Was Genesis (not the first book of the Pentateuch, dummy) ever any good? Was the band better without Peter Gabriel? Is it in fact Gabriel who is to blame for the all-encompassing agony that is a Phil Collins song?Why didn't Phil Collins build on his successful stagekid career as the Artful Dodger and save us years of unpleasant, mediocre music played really well?
These are the questions.
How far back do we go for the answers? Maybe we can start with Risky Business, the starmaking Tom Cruise movie from somewhere in the dim misty distance of the Eighties, a decade best forgotten, but then I guess one can say the same for just about every decade, purely and simply for the worst fashion disasters in recent history, and perhaps the most stupid music ever made under the banner of Modernism -- whoever remembers now the joy with which certain circles greeted the neologism "rockist" and how many allegedly astute and knowledgeable rock writers so jubilantly hailed the death of the guitar in music. Phil Collins was part and parcel of this heinous crime with his monster (and I do not use that word in any Pixar related way) solo hit "In The Air Tonight" that not only gave us the most plodding and influential drum sound since "Funky Drummer" but also had no guitars at all!
Okay, the link with Tom Cruise, whose later movies generally had far superior soundtrack music, is that "Something In The Air" is heard in the background of some introspective scene or other. That's where the movie loses its plastic soul.
At the time Peter Gabriel left Genesis to start making clever-clever solo albums and showing off his public schoolboy clever-dickery by naming all of them "Peter Gabriel" (the first few anyway), Phil Collins sported a beard that made him look like the brother of Mike Love, the lead singer of the Beach Boys. Maybe this resemblance is what motivated Phil Collins, and persuaded him that he could actually warble along to the byzantine melodies and tricky time signatures of his band, and actually be fondly regarded, or even loved in a way that drummers hardly ever experience. Have Mike Love and Phil Collins ever been seen in the same space at the same time?
Much later Phil starred in Buster as a loveable yet felonious Great Train Robber who not only made criminal history but was also a loving and caring husband, kind of like a bad Robin Williams role that never made it on the Williams Saint-O-Meter. Phil not only resumed his long dormant acting career; he also managed to maim "A Groovy Kind Of Love". Wayne Fontana has not recovered. Yet another innocent victim of the foul genius of technically superbly executed mediocrity.