Phil Collins is keenly aware that there is a basic tenet of physics that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction, and without a doubt that immutable law applies to popular music as well. It happened to Elton John, Rod Stewart, Billy Joel, Bruce Springsteen, Bryan Adams, Sting, and most recently U2: US radio and music video outlets overplaying the hits by these most popular musicians, in the programmers’ misguided attempts at gaining a bigger audience. But the unfortunate by-product is that these listeners/viewers burn out on the saturation repetition to the peril of the musicians, and the predictable backlash unfortunately is misdirected at the musicians, who had no control over how their songs were appropriated. No one on the planet knows this better now than my guest Phil Collins.
By Fall 1982, anyone who had underestimated child-actor-turned-rock-drummer Phil Collins should have wised up when his second solo album Hello I Must Be Going was released then. After all, no one saw him coming when essentially he saved progressive rockers Genesis by hopping down off the drum riser six years earlier to fill the lead singer slot originally occupied by the seemingly irreplaceable Peter Gabriel. Then Collins wrote and sang Genesis’ biggest hit to date, “Misunderstanding”.
Phil’s first solo album, Face Value , was quietly released in 1981 to little fanfare, but it contained one of the Eighties’ iconic songs,”In the Air Tonight“. Phil Collins wasted no time proving that he was just getting warmed up on Hello…Going with another Top 10 hit “I Don’t Care Anymore”, the Motown Supremes cover “You Can’t Hurry Love“, and the catchy “Like China“.
“There was something gleaming and optimistic about the Four Tops, the Temptations, the Supremes“, says Phil Collins recalling the impact that those American Motown records had on him and a whole generation growing up in Britain in the mid-’60s. Collins first paid tribute to the Motown Sound on his second solo album in 1982, Hello I Must be Going, with his cover of the Supremes’ “You Can’t Hurry Love” paying dividends by becoming PhilCo’s first #1 in the US. This was only eighteen months after Collins had surprised everyone with his first effort Face Value containing the hit “In the Air Tonight”, and barely a year following his band Genesis releasing their most popular album to date, Abacab. And it all transpired at the very launch of 24-hour music television in America.–Redbeard