PHIL COLLINS REVISITED (2016): Don't take him at face value

 |   |  2 min read

PHIL COLLINS REVISITED (2016): Don't take him at face value

When looking for a short-cut into buying Phil Collins many might say, “Just don't”.

And maybe it's true, because there's not a lot to recommend his MOR soul covers or the annoying Sussudio. But there are depths in his catalogue, especially when he was going through fairly regular separations.

So – accepting the Eighties production values – let's reconsider the man who wrote Against All Odds.

And frankly if I'd done that I'd be lying on a private beach with my personal cocktail steward at hand and be thinking, "Yeah, you might think it's not such a great song, but there you go. But you didn't write it  . . . I did."

Both_Sides__Phil_Collins_Both Sides (1993): His fifth solo album found him breaking up from his second wife and living in uneasy political times, all of which fed into downbeat songs (Everyday, the emotionally naked I've Forgotten Everything) and even on his rare flashes of optimism he sound unconvinced.

Not a happy chappy, he takes a poke at young people (We're the Sons of Our Fathers, but they were poking at him).

On the bagpipe-driven We Wait And We Wonder he addressed living under the cloud of terrorism, as relevant now as it was then.

Phil_Collins___Face_ValueFace Value (1981): At the time of this exceptional solo debut -- kicked off by the still astonishing In the Air Tonight – he'd seamlessly replaced Peter Gabriel as singer in Genesis and appeared on Gabriel's innovative solo albums.

In its own way this album bears comparison with the more critically acclaimed Gabriel, and is emotionally bleak (Collins separating from his first wife).

The version of the Beatles' Tomorrow Never Knows isn't special, but the expanded reissue includes his demo for Against All Odds.

He were a dark bugger.

Phil_Collins_But_Seriously. . . But Seriously (1989): Prince and Philly soul-funk had impressed him (he's a drummer after all) and although few believed a rich man writing about the homeless (Another Day in Paradise) and other social issues.

But the songs here are diverse (Something Happened on the Way to Heaven is a post breakup dancefloor shaker), emotional (utterly resigned on That's Just the Way It Is) and Eric Clapton turns up on the powerful I Wish It Would Rain Down.

More unhappiness and unease than you might think from a guy whose hits have mostly been cheery monsters.

Phil_Collins_LoveSongsLove Songs: A Compilation . . . Old and New (2004): A happy double disc? Well, it opens with his previously unreleased version of John Martyn's slow ballad Tearing and Breaking (see below).

And love for Phil rarely sounds like long walks on the beach holding hands.

More like he's waiting for her to say, “We need to talk . . .”

And: If downer times suited him best, he was a boozing brother-in-arms for the late John Martyn's harrowing separation album Grace and Danger (1980) which was shelved by Island Records' boss Chris Blackwell for a year because he though it too dark and depressing.

Essential listening, of course.

Share It

Your Comments

post a comment

More from this section   Absolute articles index

JOHN LENNON, IMAGINE RECONSIDERED (2000): Peace in our time?

JOHN LENNON, IMAGINE RECONSIDERED (2000): Peace in our time?

Some people just don't get it, do they? Wouldn't you love to meet those gearing up to pay an expected $4.5 million at on-line auction for the piano on which John Lennon wrote Imagine? Imagine no... > Read more

BACKBEAT, ASTRID KIRCHHERR AND THE YOUNG BEATLES ON FILM (1994): The Birth of the Beat

BACKBEAT, ASTRID KIRCHHERR AND THE YOUNG BEATLES ON FILM (1994): The Birth of the Beat

His letters back home don’t tell the whole story. But such letters seldom do. He says there are plenty of girls “but none of us can be bothered” and that he is “not the... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

ROBERT PLANT; A LIFE by PAUL REES

ROBERT PLANT; A LIFE by PAUL REES

There are many excellent and insightful biographies of musicians around these days -- among them Mark Lewisohn's recent Tune In about the Beatles which at 900 pages only gets you to the start of... > Read more

Eric Bibb: Diamond Days (Telarc/Elite)

Eric Bibb: Diamond Days (Telarc/Elite)

Bibb is one of that new generation of bluesmen who sounds utterly authentic: this despite Bibb growing up in New York, having John Lewis of the Modern Jazz Quartet as an uncle, and studying... > Read more