So I had a whole other article written about Meat Loaf and Bruce Springsteen and Bob Seger. That’s going to have to wait. There are more pressing matters at hand. It’s recently come to my attention that there’s a petition begging Phil Collins to not come out of retirement.
First, I didn’t even know that Phil had retired. It’s basically always 1985 around here. No Jacket Required on vinyl is possibly the best $2.99 I’ve ever spent on anything in my life. If you don’t have it, you’re missing out.
And not to get all Patrick Bateman on you here, but anytime someone says they prefer Peter Gabriel Genesis to Phil Collins Genesis, I roll my eyes and file everything else that comes out of their mouth in my “pay no mind” file. Genesis were a joke in the world of progressive rock in the early '70s, the shorthand for middlebrow “art” for those not quite as smart as they thought they were.
What bothers me most about the petition to keep Phil in retirement is that I just don’t believe there’s a soul alive who doesn’t like him. Sure, it’s not going to win you many friends at your company Christmas party when you confess your love for the man. I can tell you from direct experience that anytime you say you like Phil Collins, people assume you’re being “ironic.”
But ain’t nothing ironic about my love of Phil Collins. The guy makes some banger tracks and rock-solid albums.
Let’s get his most obvious achievement out of the way: If you’re aware of a better drum fill than the one on “In the Air Tonight,” I’d love to hear what you mistakenly think it is. The whole track has a gritty yet gorgeous artistic primitivism that I’ll put up against anything The Velvet Underground did any day.
And it’s not like the guy just shows up and croons in his own lush and soulful way. Oh no. Go ahead and crack open the liner notes of No Jacket Required. What doesn’t Phil do on that record? He’s singing, he’s drumming, he’s programming, he’s doing more than most musicians and he’s doing it way before them.
Case in point, the electronic drums. Phil didn’t have a pretty user interface to drag and drop his favorite loops. He had to program all that stuff from scratch. Most guys playing around with electronic drums these days can’t do that. They couldn’t even figure it out if you taught them, let alone blaze the trail.
His artistic side is beyond reproach, but the man can also write a toe-tapping pop tune. There are obvious entries like “Sussudio” and “Something Happened on the Way to Heaven.” Don’t skip out on the deep tracks, though. “I Don’t Wanna Know” is a personal favorite. Maybe start there.
Phil also has an encyclopedic knowledge of American and British soul music. Not just book learning, either. Collins has incorporated the lessons of Motown and Memphis into the very fiber of his being. Dude’s voice is smooth as silk and he absolutely crushes everything from classic Detroit bangers like “You Can’t Hurry Love” to spleen-venting wailers like “I Wish It Would Rain Down” to the quiet storm of “One More Night.” Don’t take my word for it — ask Bone Thugs.
It’s 2015. You don’t have to hide your fondness for Phil’s sweet jams anymore. You know you love them. Stop living a lie and start partying down.