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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.

29 articles

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Vardis: Playing It Strait

Interview by Phil Bell, Sounds, 9 May 1981

IT WAS WITH a considerable degree of lingering dubiety that I ventured beyond the chimney-potted horizons of the far west from my humble North London ...

Diamond Head: "We are the natural successors to Zeppelin"

Interview by Phil Bell, Sounds, 25 July 1981

THIS ASSIGNMENT begins in suburban Stourbridge, definitely not the R'n'R capital of the world, but a peaceful dwelling place satellite to Birmingham, England's second city, ...

Def Leppard, More: The Luxury Of Real Fur: Def Leppard/More: Hammersmith Odeon, London

Live Review by Phil Bell, Sounds, 8 August 1981

SUBTLE AS THE brain-scalding squeals of a skewered pig on the barbecue, roasting alive. Ass-kickin', rabble-rousin', atom-splittin', hard-livin', ever givin'. More had the ear-ringin' toned ...

Riot (V): Riot: Fire Down Under

Review by Phil Bell, Sounds, 15 August 1981

YESSIRREE, THEM rich yankee dudes comfy smokin' their tabbacy'ed exhaust pipes in those croccy-skinned swivel-­chairs sure am gonna be mighty peeved when they get that ...

Michael Schenker

Interview by Phil Bell, Sounds, 19 September 1981

The Thinking Man's Schenker SCENE: Our capital's glorious, raz-ama-dazzling West End. Twenty-five feet across a spacious apartment in Chrysalis' head office, the other side of a ...

Black Sabbath, Ozzy Osbourne: Black Sabbath: Mob Rules (Vertigo) ****/Ozzy Osbourne: Diary Of A Madman (Jet) ****

Review by Phil Bell, Sounds, 5 December 1981

IN THE BLACK CORNER, Sabbath. In the white corner, their sworn adversary, Ozzy Osbourne. Or vice versa. ...

AC/DC: For Those About To Yawn: AC/DC: For Those About To Rock (Atlantic K50851) ***

Review by Phil Bell, Sounds, 5 December 1981

WHEN I humbly volunteered to undertake this venture, I knew full well what a pasting I'd be letting myself in for. Pitting my feeble opinion ...

Gillan: City Hall, Sheffield

Live Review by Phil Bell, Sounds, 5 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 ...

The Scorpions: Lord of the Stings

Interview by Phil Bell, Sounds, 5 December 1981

PHILIP BELL makes buddies with Scorpions' skinsbeater HERMAN RAREBELL ...

Budgie: The Beak Goes On

Interview by Phil Bell, Sounds, 19 December 1981

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

Thin Lizzy: Renegade

Review by Phil Bell, Sounds, 19 December 1981

PAGE ONE, question one How the hell do you go about an anatomical analysis of an album when you know you love it, but shouldn't, ...

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

Review by Phil Bell, Sounds, 9 January 1982

Sammy gets his Hampton caught ...

Sammy Hagar: Hagar The (not quite so) Horrible

Interview by Phil Bell, Sounds, 23 January 1982

Philip Bell meets the untypically reticent man behind that Standing Hampton ...

UFO: Mechanix (Chrysalis CHR 1360)

Review by Phil Bell, Sounds, 30 January 1982

Y Viva Espanner ...

Iron Maiden: Run For The Pils!

Report and Interview by Phil Bell, Sounds, 20 February 1982

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

Krokus: Hammersmith Odeon

Live Review by Phil Bell, Sounds, 27 February 1982

UNLIKE LEGIONS of musical kompatriots, Krokus have nothing to prove. Nobody in the kamp has tempted fate by kontroversially shooting their mouth off about anything, ...

Magnum: Chase The Dragon

Review by Phil Bell, Sounds, 27 February 1982

CHASE THE ALBUM. "Here's a track from our new album, out on September 12th," quoth mag-estic Bob Catley . . . at Reading Festival, 1980. So, ...

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

Live Review by Phil Bell, Sounds, 6 March 1982

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

Electric Sun: Solar Flair

Interview by Phil Bell, Sounds, 27 March 1982

ONE DAY by the seaside. A menacing ocean rears up and surges landward. Cruel winds lash our locks into matty rastafarian entanglement. Doomy clouds are giving ...

The Scorpions: Manchester Apollo

Live Review by Phil Bell, Sounds, 24 April 1982

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

Diamond Head: Gem'll Fix It

Interview by Phil Bell, Sounds, 8 May 1982

INKING THE dotted line with major record company MCA has instigated no dramatic transformation in lifestyle for Stourbridge's stealthiest grafters, Diamond Head. ...

Marillion: The Dial Inn, Glasgow

Live Review by Phil Bell, Sounds, 22 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 ...

Judas Priest: Screaming For Vengeance ****

Review by Phil Bell, Sounds, 3 July 1982

Vengeance is mine ...

Cheetah: The Venue, London

Live Review by Phil Bell, Sounds, 24 July 1982

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

Electric Gypsies: Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves

Interview by Phil Bell, Sounds, 2 October 1982

This p-p-p-p-FEATURE is a ber-ber-ber-bout per-per-per-p-p-Bernie Torme's Electric ch-ch-ch-Gypsies. ...

Marillion: Sob Standard: Marillion: Script For A Jester's Tear (EMI) *****

Review by Phil Bell, Sounds, 12 March 1983

PREDICTABLE? Little over a year has elapsed since Marillion were first propelled into the public eye by your fave rock weekly. What with X Russell, ...

Peter Gabriel: Tales Of The Gold Monkey

Interview by Phil Bell, Sounds, 1 October 1983

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

Yes: Yesterday and Today

Interview by Phil Bell, Sounds, 26 November 1983

Phil Bell gives the nod to the reformed, revitalised Yes ...

Jethro Tull: Wrapped Up Tight

Interview by Phil Bell, Sounds, 15 September 1984

THE SMELL of success? For this interview, not the thin atmosphere of air-conditioned record company offices, nor the sterile tang of a posh hotel suite. ...

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