Skip

ba dum ba dom ba doom BOOM BAM BAM
February 11, 2011 10:19 AM   Subscribe

Thirty years ago this week the song that arguably defined the eighties' drum sound was released. Phil Collins' debut solo album Face Value, released February 9, 1981, contained the opening track In The Air Tonight.

Collins stumbled upon the highly compresssed drum sound while recording his track for Peter Gabriel's Intruder. The technique, known as gated reverb (not to be confused with gate reverb), involves channeling the drum sound through a noise gate and strong reverb to produce a strong yet heavily compressed percussion sound. It had been used sparsely earlier than this (the first verse of The Tubes' 1975 Mondo Bondage has gated reverb on the drums). It became quite popular in eighties pop-rock (Duran Duran's Wild Boys and Yazoo's Don't Go are fine examples).

Unusually, the video For "In The Air Tonight" used a demo version of the song, with actual drums throughout, not merely the drum machine that appears for the forst half in the better-known versions of the song.

Collins' song appeared in the first episode of Miami Vice, the last episode of Ashes to Ashes, and was the song performed by Phil Collins at his first solo performance (solo, meaning supported by guitarist Daryl Stuermer, and they also did Roof is Leaking). It became a favourite of audiences for Collins' live performances and has the distinction of being the first song performed by the same artist on the same day on opposite sides of the Atlantic.

It has shown up on the big screen screen in love scenes and combat scenes, and makes an unusual diegetic appearance in The Hangover.
There have been eleventeen thousand covers (previously) and remixes and samples of the song including a cover on the soundtrack of the feature film version of Miami Vice.

Its effects spread into the realm of urban legend, award-winning ads, video games, and essay mills.

You may now quote American Psycho.
posted by ricochet biscuit (156 comments total) 53 users marked this as a favorite

 
That was an opening track? Man, that's not where I would have put it.

(Which is perhaps why I am slogging away in my office instead of being fanned by a cabana boy.)
posted by Madamina at 10:25 AM on February 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


So is that gated reverb on the drums that open the theme to EastEnders?
posted by PeterMcDermott at 10:27 AM on February 11, 2011


I remember being 11 or 12 years old, staying up late Friday night and watching that first Miami Vice premiere and when that song came on during that sequence it was pretty much the coolest thing ever.
posted by mathowie at 10:27 AM on February 11, 2011 [27 favorites]


I used to imagine all the stories that could have led to this song. I created a thousand of my own urban legends and added fantasies around it, and it wasn't until "Pop-up Video" that I knew the song already had urban legends surrounding it. Though I found them far less interesting than the ones I in my head.
posted by zizzle at 10:31 AM on February 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


My cat loves playing the drums to this song.
posted by milarepa at 10:31 AM on February 11, 2011 [6 favorites]


It kills me a little every time I hear this song, because it forces me to admit to myself that not only did I once like Phil Collins, but also that I still dig this song today.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 10:31 AM on February 11, 2011 [9 favorites]


godheadSilo version.
posted by rainperimeter at 10:32 AM on February 11, 2011 [5 favorites]


Remember all the urban myths about this song? It still stands as an fantastic piece of rock. Phil Collins is a pretty talented guy.
posted by kimdog at 10:33 AM on February 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm not too proud to admit that I once tried to use this album as make-out music in high school.

Go ahead, fuckers. Point and laugh. I can take it.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 10:33 AM on February 11, 2011 [4 favorites]


Face Value is a great album. Truly a great pop/rock songwriter working at the height of his powers. The sense of loss and longing that pervades that entire work (written during Phil's divorce) is heart-wrenching. And Daryl Stuermer's contributions cannot be overlooked. It's his guitar and banjo work which lend much of the air of loneliness.

And yeah, that drum sound. Completely defined an era, until it got overused and finally cast aside. Gated Reverb drums were the autotune of the '80s.
posted by hippybear at 10:33 AM on February 11, 2011 [9 favorites]


How do you make the sound when you're air-drumming along? I do "Vvwuymmm-duh-ddduymm-ymm."
posted by Sidhedevil at 10:35 AM on February 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's fortunate for my Rock Band drum set's structural integrity that this song isn't available on Rock Band.
posted by AugieAugustus at 10:37 AM on February 11, 2011 [10 favorites]


Gabriel also asked Collins during not to have any cymbals sounds on the record and that added a ton to the starkness of these recordings - that alone was kind of a huge deal, extremely different at the time. I was never a huge fan of the gated verb sound but I admire the boldness of inventing a kit and building a popular sound around it.
posted by victors at 10:37 AM on February 11, 2011


I remember being 11 or 12 years old, staying up late Friday night and watching that first Miami Vice premiere and when that song came on during that sequence it was pretty much the coolest thing ever.

Simiilar feelings over here. I think it was the first time I had ever heard the song...In any event, for your enjoyment: Miami Vice - In the Air Tonight
posted by never used baby shoes at 10:38 AM on February 11, 2011 [3 favorites]


This song came up on the radio at Mrs Agogo's place of employment, and just before the famous drum part one of her coworkers announced very loudly "This is my favorite part of the song!" as if she were drawing a line in the sand. She was quite disappointed to find out that it was EVERYBODY'S favorite part of the song. Of course now whenever we hear the song we have to declare it our favorite part of the song.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 10:39 AM on February 11, 2011 [4 favorites]


Soul Rebels Brass Band does a fun cover - unfortunately that's the only YT I can find for it and it's not great.
posted by CheeseLouise at 10:39 AM on February 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


It is also the soundtrack to the incredibly graphic anti-drunk-driving video shown at my high school during drivers' ed, and every spring before prom.

Every time I hear the opening drum sequence--or any of the many, many songs that later used a similar drum opening--I am reminded of the numerous possible scenarios in which one's body and brain can be separated permanently. It's not that I'm squeamish in the least, or that I have anything in particular against Phil Collins (except the Tarzan song), but I do change the radio station if "In the Air Tonight" comes on while I'm driving.
posted by Uniformitarianism Now! at 10:40 AM on February 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


Hard to believe, but I've never actually heard this song.

Weird, huh? And it's not like I've lacked opportunities - Phil Collins actually called me up a few times to offer me tickets to his concerts, but I always had something else going on. Having to turn him down so many times made me feel even worse about letting his wife drown.
posted by Your Disapproving Father at 10:40 AM on February 11, 2011 [30 favorites]


This song was also Coach Mike Tomlin's choice to focus the Steelers' the night before their 2009 Super Bowl win.

Also, when I was in a soul-sucking job, I would watch that Cadbury commercial to get through the day.
posted by gladly at 10:40 AM on February 11, 2011


1) In The Air Tonight is a fucking boss song and there is nothing to be ashamed about. I don't know what anyone is talking about.

2) Even Steelers coach Mike Tomlin knows this, he made the team listen to it in the meeting room with the lights off all through the playoffs. Which is hilarious.
posted by nathancaswell at 10:41 AM on February 11, 2011


I have read that the overall sound of "Love Lockdown" by Kanye West was inspired by the 80s sound that this Phil Collins song epitomizes.
posted by TrarNoir at 10:41 AM on February 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


That was an opening track? Man, that's not where I would have put it.

