The group’s debut album, Checkmate Savage, immediately attracts widespread acclaim from critics in the national music press and newspapers.
“A record as auspicious and accomplished as it is unforeseen” – Keith Cameron, Mojo. 4/5 stars
“This kraut-folk groove-fest could have been bashed out by The Beta Band’s little brothers” – Camille Pia, NME. 8/10
“Were they from Brooklyn rather than Glasgow, Checkmate Savage would have been acclaimed as a benchmark album of 2009” – Michael Hann, The Guardian. 4/5 stars
“This debut is fearlessly ambitious and unexpectedly commercial” – Steve Jelbert, The Times. 4/5
Fans of the group’s heady brew swiftly snap up all vinyl copies of the album, the result being stratospheric prices for those searching for it on the secondhand vinyl market.
A decade on, Chemikal Underground is proud to announce the imminent rebirth of an album that remains as spectacularly imaginative as it was the first time round, presented in a package that does 100% justice to the original songs, which were deftly produced by Paul Savage – whose credits include Mogwai, Franz Ferdinand, King Creosote, Deacon Blue and many more – at the label’s affiliated recording studio Chem 19 in Lanarkshire and Franz Ferdinand’s studio in Glasgow.
Deserving of a place in every record collection worth its salt, the stylistically wide-open, moonstruck delights of Checkmate Savage are, for the first time, spread over four sides of heavyweight vinyl housed in a gatefold sleeve, with a download code for MP3 versions of the album’s nine songs. The record will be available exactly 10 years on from the release date of the original album.
This new edition – cut from the original masters – is an essential acquisition for those with an appetite for wildly creative, mischievous and aurally captivating music. A no-brainer, in other words.
The Phantom Band went on to release three more albums on Chemikal Underground – The Wants (2010), Strange Friend (2014) and Fears Trending (2015) – while Anthony, under the name Rick Redbeard, has released two solo records on the label, No Selfish Heart (2013) and Awake Unto (2016). The group has been on hiatus since the theft of their equipment while touring in Europe in October 2015.
STAFF COMMENTSsays: Given the volume of records released these days, it's easy for things to disappear into your record collection after a few months, never to be unearthed again, but this is still one of my go-to albums, years after it's release.
The synthetic, metallic chill of the motorik rhythms and wooshing synths is balanced perfectly with heavy percussion and Rick's rich vocals adding more organic tones. It's just an amazing, inventive album that while hinting at a multitude of reference point, sounds like nothing else.