I have no shame now—I *love* Phil Collins’ music. I have since his first solo album—”Face Value”—the one with “In The Air Tonight” on it. Can you think of a more iconic drum fill than the one near the end of that song? It actually started with “Misunderstanding” and “Turn It On Again” from Genesis’ 1980 album “Duke”. When they were hits. Yes, I’m old. (That was 34 year ago—but hey, I was 10.)
I know it’s cool to not like him. I also know it’s norm-core cool to like him. I don’t care. I can listen to most of his albums and some of his songs over and over again and hear something fresh and masterful—and emotional each time.
I really got hooked on listening to him solidly with “Against All Odds”—what a fantastic ballad. The perfect pop song—impeccably produced and performed. Some of my friends scoff at the “corporate rock” perfection, but that seems so precious and too quick-to-judge to me. (I also love Toto, Mr. Mister, Journey and Steely Dan—but those are stories for another time.)
Then in early 1985, “No Jacket Required” came out. A masterpiece from start to finish. This one was in heavy rotation with me for the entire spring and summer of that year, and it comes back several times a year. Give it a listen—all the way through…from Sussudio to the CD-only bonus track “We Said Hello, Goodbye.” It’s so cohesive but disparate enough to keep you hooked.
I’m ashamed to admit that I called his music “cheesy” on NPR (with 10 million people listening) back in 2004 when I reviewed the video game Karaoke Revolutions on All Things Considered. (Click on the big triangle next to the word “Listen”.) It was not a lie—but the lie by omission is that I like cheesy music—hell, I love the Carpenters. I still feel shame for saying it—especially after hearing that he was depressed that people weren’t into his music and he was being made fun of.
Listen to the piece and read between the lines—I spend a large portion of the piece singing Against All Odds (it took 10 or so takes to get the vocal I wanted…J…but it’s pretty obvious I didn’t use AutoTune.) What could this mean other than I love the song?
Lately I’ve “discovered” “Hello, I Must Be Going”—his second solo effort. I’ve been listening to it on pro-level equipment at very high sample rates (192 kHz). What first caught me was the iconic and powerful drum sound—and the message and emotion in the song “I Don’t Care Anymore.” The context around this song is that he was going through a painful divorce at this time. It’s very clear. The song is also very empowering.
Then there’s “Don’t Let Him Steal Your Heart Away”. It’s a creative ballad with excellent piano and strings—and he does some unexpected things compositionally with the pedal point musical form. (This essentially means a single bass note repeated with the chords above changing around it creating interesting dissonances.)
My main point—give Phil a listen. He’s amazing.
And Mr. Collins—if you ever read this—I apologize for calling your music cheesy. It’s had such a huge effect on my life. J