Actually, it's a pretty great opening track. Song starts completely softly, coming at you from the shadows, and then completely jams at the end. Plus, Collins was most famous for being the drummer for Genesis up until that point, so putting a piece front and center that emphasizes the fact that this is a drummer's solo album makes completely sense. It sets the stage for everything else on the album, with its dark atmospheres and strong melody, and also serves as a point of contrast with the songs which don't have drums at all or which have that great horn section.

The other bookend to the album is Phil's take on Tomorrow Never Knows. Also a song which emphasizes the drumming. It's really the perfect sequence, in so many ways.
posted by hippybear at 10:41 AM on February 11, 2011 [4 favorites]


That drum sound is a really sharp piece of studio work. Really sharp.
posted by mr_roboto at 10:42 AM on February 11, 2011


Collins and In The Air Tonight fans will likely also enjoy Frida - Something Going On
posted by ish__ at 10:43 AM on February 11, 2011 [8 favorites]


We attended a wedding a couple of years ago. The couple used In the Air Tonight as the theme for their entire event. Considering the genesis of the song is from Collins' emotions dealing with his separation and impending divorce, several of us shared many giggles over this.
posted by Thorzdad at 10:44 AM on February 11, 2011


My favorite version was this one during his "farewell tour". BAM DRUMSTICKS OUT OF NOWHERE.
posted by mrbill at 10:45 AM on February 11, 2011 [4 favorites]


Collins stumbled upon the highly compresssed drum sound while recording his track for Peter Gabriel's Intruder

That's how I've always heard it, but then how do you explain some of the drums on David Bowie's 1977 album Low? The song BREAKING GLASS comes quickly to mind.
posted by philip-random at 10:45 AM on February 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


Why am I reading every comment in this thread in Patrick Bateman's voice?
posted by Grimgrin at 10:46 AM on February 11, 2011 [5 favorites]


Well, since you asked:
Do you like Phil Collins? I've been a big Genesis fan ever since the release of their 1980 album, Duke. Before that, I really didn't understand any of their work. Too artsy, too ... intellectual. It was on Duke where Phil Collins' presence became more apparent. I think Invisible Touch was the group's undisputed masterpiece. It's an epic meditation on intangibility. At the same time, it deepens and enriches the meaning of the preceding three albums. Christy, take off your robe. Listen to the brilliant ensemble playing of Banks, Collins and Rutherford. You can practically hear every nuance of every instrument. Sabrina, remove your dress. In terms of lyrical craftsmanship, the sheer songwriting, this album hits a new peak of professionalism. Sabrina, why don't you, ah, dance a little. Take the lyrics to "Land of Confusion." In this song, Phil Collins addresses the problems of abusive political authority. "In Too Deep" is the most moving pop song of the 1980s, about monogamy and commitment. The song is extremely uplifting. Their lyrics are as positive and affirmative as anything I've heard in rock.
I wish the Iggy Pop bit had been left in, or perhaps even substituted for the Phil Collins routine, especially where Bateman says that his music has become more commercial and therefore more satisfying. It says a bit more about the character. Collins is something of an easy target, admittedly, with a lot more name recognition and a spot firmly in the eighties, but it is a bit of a cheap shot. It wasn't exactly unlikeable music or even particularly shallow as music from that time period goes. Don't get me wrong, I love much of it, but Phil Collins' music comes off like the Eiffel Tower compared to some of the hits from the eighties with the depth of wet toilet paper on the surface of a neutron star.

That didn't seem to stick, though. Since about 1983, Phil Collins, Billy Joel, Sting, and Elton John are trying to merge into some kind of Borg-like generic male pop-soul collective, or so I have suspected for years. It was there were two years of a steadily-improving progression of great music from all four which somehow turned bland by the mid-eighties. Maybe there really was something in the air.
posted by adipocere at 10:46 AM on February 11, 2011 [4 favorites]


That's how I've always heard it, but then how do you explain some of the drums on David Bowie's 1977 album Low?


God that's a good record... but I am partial to Sound and Vision.
posted by nathancaswell at 10:47 AM on February 11, 2011 [3 favorites]


It kills me a little every time I hear this song, because it forces me to admit to myself that not only did I once like Phil Collins, but also that I still dig this song today.

As hippybear notes, Face Value is actually a really good album. In the period between this album and No Jacket Required (where things start going off the rail in the terms of the quality of his output), Phil Collins was one of the best pop song smiths & producers out there. Hello, I Must Be Going, while missing some of the emotional rawness of FV, is a great album. Plus, there was Against All Odds .
posted by KingEdRa at 10:48 AM on February 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Ok: how many times have you lingered in the car in the parking lot of Denny's just so you can hear the "dum ba dom ba doom BOOM BAM BAM" part? Me, it's got to be more than ten.
posted by dirtdirt at 10:53 AM on February 11, 2011 [11 favorites]


If you are listening on a good set of headphones, you'll notice a very deep bass synth drone underneath that pulses out of sync with the time. Nice ominous atmospheric touch, Mr. Collins.
posted by barrett caulk at 10:53 AM on February 11, 2011


One of my best things that I discovered while I was finding links for this (unfortunately typo-flecked) FPP is that when Collins performed at Live Aid in Philadelphia (the link at the word "sides"), you can hear the crowd noise go weirdly staccato at about 3:43: that is the sound of 100,000 people singing the iconic drum fill in unison.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 10:53 AM on February 11, 2011 [15 favorites]


Collins stumbled upon the highly compresssed drum sound while recording his track for Peter Gabriel's Intruder

That's how I've always heard it, but then how do you explain some of the drums on David Bowie's 1977 album Low?


You have to realize that when Phil Collins says "stumbled on" he means "stole from David Bowie". He did that a lot in the '80s.
posted by Aquaman at 10:54 AM on February 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


CheeseLouise: "Soul Rebels Brass Band does a fun cover - unfortunately that's the only YT I can find for it and it's not great."

Yay! God, I love the Soul Rebels.
posted by brundlefly at 10:56 AM on February 11, 2011


One of my best things that I discovered while I was finding links for this (unfortunately typo-flecked) FPP is that when Collins performed at Live Aid in Philadelphia (the link at the word "sides"), you can hear the crowd noise go weirdly staccato at about 3:43: that is the sound of 100,000 people singing the iconic drum fill in unison.

I think its the Rush: Live In Rio DVD which has the entire crowd singing along with the guitar solos. Insane.
posted by hippybear at 10:56 AM on February 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


the Earth Wind and Fire Horns redeemed him for any pop music sins
posted by timsteil at 10:58 AM on February 11, 2011


You have to realize that when Phil Collins says "stumbled on" he means "stole from David Bowie". He did that a lot in the '80s.

And as I said, it was not that it had never been done before, it is just that one song was responsible for popularizing the effect. I reckon the ratio of the number of times "In The Air Tonight" has been played on the radio to the number of times "Breaking Glass" or "Speed of Life" has been played is roughly one squintillion to one. Not that Collins and Bowie have comparable artistic output in general, but many listeners (including myself and several mefites quoted above) who otherwise have no use for that soft-rock Sussusudio guy figure he knocked it out of the park with that one song.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 11:02 AM on February 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


I always liked this live video of In the Air Tonight for, among other things, the goofy-but-great spectacle of him playing the drums and singing simultaneously (and the fact that the crowd is SO EXCITED when it happens).

For some reason, it was a mainstay of my all-nighters in college.
posted by dismas at 11:02 AM on February 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


Back in the late 90's some friends and I went to an in-store appearance / record-signing by Dio at Music Millennium, mostly because we didn't have anything better to do that day.

