Sunday, 19 October 2014

No irony required: Phil Collins is inducted into the Bloody Good Chap Hall of Fame

It’s somewhat surprising it has take me so long to write this post given that everyone who knows me is aware of how much of a fan I am, but i think the time has come for Phil Collins to be inducted into the Bloody Good Chap Hall of Fame! Taking his place alongside such illustrious figures as Nick Nolte, Barry Gibb, Captain Haddock, Jane Grigson, Daryl Hall and many others!

I can hear the collective cheers for this piece countered by a chorus of groans and moans. For many Collins is a marmite figure, you either love him or you hate him. Whatever people may think, there is no denying that he is a musical force to be reckoned with, heard daily across UK radio waves and living on through rhythmic samples so popular with modern rap and R&B artists. As you’ve probably guessed, I think he’s great! For example, nothing quite brings a smile to my face in the office as when one of his tracks is played on Absolute Radio whilst penning a press release or profile piece for some client or other. 

I was first introduced to the magic of this modern-day Mozart by my parents on the long car journeys we used to make to the south west of France on summer holidays when I was growing up. The cassette of Serious Hits Live! (1990) was played so much that we had to replace it twice it was so popular - although we also had to do the same thing with Dire Straits’ Brothers In Arms (1985) and Tina Turner’s Foreign Affair (1989). 

Each listen takes me back, from the dynamite xylophone intro of ‘Who Said I Would’ (superior to the studio one) and the sublime take on his 1985 duet ‘Seperate Lives’ through to his barnstorming, extended version of ‘Sussudio’ and crowd-pleasing drum-fest that is ‘In The Air Tonight’ (with some amazing guitar licks to boot). I am always impressed by artists who can put together a solid collection of chart-toppers and top 40 classice. A bit like Elton John, The Eagles and Queen’s first set of Greatest Hits, each song is a winner, all killer and no filler! Anyway, I digress. 

The enduring appeal of Collin’s music is its originality and diversity, although I am sure that I will find plenty who think exactly the opposite! A musical polymath, aside from his own output he put his stamp on Genesis, produced some cracking albums in the 80s (August by Eric Clapton is a personal favourite) and was a session musician for the likes of Brian Eno, Peter Gabriel, Robert Fripp and John Martyn. He also found the time to perform in a jazz fusion band, Brand X! His back catalogue is truly vast and there is something for everyone in it. 

For me, his best moment will always be his most enduring album, No Jacket Required. A tour de force in every sense, his most enduring masterpiece, if you will, from a time when Collins most certainly ruled the pop music roost. 

Some might be reading this thinking that I have written it with the ever-so-slightest touch of irony and I would like to assure them that nothing could be further from the truth! He is truly my favourite recording artist and I am only sorry it has taken me so long to get him in this hall of fame. So, in his honour, here are my top ten collins moments (in no particular order):

  1. Sussudio - One of Collin’s best tracks... ever. It has it all, drum machines, brass sections and a thoroughly catchy chorus. The accompanying music video is also a stroke of genius!
  2. In Too Deep - Many will remember this from American Psycho and for others it might be a bit to saccharine, but for me it is a brilliantly constructed love song and one of Genesis’ best.
  3. I Missed Again - Written in the aftermath of his acrimonious divorce and pushed out as one of the singles from his debut album, Face Value (1981), this is a funky tune with great hooks.
  4. August (1986) - The whole album, which is an Eric Clapton one. He produced this underrated collection of tracks on which he also played all the drums. Cuts like “Run”. “Bad Influence” and “Behind The Mask” are well worth purchasing this record for. 
  5. Mama - This Genesis track from their eponymous shapes album (1983) is stark, stripped-down and has one of Collin’s best vocal performances. 
  6. I Could Not Love You More -  From John Martyn’s masterpiece Glorious Fool (1981), Collins produces and provides drums and backing vocals - Eric Clapton even steps in to give a killer guitar solo
  7. Easy Lover - What happens when you take a drummer from South London and cross him with Earth, Wind & Fire’s lead singer? Easy Lover, that’s what! 
  8. Tonight Tonight Tonight - The live version of this ten minute epic is something else. From Genesis’s world-dominating album Invisible Touch (1986)
  9. Two Hearts - Yes it’s a little bit cheesy but this is a great love song from the 1988 soundtrack to the less impressive Phil Collins film, Buster.
  10. Take Me Home - Having Sting on backing vocals is one thing, but to also have Helen Terry and Peter Gabriel is just indulgent. The closing track to No Jacket Required is an incredible soundscape and perfect for rounding off this top ten!

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