Wednesday, 27 September 2017 17:21

Album Review

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Following on from Laura's instruction to write a 500 word review, I've written this review for Phil Collins' No Jacket Required...

Phil Collins – No Jacket Required
Love him or hate him, today it’s hard to contemplate that anybody in the western world has not heard of Phil Collins. Of course, that’s not always been the case. In 1984, despite Against All Odds being nominated for an Oscar, the show's producers snubbed “Phil Cooper”(sic!) and had someone else sing his song. A year later, Mr ‘Cooper’ released No Jacket Required and everything changed.
With its title and front cover artwork of Collins bathed in a red-hot light, sweat pouring down his face, this album was marketed as his ‘club record’.
The reality, of course, is that Phil Collins is no Michael Jackson (even if he did parody him in Genesis’s I Can’t Dance video some six years later).
Take, for instance, the lead track (and number one smash), Sussudio. With its pulsating bassline, drum machines, synths, and horns it may seem an obvious dance track... until you actually try to dance to it. That is when you may realise that the skittish bass is in conflict with the gentle-paced drumbeat, rendering the pulse of the song pretty hard to dance to. At the other extreme is track three, Long Long Way To Go - a cold, minimal, song (featuring Sting on backing vocals) built around a funereal drum machine beat. It’s a song more suitable for modern ballet than a nightclub.
The subject matter of the songs don’t help either. Despite Collins being in a happy marriage (at that time at least), nearly all the songs tell of love affairs failing in one way or the other. Take for instance, Doesn’t Anybody Stay Together Anymore: a song berating the break-up of a relationship, or Inside Out: a song about inner-conflict. Do these strike you as happy upbeat themes that might get you dancing?
No, this is no dance album. Instead, what it resembles far more closely is a Genesis album.
Perhaps it’s too much to expect a lead singer’s solo material to sound noticeably different to that of his band... except it didn’t seem much of a difficulty for the aforementioned Sting.... nor even Collins’ forerunner, Peter Gabriel (who also features on this album). Yet, Only You Know And I Know is only one of a handful of songs that sounds like it could’ve featured on any of Genesis’s albums from the 1980s.
So why did this album with it’s miserablist lyrics, strange time-signatures, and Genesis cast-offs performed by Britain’s least likely sex symbol send Phil Collins’ career stratospheric? Why were four songs from this album – even those as peculiar as One More Night and Take Me Home – hits in the US Top Ten?
Maybe the answer is simply, “The Eightees”.
Or maybe the answer is even more simple: Melody. For one thing that can’t be disputed upon hearing No Jacket Required is that Phil Collins knows how to write a song that even your deaf grandma could sing along to. After all, what is music without a tune you can hum? 
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