My friend Dan (who was in a concept band whose conceit was that they had come through a black hole from a future in which Phil Collins was a tyrant who ruled the world with an iron fist and had banned all guitars) brought a copy of the Face Value LP with him. How he convinced Dio to sign that record I will never know, but it now has, sharpied onto Phil Collins' giant forehead, the immortal legend: "Death to false metal-- Ronnie James Dio"
posted by dersins at 11:03 AM on February 11, 2011 [23 favorites]


The rule in my cohort was that if (when) the song started, you were required to crank the volume to eleven immediately before the iconic solo. If your car radio's / dorm room's / mom's stereo's speakers couldn't handle it, that was your problem.
posted by GatorDavid at 11:05 AM on February 11, 2011


She was quite disappointed to find out that it was EVERYBODY'S favorite part of the song.

I'm a big fan of "Moment..Moment..moment ...ent...ent..."
Complete with accompanying handgestures.
Best performed while stuck in traffic.

(also "worry..worry worry...rry. rry.")

posted by madajb at 11:05 AM on February 11, 2011 [3 favorites]


rainperimeter: "godheadSilo version. "

Whoa, whoa, what? What? This is a perfect pairing; makes me feel anxious and nervous, even without watching the video.
posted by boo_radley at 11:12 AM on February 11, 2011


I would just like to say that Peter Gabriel 3 is a fucking tremendous album, and if you haven't heard it you have made a big mistake.
posted by Decani at 11:14 AM on February 11, 2011 [7 favorites]


A short playlist of why Phil Collins was awesome between 1981 & 1985:

Abacab, Don't Let Him Steal Your Heart Away, I Don't Care Anymore, Mama, Easy Lover (shush!, I couldn't find a video for the vastly superior "We Said Hello Goodbye").
posted by KingEdRa at 11:15 AM on February 11, 2011 [3 favorites]


Nice use of the word "diegetic."
posted by zzazazz at 11:16 AM on February 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Rolling Stone had an article late last year about how Phil Collins has suicidal thoughts and how "decades of criticism have taken their toll." I've always thought -- and still do -- that he is a severely underrated songwriter. Face Value and Hello, I Must Be Going, along with the Genesis albums of the same era (Abacab, Duke, the self-titled album) is some of the best pop music of the '80s, IMO.
posted by Clustercuss at 11:17 AM on February 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


Collins and In The Air Tonight fans will likely also enjoy Frida - Something Going On

I ♥ that song, one of the best of the '80s.
posted by MikeMc at 11:18 AM on February 11, 2011


I am still a little peeved that when Genesis did their last US tour, the closest they came to the Pacific Northwest was Chicago or San Francisco. But I do hold out hope that they'll talk Gabriel into finally doing the full-on Lamb Lies Down tour which early 1970s tech denied them from successfully achieving. That would bring Hackett back, and I'd fly to anywhere on the globe to see it. I would.
posted by hippybear at 11:22 AM on February 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Every time I hear the song, I can't help but think of this.
posted by xedrik at 11:24 AM on February 11, 2011


The version of the urban legend current among my crowd at the time was that Collins tracked down his wife's murderer, invited him to the show, and sang the song to him; after which the killer was arrested by waiting police.

But I think that was actually an episode of The Rockford Files.

Oh, yeah -- and also, when Phil's wife was murdered, The Ohio Players were recording Love Rollercoaster next door, and that scream is actually Phil Collins wife being murdered. Also, after the concert, he played Gloomy Sunday as an encore, and everybody in the audience committed suicide. Then he had to go to the hospital and have his stomach pumped, and...
posted by steambadger at 11:26 AM on February 11, 2011


Say what you will, but I saw St. Vincent and Sufjan Stevens cover "In the Air Tonight" at Brooklyn Academy of Music a few years ago, and it was one of the most wonderful things I have ever put in my ears*.

All I can find is this crappy, muffled clip. But it was amazing.



*Right up there with toilet paper, glitter glue, pencils, Fugazi, Barbie shoes, and Christmas ornaments.
posted by functionequalsform at 11:28 AM on February 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


I KNOW I've told this story before, but...

When I was about 13 or 14, my schoolbus driver rigged up a set of stereo speakers on the bus and tuned into a classic rock station for us all. People paid varying degrees of attention usually.

One morning this song came on. I and a couple other kids perked up, but everyone else mostly kept doing their own thing -- napping, talking with their seatmates, catching up on homework, whatever. But -- when it came to the drumbreak, every single last kid on that bus turned around to the back of the seat in front of them and banged out "BA--dum BA-dum BA-dum BA-dum -bum" and then just all went back to whatever they'd been doing.

It took me about three minutes to stop giggling.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:30 AM on February 11, 2011 [15 favorites]


If you want to hear Phil Collins being amazing you need to listen to Brand X (try Livestock if you've always found them inaccessible, it's an amazing live album that avoids a lot of their more idiosyncratic work). I've never heard him do anything even close to his Brand X work in any of his other venues. Unfortunately, becoming a millionaire schlock-meister seems to have put the kabosh on him doing that kind of work (not that I blame him really).

As for the 80's drum sound, it was interesting for about 2 weeks in 1979 and the proceeded to wear out it's welcome for the next 10 years or so. Every major pop song from that era has EXACTLY the same snare sound (think about Born in the USA or Love Stinks or any number of other less memorable tracks). It was horrible. Once I noticed it, every snare hit on every song was like a mental pin prick. Still can't listen to much from that era.
posted by doctor_negative at 11:32 AM on February 11, 2011 [3 favorites]


Back when I got my hands on my first big time digital reverb unit, a preset ART ProVerb processor that was incredibly noisy and limited you to the 99 burned-in effects that came with it, that I had a fucking ball with the gated percussion patch, which made all my drum tracks sound gigantic and supermega80s until I realized that gigantic supermega80s really wasn't really the sound I was going for.

Fortunately, I heard the crazy bump-bump-badump toms that start at 0:41 in "The Army Now" and was transfixed, which is why the first five years of my recording history sounds like demented carousel music from a Wurlitzer 165 Automated Military Band Organ, as a simulated on a Fairlight CMI Series II, instead of Phil Collins and every other light rock band of the decade. Hmmm, of course, they're all rich and I'm polishing clock gears for a living, but that's only because the world hasn't caught up to me yet...or so I tell myself. One day, though, if I can find a four-track tape deck that works...watch out world!

I'm just glad I always hated (and still hate) the woeful crack of the TR-808 handclap, a fair stand-in for the sound of the doorbell of despair at the gates of hell, which is why I've managed to retain control of my immortal soul thus far.
posted by sonascope at 11:34 AM on February 11, 2011 [6 favorites]


Friday, 11 February 2011

Dear diary,

Another sweet day for the quidnuncster. Got on the internet and totally crushed some losers who said that Phil Collins' "Face Value" was a better album than "No Jacket Required". IDIOTS.

As the sweat dried from my face and I turned away from the keyboard, I realised: damn. If I knew any girls, they'd be so totally sexed by my point-by-point online analysis of Phil's work, I probably wouldn't even have to beg them to show me a little brastrap. You know what I mean?

OK - now Mom's screechin' at me to clean up my room. Q-dog out.
posted by the quidnunc kid at 11:37 AM on February 11, 2011 [11 favorites]


Empress, would I be dating myself if I said I have, until this day, the same response to the beats at the beginning of "smoke over water" - tha tha tha, that tha tha ra - and if I am standing up my feet start stomping in response?

