Review: Phil Collins – … But Seriously
Already reissued on vinyl (and every other format) as part of a remastering programme of all Collins’ solo catalogue in 2016, Rhino’s new vinyl edition of …But Seriously is a turquoise-coloured record to mark the album’s 30th anniversary.
Why turquoise? Pass. It’s hardly the most essential way to mark a big anniversary, but hey, it looks nice.
But seriously, …But Seriously is pivotal in Collins’ career. As its title implies, the genial bloke behind No Jacket Required was replaced by an earnest philosopher. Megahit lead single Another Day In Paradise will eternally be mocked as a multi-millionaire’s thoughts on the homeless. At least Collins seems sincere and there’s a tune there. The same could be said for Colours, Phil’s attack on South Africa’s rulers in the final days of apartheid. Colours not only empathised with his former bandmate Peter Gabriel’s worldview, it sounded like Gabriel’s Genesis, too – it’s as deliciously prog as Collins ever got in his solo career.
Less successful is the Northern Ireland treatise That’s Just The Way It Is, clunky both lyrically and melodically. Father To Son sounds trite now, but at the time dads getting emotional was still a relative novelty.
When Collins relaxed, he was on form. Long-term producer Hugh Padgham’s backdrop was less synthesised than before, with Something Happened On The Way To Heaven and Heat On The Street swinging with the loose attitude of producer and artist in perfect sync after various albums together. …But Seriously was to be the last time they worked regularly together, Collins producing his next album Both Sides himself. It’s a suitable send-off. At 30 years’ remove, some of Collins’ music and preaching sounds a little quaint. At the time, it was a bold step and the songs that have lasted are as solid as anything Collins ever made.