Pay Pack & Follow

John Phillips

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Pay Pack & Follow Review

by Travis Drageset

The Mamas and the Papas' founding member, John Phillips, released his second solo effort 20 years after the fact. The result of a series of recording sessions that span the years 1973-1979, Pay Pack & Follow was begun while Phillips was in England scoring the soundtrack for the David Bowie film The Man Who Fell to Earth. Following completion, the album's master tapes were misplaced several times before they were finally recovered from a Brooklyn storage space for the disc's 2001 release. Produced by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, the set is a mixed bag of space pop, blues, and psychedelic ditties. Richards' always engaging guitar work can be heard on every tune while Jagger sings backup on four of the nine tracks. Also present are the Stones' Mick Taylor and Ron Wood. So it's not surprising that the set has a distinct '70s-era Rolling Stones flavor. Stronger tracks, such as the ambling "Oh Virginia," benefit greatly from Richards' and Taylor's adept interplay while others seem lost in their too-heavy reliance on the bandmembers. Phillips' gift for catchy, melodic pop is in evidence, though, particularly on the jaded "Sunset Boulevard" and the starry-eyed "Wilderness of Love." In 2008, Varese Sarabande reissued this date as Pussycat, using the masters from the 1978 mixes which were rediscovered in 2003. Along with the original intended running order of the LP, five previously unreleased bonus outtakes from The Man Who Fell To Earth are included.

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