And thank you for this song being posted tonight, I came across it just when I could feel it in the air actually; perfect moment.
posted by infini at 11:39 AM on February 11, 2011


Clicked to see if anybody else mentioned the horrifying drunk driving video. I cannot listen to the song to this day because I can only remember how it felt to sit in the dark auditorium and stare at my knees. I only dared to look up once. That was enough.
posted by MaritaCov at 11:44 AM on February 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


You have to realize that when Phil Collins says "stumbled on" he means "stole from David Bowie". He did that a lot in the '80s.

I was a rather BIG Peter Gabriel fan in 1980, so I was all over the Third album when it came out, and the stories behind it. As I remember hearing it, all Collins really did was pound the drums in those sessions. It was Gabriel, producer Steve Lillywhite and Hugh Padgham who really deserve the credit. I realize that this is counter to the wikipedia version of events but figure it's worth putting out there.

Also, I did get to know a few folks who were Genesis/Gabriel insiders way back when, and there were definitely reports that Gabriel was miffed at Collins for taking too much of the credit for the SOUND. Which is a point worth considering when you take into account the artistic wasteland that most of Collins' subsequent solo career devolved into.

All griping aside though, you can't argue with that one part of one song's IMPACT. And yes, though Bowie-Eno-Tony-Visconti may have done it first, and Gabriel and co did it next, Collins it seems did it best ...

But here's hoping that's the last good thing I ever have to say about his solo career.
posted by philip-random at 11:46 AM on February 11, 2011


I recall getting into a debate with a drummer friend of mine over whether the sounds of the Big Fill are properly pronounced "Black-um, black-um" or "Bla-toom, bla-toom."

Building a gated 'verb using an actual noise gate, patched in through the mixer patch bay, was fun too. Got tired of it quick, but it was fun to play with for a while.
posted by Devils Rancher at 11:46 AM on February 11, 2011


CTRL + F: godheadsilo.
Thanks, rainperimeter!
posted by safetyfork at 11:50 AM on February 11, 2011


I knew if I kept digging I'd find this: really really excellent remix of In The Air Tonight.

There are surprisingly few good remixes of this song, but I've had this one in my music library for years.
posted by hippybear at 11:53 AM on February 11, 2011 [3 favorites]


Don't Fight it, Phil It, in which contemporary indie sweethearts show the man some love on Norwegian TV.
posted by activitystory at 11:54 AM on February 11, 2011


Face Value is a great album. Truly a great pop/rock songwriter working at the height of his powers. The sense of loss and longing that pervades that entire work (written during Phil's divorce) is heart-wrenching.

Incredibly underrated album. Many of the tracks also have incredible charts from the Phenix Horns. For my money, a very similar song on the next album, "I Don't Care Anymore," is even darker than "In the Air Tonight."

And yes, I'll also defend parts of Hello, I Must Be Going!, No Jacket Required, and a couple of his soundtrack songs, no matter how much I'm laughed at. It's great pop music.
posted by blucevalo at 11:58 AM on February 11, 2011


I was a rather BIG Peter Gabriel fan in 1980, so I was all over the Third album when it came out, and the stories behind it. As I remember hearing it, all Collins really did was pound the drums in those sessions. It was Gabriel, producer Steve Lillywhite and Hugh Padgham who really deserve the credit.

That's the way I've always understood it, too. And also, Gabriel told him to take the cymbals off the set because he wasn't happy with the parts Collins was coming up with in rehearsals.
posted by Devils Rancher at 12:00 PM on February 11, 2011


I've been listening to the fourth Cars album (release date sometime in the early 80s) while reading this thread, and it's really brought that drum sound to my attention in a way I rarely catch it, other than in In The Air Tonight itself.
posted by immlass at 12:05 PM on February 11, 2011


Bah-dum, bah-dum, bah-dum, bah-dum DUM-DUM DUM!
posted by sourwookie at 12:05 PM on February 11, 2011


Auugh, damn post title.
posted by sourwookie at 12:05 PM on February 11, 2011


I think its the Rush: Live In Rio DVD which has the entire crowd singing along with the guitar solos. Insane.

Rush is far from alone in this. In particular, there is an entre generation who can sing the outro guitar solos from "Hotel California". It was just the word rippling effect in the audience white noise roar caused by a stadium full of people singing a drum fill that caught my attention.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 12:07 PM on February 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


word=weird
posted by ricochet biscuit at 12:08 PM on February 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Not much was mentioned about the effects of it's spread into air drumming, but believe you me, folks, it was significant.
posted by Rewind at 12:09 PM on February 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


It's gratifying to see so much love for Collins in this thread, considering how he was pretty much a modern rock pariah for so long. Abacab is one of the few of a short list of albums that I keep buying with every new iteration of storage media.
posted by crunchland at 12:24 PM on February 11, 2011


Big Genesis fan here, both with or without PG, because as we all know it really was Tony and Mike's band) and was so distraught when I heard that they were doing a reunion tour a few years back because I didn't want to go see "The Phil Collins Show!" with guest stars Mike and Tony... Later on I read a quote from Phil that he realized his solo shows and some latter day Genesis shows were way over the top, with too much ad-libbing and melodramatics, so he (supposedly) toned it down for the reunion.
posted by Gungho at 12:25 PM on February 11, 2011


"Home by the Sea" is my favorite, but yeah, that's a fun song to listen to. For all that critics complain about 80s music, it's nice to be reminded that there were some seriously skilled musicians out there.
posted by happyroach at 12:27 PM on February 11, 2011


I liked Genesis until Collins fucked it up, and I liked Brand X before he fucked it up - two innovative bands that turned derivative and shallow once he took the helm and turned them "popular". So y'all ba-dum ba-bom all you want, but Phil Collins is dead to me twice over.
posted by Greg_Ace at 12:31 PM on February 11, 2011


Mr. Ace:

It's a wonderful thing that everyone feels free to express an opinion. We will take yours under advisement.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:34 PM on February 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


No one has mentioned that Phil's neck injuries, accumulated over years of playing drums, are preventing him from playing drums anymore. Whether you care for his music or not, you've got to feel for an accomplished guy crashing to earth like that.

"Home by the Sea" is my favorite

I came of age in the eighties, and I think that the first side of the self-titled Genesis album is one of the great recordings of the era. Mama + That's All + Home By The Sea is some powerful kung fu.

Illegal Alien, however ... sigh.
posted by Sauce Trough at 12:36 PM on February 11, 2011


Collins was a hell of a drummer. He's been involved in creating some great music and some schlock. But, hey, how many people in the world were involved in creating any great music?
posted by Joey Michaels at 12:48 PM on February 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


I suppose at some point someone should point out that, in the long run, the BIG SOUND DRUM that will forever be attached to Phil Collins is possibly the worst thing that happened to music in 80s. Yes, it worked nicely with In The Air Tonight (and other records where such dynamics were required) but for the most part, it was just this BIG DUMB SOUND that came pounding into roughly half the records released between 1980-87 for no particular reason other than, well, it's what everybody else was doing.

Interesting that it was hip-hop and its sample-mad breaks and beats that finally put the damned thing to rest.
posted by philip-random at 12:52 PM on February 11, 2011


In particular, there is an entre generation who can sing the outro guitar solos from "Hotel California".

