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Phil Bell

Phil Bell

Phil Bell was still two months shy of his sixteenth birthday when he got himself noticed by Alan Lewis, editor of Sounds, in March 1981, just as the legendary weekly was reaching its apex. Presenting the genuine enthusiasm of a teenage rock fan, he became a popular freelancer for the next three years, through a golden age of hard rock – this was the time of the "New Wave of British Heavy Metal" – interviewing and reviewing many new and older rock and prog acts in the UK and abroad. His work was also featured in Kerrang!, Noise and International Musician.

However, with editors unwilling to allow Phil's changing tastes to be reflected in his commissions (he was now listening to African music and the Talking Heads), at just 18 he decided to follow in the footsteps of Bob Geldof and Chrissie Hynde. Phil quit writing in 1984 to focus on his own take on pop culture, and went on the circuit with his own hugely unsuccessful (of course, criminally underrated) pop-rock band, the Dice Club, before hearing 'Express Yourself' propelled him on into a love affair with earthy funk.

In the London scene of the early-mid '90s. he then developed a reputation as a monster rhythm guitar player – Michael Jackson's guitarist David Williams even described him as "a seriously funky dude." He toured Europe twice, once as guitarist for one of the earliest British live hip-hop acts, Brothers Like Outlaw, and also for singer Leena Conquest, whilst his own bands achieved little victories; the Filberts (including well-known thesps Charlie Creed-Miles and Dexter Fletcher) can be seen in the 1994 film Glastonbury –The Movie; Vibe Tribe released material on legendary all-live groove label Boogie Back and headlined regularly at Camden's Jazz Café; and as half of the Afropeans, one track, 'Afropean Wonderland' with contributions from Astrid Gilberto's band, came out. These bands opened for many R'n'B, Jazz and rap legends: Roy Ayers, Lonnie Liston-Smith, Herbie Hancock. Guru and Arrested Development and others.  

However, feeling his literary muscle was atrophying, Phil then redefined himself as Phil "Sweet Pea" Bellko, songwriter /solo artist and has since been alternating gigging with recording his debut album – for the past 17 years actually. It's not quite ready yet. Meanwhile he keeps the wolf from the door by teaching (mostly little) people the geetar in the always soulful London Borough of Camden.

List of articles in the library by artist

Budgie: The Beak Goes On

Interview by Phil Bell, Sounds, December 1981

Phillip Bell takes a squawk on the wild side with HM survivors Budgie ...

Cheetah: The Venue, London

Live Review by Phil Bell, Sounds, July 1982

BOING, boing, boing, boing… Cor what a pair! ...

Peter Gabriel: Tales Of The Gold Monkey

Interview by Phil Bell, Sounds, October 1983

Philip Bell discovers the shocking truth behind Peter Gabriel ...

Gillan: City Hall, Sheffield

Live Review by Phil Bell, Sounds, December 1981

THIS IS the bass player. His dinner jacket's splattered with a multiplied spectrum of colour. A Dulux hoarding on legs. Or maybe he walked under ...

Sammy Hagar: Standing Hampton (Geffen) ***½

Review by Phil Bell, Sounds, January 1982

Sammy gets his Hampton caught ...

Iron Maiden: Run For The Pils!

Report and Interview by Phil Bell, Sounds, February 1982

The flanning of Iron Maiden: report by PHILIP BELL ...

Iron Maiden, The Rods: Mark Of The Beast: Iron Maiden/The Rods: Queensway Hall, Dunstable

Live Review by Phil Bell, Sounds, March 1982

BEEN A LONG TIME since the Queensway Hall's played host to such an uncouth, freakin' gang of insuffisticates as the Rods. ...

Judas Priest: Screaming For Vengeance ****

Review by Phil Bell, Sounds, July 1982

Vengeance is mine ...

Marillion: The Dial Inn, Glasgow

Live Review by Phil Bell, Sounds, May 1982

MARK MY WORDS. Critics will choke and chuckle en bleeding masse. But when action's sizzling at grass roots level, to apathetically ignore it would be ...

The Scorpions: Manchester Apollo

Live Review by Phil Bell, Sounds, April 1982

APOLLO was clearly the operative term as German blitzkreig '82 style blasted off.   ...

UFO: Mechanix (Chrysalis CHR 1360)

Review by Phil Bell, Sounds, January 1982

Y Viva Espanner ...

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