For anyone who knows me, even just a little bit, this post's title will be totally unbelievable, for to say I dislike Phil Collins* would be a gross understatement. And that I would voluntarily download and listen to music Phil Collins had anything to do with would be impossible to believe. However, these same people would be not be shocked to hear who convinced me to do it. The beloved Ian Hoare. A simple explanation - he was my music teacher from Grade 4-OAC. The better explanation is that we met, immediately became friends, and have been near and dear for almost 30 years. And in addition to teaching me to play all the lower brass instruments I credit him for teaching me critical thinking skills. Every Friday we had 'directed listening' to which one student would bring a song for us to discuss. The framework was this:
1. No talking while music is playing
2. Play the song. Now play it again.
3. Have an opinion which you must back it up with evidence from the piece.
Pretty good, eh. I still listen to new songs like this (and so do many of his other former students).
Anyway, back to Phil. Ian knows I hate him and he knows why and he gets it. But. But. But. The last time we had dinner he suggested I try and because Ian has been recommending music to me since the dawn of time and has never been wrong and because I had a 6 hour drive ahead of me from St Anthony's to Cornerbrook, NFLD I took his recommendation. Now let's be clear here this is NOT solo Phil. Ian recommended Trick of the Tail, Genesis's first post-Gabriel** release. Here is what I think:
I didn't hate it. The album's sweeping, symphonic vibe was perfect for a long drive by a grey, churning sea, I'll say that for Ol'Phil. There were moments of this record that I really, really liked. There is a lovely church-y organ bit at the end of "Squonk" and the bass-y horns in the middle of "Mad Man Moon" give a nice weight to the fluttery piano and flute (ugh) passage. It was the title track that was by far my favourite. I liked it's jauntiness and its mystical beastie lyrics (Does anyone else hear St. Pepper's era Beatles here? Just me?) However, there are things about this record that make me cringe - the synth-y organ-y trills, percussion parts that are in different time signatures, or sound like they are, flutes (what was with the flutes in the 70s? Can we lay all the blame at Jethro Tull's feet or what?), and well, Phil Collin's voice. I just don't like it. At all.
My download was a 2007 re-issue and it included at 15 minute interview with the remaining members of the band and this was helpful for many reasons. They are clearly talented, thoughtful musicians and this album was very important to the band's survival post- Gabriel (they all call him 'Pete' which is so....weird) Their explanation of how each song was build and who contributed, the process of auditioning singers, and then ultimately choosing Phil Collins gave me a better appreciation for what I had listened to (twice).
So I will say, yes, I can listen to some of Phil Collin's work. I can respect it and even like parts of it. However, I still can't even with 80s Phil - "Invisible Touch" remains the soundtrack to hell and "Sussidio" is THE. WORST. (We will not speak of 90s era Genesis. Ever.)
I have decided that the soundtrack to tomorrow's drive to St. John's will be Selling England by the Pound because I do love me some Peter Gabriel theatrics.
*Please see This American Life Ep. 339 'The Break Up' Act 1 for why I can no longer dislike Phil as a person but must reserve my ire only for his music.
**It should be noted here that I am a Peter Gabriel fan - big time Peter Gabriel fan. There is one CD in my car, his 1992 album US. If could only listen to one record ever again it would be this one. Ian knows this. It might even be his fault.