You mean it was more than just me and my bf at age 19 on a midnight bus to Goa who did this?
posted by infini at 12:57 PM on February 11, 2011


Of course, it's my contention that BIG BIG GATED DRUMS were the first volley of shots in THE LOUDNESS WAR, which has made the world an altogether less dynamic place, at least when it comes to music.

It's oh so quiet, shh shh, and so peaceful until—
posted by sonascope at 1:01 PM on February 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yeah Sauce Trough, Mama was a weird-ass song. I think it helped spawn Trent Reznor's sound, honestly. I mean, listen to "Closer" and there's a lot of "Mama" and other oddities from that album in there. The droning repetitive layers under the sharp guitar breaks and things... people look at me like I'm crazy when I talk about this but I think there's little doubt, when you listen to both, that Genesis heavily influenced the deep and creepy atmospherics of Reznor's NIN recordings.
posted by Mister_A at 1:05 PM on February 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


I can testify that if you have the need to suddenly break out in song on a bus ride, you can hardly do better than belting out "I CAN FEEL YA CUMMIN IN MY HAIR TONIGHT... OH LORD.... OH LORD!" Kid tested, chaperone disapproved.
posted by FatherDagon at 1:10 PM on February 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Empress: As I do all of yours when it comes to stating personal musical tastes.
posted by Greg_Ace at 1:16 PM on February 11, 2011


There's always gotta be someone to be the "your favorite band sucks" guy.
posted by crunchland at 1:19 PM on February 11, 2011


Check out PC playing drums on "Disengage" from Robert Fripp's so-good-it-will-blow-a-hole-through-your-face Exposure here. (Warning: Peter Hammill aaaaauuuughhhggaaaaaa)
posted by mintcake! at 1:21 PM on February 11, 2011


Not that it was the first time I had heard this song, but certainly my personal favorite memory: first time backpacking, my friend and I are in this tiny little village in Southern Spain on the Mediterranean. It's siesta time and there's not a soul to be seen around, the two of us are sitting in this little square in the center of town, and everything is dead silent until this little funny looking Spanish guy in a ridiculously pimped out muscle car drives right up into the middle of the square and puts Phil Collins on full volume, echoing through the entire town. He had this 'I don't give a fuck, it's time for everyone to enjoy my song' grin on his face that made us both burst out laughing, to which he looked over and gave us the double thumbs up.
posted by mannequito at 1:24 PM on February 11, 2011 [3 favorites]


I havd to admit, Mama + Home by the Sea were the only works Mr Collins has been involved with that I have ever been driven to own. In the Air Tonight was so ubiquitous when it was released that I was entirely sick of it by about three weeks after its release, and in those days a number one song could linger on high rotate for months on radio stations and whatever limited music tv was available to attend. That said - some of the concert descriptions noted here for the track sound like they would have been awesome - it's a mood that doesn't get brought to the fore very often in gigs.
posted by Sparx at 1:26 PM on February 11, 2011


There's always gotta be someone to be the "your favorite band sucks" guy.

I've got to say-- and I say this as someone who has enjoyed Mr. Collins' musical stylings for almost 30 years-- that disliking his music is neither particularly unreasonable nor is it a particularly contrarian position to take, so I'm not sure why people are jumping down greg_ace's throat for expressing his opinion.
posted by dersins at 1:29 PM on February 11, 2011


Let's hear some love for I Missed Again
posted by evilcolonel at 1:37 PM on February 11, 2011


disliking his music is neither particularly unreasonable nor is it a particularly contrarian position to take, so I'm not sure why people are jumping down greg_ace's throat for expressing his opinion.

Not necessarily jumping down his throat, just wondering why he walked into the "Phil Collins Super Ace Fan Squad" room wearing a "Phil sucks dingo kidneys" t-shirt.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:39 PM on February 11, 2011


Hey, great, now I have to listen to Nurse With Wound and Whitehouse's The 150 Murderous Passions to drive the Phil Collins song out, and IT ISN'T WORKING, because in my headphones it's abrasive screeching feedback and metallic clanging but IN MY ACTUAL HEAD its "I can feel it coming in the air tonight...hold on..."

WHAT A GREAT WAY TO START MY WEEKEND.
posted by infinitywaltz at 1:41 PM on February 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Phil Collins, the drummer from that English prog band Genesis? He had a solo career?
posted by Liquidwolf at 1:46 PM on February 11, 2011


I say with no sarcasm that if I ever achieve anything as good as the Miami Vice sequence that uses this song then I will consider my career a success.
posted by Bookhouse at 2:01 PM on February 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


We attended a wedding a couple of years ago. The couple used In the Air Tonight as the theme for their entire event.

Oh lord were you at THIS wedding???
posted by kingbenny at 2:03 PM on February 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm not sure why people are jumping down greg_ace's throat for expressing his opinion.

I dunno, greg_ace (and philip-random earlier) seem particularly bitter about Collins. As if they personally had some skin in the game. That's when it gets kind of weird.

I always thought Collins was kind of quirky as a singer/songwriter. I can see how songs like Against All Odds can be huge pop hits. But tunes like In the Air Tonight, I Don't Care Anymore are strangely gloomy pop tunes. He came up with some odd drum machine vibes for a drummer. And a song like Illegal Alien... wtf?
posted by 2N2222 at 2:04 PM on February 11, 2011


Phil did drums on that Frida track, as well as back-up vocals and produced the record.

He also played (similar sounding) drums on Howard Jones' No One is to Blame.
posted by shannonm at 2:05 PM on February 11, 2011


and produced the [Frida] record

And you can tell: the drums on that entire album are *very* prominent in the mix.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 2:09 PM on February 11, 2011


On a more serious note, I sure loved that M83 record from a couple of years ago... a lovely tribute to that whole decade and especially to this drum sound.
posted by kingbenny at 2:18 PM on February 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


I say with no sarcasm that if I ever achieve anything as good as the Miami Vice sequence that uses this song then I will consider my career a success.

How great is that low angle shot of the running light, wheel, quarterpanel, and door, the gorgeous bodywork reflecting the black and white of the roadway, headlights and streetlights, the wheel bobbing athletically as the Daytona gobbles up asphalt? That is a gorgeous image.
posted by Mister_A at 2:23 PM on February 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


"So if any of you out there are looking for the song that's going to be your big hit, you should pay attention, because we are talking to Phil Collins' people. But then again... aren't we all?" - Hedwig
posted by JoanArkham at 2:33 PM on February 11, 2011


That's how I've always heard it, but then how do you explain some of the drums on David Bowie's 1977 album Low? The song BREAKING GLASS comes quickly to mind.

All griping aside though, you can't argue with that one part of one song's IMPACT. And yes, though Bowie-Eno-Tony-Visconti may have done it first, and Gabriel and co did it next, Collins it seems did it best ...

Wait, hold on, Collins played on Eno's Taking Tiger Mountain ('74), Another Green World ('75), and Before and After Science ('77). If it was theft, at least he paid his dues first.
posted by otio at 2:48 PM on February 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm not sure why people are jumping down greg_ace's throat --- I wasn't jumping down his throat. I was commenting on the inevitability of there always being someone who had to be the 'your favorite band sucks' guy. It is the internet, after all.
posted by crunchland at 2:49 PM on February 11, 2011


This is such a great post about a song that looms disproportionately large in my legend. I've favourited it seventeen times. My dad used to play the record at top volume when I was three or four and it would frighten me to death. I would run around the house with my hands covering my ears, screaming, desperately trying to unlock the sliding patio door so I could escape the sound of deepest, darkest Hell that is the drum track on that recording. I still can't watch the video today. I'm shuddering now just writing this reply.

