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Why Phil Collins' ...But Seriously deserves another listen

OPINION: On its release, Rolling Stone magazine described it as an "overcomplicated" album from a "lightweight fluff merchant", "mired in generalities and abstractions".

In 2016, NME labelled it one of the worst successful British albums ever made.  "A drab bag of half-arsed white-soul donkeys..." was how Mark Beaumont summed it up.

But while many critics believe 1989's ...But Seriously was the beginning of Phil Collins' "solo rot" and featured "arguably the corniest multi-millionaire-notices-homelessness-from-gold-plated-limousine ballad ever recorded", to me it's his finest hour (roughly) and one of the best records of the 1980s.

Sure it is a little self-indulgent and calculatingly message driven (Colours' nine-minute anti-apartheid rant owes a big debt to Collins' former Genesis bandmate Peter Gabriel), but it is chock-filled with memorable tunes, emotive lyrics and addictive hooks.

A perfect showcase for Collins' range of songwriting skills ...But Seriously draws the listener in right from the opening bars of the upbeat Hang in Long Enough and the reflective That's Just the Way It Is, before unleashing the wistful, childhood-evoking classic Do You Remember?

That's followed by the perfect exercise-accompaniment duo of Something Happened on the Way to Heaven and I Wish It Would Rain Down, with the latter's crescendo a real highlight.

And that's before the chart-topping, anthemic Another Day in Paradise, with its thought-provoking challenge to the listener.

Of course it helped greatly that most of these came accompanied by fabulous music videos. Collins had displayed his ability to have fun with the format on the previous Genesis album (Land of Confusion is one of decade's best) and with Do You Remember? and I Wish It Would Rain Down in particular, he found a way to elevate those songs even more thanks to some unforgettable visuals.

I know I'm not alone in my ...But Seriously love because it was the biggest-selling album in the UK in 1990 and reached No. 1 in at least 15 countries, including New Zealand.

However, it just didn't receive much critical love and, as Collins' became, increasingly, a figure of fun  ("the middle-aged pop star who your granny quite likes," as NME put it), a poster-child for his worst excesses.

But as he is slowly being rehabilitated in people's minds, it's well worth giving this terrific album another spin.

© Stuff, by James Croot


Phil Collins - Colours Kennethvh

1 comment

  • Fernando
    Fernando Friday, 08 June 2018 20:27 Comment Link Report

    "But as he is slowly being rehabilitated in people's minds, it's well worth giving this terrific album another spin."

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