This is a first for Music Republic magazine. Not one, not two, not three but four, yes four videos to view/listen to, here. To celebrate the imminent new solo album from famed British producer and songwriter Phil Thornalley…
We also take a stroll down memory lane too, to recall a couple of choice cuts from his debut solo album. Four bites of the cherry, because we think it’s superb stuff and were unable to choose between them!
First two here are from the new one, “Astral Drive”, due to drop on 24th September 2021 on the UK indie label, Lojinx. The last two tracks on this page are taken from his 2018 solo album, confusingly also called “Astral Drive”.
“For The Dreamers” and “Water Lillies”, followed by “Summer of ’76” (a radio hit in The Netherlands) and “This Is The Place”.
It’s been three years since his debut solo release and now Phil Thornalley delivers an eleven song follow-up that is pretty genre-less, with lots of nods to yesteryear, but to us, it sounds relevant to today, too.
In the 1970s, Phil he worked with The Jam and Paul McCartney. In the 1980s he worked with XTC and Duran Duran, produced The Cure’s 1982 album, “Pornography” and he then joined The Cure as their bassist for 18 months. He played that killer bass line on their massive hit, “The Love Cats”.
In the ’90s, he co-wrote and produced Natalie Imbruglia’s global smash hit “Torn”. In the 2010’s, he played bass for Bryan Adams. Who said men cannot multi-skill? He co-wrote the two number one hits for Pixie Lott, “Mama Do” and “Boys and Girls”.
In 1988, Phil released “Swamp”, the only solo album under his own name, and he joined the band Johnny Hates Jazz as their lead singer until their disbandment in 1992.
He was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Engineered Album, Non-Classical in 1984 for “Into the Gap” by the Thompson Twins.
After decades of making records for other artists, Phil started making his own music again, this time under the “Astral Drive” moniker in 2017. A combination of seventies recording techniques and impromptu jam sessions – with himself!
Astral Drive’s debut was a collection of seventies inspired singer-songwriter tunes, with analogue production and paying unashamed homage to Todd Rundgren’s melancholic classic ’70s albums. The album drew fans from Phil’s days playing with The Cure and Bryan Adams, joined by many Rundgren die-hards.
He says: “With the new album I hope the success with the Todd fans can be a beachhead to explore a more personal sound”. Revealing broader influences from Weezer (“For The Dreamers”), New Radicals (“Waterfall”) and even Prince (“Wish U Well”), the new record has a noticeable pivot towards guitars, rather than the predominant songwriter-at-the-piano sound first time around.
The incoming album contains a couple of cover songs. “I asked one of my favourite lyricists, Boo Hewerdine, to imagine a song for me. The next day he sent me a raw demo of ‘Star Gazing’, a mediation on the ‘fifteen minutes of fame’ phenomenon. This is the first and only successful Astral Drive song commission! And it’s a waltz. Thanks Boo!”
Quirky factoid: The National Portrait Gallery includes a portrait of “songwriter” Phil by photographer Julian Anderson…