The Chills - Soft Bomb | RECORD STORE DAY

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Martin Phillipps' development as a songwriter continues unabated on 1992's SOFT BOMB. The album's crisp production values, variety of styles, and glorious, melancholy songs recall its predecessor, 1990's SUBMARINE BELLS. Sadly, like that record, SOFT BOMB fared poorly in the sales department. The commercial failure of these fine discs sent Phillipps into a lengthy retreat. When he resurfaced in 1996, he seemed to accept his status as uncompromising outsider who would never reach the mainstream. It's a shame, because Phillipps is a songwriter of the highest caliber. SOFT BOMB contains some of the Chills' very best songs, including "Male Monster From The Id," the exquisitely tender "Halo Fading," and "Water Wolves," the latter benefiting from Van Dyke Parks' haunting orchestration. Perhaps the most telling piece is the starkly beautiful "Song For Randy Newman, Etc." In the line "men like Wilson, Barrett, Walker, Drake," Phillipps eloquently conjures the struggle of several '60s rock casualties, artists for whom he clearly feels an affinity. After the release of SOFT BOMB, Phillipps emulated several of the above by dropping out of sight. Happily, 1996's SUNBURNT proves that he has not only managed to stay sane but also keeps writing songs. Personnel: Martin Phillipps (vocals, guitar, keyboards, percussion); Peter Holsapple (acoustic guitar, electric guitar, slide guitar, dobro, violin, keyboards); Gayle Levant (harp); Barbara Porter, Debra Price, Syd Page, Joel Derouin, Israel Baker, Dimitrie Leivici, Berj Garabedian (violin); Hershel Wise, Rick Gerding, Maria Newman (viola); Larry Corbett (cello); Lisa Mednick (accordion, keyboards, background vocals); Terry Moore (keyboards, bass guitar, background vocals); Gavin MacKillop (keyboards, background vocals); Mauro Ruby (drums, percussion); Steve Schayer (background vocals). Recording information: Capitol Recording Studios, Hollywood, CA (1991-1992); Master Control Studios, Burbank, CA (1991-1992).