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  • Face Value
  • Hello I Must Be Going
  • No Jacket Required
  • But Seriously


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  • Adrian's Album Reviews |

    Phil Collins

    face value hello i must be going no jacket required

    Face Value ( 1981 )
    In The Air Tonight / This Must Be Love / Behind The Lines / The Roof Is Leaking / Droned / Hand In Hand / I Missed Again / You Know What I Mean / Thunder And Lightning / I'm Not Moving / If Leaving Me Is Easy / Tomorrow Never Knows

    In something that may strike a chord with supporters of the conservative party, not too keen on politicians borrowing other parties policies, Phil borrowed wholesale production techniques from the man he replaced in Genesis, Peter Gabriel. Still, we give Phil his due. The diminutive drummer turned singer, Phil Collins, has sold in excess of 100m records. Most of them feature his smug, self-satisfied face and notoriously bland take on adult-oriented-pop. Here, Earth Wind and Fire's horn section join him for some basic pop and R&B. Thankfully, Phil doesn't attempt fusion jazz or prog-rock. Rather, we have tasteful keyboard trills, unimaginative brass parts and the kind of soft, smooth vocal that had taken Genesis towards MOR ever since Gabriel departed. 'Face Value' is pop about personal trauma, in this case the breakup of Collins first marriage. At least it gave him something to write about. So, what does our favourite Tory loving tax-exile give us on 'Face Value'? The big hit 'In The Air Tonight' reveals to us "Well, if you told me you were drowning I would not lend a hand", which is nice of him, isn't it? Still, this tune remains by far and away the best song on the album, the most daring and dare I say, imaginative, track Phil has almost ever been responsible for. A eerie electronic drone, exploding into action when those drums enter thrillingly in. Hard to believe, but its true. I also quite like the 2nd song on the LP, 'This Must Be Love?'. A very simple melody and a heartfelt lyric, perfect way to ease down after the drama of 'In The Air Tonight'.

    Two further hit singles were pulled from 'Face Value' and I'll discuss them now. Both hit the top twenty in the UK, first up is 'I Missed Again'. Solid brassy intro and a decent melody, although his vocals are slightly wayward, if truth be told, not quite bringing the best potential out of the melody. 'If Leaving Me Is Easy' opens with a wailing sax. The song lasts nearly five minutes and absolutely nothing happens. Very dreary indeed, not one of the mans better ballads, it must be said. Elsewhere, 'Behind The Lines' is so very irritatingly cheery and cheesy, like it's played by a bunch of musicians who specialise in wedding receptions. 'The Roof Is Leaking' tries to get all serious on us. A funny effect is placed on the vocals and the only music comes from understated piano. Phil tells us his wife is expecting but he hopes she can wait. Ok, Phil. Whatever you say. Now, I went into this review initially wanting to figuratively throttle the satanic Phil Collins. I later relented and thought i'd try to be fair. The annoying thing about this album though, it's just so lacking in any kind of genuine excitement, bar the opening track and possibly 'Missed Again'. The album depresses the hell out of me. Still, Phil proves himself to be a decent craftsman. It's a very workmanlike set of recordings excepting 'In The Air Tonight' which thankfully provides inspiration. That's it really. A six and a bit seems fair, overly generous even. A 'for fans only' rating, about the only people who will admit to owning the LP, anyway.

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    Readers Comments

    Brandon Toronto
    He's a drummer who writes songs like a drummer, but still, I like this album. This is the Phil Collins of old. A talented player who recognized his limiations and didn't rub your face in his banality. Within a couple years, this Phil Collins would be gone forever.

    Kier Smith Nottingham
    I really like Phil Collins, I was always aware of the 'Blockbuster 80's' Phil Collins and all of his solo work before I got into Genesis. I'm always interested in solo works by bigger artists and (They are normally reviewed unfavorably) So I wanted to give this a 7.5. 'This must be love' Is outstanding, 'I missed again', 'Droned', 'The roof is leaking' & even the cover of 'Tomorrow never knows' is rather good. 'Thunder and lightning' & 'In the air tonight' are both very good too. It's an honest solo album and the subject matter in some of the songs (relating to the fall out with his then wife) make it all the more interesting. A good piece of work.



