An album of dizzying extremes, Phil Collins’ Hello, I Must be Going! is the sound of a man being torn apart — by his failed marriage, by the changes in technology, by his own ambition.
Of course, Collins’ far more consistent solo debut Face Value from two years earlier had likewise dealt with angry recriminations over his ugly divorce. Still, even by the time of Hello, I Must Be Going! arrived in November 1982, hard feelings remained for the Genesis frontman — even as he began to experiment with the polished groove-pop that would send the subsequent No Jacket Required to the toppermost of the poppermost.
The results, perhaps unsurprisingly, are confusing: Is Phil Collins the spittle-spewing ex-husband, raging against the feelings he once had, as on the Top 40 hit “I Don’t Care Anymore”? Or the broken romantic who desperately hopes for reconciliation, heard here amidst the manic delirium of “Do You Know, Do You Care?” The quiet and thoughtful lover of “Why Can’t It Wait ‘Til Morning’? Or is he, in fact, the creep-tastic stalker dude from “Thru These Walls”?
Answer? Well, yeah, kinda all of that. In a way, Hello, I Must Be Going! holds inside of it the entirety of Collins’ musical DNA strand, both as a solo artist and a member of Genesis.
“I Cannot Believe It’s True,” a low charter for Phil Collins at No. 79, is a rewrite of 1981’s “I Missed Again,” right down to the undulating rhythms and swaying brass. “Like China” finds Collins using a cockney accent last heard on the late-1970s Genesis projects. “It Don’t Matter To Me” employs the memorable hooks and forehead-slapping horn parts — courtesy of Earth Wind and Fire’s Phenix Horns — that would become a signature element of his hitmaking zenith a few years later. Collins’ note-for-note redo of the Supremes’ “Can’t Hurry Love,” itself a No. 10 hit, gave an early indication of a passion for Motown that would eventually lead to 2010’s plastic-soul Going Back covers album.
Such a disparate collection of moods, tempos and personas ends up giving Phil Collins’ Hello, I Must Be Going! the choppy feel of a hits collection. Only, without the hits, of course. A subsequent Audio Fidelity remaster offered a sterling mix — highlighting, ironically enough, the midrange — but Hello, I Must Be Going! still sounded so much better than it really was.
© Something Else Reviews, by Nick DeRiso
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