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Phil Shöenfelt God Is The Other Face Of The Devil CD

1993 Humbug Records BAH11, England

 

 

1. Charlotte's Room
2. The Gambler
3. Alchemy
4. Hospital
5. Black Rain
6. Only You
7. Martha's Well
8. The Killer Inside
9. Well Of Souls
10. Pale Light Shining

 

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Musiker
Phil Shoenfelt vocals, electric guitar, acoustic guitar
Martin Byrne bass guitar
Miles Gray drums
Neil Black violins
Basil Murphy keyboards
Andy Morgan additional acoustic guitar on "Charlotte's Room" and "Alchemy"

 

Credits
All tracks published by Warner-Chappell
All songs written and arranged by Phil Shoenfelt
Recorded and mixed by Andy Morgan and Eddy Mander

at E.M.C. studio, Camden Town, April-May 1993
Produced and engineered by Andy Morgan
Photos by Barry Myers, Zuzana Oplatková

 

Rezensionen
ROCK'N'ROLL # 17 "The enigmatic Humbug Records once again release another batch of seemingly dispirate oddities.
Shoenfelt looks like Roy Orbison and sounds a little like Lou Reed and trades in smoothly atmospheric acoustic rock that possesses a windswept beauty and an undeniable attraction given extra colour and a melodic edge by the clever use of violin and an intoxicating rhythmic drive that hints at an understanding of the real strengths of rock'n'roll, country and blues."

 

MELODY MAKER, LONDON 26.03.1994
by Sharon O'Connell
"It's moody as f***. And gothic ion the proper sense of the word. And the winter shadows thrown over the 10 tunes here should encourage you to hang around.
With guitars and the odd bit of suitably mournful violin, Shoenfelt sings of wrongs done and chances lost, of guilt and sin, jealousy and revenge, with the same liquor-fuelled despair as Nick Cave, Lee Hazlewood and Johnny Cash, but there's an autobiographical chill here that makes these songs really mean something. And the man's voice is more than up to the job.
'Alchemy' is all tumbleweed drama for the modern cowboy, while 'Martha's Well' is the sound of a soul dogged by trials and tribulations. 'Hospital' works as a bleak postcard from the streets of New York and, like most of this LP, is icily restrained and so double potent for that. The only time Shoenfelt lets rip is on 'Only You', where the guitars break free and work themselves into a lather.
If you swoon on the side of darkness and drama, then this is for you. A splendidly accomplished stroll down Rue Morgue."

 

BUCKETFUL OF BRAINS, November 1993
by Jon Storey
"I wish I'd taken up Phil McMullen's recommendation and got into Phil Shoenfelt earlier, because this is excellent stuff. With a bleak but resonant vocal, very similar to the great Louis Tillet, Shoenfelt weaves bitter tales of mystery and degradation, populated by weeping shadows, desperate gamblers on the edge of the abyss, and false witnesses. It's a remorseless soundscape, where even church bells ring out of tune ('The Killer Inside'). In this netherworld black is the only colour and none the number, and the flash of silver tongued guitar is the only glimmer of light in the void. To give you some measure of this man's dark and tormented realm: 'Hospital' sounds like an ideal vehicle for Leonard Cohen - and that's one of the most, uh, uplifting songs to be found hereabouts.
Doom-mongers don't come much classier than this; Shoenfelt's voice is just perfect in intonation and gravity and the backing musicians are superb throughout. Great songs like 'Charlotte's Room' and 'Black Rain' might, in over less ravaged hands, he described as Blues, but here, oh my Lord, they're pitch black! The album's real classic is, perhaps the superb 'Only You', a cry for salvation that's so forlorn and hopeless that it makes Roy Orbison sound like Jason Donovan.
With not one sub-standard track amongst the ten cuts, this album is a stunning exercise in sustained despair. So as Shoenfelt brings it all to a close with 'Pale Light Shining', stand with him between the curtains of this world and the next and feel your blood run cold. Marvellous stuff."

 

THE ORGAN # 35, London "More than a bit like Nick Cave and not too far from the fine Gallon Drunk. Phil Shöenfelt plays dark delta blues from a seedy dark underworld. One time Cog Sinister recording artiste (Mark E. Smith's label), Shöenfelt's music is carefully crafted emotional stuff that mirrors a world inhabited by drug addicts, criminals, failed dreamers. It's strangely easier to get along with that Nick Cave's output. Recommended stuff."