    Hello I Must Be Going 5 ( 1982 )
    I Don't Care Anymore / I Cannot Believe It's True / Like China / Do You Know, Do You Care? / You Can't Hurry Love / It Don't Matter to Me / Thru These Walls / Don't Let Him Steal Your Heart Away / The West Side / Why Can't It Wait 'Til Morning

    Phil dedicated this album to his wife and children for 'putting up with it all'. I can imagine. Hugh Padgham helped Phil produce this record and Padgham was making quite a name for himself in the early eighties, very good with drum sounds, in particular. Apart from drums though, Phil also played trumpet, keyboards and percussion. A bunch of the Earth Wind and Fire guys were responsible on the whole for the brass parts. One thing this album proves is that even with real instrumentation ( for the most part, the entire album was recorded organically, live in the studio ) in the eighties, you can still sound plastic and fake. The opening 'I Don't Care Anymore', a few streets downtown from 'In The Air Tonight', you know, not in the same class at all, does sport real drums. Phil builds his way up to a fit of anger, he can do those fits of anger quite well. The album takes a quick turn for the bad though, 'I Cannot Believe It's True' is vapid and the horns deeply irritating. 'Like China' is even worse if that's possible at all, a really poor guitar riff mixed into the background and Phil singing the entire tune in a cockney accent. Unsuprisingly as well, the drums are louder than everything else. Loud drums can provide a kind of dynamism. This song doesn't actually warrant such an attempt, there's nothing to dramatise.

    The only hit of note this album produced was Phil's note for note, utterly pointless cover of The Supremes 'You Can't Hurry Love'. Memorable only for the video in which Phil wore shades and was presented in, heaven help us all, triplicate, Phil fails to convince as a soul singer, despite spirited production accurately evoking the sixties. 'Do You Know, Do You Care' could pass for a Genesis song of the period, 'It Don't Matter To Me' is another vapid, jaunty brass led number that makes me want to vomit. 'Through These Walls' is better. There are spaces and there is tension. It's the nearest this album gets to credible innovation and daring. Yes, it's a ballad but it's a well produced and arranged song. After this, the album drifts gently to an inconclusive ending, although the closing ballad 'Why Can't It Wait Til Morning' is a something of a personal song for Phil and framed by attractive strings. So, not all bad? Well, of course not. Just mostly all bad. A few moments do show Phil's talents as a musician. The producer does a decent enough job given the circumstances, although the albums credits actually label Phil as producer, not Hugh Padgham. Funnily enough given the fact Hugh had worked for far better artists, such as XTC, i'm not sure he would have minded.

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    No Jacket Required 3 ( 1985 )
    Sussudio / Only You Know And I Know / Long Long Way To Go / Don't Want To Know / One More Night / Don't Lose My Number / Who Said I Would / Doesn't Anybody Stay Together Anymore / Inside Out / Take Me Home / We Said Hello Goodbye

    Look at the album cover. Been in the tanning salon a little too long have we, Phil? Hugh Padgham returned and presumably with Phil, made sure that percussive drum sound hit through. It's not a 'real' drum sound of course, this being the eighties, but what can you do? They also saw fit to include brief bursts of parping horns on almost every single track. Still, what do I know? Phil Collins went into the stratosphere ( picture it in your mind.... ) and 'No Jacket Required' went onto sell an astonishing thirty million plus copies. Imagine that in this day and age. Nobody sells that many albums any more, do they? 'No Jacket Required' must be pretty damned good then, yeah? Unfortunately no. Phil still sounds like he's attempting to poach ideas from Peter Gabriel, still thinks he's in some kind of rhythm and blues band and manages to employ irritatingly lumpen drum patterns and sounds on every single one of the uptempo numbers. Bar a couple of ballads, 'No Jacket Required' is firmly uptempo and firmly eighties pop. Let me make something clear. It didn't define mid-eighties pop, there is no innovation here. It merely came to represent the mid-eighties, a time when the post-punk experimentation of the new-wave and new-romantics came crashing to a halt to be replaced by albums so commercial they hurt. Hang on though, what's this? In the credits they pain to note that no Fairlight synths were used during these recordings? That's right, they've simply made real drums sound crap instead. Sure, the sound jumps through the speakers and sure they sound 'loud', but my cats sound loud when its dinner-time. I wouldn't let them near a recording studio, though.