BUT. I love having the crap frightened out of me now by music, and Phil Collins is partially to blame. See also: "Mama" by Genesis, featuring both gated drums and the infamous, Helter Skelter-esque evil chuckle.
posted by tapesonthefloor at 2:50 PM on February 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


I appreciate those in this thread who have defended my right to say something they didn't necessarily agree with. I suspected when I wrote my opinion that it would not be a majority one, but little did I realize I had stepped into a cliquish fan-club meeting; I just assumed this was a musical discussion thread in which more than one attitude was at least tolerated if not applauded (my T-shirt was a blank, neutrally-colored one, by the way).

I tend to steer clear of music threads like this, because while I generally don't have any skin in the game, as one person put it, I do often have differing tastes from many people on Metafilter...and fine, I usually think, à chacun son goût. But in this case I did (and do, obviously) hold a bit of bitterness because I watched two bands, that I enjoyed immensely, end up pursuing a more, shall we say, safe and mainstream musical path - apparently with the active abetment of the same person both times, arguably for the same commercial motivation. At the time I was far from the only one to feel that way, or note the resulting dissension between band members, by the way.

Believe it or not I did not come here just to be a "your band sucks" guy; I simply for once happened to have a deeply- and honestly-held personal opinion and I stand by it as being my own. As does every poster or lurker in this thread have theirs. So there it is, and I shall say no more.
posted by Greg_Ace at 2:59 PM on February 11, 2011


"So if any of you out there are looking for the song that's going to be your big hit, you should pay attention, because we are talking to Phil Collins' people. But then again... aren't we all?"

Honestly, I'd pay good money to hear Phil sing Wicked Little Town.
posted by hippybear at 3:01 PM on February 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


She was quite disappointed to find out that it was EVERYBODY'S favorite part of the song.

Yeah, mine was always:

Well I remEMBAH

It sounded so robotic! I was born in '81, that's what I was looking for in a pop song. Does it remind me of Transformers? Good, I'm on board.
posted by penduluum at 3:08 PM on February 11, 2011 [4 favorites]


otio: "Collins played on Eno's Taking Tiger Mountain ('74), Another Green World ('75), and Before and After Science ('77)"

I double checked what Collins did on these. For completists (and Eno fans):

Taking Tiger Mountain
: extra drums on Mother Whale Eyeless.

Another Green World: percussion, drums on Sky Saw (give a listen to the drums starting around :51), Over Fire Island, and Zawinul/Lava

Before and After Science
: drums on No One Receiving (yeah, the drum sounds a little familiar here, although not a massive presence) and Energy Fools the Magician.
posted by maudlin at 3:26 PM on February 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


I suspected when I wrote my opinion that it would not be a majority one, but little did I realize I had stepped into a cliquish fan-club meeting; I just assumed this was a musical discussion thread in which more than one attitude was at least tolerated if not applauded (my T-shirt was a blank, neutrally-colored one, by the way).

If you'll note, though, there are those who have posted harsher critique than your comment. But that's just it -- it was cogent critique that they posted; concrete statements about the musicality. That's the kind of thing you can discuss. Opinions you....really can't respond to.

Take another example. Suppose this was a thread about a particular brand of chocolate chip ice cream. Ben and Jerry's, for instance. And amid all the B&J fans you had someone come in and say, "you know, I actually thought the chips that Ben and Jerry use were way too big -- it interrupts the texture of the ice cream for me. This other brand has smaller chips and I lean towards that." Then you can get into a discussion about "huh, I hadn't considered the texture angle" or "but how about the flavor of the chips themselves? I found the chocolate that other ice cream used a little too sweet for me even if the chips are small," or whatever.

However, when someone comes in and says simply "I just plain don't like Ben and Jerry's!" There's....really nothing you can say to further the discussion. If you don't like something, you don't like something. There's nowhere to go with that.

So while you have an opinion, that opinion seems solely to be, "I don't like this song." And...that's not so much a discussion point.

Seriously, how CAN you respond to someone saying "I don't like that song"? What else is there to say but, "uh...that's nice"?

And that's why it took many people aback. You wandered into a discussion and made a statement that couldn't be discussed.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 3:30 PM on February 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


maudlin - I had no idea he was involved on those tracks, which are by far some of my favorite Eno tunes ever. Thank-you.
posted by docpops at 3:42 PM on February 11, 2011




I've been a big Genesis fan ever since the release of their 1980 album, Duke. Before that, I really didn't understand any of their work. Too artsy, too intellectual. It was on Duke where, uh, Phil Collins' presence became more apparent. I think Invisible Touch was the group's undisputed masterpiece. It's an epic meditation on intangibility. At the same time, it deepens and enriches the meaning of the preceding three albums.
posted by leotrotsky at 3:42 PM on February 11, 2011


And moving on!

Since we're talking about drums, mainly, have a few of Phil's drum duets with Genesis' touring drummer -- later Phil's also -- Chester Thompson.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 3:43 PM on February 11, 2011


let's not forget Sparks' Cool Places ,
goofing on the whole concept .
posted by djrock3k at 3:52 PM on February 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Phil Collins may have sold out and gone overly commercial in the '80s, but he just about redeemed himself when he did Driving the Last Spike with Genesis in 1991.
posted by danl at 4:01 PM on February 11, 2011


Driving The Last Spike and Fading Lights are easily the best two songs off of We Can't Dance.

They're also the two tracks off that album which reflect the band's prog background best from that album.

Coincidence? I think not!

(I have to say, I'm more partial to the live version of Fading Lights from The Way We Walk Vol. 2: The Longs, but I'm a huge fan of live Genesis.)
posted by hippybear at 4:05 PM on February 11, 2011


I used to listen to this song on repeat while my gi joes leaped on eachother. In the movie I made with my mind and them the good guy would hover in the air for the entire beginning of the song in slow motion and then kick the head bad guy in the face finally right as the first drum kicked in. This alone will make me love Phil forever. But also he made the world safe for sexy, selfdeprecating bald rockstars.

Thank you Phil!
posted by Potomac Avenue at 4:06 PM on February 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


Collins also plays on Eno's "Music for Films".
posted by davebush at 4:07 PM on February 11, 2011


Wow, Phil Collins apparenttly isn't just the short, nasty, little Peter Gabriel wannabee sell-out that I assumed he was 30 years ago.

He actually has Eno cred.

Too bad it doesn't matter, now.
posted by vhsiv at 4:11 PM on February 11, 2011


I said I wasn't going to say any more, but I do wish to say this: I don't consider my own personal opinion of this song any less (or more) defensible than the many posts going unremarked here that amount to no more than "I like that song". Uh...that's nice, too?
posted by Greg_Ace at 4:19 PM on February 11, 2011


Embarrassingly, but thankfully confirmed by Wikipedia - since it was possible my mind was conflating TV shows from the 80s, I remember hearing the song used in a montage on Days of Our Lives. Now I will go hang my head in shame...
posted by crossoverman at 4:34 PM on February 11, 2011


We're feelin' more love for Phil now than in the Mefafilter Feb 2010 thread. Times change with context.

Too bad it doesn't matter, now.

