Phil Keaggy

220

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After experiencing a taste of success in the late '60s and early '70s with Glass Harp, Phil Keaggy's lengthy solo career can best be described as one mired in underachievement. Many of his '70s and '80s albums were fluff pieces that failed to showcase his considerable guitar playing abilities and generated very little interest in the music press and radio. His works from the past decade have thankfully toppled that trend: 1988's Sunday's Child borrowed judiciously from the Beatles songbook (imagine them with updated production and legit lead guitar); Beyond Nature, (1991) an instrumental endeavor, demonstrated Keaggy's prowess on acoustic guitar; and Crimson and Blue (1994) proved to be the full-tilt rocker that discerning fans have been clamoring for years. Not satisfied with 1995's over-produced True Believer, Keaggy returns to his rockin' roots with his fourth instrumental release and 20th album overall. 220 runs the gamut of styles ranging from the Southern boogie of "Stomp" and "Animal" to the breezy Earl Klugh/Chet Atkins flavored "Tennessee Morning." Mild prog tendencies appear on the Jan Akkerman-infused anthem "The Great Escape," and "Beyond this Day" harkens back to Spectral Morning/Defector-era Steve Hackett. Upon hearing the Celtic-rocker "Highland" and other subtle Celtic meanderings of recent albums, one might conclude that the artist has a suitable grasp of that art form and may want to consider recording an entire album accordingly. Phil Keaggy has frequently suffered at the hands of formulaically drab producers and should therefore be left to his own devices when in the studio. He receives very little airplay or notoriety as it is, and when he is permitted, his vision and judgement coupled with his skill tend to yield his finest work, 220 included.

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