Above the fast lane

5 Hits for Eternity (at least!)

He's a perfectionist on drums. He knows, how melodies work. He can even sing it. And he learned music business, in all these years with Genesis.

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What? Only 5 hits? There were many more than that! The man basically owned the entire 80s. Solo, together with Genesis, in movies, on television, with other musicians.

Phil Collins was simply everywhere back then!

Legendary: he was the only musician to perform at both "Live Aid" concerts in 1985. First in London, UK, then onto the Concorde and with a helicopter to the other stage in Philadelphia, USA.

Perhaps it was all a bit too much, for his worldwide audience that had momentarily grown weary of him. The price he personally had to pay for all those years in the fast lane, can only be guessed at if you’ve seen his recent performances, which he can only manage sitting down.

It’s high time to pay my respects to this gifted musician.

Even if "only" five of his biggest and very best solo hits have "made it" onto my all-time favorites list.

The 5 songs are – in the order of their appearance here in the post:

  • Against All Odds (1984)
  • In The Air Tonight (1981)
  • You Can’t Hurry Love (1982)
  • Sussudio (1985)
  • Another Day in Paradise (1989)

All his other projects, e.g. Genesis, Brand X etc. will soon be featured in separate posts.

Because I simply cannot overlook Genesis. And I mean: the REAL Genesis, that’s everything until "A Lamb Lies Down On Broadway".

Yes, most of it, with Phil Collins on drums, sometimes even singing. But, after Peter Gabriel had left the band, the exciting era was over. For me. When Phil Collins took over, they were ready for commercial success. Big style. Their music was still nice. Interesting. Funny sometimes. But completely different than before. I am going to explain that elsewhere, in more detail.

Since this post here is all about Phil Collins' greatest solo masterpieces of all time.

Against All Odds (Take a Look at Me Now)

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Rick Beato explains "Against All Odds"

Indeed, it was Rick Beato who inspired me to write this article about Phil Collins. In true YouTube fashion, he doesn’t initially mention the title it’s all about in the thumbnail of the video about Phil Collins' STRANGEST HIT.

Of course, there’s nothing strange about "Against All Odds (Take A Look At Me Now)".

At most, it’s as strange as almost all Phil Collins hits. So "strange" that you can instantly recognize his very own style, his handwriting.

But, and this is Rick Beato’s point, aside from the clickbait: This song is probably Phil Collins' best achievement. And it didn’t even appear on one of his solo albums, but as the title song of the soundtrack to the movie of the same name.

Brilliant song, brilliant marketing – or the other way around.

With Phil Collins, it simply doesn’t matter.

As Rick Beato emphasizes in the video: during this time, in the 80s, Phil Collins could literally do nothing else but churn out one mega hit after another. And specifically, "Against All Odds" is – I think: indisputably – one of the greatest ballads of modern times.

The ever-sweet Mariah Carey thought so too.

She released two cover versions of "Against All Odds".

Once solo, once in a duet with Westlife.

I particularly like both of them. So much so that I mention them here with praise. Knowing that this is only a tiny excerpt from the long list of cover versions, for example, on Wikipedia.

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Mariah Carey – Against All Odds (Take A Look At Me Now)

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Mariah Carey, Westlife – Against All Odds (Take A Look At Me Now)

To be honest – as always: I like the original the very best.

Mariah Carey’s version, especially in the duet: it really doesn’t get more over-the-top than that. Very worth listening to. But at the end of the day, it’s the refined minimalism of Phil Collins' original that impresses me the most.

In The Air Tonight

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Phil Collins – In The Air Tonight (250 Mio. visits on YouTube)

But let’s get to Phil Collins' very first solo. He spent a full two years tinkering with his debut album "Face Value", which finally came out in 1981. With 13 songs, an impressive cast list, and above all the mega-hit "In The Air Tonight".

There are some drummers who sing. Not many who can do both as well as Phil Collins. But with this intro – on the album it’s "just" a fill in between – he created one of his monuments. And there we are back at the marketing that has so congenially accompanied the art of Phil Collins:

"Mike Tyson?"
"SHHHH – my favorite part is coming!!!"


Anyone who hasn’t seen the movie "Hangover I" should search for it on YouTube right now, keyword: Mike Tyson In the Air Tonight

The legend of the famous drum fill goes that it was actually created by accident.

I don’t believe that.

Phil Collins has left absolutely nothing to chance in his entire career. At least, he has always brilliantly managed to mix chance with ingenious ideas.

You Can’t Hurry Love

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Phil Collins – You Can’t Hurry Love

Just a year after the debut, the second solo album "Hello I Must Be Going" followed.

At this time, Phil Collins must have been working harder than anyone else. After all, he was touring as the drummer and singer for Genesis in between!

It might have been the case that even he ran out of ideas.

So it’s only natural to "simply" include a cover version.

And he did just that. And you have to dare to do that: specifically a song that was already a mega-hit in the 60s, then by the Supremes: "You Can’t Hurry Love".

And – as obsessed as Phil Collins is – he actually managed to give this famous number an equally worthy version of his own. Which probably sold about as well as the first version.


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Phil Collins – Sussudio

For his 3rd studio album, Phil Collins took a little (!) more time: "No Jacket Required" from 1985.

I also keep a track from this album in high esteem on my AlltimePlaylist.

It’s "Sussudio".

The song doesn’t sound nearly as old to me today as the official video from back then looks. And of course, for Phil Collins, jacket and tie were required 🙂

In any case, he clearly enjoys letting off steam, away from the Genesis construct, with the full force of Earth, Wind & Fire’s sound. And I think the fun is still contagious today.

Another Day in Paradise

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Phil Collins – Another Day In Paradise

Phil Collins' 4th studio album "… but seriously" (1989) took even longer, and the cast list is at least as long and respectable as the first album’s.


Seriously now.

From this album too, a single song captivated me so much that it still rotates on my best list to this day: "Another Day in Paradise".

The lyrics actually deal with homelessness. I don’t hear it every time, even though I know it. An artist also has to accomplish this: to package melancholy so multifaceted that it always fascinates and tempts to listen.

Even if it doesn’t always work out – as with me – with precise listening. Then at least often and gladly listen 🙂

Wolfram Kläger is the author of AlltimePlaylist, based in Hannover, Germany. When he's not busy with websites and YouTube, he can be found with his wife, on the road in their Multivan, or he is looking for a coffee and a pretzel.