Whatever happened to Phil Rambow? A recurring question since the mid-70s and yet here he is, a survivor with a tale worth telling. This anthology comprises his two EMI albums – Shooting Gallery and Jungle Law – from the immediate post-punk years, and his 2015 comeback collection entitled… you guessed it!
Bonus tracks show what might have been. A 1972 demo, ‘Song Untitled’, nearly had Ralph J. Gleason signing him to Fantasy Records. Instead it took him to London, The Winkies, and pub rock. The Winkies backed Eno, cut an album for Chrysalis, and imploded in the week of its release. Then came Guy Stevens-produced single ‘Dem Eyes’; notable for steel band pan; it might well have charted. The quartet of lively demos with brief-bandmate Mick Ronson ought to have to kicked open doors in ‘77.
1979’s Shooting Gallery carried a heartland sound in a Stones to Springsteen register, with exciting opener ‘Strange Destinies’ and a should-have-been classic in ‘Privilege’. Parker and Costello fans would have lapped it up, had they but heard. Jungle Law bought experimentation; a couple of impressive Chris Thomas productions – ‘Don’t Come (Cryin’ To Me)’ and ‘Love Is A Hard Time’ – stand out – along with the Dexys-esque ‘A Star (In Her Own Right)’, and the memorable ‘Snakes And Ladders’.
By then he was concentrating on composing; co-writing ‘There’s A Guy Works Down The Chip Shop Swears He’s Elvis’ with Kirsty MacColl and he’d already placed songs with Ellen Foley. Decades passed before the Americana-hued Whatever Happened To Phil Rambow? confirmed he was still rather good at it.