I Don't Care Anymore.
posted by ovvl at 4:42 PM on February 11, 2011


I'll just pretend that none of this ever happened and go back to listening to Selling England by the Pound. The young drummer on that LP really has a knack for some elaborate time signatures.
posted by Ber at 4:51 PM on February 11, 2011


Ya know, I'm glad this thread came around. I've been a fan of Gabriel-era Genesis for years while not paying much attention to the Collins stuff since my younger days. I remember listening to a dubbed copy of Abacab on my dad's shiny new tape deck when I was a kid (yes, the memory is vivid enough that I remembered the exact model) and now I'm giving it another listen. It's pretty damn good record.
posted by TrialByMedia at 5:09 PM on February 11, 2011


I know i am late to this thread but this is a slammin jam. Easy Lover.

Also here is a link to the animated gif i made of the extremely strange dancing that happens around 3:00-3:04.
posted by capnsue at 5:18 PM on February 11, 2011


You see the lonely man there on the corner?
posted by Sailormom at 5:32 PM on February 11, 2011


Running off to iTunes so I can relive the early '80s in the comfort of my own home, thanks.
posted by Sweetie Darling at 6:08 PM on February 11, 2011




"Just a Job to Do" and "Paperlate" (with the Earth, Wind & Fire horn section, as is "No Reply at All") are some of my perennial Genesis favorites.
posted by kirkaracha at 6:20 PM on February 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


The Carpet Crawlers is just lovely.
posted by eegphalanges at 6:55 PM on February 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Face Value clings like a remora to the scarred underbelly of my heart. I first experienced the album as I was becoming deeply emotionally attached to someone. It was a sultry, sticky, late August evening in a small Canadian city; we were sitting on the stoop of a turn-of-the-century home-become-university-flats, while perhaps thirty graduate students within gradually became stupider yet jollier, due to purloined Chemistry Department undenatured alcohol and a welcome tank of nitrous oxide, benefits accrued by one of the residents who worked as a teaching assistant. Woozy with marijuana and already weakened and reeling from In The Air Tonight's breathtaking drum solo, I clutched the crumbling concrete steps to ground myself as This Must Be Love came on, and the chap I was falling for slowly turned his alcohol-glazed, dope-reddened eyes to mine and murmured "Must be!". Swooned, I did. Head over heels over head over heels.
Alas, less than six months later he gave me ample cause to discover that vinyl records could not in fact be dramatically smashed like it happened in the movies; I had to bend the darn LP across my knees several times, and get the smashing catharsis from china instead. Many decades and loves later I finally purchased the cd, and I strongly suspect that should I ever need to break it I will have to resort to liquid nitrogen.
posted by fish tick at 7:00 PM on February 11, 2011 [3 favorites]


Well, if there's going to be so much love for the studio cuts from Three Sides Live, let's not leave out You Might Recall. A song which comes to my mind unbidden so regularly, I suspect it might be part of my genetics.
posted by hippybear at 7:12 PM on February 11, 2011


to clarify: I'm right. You're all wrong (except Greg_Ace).

I was a HUGE Genesis fan even after Peter Gabriel left. Trick of the Tail, Wind and Wuthering, Seconds Out (a live album) -- I played these to death through my mid-late-teens. And Then There Were Three was a bit of a disappointment (the songs weren't long enough), but I still bought it, played it a lot.

And then came DUKE. I didn't hate Duke. I can actually still get a rush out of the climax of Duke's Travels. But the overall feel I got from it was, in 1980, three years after PUNK had erupted, it just didn't feel that relevant (and make no mistake; Genesis felt very relevant for a while in the early-mid 70s, getting singled out by John Lennon among others).

This relevance issue was hammered home by Peter Gabriel's Third Album which, in my memory, was released pretty much the same month. Where Genesis were pursuing a sort of sunny day fantasy, Gabriel was going for the jugular of the dark 80s zeitgeist. This, combined with the Clash's London Calling (finally a "punk" record that screamed musical genius), was my personal tipping point. By the time 1981 hit, I was finding it very hard to take Genesis seriously anymore.

So when In The Air Tonight came out, I was actually way more interested in what the Clash had just done with Sandinista. And so on. Phil Collins + co went onto mega-platinum meaninglessness over the ensuing years. I went the other way, chasing my curiosity into deep underground, which is the only place the 80s really "happened" ... until hip-hop came along, which as they say, is another story.
posted by philip-random at 7:37 PM on February 11, 2011


philip-random: I'm right. You're all wrong (except Greg_Ace).

Thanks, man. I got yer back.

the Clash's London Calling (finally a "punk" record that screamed musical genius)

What?? Dude, I thought we were friends....

(kidding!!)
posted by Greg_Ace at 7:54 PM on February 11, 2011


Where Genesis were pursuing a sort of sunny day fantasy

Wait, what? Duke is a sunny day fantasy? Dude, you need to listen to that album again.
posted by hippybear at 7:57 PM on February 11, 2011


I'd love to see a daily calendar of Phil's activities from the late 70s thru the 80s, as he was _everywhere_. Genesis, solo career, Robert Plant, Eric Clapton, Brand X, Frida, Howard Jones, Tears For Fears, Robert Fripp, etc.

I wish I had the article/issue of Modern Drummer I'm remembering, but many pro drummers cited Phil's drumming on Tears For Fears' "Women in Chains" as an influence. It's not a flashy part, and no gated reverb that I recall, just some great solid playing.

There's some excellent outtakes from Exposure (sadly not available from these sites), where Phil, John Wetton, and Robert Fripp were working out some material. Disengage, North Star, Flying Groove, and Groove. I wish an album had come from this trio.

I'm totally with hippybear, I listened to Three Sides Live constantly during a computer programming lab, and the studio cuts are very good. Phil did a great job stepping in for Gabriel in the 70s, Trick of the Tail and Wind and Wuthering are excellent albums. I'm also a huge fan of "Fading Lights", a true return to form. I was amazed to see the 92 live video that only Tony, Mike, and Phil performed it. I was hoping it would be in the 2007 setlist, but sadly it was the "lights up" music after the show ended. I might not have liked where Genesis ended up, but there's moments of joy on each album for me. I can't blame Phil alone for their decline, as Calling All Stations was even worse in my mind than anything Phil was involved with.

Phil was a great part of my musical upbringing, and put out a stellar run of great material in a short amount of time. I'm glad I got to see him tour with Genesis. He's a talented artist and performer, and I don't blame him for putting out material that I don't always like.
posted by dr. fresh at 7:58 PM on February 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Another contribution to the Phil Collins lovefest: check out the drumming on Robert Plant's first two solo albums. Listen to the first track off of Pictures At Eleven, "Burning Down One Side". Or, "In The Mood" from The Principle Of Moments (particularly around 3:15 in the video).

To answer the question asked earlier about Phil Collins ripping off David Bowie and Tony Visconti, the device in question is the Eventide Harmonizer, an analog pitch shifter machine used for the production of Bowie's "Low" and Iggy Pop's "The Idiot." Tony Visconti managed to snag one of the very first models from Eventide, selling it to both Bowie and Eno by proclaiming it "fucks with the fabric of time."
posted by stannate at 8:49 PM on February 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


i'll admit that the man and post pg-genesis had their moments, but ... everytime someone mentions phil collins, my mind goes back to the incredibly cheesy and unoriginal cover he did of "you can't hurry love" and my brain shuts off

awful, awful, awful
posted by pyramid termite at 9:00 PM on February 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


The Kurzweil samplers (eg K2000) have the InTheAir patch which nicely mimics the moody synth pad (maybe originally a Prophet 5?) at the beginning of the song.
posted by readyfreddy at 9:25 PM on February 11, 2011


So, Genesis fans out there who have surround systems should really check out the 5.1 mixes of the entire Genesis catalog which were released in the past few years. (Okay, ignore the live album mixes -- they're apparently awful and not worth the money.)

