Continuing the expanded reissue campaign of Genesis founder member Anthony Phillips, Esoteric Records has released his 2012 album with Andrew Skeet titled “Seventh Heaven.” Featuring a bonus cd of ten previously unreleased recordings including the rare track “Take this Heart” written by Anthony Phillips and Mike Rutherford for the album "Songs for a Modern Church", recorded in 1973 at Charterhouse School and featuring the Charterhouse Choral Society. The 4-disc box set includes a DVD with an all-new 5.1 surround sound mix of the album, which was originally issued as a double CD set in 2012 and is primarily orchestral, featuring the City of Prague Orchestra and recorded in various locations in London and Prague.
To be clear, this is not a progressive rock release, nor the pastoral acoustic guitar works Phillips has been known for, rather Seventh Heaven is leaning strongly into classical offering a voyage of discovery with visionary pieces. Yet for long time fans of Phillips, these classical themes will be less of a surprise, extending as a branch off of his Private Parts & Pieces collections.
The shorter formats pour out beautiful and lush string centered pieces, such as “A Richer Earth” or the more piano based “Grand Central.” Generally the overall audio quality is excellent, allowing one to easily get lost in the guitar and strings of tracks like “Sojourn,” or the deep pastoral swoon of “Nocturne,” and the bluster of “Winter Song.” However, fans may find the jaunty, multi-part “Old Sarum Suite” to be felt as the most rounded and realized.
Absolute fans will definitely enjoy the bonus disc containing ten unreleased pieces that stay within the tone and feel of the main album. Of course, one has to wonder how do pieces such as “As the Sun Rises” go unreleased for so long. As is so common with Phillips, the track titles pair perfectly with the music, such as “Steam Train Stories,” which builds and builds as the melody rushes past. Meanwhile “Courtship Dance” is civilized and regal, and “Flight of Strings” becomes the darting dance one would expect, plus “Tender Quintet” is poised and pensive. The bonus material culminates with “Take this Heart” with a reflecting, uplifting and rejoicing tone.
Although Seventh Heaven may not be for everyone, this collaboration is another reason to declare that Phillips really is one of the worlds’ most under-appreciated song-smiths of modern times. Recommended for fans of Phillips and those who seek a surround experience of classically based pieces.
3 CD and 1 DVD with 5.1 mix of original album.