No Jacket Required (1985)


 
1.Sussudio 2.Only You Know And I Know 3.Long Long Way To Go 4.I Don't Wanna Know 5.One More Night 6.Don't Lose My Number 7.Who Said I Would 8.Doesn't Anybody Stay Together Anymore 9.Inside Out 10.Take Me Home 11.We Said Hello Goodbye
"Have you noticed that this guy Phil Collins is all of the sudden everywhere? I mean we got Phil Collins by himself, Phil Collins with Genesis, Phil Collins with that black guy...." David Letterman 1985

 

This was the record that sealed it; Phil was now a star. Between this release and his last, Hello I Must Be Going, he had also released two singles that flew up the charts, Easy Lover and Against All Odds. The former was a duet with Phillip Bailey of Earth Wind and Fire and the latter was a beautiful love song from the film of the same name. Both of these songs made Phil a household name, not to mention that he and his Genesis buddies also released their most successful album to date a year earlier. So it was no surprise that this release was his commercial apex.

To be fair, however, in retrospect it's safe to say that this release has not aged particularly well. In 1984 MTV was in full force and the music culture started to shift focus for the worse. Suddenly, it started to become more important how artists "looked" rather than how well they sounded. Although it's safe to say that Collins would never win any beauty contests, the style of music here reflects many of the dance oriented hair bands that started to emerge out of the muck and mire. Everyone remembers Sussudio and Don't Lose My Number, two of the best known singles from the album, that fit this category well. How well would these have sold ten years later? There are a lot of moments like that here, good songs that seem to get caught up in all that was acceptable for the time.

Others have fared better over the years. One More Night is one of his best ever from his catalog and holds well after a decade plus. His other platinum single Take Me Home is also a great listen that always serves as his final song in concert. A couple other standouts that aren't too dance oriented are the overlooked Inside Out that remains mostly forgotten on this disc full of hits and the last track (not originally on the vinyl album) We Said Hello Goodbye which is a pleasant listen that probably should not have been left off the vinyl release even if there were strict time limitations.

What is also nice to see here is the beginning of Phil's "socially conscious" side. He would never become too preachy, but he did sing about various causes in the latter years and he begins here with the very poignant Long Long Way To Go which echoes the obliviousness to human suffering world wide. Singing backing vocals with Phil is Sting, another eighties icon and the two do a beautiful job together. It's a shame they never did anything together again.

Despite the MTV friendly sound here, it was still a breath of fresh air to see Phil Collins in the midst of this decade. For a frumpy balding guy who seemed to always wear clothes a size or two too large, it was obvious that you didn't have to evoke the latest fashion or look like a movie star to make it big. And make it big is what Collins was doing - in a very big way.

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