All the albums except the most recent few were also remastered in stereo.

It's really a great way to experience the catalog. The lead vocals are isolated into the center speaker, with the rest of the band coming from various places around the surround space. And the Lamb Lies Down surround DVD runs with the original 3-screen slide show they used on the tour, interwoven with some live footage here and there. The other albums just have track titles and such.

They also did all the b-sides and stuff in 5.1 during the remastering process.

It's one of those "purchase for posterity" kind of things for real fans. I've been listening to Genesis since Wind & Wuthering was released, and love nearly their entire catalog. (Calling All Stations... I'm trying to like you... really I am...) But it's truly a pleasure to have quality modern mixes, both stereo and surround, of their earlier albums.

Seriously. Check them out. You won't be sorry.

I just wish I could get Face Value, Hello I Must Be Going, and No Jacket Required in 5.1. In The Air Tonight in discrete 5.1??? That would be worthy of serious chemical intake.
posted by hippybear at 9:39 PM on February 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


A long time ago, I used to really like an obscure Toronto band called 303 Dreams. They had a Drum 'n' Bass cover of that song. It rocked hard. I'd link to it, but that would be copyright violation.
posted by Xezlec at 9:41 PM on February 11, 2011


However, when someone comes in and says simply "I just plain don't like Ben and Jerry's!" There's....really nothing you can say to further the discussion.

No, except at that point, every effort must be made to isolate and flush out the dangerous alien infiltrator. That's how you know who they are.
posted by krinklyfig at 11:36 PM on February 11, 2011


The prominent, and heavily processed, drum sound [of Public Image Ltd.'s The Flowers of Romance] was influenced by Peter Gabriel's third album, on which engineer Hugh Padgham had processed Phil Collins' drums.[5] Collins, in turn, was so impressed with the sound on The Flowers of Romance that he hired the album's engineer, Nick Launay, to reproduce the sound for his own projects.
posted by anazgnos at 12:07 AM on February 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


the eighties' drum sound

/shudders
posted by flapjax at midnite at 1:32 AM on February 12, 2011


More love for Peter Gabriel's solo work please. I played the hell out of In The Air Tonight, but Peter Gabriel is the dog's bits. That is all.
posted by arcticseal at 8:10 AM on February 12, 2011


I'm one of the haters. It has a lot to do with how old you were when things happened, I think. In my opinion all his post-Gabriel Genesis and solo work is, if not totally worthless, at best a disappointment, and in a world where there's great music to listen to, why bother? I was too old to pound on school bus seats at the time, or I might feel differently.

But PRE-post-Gabriel, he was responsible for one of my best live musical moments ever. I saw Genesis in 197...3? 4? in Ford Auditorium in Detroit when they were touring behind "Selling England." I hadn't actually heard the record yet--I was there for "Supper's Ready," which was amazing and made the girl I was with cry with some kind of Catholic-rooted eschatological terror. They were an incredibly tight, virtuosic, theatrical, emotional, funny live band in the Gabriel era. At some point, though, they were doing "England" material, I think "Firth of Fifth" and afterwards most of the band left the stage, and Collins came out from behind his kit and did the sweetest version of "More Fool Me" that I've ever heard, and the place was floored. It was so unexpected and winsome, and I immediately became a fan. Collins was a great drummer, but I had had no idea he was such an expressive singer or had such charm. In retrospect, it was a harbinger of doom, as the charm monster eventually ate him and the band. But it was such a marvelous moment that I'll always kinda love him.
posted by rodii at 8:42 AM on February 12, 2011 [3 favorites]


A long time ago, I used to really like an obscure Toronto band called 303 Dreams. They had a Drum 'n' Bass cover of that song. It rocked hard. I'd link to it, but that would be copyright violation.

Consider it getting me, a fellow Torontonian, in touch with the city's musical heritage. LINK TO ITTTTT
posted by mendel at 9:03 AM on February 12, 2011


I think. In my opinion all his post-Gabriel Genesis and solo work is, if not totally worthless, at best a disappointment, and in a world where there's great music to listen to, why bother?

This speaks to my Phil Collins not-Love very well. Add a little "... if only he'd used his talents for good instead of evil ..." moralizing and there's almost nothing more to say.

But I did say almost. My final issue is really with the times themselves. One thing that's easy to forget is that the mediated music climate of the 1980s was very, very narrow. There was no internet, of course, no downloading, no easy trading of sounds, let alone a means to even finding out about stuff that wasn't getting PLAYED TO DEATH by a small selection of radio stations (and even smaller selection of rock-video channels and programs).

So if you had any kind of adventurous taste at all for music, it became very easy to HATE those few artists that were hogging all the airwaves and GETTING IN THE WAY. Throw Mr. Collins' smug persona and steadily declining quality of work into the mix and you've got a sorta perfect storm of obnoxious toxicity that I suspect I'll never really manage to shake.

All that said, I kinda wish I could've seen this ... four long years ago now.
posted by philip-random at 9:56 AM on February 12, 2011


What everyone else said about this being the Hugh Padgham drum sound. There's two flavors of this sound.
The real thing where you put mics close and far away, in a nice live room, and are kind of sparing with how you gate the reverb.
The fake kind is where you just pump everything through masses of digital reverb and then a noise gate, like on the PIL record.
posted by w0mbat at 1:32 PM on February 12, 2011


These days Phil Collins sidelines as an expert on the history of the Alamo. He owns one of the world's largest collections of Alamo memorabilia and is co-authoring a book on the battle.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 8:47 PM on February 12, 2011


Remember the gated reverb!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 9:47 PM on February 12, 2011


In the stairwell of the multi-storey car park in Stockport, there was a line of graffiti that read : "Phil Collins is an evil dictator : someone shoot the mong".

That is all.
posted by devious truculent and unreliable at 7:54 AM on February 14, 2011


1. The secret to Genesis greatness is Steve Hackett. The Hackett albums are more reliably great than the Gabriel or Collins ones.

2. Mama was used in an episode of Magnum, P.I. IIRC, it's the Silence of the Lambs-y episode in the 7th (last?) season where Magnum is tracking a serial killer who is apparently from his unit in Nam.

2a. Scary Mama
2b. Man on the Scary Corner

3. I have always been more fond of the drum break in Jack n' Diane for my air drum needs.
posted by Eideteker at 3:34 PM on February 14, 2011


1. The secret to Genesis greatness is Steve Hackett. The Hackett albums are more reliably great than the Gabriel or Collins ones.

I agree, though despite a few cool highlights, it's not as if Hackett's solo career has set the world on fire.
posted by philip-random at 3:47 PM on February 14, 2011


When it comes to big drum sounds, I've always preferred Bobby Chouinard on Billy Squier's The Big Beat. So did a lot of rap and hip hop artists.
posted by MexicanYenta at 5:22 PM on February 22, 2011


« Older 16: A garden anchored by an ancient avocado   |   The External World Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments



Post