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Satire Set to the Strains of Folk Music

March 23, 1999|SUSAN KARLIN

Those of you who still miss Tom Lehrer after his 30 years of seclusion can fill the void with comic folk singer Henry Phillips. His arsenal of catchy guitar tunes, deadpan delivery and rapier wit annihilates relationships, political correctness, pop culture and the news.

For the past few years, Phillips, 29, has been L.A.'s best-kept secret, gathering a cult following through performances at the Improv in L.A., and the Troubador and LunaPark in West Hollywood, and also on KLSX-FM (97.1) and KLOS-FM (95.5).

Today, Phillips unveils his second CD, the aptly titled "Number 2," a follow-up to his debut, titled "On the Shoulders of Freaks." Both are available on Oglio Records--the same label as KLOS morning team Mark & Brian.

Phillips moved from New York to Los Angeles as a teenager and studied music at the prestigious Dick Grove School of Music. He holds a political science degree from UCLA. He intended to be a studio musician until one night, to help cheer up a friend, he picked up a newspaper and sang the more calamitous stories, ending each with the refrain, "But what do you want me to do about it?" As a lark, he tried it onstage, and it brought the house down. A star--albeit a twisted one--was born.

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