Shawn Phillips - Second Contribution (1970)

Shawn Phillips is an American singer-songwriter.

In 1970 Shawn Phillips had released his first electric rock album, Contribution, and with it revealed a kaleidoscopic range of sounds, fusing his stunning voice with studio technology. However the best was still to come, as later that same year he released Second Contribution. Whilst the first album had been a diverse collection of songs, Second Contribution was a piece of art from start to finish - an album to be approached as one organic whole rather than just a compilation of songs. Apparently the material from both albums was originally going to be released as a trilogy, but his record company forced him to reconfigure the songs on to two LPs. Phillips has expressed bitterness about this decision in interviews, but nevertheless what became Second Contribution has got to be his best record and greatest artistic achievement.
Stylistically it fused rock, folk, jazz and classical music, but the fusion did away with all notions of genre and created something entirely new, roughly organised into three movements interspersed with stand-alone songs. What is amazing is that apparently all the songs were recorded in less than three takes, with master vocals done at the same moment. You can even hear him counting the band into different sections. The superb songs and Phillips' stunning vocals were taken to the next level by orchestral arrangements from Paul Buckmaster - if ever there was a great example of fusing rock music with an orchestra, it is this. The sounds range from whisper-quiet unaccompanied vocals to jaw-dropping orchestral crescendos, and keep the listener hooked from beginning to end.
To be honest, the music of Second Contribution cannot be accurately described. It is something that has got to be heard. If this was the only album Shawn Phillips had ever released, he would have rightfully earned his title of 'The Best-Kept Secret In The Music Business'. This is the most criminally-overlooked album of all time. Listen to it.

Contribution (1970) <|> Collaboration (1971)
More from Shawn Phillips



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Anonymous said...

I still have Phillips 2nd Contributions on vinyl. I still enjoy hearing it from time to time. Great blogs, brings back many memories.