    'Who Said I Would' is an inferior re-write of 'Sussudio' which in itself manages to be irritating enough. Those drums that are too loud, the parping horn sounds and Phil's usual accomplished yet weak vocals. On the face of it, when we judge the album as a whole and transport ourselves back to the mid-eighties 'Ashes To Ashes' style, we find out lots of people were using crap drum sounds, repetitve rhythms and producing musical backing tracks merely designed to be wallpaper behind the vocalist. Wallpaper doesn't produce melodies, you see. Garish early seventies wallpaper does, all those patterns, but by the mid-eighties we wanted music to go global, bigger than ever. Phil's inoffensive patterns, polished productions and vocals that you couldn't actively criticize other than to say you didn't like his vocal 'sound' were designed not to upset anybody. In the process, having nothing to get upset about in music is in itself of course, hugely upsetting.

    Four massive hits were taken from the album. 'Sussudio' of course, the bland 'One More Night' of course. Also we have 'Don't Lose My Number'. It's one of those songs that have thirty seconds of ideas stretched out to nearly five minutes. The guitar phrases are annoying and trite as are the lyrics and the guitar solo is vomit inducingly self-indulgent for no apparent reason. 'I Don't Wanna Know' is a rock number done with Phil Collins synths making those short repetitive phrases, the drums pounding and obliterating everything in sight and managing to destroy any actual melody Phils vocals contain, which are mixed at least half as loud as the drums. You know, loud drums aren't a bad thing in themselves. When used right, they can provide thrilling drama and dynamics. Phil should know that, being a drummer and stop trying to bloody show off and just concentrate on writing actual songs, not going around being a prize berk, getting divorced all the time and having millions of dollars stashed away in Switzerland. Alledgedly.

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    Readers Comments

    James Reno New York City
    This review was obviously written by someone who hates Phil Collins, and probably hates most 80's pop because it's laden with big drum sounds, synthesizers, and drum machines.Actually, the reviews on his two previous albums are just as brutal (and inaccurate).Poor Phil has gotten nothing but hate from critics over the years, which is quite a shame, as his releases have actually been quite well produced and written/performed in this genre.If Phil's records were so bad...what positive things could we possibly say about TODAY'S pop music?Put Beyonce or Kanye or Lady Gaga up against "No jacket Required" and it's quite apparent that Phil's record stands as 1,000 times more musically creative and memorable.R.



    But Seriously 5 ( 1989 )
    Hang In Long Enough / That's Just the Way It Is / Do You Remember? / Something Happened on the Way to Heaven / Colours / I Wish It Would Rain Down / Another Day in Paradise / Heat on the Street / All of My Life / Saturday Night and Sunday Morning / Father to Son / Find a Way to My Heart

