Guilty Pleasures - Phil Collins/Genesis

I can't explain why I like Phil Collins and Genesis so much. I was never a Brian Eno fan or a Talking Heads fan. I wasn't into Yes or Yaz or ELO or Blondie. I was just a bit young for that, coming into an age where music became influential to me right as Genesis was reaching its critical acclaim and then immediately becoming something beyond it.

My first experience with Genesis, the one I remembered as being the the seminal moment, was seeing the group's Land of Confusion video with the nearly forgotten Spitting Image puppets. MTV had been growing for about seven or eight years and a group of young music lovers was growing with it. The video for Land was eventually nominated for video of the year, ironically beaten out by former Genesis lead singer Peter Gabriel's song Sledgehammer.

There was something about that song and that video. It was dark and otherworldly. It was angry without being violent. It was edgy without being completely incomprehensible. As a 14 year old boy who had yet to discover the wonders of Black Flag or The Misfits or Skinny Puppy, it was easily the darkest pop music I can remember.

And that was at its height.

So I went backwards, as I do when I find music I like. I did it with Nine Inch Nails and No Doubt and Green Day. I traced the music back to its roots and tried to find out if it was the roots of the music I enjoyed or the zeitgeist around it. Turns out, I wasn't a big fan of early Genesis. The same way I'm not a big fan of Talking Heads. It was just too out there for me. Too hook-less. Maybe now that I'm a little older I can go back and take bits of it apart and see if there's something there to enjoy - some cerebral salve I missed as a child, but I have to remember that in 1970 when Collins became the drummer for Genesis, he was 19. There's a fine line between calling something "progressive" because it's new and fresh and calling it that because it's just shit and you're trying cover something.

Their official third album with Collins now in the band came out in 1971 and wasn't even a success in the UK, though Italy loved it. I won't blame them for that.

I won't bore you with discography history, you can find that on your own. The point is, I didn't like the roots of Genesis, I liked the 1980's Genesis and the 1980's Phil Collins.

And don't get me wrong, I don't like the recent Phil Collins work either. The song in Tarzan is a good song and a good soundtrack for a Disney movie, but I wouldn't put it in my "burn to disk" folder. Since Invisible Touch I believe the band and Collins himself went past notoriety a straight into commercial endeavors.

No Jacket Required and Invisible Touch stick in my past the way John Hughes movies do. They are as immutable as Swatches, Pacman, Transformers and Raiders of the Lost Ark. Having established a biased towards this music, I can no more refute their power over my formative years than I can the fact that I'm a human being. The lyrics mirrored my thoughts and the melodies were patterned on my emotions. It felt suddenly okay to be weird and troubled and a little angry and unpopular. I knew these guys were as old as my parents, but they sang with such youth and understanding of what a troubled time adolescence was.

Hindsight of course. I didn't think this when I was 12. But having listened to a few songs recently I've decided to embrace my crappy taste in music for what it is and continue to enjoy it in my own way. More posts will undoubtedly talk about the guilty pleasures I've amassed, and this is no exception.

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