Phil Collins says he’s retiring. As he told us during his appearance on Soundcheck in The Greene Space late last year, he’s had a litany of health problems, including nerve damage to his hands, and actually had to tape drumsticks to his hands to be able to play drums on his last album. So even though he’s said this sort of thing before (and I actually said as much to him when he said “I’m retiring after this” on The Greene Space stage), I think this time he might mean it.
By veering away from his prog-rock roots and writing ubiquitous, mainstream pop, Collins boosted his album sales (over 100 million records over a 40-year career) and became a kind of lovable Everyman Superstar; but that pissed off a lot of influential critics, especially in England, where he became a kind of musical punching bag for the past twenty years.
I could gladly live the rest of my life without hearing most of Phil Collins’ hit songs: “Sussudio,” “Against All Odds (Take A Look At Me Now),” “Another Day in Paradise,” anything from the Tarzan soundtrack... But I still like “In The Air Tonight,” and marvel at how such an eerie, unsettling song could become as big a hit as it was. And there are more great moments in Phil Collins’ back catalog. Here are some of my favorites:
Genesis – Wind And Wuthering. The late 1976 album that showed post-Peter Gabriel Genesis at its best, with drummer and now lead singer Collins firmly at the helm. Still proggy but full of accessible tunes and inventive storytelling.
Brian Eno – Another Green World. Eno’s landmark 1975 album featured Phil Collins on drums and Percy Jones on bass – a rhythm section that worked on an almost telepathic level when set loose in the studio.
Brand X – “Sun In The Night”. From the second album by Brand X, the jazz/rock band that included both Collins and Jones (and which spawned many of the rhythm tracks used by Eno on his mid-70s albums). The album was called Moroccan Roll, and this song – the only piece on the record with vocals – featured Phil Collins singing. In Sanskrit.
Phil Collins – Face Value. I know, you’re sick of “In The Air Tonight,” and possibly “I Missed Again.” And there are a few other missteps in this early solo effort (1981). But the album’s deep tracks are keepers. “The Roof Is Leaking,” “Droned,” and “Hand in Hand” especially – and no two of them sounding alike.
What do you think of Phil Collins’ career? Leave a comment.