Phil Collins: No Jacket Required

2 May

phil

The latest in the re-releases of Phil Collins’s back catalogue continues with this deluxe edition of his biggest hit, 1985’s No Jacket Required.

If you are familiar with more than one Collins joint, most of them probably came from this record. ‘Sussudio’, ‘One More Night’ and  ‘Take Me Home’ are all present and correct.

The remastered sound certainly adds an extra sheen to the songs — the horn section on ‘Sussudio’ (provided by Collins mates in Earth, Wind and Fire) in particular, is rather notable — rising above the rather dated synths and drum beats to add a real energy to what could have been a rather cold, computerised dance number.

Lesser known songs stick out more — ‘Only You Know and I Know’ might be even better than ‘Sussudio’, with a faster pace and Collins delivering a more fiery performance than usual. However, the album’s chief flaw remains largely unaffected — the omnipresence of synthesised keyboards and drums gets a little wearing about midway through the album, and songs begin to blur together.

If you hate Phil Collins, this is another nail in the coffin. If you’re a fan, there is not much added value here. You get a solid selection of live cuts, but only three demos. With an album like this you would expect a little more in the way of behind-the scenes material (where’s the demo for ‘Sussudio’?).

The demos are the most interesting aspect of this release. They represent pop at its most embryonic, with basic melody and percussion in place. There is an unintended comic aspect to these tracks — Collins had clearly not worked out lyrics yet, and so apart from a few choruses, you get to listen to a man sing literal gibberish to fill in the dead space. More early drafts like this, and a few interviews (ala Michael Jackson’s re-releases), would have made this edition feel more ‘deluxe’.

Overall, it’s a decent package, worth checking out for the remastered sound. No Jacket Required is not as good as Face Value, or fellow Genesis alum Peter Gabriel’s So, but it remains a solid example of mid-eighties pop.

 

By Tim George

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