CRIT: MUSIC Phil Collins - Hello, I Must Be Going
Artist: Phil Collins
Artist Grade: B+
Album: Hello, I Must Be Going
Extablisment Rating: 78
Genre: Rock, Prog Rock, Pop, RnB
Best for: Daytime Listening, Pop Radio, Jamming In the Car, Doing the Dishes, Late Night Listening. Outstanding Track: I Don't Care Anymore
Label: Virgin Atlantic
Written By: Phil Collins
Producer: Phil Collins/ Hugh Padgham
All Songs Written by Collins except You Can't Hurry Love, by Holland-Dozier-Holland.
1. I Don't Care Anymore
2. I Cannot Believe It's True
3. Like China
4. Do You Know, Do You Care?
5. You Can't Hurry Love
6. It Don't Matter to Me
7. Thru These Walls
8. Don't Let Him Steal Your Heart Away
9. The West Side
10. Why Can't It Wait 'Til Morning
Phil Collins: drums, piano, synth, percussion, etc. Daryl Stuermer – guitars. John Giblin – bass guitar. Mo Foster – bass guitar. Peter Robinson – piano, vibraphone & glockenspiel. The Phenix Horns – instrumentation. Michael Harris – trumpet.
Rahmlee Michael Davis – trumpet. Don Myrick – alto and tenor saxophones.
Louis Satterfield – trombone.
Here we have Phil Collins' second finest hour as a solo artist and as a pop rock musician. His early 80's output was all about getting the pop chocolate in the rock peanut butter. It was the moment he became a superstar with an impeccable ear for a hook and decided to punch the button for the penthouse suite of life. (Read our overview of Phil & Genesis' Career here).
The chronology goes thus: Duke had opened the door to pop radio for Genesis in 1980, signalling the start of the 80's as the Genesis decade. Face Value, Phil's first solo album released in 1981, cemented that crossover breakout in both rock and pop categories. He recorded Abacab after that, doing for his band Genesis what he had done with his own career, adding that RnB horn spice from his Brand X interests. Now you got a stew goin'!
But in 1982 the question was could Phil deliver more of the same? The world still did not know that he was more than a few good singles or better than just one rock radio hit album. He could. He was to be a juggernaut. Like the song says, he just don't GAF anymore, no more, no more.
The truth of it is that most artists hit a groove at some point that alchemizes all of their interests into one irresistible elixir. Sometimes it's a large batch that lasts a decade, sometimes it's an artisan draught. Hello, I Must Be Going is a delicious concoction in that regard, what another reviewer of note calls a "chef de ouvre".
Song by song, this album is full of interesting moments. I Don't Care Anymore is a track that somehow seems to top even In The Air Tonight in its encapsulation of the Collins' drum sound. His heartbreak has hit the anger stage and --appropriately for a drummer-- expresses itself in veritable cannon shots of explosive emotion.
In fact, has there ever been a rock tune before or since with drums providing the sole harmonic riff for the entire song? Hard to recall any others like this. Not since Bonham have drums talked so much like a guitar. It's got a riff that stabs you with each beat. Brilliantly, the vocal hook of "No more, No more" matches the drums so well that Collins needs little more than light Prophet 5 pad chords in the background to give the entire song it's body. The performance is exhilarating and the drum playing rises and falls in intensity with perfect calibration. The fuzzed out overdriven-through-the-board guitar solo gives it a buzzing climax in sympathy with the unhinged quality of Phil's impassioned vocals.
This is pretty damn good music. It never gets old.
You know, I sometimes wonder why I'm bothering to review 30 plus year old albums. I guess it's because this stuff holds up against any new music being made. Of course, it's also about the music of youth, the stuff you turn to for comfort. I grew up to this stuff, and it seemed fresh and relevant at the time. Even a smoldering fire is still warm and reminds you of the time when the spark first flushed into a flame and you were surprised and delighted by the sounds.
It often beats trying to start a new campfire from scratch. For that you gotta gather new wood and then try to get it to catch and blow air on it to keep it oxygenated. That's a lot of work! After work, you put on the music you know will warm your hands within seconds. It's why this album is near the 80's in the point count. People invest their hearts into the artists they choose to listen to in a way. An artist has to woo you. Once you "like" an artist, suddenly you are much more receptive to anything they do after that, whereas if they are foreign you might approach with some skepticism and caution.
