Every once in a while, I will be reviewing a release from my childhood or musical past that made an influence on me. Some of these will be well known, and others may have been passed by under the radar. Most will not be in the hard rock/metal genre. You can see reviews in that genre written by me in the Retro Review section on the webpage Sleazeroxx.com
After his last solo album, 1985’s No Jacket Required, which spawned hits like “Don’t Lose My Number,” “Sussudio,” “One More Night,” and a tour with band Genesis for Invisible Touch, Phil Collins was on a musical roll. He was charting hit after hit in the 1980s, and a question was how long could he continue? Those that have read his book know that a lot of the stories from the 1980s are basically him not remembering much about them, due to his massive schedule.
1989’s But Seriously was a more politically based album for Collins, with songs like “Another Day in Paradise” (which won a Grammy for Record of the Year in 1991), and “Colours” (which is almost 10 minutes long). Many artists started to see that the fun time party music of the 1980s were coming to an end, and some started to use more social issues in their songwriting. Collins started to use more live drumming to some of the songs, as opposed to the drum programming from his 80s work.
The album starts off with the blaring horns of “Hang in Long Enough,” which has a rock style to it, with horns by The Penix Horns adding a flavor to it, similar to Earth Wind and Fire, along with an edgy guitar throughout the song.
The album then slows down immensely on track two with “That’s Just The Way It Is,” which has a similar opening to the following song, which makes it odd placing listening to it now. This style of ballads is in the classic style of Collins’ work in the 1990s into the 2000s, especially with his soundtrack work in movies.
One of my all time songs by Collins is track three. “Do You Remember” is a song I never get tired of decades later. The piano melody, and the lyrics on this ballad is a pop classic. Lyrically, talking about a relationship that has run its course, was used when I was an English teacher at a private school in Ohio, using the tag “People are funny sometimes/they just can’t wait to get hurt again, ” for a creative writing prompt, along with using the song in looking at poetry in music. The music video for the song is one of my all time favorites, with Collins being flash-backed to his school days when he befriends a girl and they become best friends, before she moves away. I can relate to this, due to the fact that one of my best friends growing up in junior high was female (she didn’t move away, but when high school hit, we went our own ways). If you have not seen the video, it is a must see. The song was a smash hit here in the U.S., hitting #1 on the AC charts, but still isn’t mentioned when people list some of his great songs, for some odd reason. Album flow wise, with this song being placed right after track two, which is so similar in structure, I’d say skip #2 and go straight to this one. It features Stephen Bishop on backing vocals, along with great guitar work by Daryl Stuermer. I think this is one of the best pop ballads of the 1980s.
The horn section takes over again with “Something Happened on the Way to Heaven, ” along with a strong drum sound . Another hit off the album, this is another gem from the album. This is a strong powerful fun track with a big band rock feel.
The album also brought out the hits “Another Day in Paradise” with David Crosby helping out vocally, and “I Wish It Would Rain Down,” with Eric Clapton on guitar. I was never a fan of the first of these two, but the second has that crying guitar sound that Clapton is known for, which adds to the sadness of the song. Once again, the video, with Clapton having an appearance in it, is a throw back to the days of Collins’ acting days before branching into music (named Billy Collins) . It has a bluesy ballad to it with strong guitar playing. I am not against politically driven songs, but I always thought that compared to his other work, “Paradise” was a weaker song, yet it got more success critically for him, when previously the “experts” scoffed at Collins’ work.
“Heat On The Street’ is a more up tempo version of “Two Hearts” from a few years earlier, from the soundtrack to his film “Buster,” with its swing style rhythm, but with more political lyrics to it.
Two of the rarer cuts that are not usually discussed on the album is “All Of My Life,” a song that starts like a typical Phil slow ballad, but builds up with power during the choruses. The other rare song I love is the last song on the album, “Find A Way To My Heart,” which has personal meaning to it for me.
One my of best friends in high school was an illusionist, and was heavily inspired by David Copperfield. At the time I helped him write some jokes and give him some musical tips that may work for his tricks. After being influenced by a trick where Copperfield used the song “Mama” by Genesis, he decided to use this final track on this record as not only for a trick, but also was using it as his final song being played at his shows.
When I first got this release, there were many songs I skipped over, and only listened to some of the singles (except for “Find A Way..” which I always listened to with my friend). “Do You Remember” is still my favorite off the whole album. Although I do not have a bunch of Phil Collins’ releases in my collection (I have No Jacket Required on vinyl), besides this one and his 1998 Greatest hits (which for some reason doesn’t have “Don’t Lose My Number” which is a bummer), But Seriously is still an album that holds up years later. I stopped buying his studio releases after this, due to me not liking the soundtracks and too many of his songs sounding the same. The childhood memories of certain songs makes this album special for me, although I do not consider it a complete album track for track.
- Hang On Long Enough 2. That’s Just the Way It Is 3. Do You Remember 4. Something Happened on the Way to Heaven 5. Colours 6. I Wish It Would Rain Down 7. Another Day in Paradise 8. Heat on the Street 9. All Of My Life 10. Saturday Night and Sunday Morning 11.Father to Son 12. Find A Way to My Heart