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Watch: 'Fast Car' by Phil Thornalley
08 August 2022

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A quick scan of the many records Phil Thornalley has worked on, and you’ll quickly spot some of the biggest names in popular music, including Bryan Adams, Thompson Twins, The Cure, Psychedelic Furs, XTC, Duran Duran, and even Paul McCartney. Phil co-wrote and produced Natalie Imbruglia’s 1997 worldwide smash “Torn,” and has written hits with Pixie Lott (“Mama Do”) and BBMak (“Back Here”). A kind of rock’n’roll Zelig, his name is probably on countless records in your collection, although you probably didn’t even know it was him. That bass line on The Cure’s “Love Cats”? That’s Phil. The haunting and ethereal production on Prefab Sprout’s “When Love Breaks Down”? That’s Phil too.

Now, on his latest offering, Now That I Have Your Attention, Phil Thornalley steps out of The Swamp (his North London studio) to unveil 11 catchy and brand-new original songs (plus three bonus tracks on the CD!) that find him exploring the production stylings pioneered by the Electric Light Orchestra’s Brummie boffin, Jeff Lynne.

Thornalley celebrates the fine musicality and pure joy of Lynne’s widescreen symphonic string sections, the bare-faced brutality of his straight-ahead rhythm bed tracks, and plenty of multi-tracked and stacked harmony vocals. On tracks like “Stand By Love,” and “High On Your Supply,” Thornalley makes more than a passing nod towards Lynne’s carefully layered sonic tableau, from the multiple acoustic guitars to the highly specific electric guitar lines.

Clearly, it’s a sound that Thornalley can’t get out of his head.

“Maybe we should have called it the Traveling Phil-burys,” Thornalley jokes, “but I enjoyed the earlier ELO records, and the way they married a crummy beat combo with the grandeur of a full orchestra - it was over-the-top but infectiously musical, creating a foundation of the oxymoronic ‘controlled’ rock and roll drums and a super simple bass guitar.”

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Why, you may well ask, would a lauded and Grammy-nominated songwriter and producer (and the focus of a recent in-depth career retrospective story in the American trade magazine, Tape Op) decide to record an album with both feet planted haphazardly in the squelch of the seventies sounds of ELO and glam rock?

Because it’s fun.

“When I listen to pop radio these days,” says Phil Thornalley, “no one seems to be having any fun. In my teenage years, every other record you heard was ridiculous. I think that sense of fun is missing from today’s often turgid, doleful would-be soul singers moaning about their millionaire ennui.”

Watch 'Fast Car' here:

  author: CHRISTOPHER NOSNIBOR 08 August 2022