Mixtape Of The Day 2/20/2016: Let's Absolve Phil



The idea for this mix was partially inspired by my associates in the magic of radio, Greg Chapin and Ricardo Wang. Greg recently posted a Guardian profile and interview with Phil Collins. It's kind of a weird article. Along with Hall & Oates, Collins is an '80s artist who's benefitted from a renaissance amongst more open-minded younger artists of today; the article mentions Adele, Sleater-Kinney, Kanye West and Yeasayer as avowed fans of his solo work. But he also expresses a sort of double-helix disdain for both his critics and himself during that time. Check it:
1985’s No Jacket Required was his blockbuster, with a string of hits that never left the radio. It sold 12m copies in the US alone, much to Collins’ surprise. “I’m riddled with insecurity,” he says. “‘Surely this can’t go on. Isn’t there some mistake?’ But no, it kept going.” At the suggestion of promoter Harvey Goldsmith, he played Live Aid in two countries, flying from London to Philadelphia by Concorde and helicopter. “That was the nail in the coffin,” he says. “Not only do I play it once but I play it twice. Fucking show-off...”

That changed in the 1990s... His popularity waned. For younger musicians such as Noel Gallagher, he became the Great Satan: a symbol of everything that was rotten about the 1980s. Always sensitive to criticism, Collins was floored by the backlash and never really recovered. “I just wanted to get off the roundabout,” he says of his retirement. “I had had enough, frankly.”
Greg expressed surprise that Collins was so thin-skinned. I found Collins' wavering self-regard a little concerning too, especially considering his current physical state (he is unable to play the drums, arguably his biggest talent) and the gingerly re-appraisal of his work via some new remasters of his '80s solo albums. Ricardo then pointed out that Collins played drums on a lot of great '70s albums, specifically Brian Eno's Another Green World. I countered with his drumming on John Cale's ode to certified psychosis, "Leaving It Up to You." At the exact same time, Ricardo suggested and I decided it might be nice to make a mixtape of Phil Collins' work that only a microscopic fraction of the folks who bought Face Value might know about.

So that's what Mixtape #18 is: A bunch of songs in which Collins either sang, played drums, handled production, or was at the very least known to be in close proximity at the time of recording. Condition #1: None of the songs could be from Phil Collins solo albums. Condition #2: I'd allow only one song with his best-known band, Genesis. So that meant getting on discogs.com and various progressive rock message boards, finally coming up with a comprehensive list of records with Collins in the credits that satisfied the conditions. I collected some songs together and worked out this mix.

I really like these songs. There are a couple from past Genesis associates (Steve Hackett and Anthony Phillips), some interesting experiments with conventional pop stars (Stephen Bishop, ABBA's Frida, Daryl Hall), a quartet of singularly odd and thrilling singer-songwriters (William Lyall, Elliott Murphy, Cale and John Martyn) and a couple of other bands in which Collins was a full-fledged member (Brand X, Flaming Youth). Plus some more discreet curveballs and what's arguably my favorite Genesis song at the very end.

The songs that threw me for a loop were "Maniac" from Lyall -- from the band Pilot, the guy who co-wrote their big hit "Magic" -- and "God If I Saw Her Now" from early Genesis member Anthony Phillips, featuring Collins on a frightfully vulnerable, beautiful vocal. The Frida song was an old poem by Dorothy Parker set to music. I've featured all 12-plus minutes of Flaming Youth's "The Planets" on this blog before; it's one of my favorite multi-part rock suites ever. There's some crazy shit on this thing. I hope you love it. 'Cause Phil kinda sounds like he needs love.

Warning: The introduction to this mixtape is a Christian Bale monologue from American Psycho which includes specific reference to a graphic sexual act. It's quick but vivid. But I think you'll understand why it had to be here.

P.S. I forgot to include Paul McCartney's "Angry." Dammit. Well, the rest makes up for it. Enjoy.

Track List:
(Intro) (NSFW)
David Hentschel - Oh My My
Peter Banks - Get Out of My Fridge
Brian Eno - Sky Saw
Brand X - Hate Zone
Steve Hackett - A Tower Struck Down
William Lyall - Maniac
Elliott Murphy - Drive All Night
John Cale - Leaving It Up to You
John Martyn - Never Say Never
Stephen Bishop - Sleeping With Girls
Frida - Threnody
Robert Fripp with Daryl Hall - North Star
Anthony Phillips - God If I Saw Her Now
Flaming Youth - The Planets
Genesis - The Carpet Crawlers


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