John Phipps - 40th birthday Party

Monday 1st April 1991
John Phipps - 40th birthday Party

RATING 6 6 6 6 6 6
LABEL: Independent
FORMAT: Cassette Album

Reviewed by Shirley Collins

John Phipps would be the first to admit his voice isn't that hot. But this is part of his appeal as he drawls through clever lyrics, coming across as somewhere between Bob Dylan and Paul Poulton. He writes all his own material and the 14 songs on this tape deal with controversial issues as well as parables and incidents from the life of Jesus. A couple of praise items are thrown in for good measure and hilarious commercial breaks have been dotted around, making the album even more enjoyable and unusual. In "unattended Baby" Phipps raises the point that careless parents are just asking for their children to be snatched. "Unreasonable Behaviour" catalogues his own heartbreak of a Christian marriage break-up with a fight for custody of the kids: "I went to my Solicitor, confessed all my sins/She said "I'd like to help you, Son, but the wife always wins"/You don't need no treatment, you don't need no Saviour/Cause there ain't no cure for unreasonable behaviour". A play on "Summertime Blues", this track is typical of the way the singer/composer takes a contemporary image and makes it his own, adding pathos and humour along the way. Other songs describe the worldwide church as a busker - an interesting concept - with the devil as a form of big brother; and the almighty as "G" who states "nobody cooks my books" with the authority of a Texan oil magnate. Anyone releasing a live recording of their 40th Birthday Concert must be a bit zany or a celebrity. John Phipps is both. He is well-known by devotees in his native Gloucestershire and given the chance his unique talent could develop further and take him a long way. Give him that chance.

The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.

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