Saturday, October 29, 2011

In Defense of Phil Collins

What were they doing?
At some point in the 1980s, the words Phil Collins became interchangeable with sellout, lame, bad, or simply uncool. I'm here to argue that there was actually a time when Phil Collins might have been the coolest guy in the business.

I'd say things started going sour for Phil in 1986 (Invisible Touch, "Land of Confusion" video) or possibly late 1985 ("Separate Lives" and general fallout from No Jacket Required). Of course, I mean artistically sour; PC's bank was as sweet as dew on the vine at this point. He was turning mere over-exposure into hyper-exposure, and alienating even his ficklest fans. By the end of the decade, we were left convincing ourselves that drivel like "Throwing It All Away" and "One More Night" wasn't all that bad.

Friends, it wasn't always this way. Phil was a world class banger through the entire early 70s, as any objective listen to Nursery Cryme, Selling England... or Lamb will verify. That's not really news to the casual music fan... most people would admit, "Yeah, I know his drums were pretty good on the Peter Gabriel Genesis stuff, but..."

Hold it right there. The drums on Trick of the Tail and W & W are awesome, so it had nothing to do with Gabriel's hip factor. In fact, Phil already had a resumé that was way cooler than PG could even dream of until he hooked up with Fripp. Let's look at some of Phil's extracurricular work so far:

Eno's Taking Tiger Mountain (By Strategy), Another Green World, Before and After Science: PC does a nice job on Tiger Mountain, but positively kills it on Green World and BAAS. Those records aren't the same without him.

Brand X: Take it or leave it, but pretty awesome to have a legitimate experimental jazz fusion outfit on the side of your arena-level prog rock band. Great drums, and a few make-you-puke-up-your-tussin-it's-so-nuts tracks give Brand X the stamp of approval.

Not bad, eh? Phil kept in touch with his UK art-rock pals right into the early 80s, and hit the session jackpot with his work on his old mate's Peter Gabriel record in 1980. PG ironically gave birth to the "Phil Collins drum sound" and countless radio hours over the decade. The sound also opened the gate (ugh!) for Phil's demise, as his "big" period ("In the Air Tonight," "I Don't Care Anymore," Something's Going On, Behind the Sun, Pictures at Eleven, "Easy Lover" etc.) made good songs great and made bad songs really fucking annoying.

Phil was the undisputed king of the parking lot from '81 to '83, and here's why:
Face Value - the quintessential drummer does it all, bad marriage solo record.
Abacab - one of the most underrated records of the 1980s, co-defines prog-pop with Ghost in the Machine and Moving Pictures.
Hello, I Must Be Going! - even darker than Face Value, and is 50% perfect (not bad!).
Pictures At Eleven - "Far Post." Nuff said.
"I Know There's Something Going On" - Solidifies the "paranoid drum song" genre.
Three Sides Live - "Paperlate" b/w "You Might Recall" might be the apex of Genesis/Phil Collins, if not my own listening lifetime.
Principle of Moments - some genius is sampling "In The Mood" as we speak...
and, um, he also played on an Al Di Meola record in '83 and the Genesis album with "That's All," which I don't really want to talk about.

Hey, maybe the guy just got tired? I sang "Against All Odds" once at Winnie's and nearly passed out, so imagine how Phil musta felt! Oh yeah, he also played at Philly Live Aid and Wembley Live Aid (with Zeppelin!) without the use of a teleporter. Overexposed much?

I won't defend anything after 1985, so don't ask me to (with the possible exception of Stephen Bishop's horrendous Bowling in Paris record, which I'll gladly spin at any party I'm invited to).
This man is a billionaire.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

M is for Metallica

M's the first big section I've had so far, weighing in at well over 200 discs. Had some fun looking through my Mahavishnu sides (haven't listened much), and was a bit surprised at how often Bill Laswell's name comes up in other M titles. Nothing too exciting until I hit Kill 'Em All.

Pretty weird that talking about Metallica these days is a lot like talking about The Who or Pink Floyd. Maybe you've forgotten the first time you heard them, which probably means you weren't listening in the first place. Maybe you got sick of their bullshit and stopped caring, or just grew up and got a job. Allow me to refresh your memory.

Metallica were the best band in the world for damn near ten years. They did everything to the nth degree: played louder, faster, longer, were smarter, cooler, got more drunk, and generally beat the pants off every known band on the planet from 1982 to 1989. If they had recorded ...And Justice For All with the "not very" production of $5.98 E.P. they might have created the greatest hard rock album of all time. Metallica.

That said, I'm not sure what to think about the Lou Reed/Metallica collaboration, Lulu. I absolutely love it, but I intend to never hear a single note. However, I'm all in on the tour! Already hearing rumors of a "Sword of Damocles"/"Leper Messiah" medley encore, and possibly a guest appearance by Fernando Saunders on "Orion"... but these are just internet stories.

Lessee... how about a list of outstanding M records?
The Charm of the Highway Strip, Breaking Atoms, Master of Puppets, Bright Size Life, Operation: Doomsday, Mingus Ah Um, Double Nickels on the Dime, "Shook Ones Part II", Astral Weeks, Orgasmatron, Glider EP.
Personal faves:

The Pipes of Pan at Jajouka, A, Fear and Whiskey, Cargo, Blackout!, Special Herbs Vol. 7 & 8, The Introduction, "Universal Magnetic" b/w "If You Can Huh! (You Can Hear).

Sorry, still recovering from a couple of months of physical agony. I'll get some spunk back real soon.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

I'm back!!!

[sound of tree falling in unpopulated area]