No Jacket Required

Phil Collins

Atlantic, 1985

REVIEW BY: Michael R. Smith

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 01/27/2008

When it comes to his solo work, Phil Collins has always been something of a one trick pony to me. His 1985 release, No Jacket Required is his best by far, and even won the prestigious Grammy for Album Of The Year. Anomaly or not, it is the indeed the album that Phil deserves to be remembered for. Sure, he’s had an impressive number of hit singles over the years, and his time with Genesis was certainly well spent, but this third solo album remains his finest and most consistent statement as a solo artist.

Any of the first seven tracks on No Jacket Required could have made the cut as far as choosing radio-friendly singles was concerned. The first one chosen for release ahead of the album’s launch date was the dreamy ballad “One More Night,” which was a suitable choice, considering Collins was known primarily as a singer of love songs up to that point.  But then, seemingly from out of nowhere, came the monster track known as “Sussudio.”  This is a song that chugs and churns along at a gingerly pace, set to a beat that is sure to get car speakers thumping. At the time, it was like nothing you had ever heard before on the radio. The word “Sussudio” may not have meant anything, but the song itself was pure magic.bim_ad_daily_vault_print_250

That’s the tricky science of pop music – to find an original way to stand out or be heard.  Producer Hugh Padgham surely steered this ship in the right direction. The track “Only You Know And I Know” is even faster-paced than “Sussudio,” and suddenly you realize that you’ve never quite heard Phil Collins sounding this alive before. Not bad for a guy who would go on to pen the tune “I Can’t Dance.” The two other singles chosen from No Jacket Required are the fun “Don’t Lose My Number” and the percolating anthem “Take Me Home,” which are also deserving of their hit status.

But wait, there’s more! “I Don’t Wanna Know” is something that fans of guitar rock are sure to dig, while “Who Said I Would” picks up where “Only You Know And I Know” left off. Lesser known fare like “Doesn’t Anybody Stay Together Anymore” and “Inside Out” are pretty much swallowed up by the other hard-driving songs, but as filler tracks they hold up fairly well (thanks to some great drumming by Collins). 

The piece de resistance of No Jacket Required has got to be “Long, Long Way To Go,” a heaven-sent duet with Sting. It is one hypnotic tune that is even more affecting than Collins’ debut single, “In The Air Tonight,” making it the perfect choice to perform at the Live Aid show. Phil Collins, as you remember, did double duty that day by taking the stage at both shows. After his gig in London, he flew via Concorde to perform the exact same set in Philadelphia and play drums for other acts. Yeah, he suffered from over-exposure as a result, but at least he showed how committed he was to the cause of eradicating hunger in Africa. Add him to the list of many heroes (with David Bowie, Bono and Freddie Mercury) who stole the show as a result of participating in that incredible day of music.

Rating: A

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© 2008 Michael R. Smith and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Atlantic, and is used for informational purposes only.