifax and combined that with whatever words came to mind to make it all fit into the song's melody line. Even back then, my main focus was always on the music.

Your playing style has evolved over the years. Recently you told me that while rehearsing for the upcoming 40th anniversary show for Lost At Sea, you had to “relearn” how to play guitar like you did on that record. What guitarists have been an influence on you and your playing?

I started playing guitar in 1966, at the age of 16. When the Grease Band recorded Music to Eat in 1970, I had only been playing for four years. When I think of influential guitarists from that era, Mike Bloomfield is at the top of the list. In fact, when we first started the Hampton Grease Band, we thought of ourselves as a blues group and the reason we put Bruce Hampton’s last name together with "Grease" was because we were following in the footsteps of our idols, the Butterfield Blues Band, who were named after their vocalist.

Although Bloomfield’s not as widely known today as someone like Hendrix, in his heyday, he was justifiably considered the most influential guitarist of his generation. The first Butterfield album opened up a whole new world to middle class suburban white kids. The intensity of the band's music drew us in like moths to a light, and once we were drawn in, we kept going deeper and deeper into the history of the blues. That led not only to the discovery of a world of great music, but also to a social awareness of how sheltered our lives had been.

Likewise, Bloomfield’s playing on Dylan’s Highway 61 Revisited album was key to the development of folk rock, and his improvisational thirteen minute title cut on Butterfield’s second album, East West, was the blueprint for the entire jam rock movement. Go back and listen to the debut album of just about any California psychedelic band of the era, and you’ll hear his influence on their lead guitarists, you know, Jerry Garcia with the Grateful Dead, John Cipollina in Quicksilver Messenger Service, Barry Melton with Country Joe and the Fish, even Carlos Santana and others. Of course, these were all great guitarists who evolved into unique players with their own voice, but Bloomfield was undeniably their touchstone, just as he was for [Grease Band guitarist] Harold [Kelling] and myself.

After you released Lost At Sea, the record caught the attention of Virgin Records’ Richard Branson in London, due in no small part to the legendary DJ John Peel playing it weekly on his radio program. Subsequently, Lost At Sea was re-released on Virgin’s Caroline label in the U.K., where you supported it with a tour.

I’m forever grateful to Virgin for flying us overseas for that fifteen-city tour with Steve Hillage. Those shows were in concert halls and finished up at the Rainbow Theater in London, but before the tour, we did a couple of warm-up club dates: one at the legendary Marquee club, and another with the Troggs. They were known for their big hit "Wild Thing," and also for an infamous bootleg tape of them bitching and moaning in the recording studio. We shared a dressing room with them, and I got to hear some of their grousing first hand. I was sitting alone in the dressing room, when their guitarist, whom I'd never met, came in and started complaining. “Every goddamn, bloody, fuckin' night, it's the same, shitty-ass set – I tell you I can't take it anymore. We've played the same, bloody, fuckin' awful songs for thirteen years." As he ranted, he took off his street clothes and changed into some high-heeled boots, tight pants, and a strategically torn, tiger-striped rock ‘n' roll shirt, which was cut off just above his protruding midsection. Then he turned to me and asked, "How do I look, mate?"

It was an interesting time to be in England, especially for someone like yourself, associated with a label that had releases by both Mike Oldfield and the Sex Pistols.

We were in London when Virgin released the Sex Pistols album during the Queen's Jubilee Anniversary week. It was all very patriotic, and because of that, the Sex Pistols' controversial single, "God Save the Queen," was banned from the radio. Regardless, the album and the single both shot straight to number one, and I very much related to the band’s fiery, independent spirit.

The punk movement in England felt like a spontaneous, kinetic explosion of rebellious, youthful energy. Curiously, the thing that reminded me most of London's '70s punk scene was America's '60s hippie movement, which of course, the punks detested. In any case, I felt lucky to have had a ringside seat at both – it was like watching an ominous, awe-inspiring, thunderstorm unfold before your eyes.

The four previously-unreleased songs on the pre-Lost At Sea side of the bonus record of the Deluxe Edition were recorded with a different band. In fact, those were the recordings you first played for Lowell George at your home in Brookhaven, which he then took to Warner Bros. "Second Time Around" is as powerful as anything on the original album, yet it didn't make the cut. What happened?

I love that track as well, and we tried rerecording it with the Lost At Sea band, but it didn't work out. As a result I ended up replacing it with the live recording of "Hubbler." The band that played on side one of the bonus album was John Durham on rhythm guitar, Mark Richardson on bass, myself, and Jim Presmanes on drums.

That material was recorded six months prior to Lost At Sea, and at the time, the four of us were playing out under the name Buckhead. By the time I recorded Lost At Sea, Buckhead had broken up, and John, Mark and Jim went on to form Private Jet, which was one of the greatest bands to come out of Atlanta. They used to play Hedgen's, and to be honest, they sounded better without me.

The four songs on the post-Lost At Sea side of the record feature the Lost At Sea musicians augmented with David Byrd. The songs show the different direction your music was taking, like the early versions of "Creeper" and "Sex Is So Strange," which appeared on Swim In The Wind, yet they have more of an edge. Did you deliberately decide to rein them in once you started recording the second album?


The different direction the songs took was a result of changes in the band personnel. When Jim Presmanes left, Doug Landsberg started playing with us – they're both great drummers who contributed enormously to the music, but they're also completely different in style. On top of that, Dave Byrd's involvement in the group was lessening due to family and work issues, and as we adapted to those factors, the music changed.

Your most recent solo album, 2003’s Angel Sparks, also reflects on the death of a parent. Do you see Lost At Sea and Angel Sparks as being connected?

Those two albums were very connected in my mind. While Lost At Sea was about my father's suicide, Angel Sparks was done a few decades later at the time of mother's death, at which point I saw things very differently. When my dad killed himself, it was the most traumatic experience of my life, but looking back on it all those years later, I saw it as the thing that had most positively [Image] affected the way I'd lived and the choices I'd made along the way. When children learn from their parent's mistakes, they stop being mistakes – at that point, they become the most important gift a parent can give their child. That realization had changed my feelings about their lives, as well as my own.

What would you say best describes your approach to creating music?

}My approach has always been intuitive, and it’s motivated by an effort to find some kind of truth both in the music and in myself. It doesn’t lend itself well to marketing because the music that comes out isn’t easily classifiable, but that’s a price I’m happy to pay. For me, the unrestricted creative process is its own greatest reward.

The intuitive approach has remained the same over those five decades, but as I’ve changed, so has the music. For me, listening back to my earlier albums is like looking back through a photo scrapbook. When I see pictures of myself taken over the years, I always look a little different, but it’s always obvious it’s me, and the albums are the same way.

Making each album over the years has been like holding a mirror up to who I am. And of course, the hope is that the process helps make you a better person along the way.

 









{Photo Caption: Glenn Phillips and his band will perform his 1975 album “Lost at Sea” in its entirety at Eddie Owen Presents at Red Clay Music Foundry May 30}

{Photo Caption: Hampton Grease Band in 1969. That’s Glenn Phillips in the front with the V-shaped guitar}

{Photo Caption: In 2006, Atlanta’s Hampton Grease Band reformed after 33 years and performed together at Variety Playhouse: (left to right) Bob Elsey, Jerry Fields, Mike Holbrook, Bruce Hampton, Glenn Phillips}