 

PTOLEMAIC TERRASCOPE, London
Summer 1993, Vol .4, no.2
by Nick Saloman
"A new and long overdue release from Mr. Shöenfelt on the up and upping label, Humbug, can only be good news. Those of you familiar with Phil's previous releases won't be in for any great surprises, which isn't to say 'God ...' is a predictable record, 'cos it's not. However, Phil is still treading a desolate, shadowy, dark path through Needle Park with only a minor chord for company. Vocally, Phil seems menacingly relaxed, and despite the bleak nature of the material, the album possesses a strange sort of warmth. Nice playing, strong material - this deserves to succeed. Whether or not it does is another thing altogether. My only reservation is Phil's quasi-American singing accent. OK, he did live in New York for a while, but he don't talk like that! But then again not everybody sounds good singing like the Temperance Seven, do they? Yep, pardners, Phil's new album's alright by me - hope you like it too."

 

ROCK SOUND, France 1994
by Bruno Juffin
"Dans le cas de Phil Shöenfelt, tout ignorer de la personne n'empêche en rien de rapidement cerner le personnage. Nul besoin d'être fin limier pour remonter de fil d'une généalogie qui se présente sous la forme d'un jeu de piste très généreusement doté en indices parlants et chantants. On a ici du mysticisme (un peu), de la solitude (beaucoup), et de l'instinct de mort (à foison). Et sans doute aussi beaucoup de cinéma, en noir et blanc 50's timidement colorisé quand les early 70's s'y égarent, ce qui donne quelque chose comme la rencontre de 'Macadam cowboy' et de 'La nuit du chasseur', ou encore, pour piocher directement dans les paroles, un petit télescopage entre Jim Thompson (une chanson s'intitule 'The Killer Inside' et met en scène un vilain prédateur itinérant) et une cour des miracles new yorkaise où voisinent underground déchu et épaves clochardisées ('And the whores and the junkies and the winos are all down on Park Avenue South'). C'est le genre d'énumération qui renvoie directement à l' Elliott Murphy de 'Night Lights' et, de fait, la nuit et la lumière sont les deux thèmes autour desquels s'articule le disque, qui en exploite toutes les résonances, réalistes autant que métaphoriques. Coté sombre, l'ombre, le poison, la pluie noire et le 'puits des âmes'; sur la face lumineuse (laquelle n'a pas la partie facile), la lumière blanche et les aspirations spirituelles. C'est d'une simplicité déconcertante: le corps est une prison ('He looked down at the cage of her body all covered in skin'), la ville aussi, pourquoi pas la vie tant qu'on y est? Et le trépas (de soi ou de l'autre, zigouillé dans un grand élan d'altruisme) est la seule libération envisageable.
Rien de franchement gai, donc, ce qui n'implique nullement, pour employer un mot qu'optimiste, l'Alexandre de 'La Maman et la putain' croyait réservé à une saison et à deux cents personnes, que le disque soit 'flippant'. A dire vrai, il est tellement confortable que le singer songwriter joue sur du velours en enrobant ses clichés d'arrangements mélodieusement cadencés qui servent très naturellement d'écrin à une de ces voix profondes capables de filer le frisson tout en restant implacablement marmoréennes. L'inconnu descend d'un train à la nuit tombée, joue, picole et trucide, next stop death row (l'allée des condamnés à mort), mais comme l'image du carnaval revient à plusieurs reprises, on est prié de ne pas prendre tout cela trop au sérieux et de laisser ses Kleenex au vestiaire. Shoenfelt donne dans le sinistre, certes, mais surtout dans le fatalisme et la résignation, ce qui nous épargne les vagissements colériques et acnéiques des écorchés vifs écorcheurs d'oreilles qui se sentent le devoir d'infliger leurs états d'âme à des auditeurs trop polis pour leur claquer le beignet. Ici, l'homme en noir est de la trempe de Johnny Cash, et 'God Is The Other Face Of The Devil', derrière ses antinomies conventionnelles, voire académiques, sent le grand fêlé d'autant plus inquiétant qu'il est tout ce qu'il y a de bien élevé. Classique, limpide et léché, l'album est un peu le petit frère carrément costaud du 'Cry Of The City' de Phil Gammage et l'aisance avec laquelle il brode sur le canevas du polar gothique en se tenant à égale distance du pastiche et de l'embaumement laisse supposer qu'il sera tout aussi peu 'événementiel' et tout aussi indémodable."

 


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