Thursday, January 3, 2013

Philwit & Pegasus - Philwit and Pegasus( A Mark Wirtz Production) 1970

Philwit & Pegasus were not an actual group, but an odd one-off studio project by producer Mark Wirtz. In the late '60s, Wirtz was known primarily as the creator of rock-influenced easy listening mood music albums, and also as the producer of the fine British psychedelic pop band Tomorrow. Wirtz was co-writer and producer of Tomorrow's huge British 1967 hit, "Excerpt from a Teenage Opera," and at the time there was speculation that it was indeed a prelude to an entire concept album/rock opera. That opera was never completed. But Wirtz did get a chance to devise a concept album of sorts in 1970 with Philwit & Pegasus' self-titled album for Chapter One Records.
Wirtz's idea was to make a sort of movie-on-record LP, and he wrote a song cycle of sorts with his girlfriend of the time, Maria Feltham. There really wasn't a plot or narrative to the album, though Wirtz has said (in the liner notes to the CD reissue) that the theme was "struggle, fear, and fantasized happiness." It would not be quite accurate to say that Wirtz and Feltham were the two members of Philwit & Pegasus, for neither of them actually played or sang on the album. The vocal parts were taken by John Carter (himself a noted hit songwriter of the era), Peter Lee Stirling, Chas Mills, Guy Fletcher, and Roger Greenaway (another songwriter involved in the writing of numerous British pop hits). Among the session musicians were noted players such as guitarists Chris Spedding (listed in the credits as Chris Bedding) and Joe Moretti, and drummers Clem Cattini and Terry Cox (the latter of the folk-rock group Pentangle).

The conception and ambition behind Philwit & Pegasus were more interesting than its reality. It in fact consisted of mediocre pop songs that drew from both easy listening and rock, though the arrangements were lush and varied, at times influenced by folk-rock harmonies, at others by histrionic Tom Jones-styled crooning, theatrical musicals, and the Beach Boys. The album flopped, and Wirtz moved to Hollywood the following year. Philwit & Pegasus was reissued on CD in 2003, with a non-LP single and a couple of previously unreleased demos added as bonus tracks.

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