Phil, Fred and De Pleegzusters live in Harlingen

Thanks to Jacques van den Oever, we have these recordings from the De Pijpenla in Harlingen where Phil and Fred were invited to play with Jacques’ band De Pleegzusters in November 1995.

Phil Miller and Fred Baker were originally booked as a duo to perform in a small venue in Harlingen, which is in the north part of the Netherlands. This was november 1995.
Being long time Canterbury music lovers and amateur musicians we approached Phil beforehand to see if he was interested in playing a few tunes with us.
So Phil willingly sent some sheets which we could not decypher, being unable to read music… So it was mutually decided to just take a chance. The amateur trio of bass, guitar and drums rehearsed for a couple of weeks to try and create some decent backing for Phil, including Matching Mole material and some of our own compositions.
Then Phil, Fred and their road manager Herm arrived in the afternoon to set up their equipment alongside ours. The venue was a rather modest cellar of an ancient store house converted to a bar. Our drummer decided to use just his bass drum, snare, one cymbal and a high hat and each of us used small combos to leave ample space for Phil and Fred.
The signals from all instruments and four microphones for the drums went through a giant cable two floors up to a DAT recording facility that was set up in the kitchen of the house.
When things were set up we pulled out the guitars and discussed our prepared material. This maybe took up to an hour and then we sat down for a nice meal in a local Chinese restaurant. We had great fun and handed over the special T-shirts we had printed for the occasion.
What happened that evening was recorded on just two tracks, so you will hear some unbalanced sections here and there. But boy, what great music did Phil and Fred play for us and with us.”
Jacques van den Oever

Track 1 Gloria Gloom excerpt
This is the easy part of Matching Mole’s Gloria Gloom. Phil had not played this for a long time (it was now 1995 and it was originally recorded in 1972), so he was just as happy as we were with only this excerpt. Note the soulful and emotional lead part. Fred helped out with rhythm guitar. Just listen to his subtle chords at the extreme end of the stereo spectre.

Track 2 Pick that Rose
A piece we prepared and presented to Phil and Fred just an hour before they played it before a live audience. Nothing too complicated, but still. This time Phil plays rhythm guitar and Fred takes the lead. A bit unbalanced in the recording, but it shows Fred’s jazzy side.

Track 3 Revisiting the Hibou
This tune is largely improvised with Phil taking the lead and Fred playing an extra bass guitar, including a great solo.

Track 4 Benson on Acid
Again one of our own tunes. Both Phil and Fred show their great skills playing something way out of their usual box. This one is also practically unrehearsed. Fred’s part reminded me of George Benson but Phil drags the tune into completely different directions.

Track 5 & 6 Marchides / Nan True’s Hole (track 5 in above playlist)
These tunes need no introduction. Phil had totally forgotten about Marchides, so its lead part was played by me. Fred created the right atmosphere with some haunted strings and Phil cuts through the mix with his wild rhythm guitar. Nan True’s Hole was our great finale with some burning guitar from Phil.

Track 7: (Encore) Lord ‘ave Mercy on Phil & Fred (track 6 in above playlist)
The crowd called out for more so what could we do? We tried a slow blues and neither Phil nor Fred had any problems jumping in.

De Pleegzusters
Teatse Vogelaar – bass & gig promotor
Rini Roukema – drums
Jacques van den Oever – rhythm guitar
Engineer – Bart Lugtmeijer

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