    It was still the 80s just about and Phil Collins was still one of the biggest acts on the entire planet, despite not releasing a new solo studio album for four years. Well, there was the small matter of 'Invisible Touch' by Genesis in 1986 and before then his own solo behemoth - between the success of those two records Phil must have felt he was king of the world. 'But Seriously' then is regarded by worldofgenesis.com as 'probably his most rounded album effort'. Thing is, Phil Collins had ruled the decade selling hit after hit, where the man he replaced as front-man in Genesis, Peter Gabriel, really hadn't. Yet it was Gabriel who got all the critical respect and Phil wanted some of that too. The problem is, after you've been so huge for so long, you are going to at some point become 'that thing we used to like'. Sales-wise, 'But Seriously' was the last of Phil's solo-blockbusters managing to top the charts the world over. Either he changed, the public taste changed or, it all changed. Few artists manage to straddle (as it were) successive decades. Phil was regarded as a serious musician during the seventies earning much critical respect as part of the Gabriel led Genesis, during the 80s, well - anybody that lived through that decade could hardly have escaped hearing Phil Collins, even if they were dead. The big question is however did 'But Seriously' itself definitely weaken the publics appetite for the man (forgetting the critics for a moment) even though, predictably, it shot to number one in about every country in the universe at the time?

    Phil doesn't mess with the formula too much, we have some mid-tempo 80s styled pop numbers along less synthetically produced, slow ballads with apparently meaningful, and/or heartfelt, subject matter. We have an album lasting a full hour, it was a problem in the CD era, artists deciding that 'full value' meant stuffing the disc full of music, and not contemplating what might make for the best album listening experience. Six of the twelve songs are over five minutes in length - some warranted, some not. Phil forgot perhaps that first and foremost he was seen as an adult-oriented pop artist above all else. Pop fans no doubt wanted some classic three minute pop frivolity, well, there's absolutely none of that here. We do have the nine minute long 'Colours', seemingly included as some kind of easy-listening take on progressive rock, despite featuring absolutely no progressive rock sounds. Well, it's the nearest a classic-era Genesis fan might come to some recognition of what he was trying to do. It's a strange song, some lovely genuinely touching moments near the start before some bombast comes in quite without reason. It slips back, then three minutes in we get a percussive section before some genuinely uplifting keyboards and melodies come through - a little upbeat moment on an album genuinely lacking in them. Shame about the trumpet, but we can't have everything. The song then continues, and continues - a chorus of sorts appears. 'Colours' is okay, but it's twice as long as it should be and proves something to me. Genesis could effectively BE Phil Collins but Phil could never really quite manage to be Genesis.

    In vinyl terms, I'm guessing side two kicked off with 'I Wish It Would Rain Down'. Eric Clapton opens with a guitar solo, Phil sings okay yet the rhythm section do a kind of plod but actually would have been better with synths. Phil gets as passionate as he can a little later vocally, but the song doesn't really do anything musically, Clapton apart. Lead single 'Another Day In Paradise' appears some thirty-three minutes into the album - a deliberate reaction against all those mid-eighties megastar albums front-loaded with all the hits? It wasn't a typical hit, Phil sings about homelessness from his place as one of the richest men in the world and whatever the motivation and genuine nature of his feelings, a lot of people simply didn't buy into it. It did have some nice 'tinkling' melodic lines here and there, but that in itself wasn't enough to even manage to get Phil up to par with his own, earlier 80s hits. 'Heat On The Street' reveals a major production and/or mixing issue, Hugh Padham was producer and normally capable of a full, percussive sound full of balance - yet 'Heat On The Street', a mid to up-tempo Phil-by-numbers piece is very thin and trebly. 'All Of My Life' is a failed 80s ballad, 'Father To Son' a ballad too far and album closer, 'Find A Way To My Heart' (see the song titles? this is personal) an uptempo number that is six minutes long, where really it should have been cut-back and made more concise and harder hitting - Phil was a Motown fan, wasn't he? They arranged songs - 'Find A Way To My Heart' is only arranged in a sense that it was written and an absolutely redundant Saxophone features to apparently liven things up.

    Phil had realised that old mid-eighties sound with the analogue synths and early digital programming was on the way out. A lot of other artists had realised the same thing, but trying to merely repeat the same but with more 'real' instrumentation and songs with an extra minute running time didn't actually make the material any more organic sounding - it sounded just as fake but in a different way. This was pop music that sounded studied - whereas the best pop music of the past, Beatles and Motown included, had only ever sounded instinctive. Too much time in the studio, Phil?

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    this page last updated 23/08/15


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