History

Phil McDonnell is a prolific singer/songwriter with a catalogue of over 200 songs to date. He draws on the influences of the Soul and R’n’B songs he listened to in his youth, the folk and jazz of the American West coast and the traditional Irish music from the country of his Fathers.

Promo shot: Left to right - Malcolm Scott, Jay Dudley,
Pete Salt, Phil McDonnell, Dave Sherwood

Lizard band

Phil began his musical career in Luton, Bedfordshire, where he wrote songs, played keyboards and sang with the group Lizard. Starting out as four piece band , but occasionally adding a second guitarist, the group performed original songs and survived for almost three years.

Phil on stage aged 19

Lizard band

Live work included gigs in music venues and bars across London and the Home Counties.

Early songs were recorded at Maris Piper studio in Luton (appropriately named after a potato).

Phil also guested and played session keyboards for numerous local bands, including Moonstone with John Payne - later to become lead singer in the band Asia.

In 1979 Phil moved to London where he has since lived and worked. A new band was formed - Radio Moscow.

Phil second from right,
John Payne front centre

Moonstone

Including some members of Lizard, Radio Moscow played an intriguing mix of quirky and melodic new wave songs, some with a strong reggae and dub influence. They played to enthusiastic audiences at London’s rock circuit venues including Dingwalls and the Bridgehouse. An independent label Zygo Records signed the band, and also signed Phil as a solo artist under the name Another Room . Subsequent record releases received critical acclaim plus important Radio and TV coverage. Some specimens of these early vinyl outings may still be found in more eccentric record collections. The group went through several personnel changes before disbanding in 1982.

Zygo Records11 Go MAd LP

During 1982 Phil was asked to donate a song to a charity album called Eleven go mad in Lewisham to highlight the position of unemployed people at that time. Rather than simply hand over a tune off the shelf, Phil decide to record a new piece in a local studio in Lewisham, South London. Over three days, a song called America was written and recorded in the studio. A full album launch took place in the Albany Theatre in Deptford, and subsequent live performances by other contributing acts raised money and awareness for the charity.

Ivor Placca

Ivor Placca

By the mid 1980’s Phil returned to a band format for his songs and put together a group of talented and disparate musicians to perform some of his more recent compositions. The band included Dave Wraight - a drum programmer and sequencer who took the place of a conventional drummer on stage. Also Ivor Placca - a Ghanaian born guitarist whose African influenced playing made a distinctive contrast to Phil’s electric keyboard lines. Together these three musicians also worked writing soundtracks for film and video companies.

The Institute OF Music & Recording at Hurricane Studios

IMT Hurricane website

In 1989 Phil formed Hurricane Studios, a recording business in South East London. Alongside Hurricane, the Institute of Music and Technology was created. A music and media training organisation dedicated to helping unemployed people into careers in Music Technology, Sound Engineering and Multimedia. At the time of this biography, both Hurricane and IMT continue to provide their services in Deptford, South London. With eighteen staff and seven studio rooms to run, this work left little time for personal recording. However Phil continued to write music and poetry. The musicians that work with Phil at Hurricane regularly give their time to perform live gigs with him to support such charitable organisations as Medecins Sans Frontiers.

Confessions & Lies album - 2010

Ivor Placca

Finally in 2010-11 Phil put together recordings which became the album Confessions and Lies, which features on this website. The album is a mixture of older and new songs, some of which are based on personal experience and others are complete fiction. Tunes such as ‘The Promised Land’ and ‘Again’ are pieces that Phil multi-tracked in the studio, whilst others such as ‘Main Street’ and ‘I Gave my Heart to Whiskey’ are band pieces. The artists that feature on these recordings are top UK musicians that Phil has been fortunate enough to meet through his work in the industry. Full credits and links appear on the music pages of this site.

Glass Creatures - 2014

Ivor Placca

Just completed is Phil’s latest album Glass Creatures, which he began recording in 2013.

Engineered and co-produced by Tim Palmer, the twelve songs that make up this album are drawn from a very eclectic musical palette.

The range straddles - Old school R’n’B, Brass driven shuffles, Brill building style piano tunes, Blues, Jazz ballads and even some Folk and Country influenced songs.

Many old friends have re-joined Phil from the earlier collaboration on Confessions and Lies. Old Friends & collaborators are here.

Additionally, Phil has been fortunate enough to collaborate with Elliott Randall on a number of tracks. Legendary guitarist Elliott has played with everyone from Steely Dan to The Blues Brothers, soloing on such classics as Reelin’ in the Years and Fame with Irene Cara. Listen to Glass Creatures here

Phil contemplatesPhil in GenevaPhil shades and hat