Author, raconteur, guitarist, scene-maven and all-around good guy, Binky Philips has been THE stalwart of New York rock since the early 1970’s. His long-standing friendships with various members of Kiss and The New York Dolls are the stuff of legend, and his story-telling prowess is unrivaled in his 2012 powerhouse My Life In The Ghost Of Planets – The Story Of A CBGB Almost-Was, his hilarious and honest autobiography (published electronically). Binky’s own band, The Planets, have also reached legendary status, by virtue of their longevity (albeit, on and off) and the quality of the music they’ve made (a recorded document, The Infamous Warner Bros. Demos – Summer Of ’76 was released in 2014 and you can hear how this band should have been huge – the target practice of the music industry…).
However, I purchased an E.P. by Mr. Philips, sound unheard, because I knew he was a legend – and he was the cool guy at Sounds on St. Mark’s Place, where I bought a lot of records… a lot. This was sometime in ’87, when I would buy records basically every other day. The cover was an immediate eye-capture; I knew his name by way of a book I’d had for years on The Who (!); Sara Lee, who had played with Gang Of Four was on bass and I thought an E.P. is always a good investment. I played it a few times and really enjoyed it, but in my youthful folly, I wound up distracted not long after by other new releases (along with my equally misguided obsessions).
I had the opportunity to listen to this E.P. again with fresh ears and many years’ distance and it has to be said, this is one of those great, lost classics. That it was recorded live at CBGB’s and sounds as good as it does is no mean achievement – and I’ve never been a big fan of live albums in any forum (club, concert, etc.). But the richness of not only the performances but of these songs – they’re all powerful, fully-realized “rock” masterpieces.
You can make the argument of what criteria goes into a “masterpiece”, but listen to the arrangements and the delivery of these tracks. “Out Of My Life” is anthemic; a musical moment in time that was becoming a somewhat lost art, when this was recorded/released. The riff (which, to my twisted mind, had elements of “Odorono”) is wonderfully askew; the harmonies are tight and Binky’s voice are pure, glorious “rock”, the way it’s meant to be. “Watching Wendy Walk Away” is that perfect song of yearning, yet not wistful or weepy, with a propelling rhythm and you cannot help but think this has “radio hit” all over it. “Nothing’s Free” is just a good old-fashioned groove; taut and tense and (it has to be said), if you close your eyes and imagine hearing this at an arena show, it’s a “lighters up” moment. This is the stuff “rock” is made of – the right way. And there is no way to overlook his guitar firepower.
Since there are only 5 songs on here, I’ll let you discover them for yourselves – I don’t think it’s fair to give the entire store away. But this is a damned fine piece of recorded history that you owe it to yourself to seek out. Copies can be found, thankfully, and you’d be doing yourself a service if you buy one. Trust me – it was worth it then, but it’s even better now; it’s stood the test of time and aged well.