Long before Phil Collins became the coolest name to drop for US rappers and Patrick Bateman, he defined the early 80s mainstream aesthetic and eased Genesis’s transition from prog to pop with a phenomenally successful solo career.
1981’s Face Value was more soul-baring and artful and 1982’s Hello, I Must Be Going more R&B, but 1985’s No Jacket Required (7⁄10), his best-selling solo album at 25 million copies, was his cultural high mark.
A shamelessly commercialised take on 80s Genesis, tracks such as Sussudio, Only You Know And I Know, Who Said I Would and the ultra-infectious missing-person appeal Don’t Lose My Number were all plastic horns, frenetic drum machines and hooks that gave Pete Waterman ideas, but it’s the more spacious Long Long Way To Go, One More Night and the psychiatric institution-set Take Me Home that still engross 30 years on.
Ironically 2002’s Testify (2⁄10), his last studio album, sounds more dated, lacking hits or energy and sounding most aligned with Collins’ wrinklier new reshoots of each album’s cover photo. Relentlessly mid-paced, lacklustre and twinkly grey, tracks such as Wake Up Call, This Love This Heart and the tiresomely celtic The Least You Can Do are the sound of a multi-millionaire making music to fill time until the pool gets cleaned. Its liveliest tune is a Leo Sayer cover. No Ambien required.