John Phillips – Jack Of Diamonds

John Phillips – Jack Of Diamonds / 2007 Phoenix / /

This album marks music from John Phillips’ “Jack of Diamonds”. For those that might not know, this was a previously unreleased album that marked music that Phllips created from 1972 and 1973, and was unreleased for whatever reason.  Varese Vintage here has not only committed the disc to the CD format, but has added 5 new tracks, whether they be live or retooled versions of Mamas and Papas songs (“Honeymoon (No Dough)) or songs that were rare for whatever reason. “Devil’s On The Loose is the first track on “Jack of Diamonds”, and the track confuses me.

 If Philips released this album back when ey wrote and created these tracks, “Devil’s On The Loose” would have immediately charted. The track blends together horns, a ropey bass, and Phillip’s distinct vocal style into a bouncy, fun track that still manages to tell a story. “Mister Blue” is more of the same, but feels almost as if Phillips has taken inventory of David Bowie’s minimalist style and responds to it with eir own. Sure. The horns that market “Devil’s On The Loose” are continued during “Mister Blue”, but the slower, disaffected style of the vocals during this track provides an interesting contrast with the much more emotionally inflamed brass on the track. A middle ground is found during “Black Broadway”, which has Phillips take on a very Lou Reed type of sound for this song.

 In fact, I would match together “Black Broadway” with “Venus In Furs” or “I’m Waiting For My Man” in that they share a common spirit. This spacy, airy sound that starts out “Chinatown” seems to draw Phillips in a different direction. The humming that initiates the track shows a more hopeful and emotionally invested Phillips go in a direction that has not been heard previously on “Jack of Diamonds”. I can see why Varese decided to re-release this album after so many years in the vault; it shows an incredibly vibrant Phillips going forth and creating music that works thirty-five years after the fact in much the same way it would have if this album was released in the first place. Phillip’s amazing ability comes through on the rich recording of this album, and now individuals can hear what was for years only familiar to a few individuals.

Top Tracks: Marooned, Revolution On Vacation

Rating: 7.2/10

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Author: James McQuiston

Ph.D. in Political Science, Kent State University. I have been the editor at NeuFutur / since I was 15. Looking for new staff members all the time; email me if you are interested. Thanks!

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