Hello I Must Be Going by Phil Collins always remembers to send you a Valentine's Day Card, if I can extend this metaphor a little farther. Yet what is thrilling is that on this album Phil Collins manages to reveal his dark side. He tries to laugh at it, and we laugh along, but it's nervous laughter. We can almost see why someone would divorce him, if we want to get personal. (Normally, that would be a kind of mean thing to write. However, he's had more than two divorces, an amount I believe that almost qualifies as a "slew". Furthermore, he invites public scrutiny into the subject since he chooses to make confessional autobiographical heartbreak music his stock and trade).
One of the most interesting things about Hello is how dark it is in spots. The title of the album is meant to disarm you from worrying about it. It's just a little English humor. Yet he plays the role of perv in "Through These Walls" almost too well, ha ha. It does have an interesting arrangement with sailor horn hoots and a patented Collins Big Roto-tom Volley in the chorus as well as the brooding Prophet 5 pad sound we know and love, though. Meanwhile, "Do You Know and Do You Care?" features washes of dark guitar timbres and echos almost reminiscent of a Talking Heads jam like The Great Curve. Phil says he was influence by Eno when making In The Air Tonight and using the studio to create soundscapes with drama, and I believe him. The vocals here are spat in real scorn and the song gains power from the risks it takes with its production. One of the album highlights.
Meanwhile, his softer solo piano songs, a specialty, feature some of the most endearing heart on a sleeve work of his career. Both "Why Can't It Wait Till Morning?" and the even more tuneful "Don't Let Him Steal Your Heart Away" he demonstrates a mastery of simple melodic ideas and piano accompaniment. That's why we find a fairly sweet spot for him in the canon of such works.
Yet, admit it, Phil Collins is probably a slightly ingratiating lover who might drive you mad over time, given what we know about his approach to marriage as he describes it in his songs. The same goes for the deliberately simple music on his later albums. Nonetheless, on Hello I Must Be Going he played it smart for once with his lover because he knew he couldn't just dump all his pathetic whimpering on the public at once. Thus, some of the songs from this era were saved and released on later albums or as singles like "Against All Odds".
This extension of his brand over a decade cemented his reputation as a love song maestro, no doubt. Probably it was the sanctimony and needyness of his unquenchable thirst for romantic martyrdom which was exactly the kind of thing that ruined his marriage, yet he was canny enough to not over-do it in public on his second solo album. Go figure. I guess in the ideal world of an artist's work, they can be the hero who just wants to heal, spread love, and not argue anymore, ha ha. Still, I don't want to speculate too much on why his earnestness drives women away from him personally, because on record it's great and rewards repeated listens until it becomes comfort food.
The album of course has its share of pop RnB, almost a separate album the way I think of it. These such songs on Hello are perhaps even better than those on Face Value and are certainly listenable as a choice for something to put on while you do the dishes. "The West Side" sounds like the little brother of "Droned/Hand In Hand" with its bursts of horn and a mellow sax solo. "I Cannot Believe It's True" could work better with a harder mix and less pads, but it has a good intelligent arrangement with several turnarounds and filagrees as well as a nice bridge. "It Don't Matter To Me", the best of the RnB bunch on the album, has some fun horn stabs matched by the vocals. It almost starts like an extended jam coming out of "Hand In Hand" from Face Value, but it turns into a Beatles-esque tune by the first verse with a guitar figure in the mix.
The ingratiation has its limits, though. While "You Can Hurry Love" was a stroke of pop genius and fun at the time, in retrospect we know it opened the door to "A Groovy Kind of Love" and all kinds of slightly unnecessary Motown cover tunes and treacle from Mr. C. Meanwhile on "Like China" Phil tries a fake cockney accent without a lot of success. It has an interesting verse and a few hooks, but its production seems a little manic and the tone is a little too like "Who Dunnit?" from Abacab. Anything reminiscent of that makes us shudder and hit the fast forward.
To conclude, Phil Collins' album Hello, I Must Be Going was a solid follow up to Face Value in every regard. Certainly, it holds up better than some of his work with Genesis in the same period. It is less deliberately simple, indulges more of his penchant for Earth Wind and Fire style RnB, and the romantic piano tunes are more than the attempts at pure treacle that appear on 80's Genesis albums. Thus, it rewards repeated listens.