Philip Rambow

  • Winkies
  • The Winkies (UK Chrysalis) 1975 
  • Philip Rambow
  • Shooting Gallery (Capitol) 1979 
  • Jungle Law (UK EMI) 1981 
  • Whatever Happened to Phil Rambow? (UK RDJ) 2015 

Best known for their role as Eno’s just-post-Roxy Music tour band, the Winkies included Philip Rambow as well as future sidemen for Phil Manzanera, John Cale and Sean Tyla. Less under-endowed than immature, the sub-Stones pub-rock on the band’s one album sounds too presumptuously casual, too unfocused — like demos in a pricey studio, despite Guy Stevens’ production — to support Rambow’s lyrical pretensions and nasal Canadian twang. The sole standout is “Trust in Dick,” written by Guy Humphreys, a Winkie who became more obscure after the group dissolved.

A singer who owes a considerable debt to Van Morrison, Rambow never fulfilled the promise of his appealing hot-coals-in-mouth singing style as a solo artist. On Shooting Gallery, he is casual rather than driven — bouncy numbers like “Don’t Call Me Tonto” and “The Sound and the Fury” could be downgraded fairly easily to fluff pop. (The American release has totally different artwork than the British.)

Jungle Law turns the heat up considerably, boasting sharper musicianship, memorable material and impassioned singing. The tunes seem drawn from life, especially “Snakes and Ladders” and “Beyond the Naked and the Dead.” Phil Rambow may not be capable of matching the white-hot histrionics of Elvis Costello or Graham Parker, but Jungle Law proves he can make a direct, emotionally credible record.

[Jim Green]