John Phillips

Phillips 66

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John Phillips' third solo album, and the second to be released within months of his death, Phillips 66 (the title referring to the age the artist would have reached nine days after the album's release, had he lived) shares with its predecessor, Pay Pack & Follow, a long gestation period. The earlier album was actually recorded in the 1970s, while Phillips 66, if its recording sessions occurred closer to its release date, contains songs written over the course of Phillips' career, dating back, in the case of "Me and My Uncle," to his folkie days, before the formation of the Mamas and the Papas. That uncharacteristic Western story-song (which Phillips always said he didn't remember writing) went on to become a staple of the Grateful Dead's set list, but Phillips reclaims it here, after reviving his best-known song, "California Dreamin'," in a version with a muted trumpet and background vocals in Spanish. "Boys From the South" derives from Phillips' score for the Broadway musical Man on the Moon (1975), and other songs on the album also seem to have been around for a while. The diversity of material works to the album's benefit, however. It seems to have a little of everything, from the Caribbean-styled "She Got She" (which Jimmy Buffett should consider adding to his repertoire), to the country-ish "Gram's Song." "Average Man" recounts the lifelong romantic pursuit of a man known to be attracted to much younger women, and its chorus, "I'm sixty-five, I'm still alive, and I'm feeling great," is given only a slight irony by the circumstances under which it has been released. Phillips 66 is not the best of John Phillips, but it is a respectable effort from a talented songwriter whose career was notoriously spotty.

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