Illustration from How the Uncared-For Epileptic Fares in Illinois by the Chicago Committee of Fifty, 1913
This release, Phil Seymour Archive Series Volume 2, is a sequel of sorts to the 2005 reissue of Seymour's self-titled solo debut of 1980, but it is (somewhat confusingly) not a straightforward reissue of Phil Seymour 2 (1982). For one thing, the reissue of Phil Seymour created a redundancy issue by including one of the tracks from Phil Seymour 2 - Fuel Records has done us all a favor by taking the remaining nine tracks from Phil Seymour 2 and combining them with ten other Seymour recordings from this period to make Phil Seymour Archive Series Volume 2. Also, they have used the original mixes of the Phil Seymour 2 tracks, which were "remixed" (i.e. ruined) prior to their original release and sound much better here than previously.
Phil Seymour is best known as a late-'70s/early-'80s power-pop sideman who played with Dwight Twilley, Tom Petty, the Plimsouls, and 20/20. His first solo record, though, stands up quite well on its own, and this collection is a worthy sequel. The highlight of the original Phil Seymour 2 album (apart from "Looking For the Magic" which, as I mentioned, was omitted here because it was part of the Phil Seymour sessions and reissue) is easily "Surrender", a Tom Petty composition that Petty himself didn't record until years later. The rest of the album is decent Raspberries/Twilley-style power pop, but the ten non-album tracks included here are as good or better. Five tracks come from a little-known circa-'83 session where Seymour recorded songs that would have been part of the never-assembled Phil Seymour 3, including a song by the Plimsouls' Peter Case ("Now"), one by 20/20's Steve Allen ("Chemistry"), and Michael Anderson's "Maybe It Was Memphis", which became a country hit for Pam Tillis years later.
The last five tracks are a set of fleshed-out demos recorded around '84 with songwriter Pat Robinson, made up of songs written by Robinson and Seymour. These are the best of the lot - they're a little rough around the edges (the vocals on "Gotta Get That Feeling Back", for instance, are disturbingly loud in the mix), but they are some of the catchiest songs that Seymour recorded (causing me to despair once again that Seymour never recorded that third album). The highlights include the moody new-waver "It's a Shame", the breezy "Teaching Me", and especially "Telephone Line", which has a super-fun chorus and a great vocal performance by Seymour.
"Telephone Line" by Phil Seymour