Rockbrat Re-Introduces You To: The Greatness Of Phil Emmanuel

The Wiz – Phil Emmanuel, Harmonie German Club, Canberra  22/4/16. Photo (c) C. Gray

Have you ever stopped and wondered just how many great guitarists Australia has produced over the years ? I’m not talking good – I’m talking great.  Great as in world class, as in the top 20 of the world. Players who possess a feel and original style all their own. A uniqueness that makes them just that – unique. This post is not intended to stoke debate about the names of who should make that list and who shouldn’t, that’s for another time. It does goes without saying though that you can’t mention ‘world class guitar player’ without adding the word Emmanuel. They are synonymous. When someone like Clapton sates that Tommy Emmanuel is the best guitarist he’s ever seen – it’s quite an endorsement.  I have seen both Tommy and Phil Emmanuel a bunch of times over the years, and whilst Tommy has gone on to have way more international success, there’s no denying that Phil Emmanuel is as good as, if not better, than Tommy, certainly as an electric guitar player.  The think about Phil Emmanuel is that he is so indifferent to ‘success’. Tommy chased it – Phil different. He is so unassuming, both in personality and guitar style, and they are both part of his makeup. He plays what he wants to play, on his own musical terms, and he always has.  He cracks jokes, has a great sense of humor – and yet, can shred better than most. Phil Emmanuel is known as Australia’s Greatest Electric Guitar Player and has a resume of amazing performances with musical legends that any musical enthusiast would envy. “Phil’s musical prowess is so astonishing that there are times when the man becomes the guitar and the guitar becomes the man. His passion is illuminating; his ability is breathtaking “While his brother Tommy plays it sweet; Phil plays it from the street” so says Glenn A Baker.  And that’s something obvious when you see him live. He plays with so much echo – it’s very much part of his sound. Phil himself has said, ” if it wasn’t for “Hank B. Marvin and The Shadows” I wouldn’t be the electric guitar player I am today. “When I first heard Hank play in 1959 I was fascinated and hooked by his sound and use of echo. To this day he is still my favourite guitarist”. Artists he has graced the stage alongside reads like a who’s who of the music biz. Artists such as John Jorgensen (Elton John, The Hellecasters), Will Ray, Bonnie Raitt, Duanne Eddy, James Burton, (Elvis Presley), Carlos Santana, the band “America”, The Ventures, Eric Clapton, and indeed, Hank B Marvin. Yet also throw in James Morrison, Don Burrows, Slim Dusty, Reg Lindsay, Lee Kernaghan, Dolly Parton, Willie Nelson, Tammy Wynette, Dire Straits, The Shadows, Midnight Oil, Jimmy Barnes, Roy Buchanan, Don Walker, John Farnham and Ian Moss. From Goldrush to Terrafirma and Kakadu – his musical prowess and output run deep – so when the opportunity presents to see him live, for FREE, on a Friday night – you take it. The German Club in Canberra’s Narrabundah is steeped in Oz rock history – and its still a great venue to see a band. Tonight, the baby boomers are out in force, and there’s no sign of a vacant table or chair.  If they were expecting fast fingered acoustic  style – they picked the wrong Emmanuel. Tonight, the Wiz plugged in and, even though he was solo and playing to a backing track, he was LOUD and electric. So much so that many of the older set walked out with fingers firmly planted in ears.  As I said – Phil does what Phil wants. Here is a recording of Phil playing ‘Terrafirma’ on the night. Check out the video for Terrafirma on Youtube if you get a chance.  Take a listen for yourself to another, Australian guitar great.


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