Happy Birthday: Phil Collins

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Monday, January 30, 2017
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Happy Birthday: Phil Collins

Just when you thought we’d written all there was to write about Phil Collins… Actually, let’s not even pretend: we’re never going to hit a point when there’s nothing else to write about Phil Collins, and even if we did, we’d still write something on today of all days, because it’s his birthday. In celebration, we’ve put together a six-pack of tracks stretching from the late ‘60s into the early ‘80s that feature Collins on vocals in some capacity. You’ve probably heard of some of them, but only the true Phil aficionado will likely know them all.

1. Flaming Youth, “Guide Me, Orion” (1969) – When asked by the A.V. Club last year how he looked back on the pre-Genesis band that got him started on the road to a higher profile as a musician, he chuckled and said, “Um, well… With a smile, you know? Ronnie Caryl, who was in the band playing bass, he’s one of my oldest and closest friends. We’ve known each other 50 years. In fact, this year is the 50th anniversary that we’ve been together. He’s in my band now, and we’ve stayed great friends throughout that whole time. So I look at it with a smile, really. I don’t think much of the music, I’ve got to say. I mean, someone occasionally sends me a link to a YouTube clip, and I’ll listen to it, and it’s, like, ‘Oh, God.’ A time and a place…”

2. Colin Scot, “Hey! Sandy” (1971) – As AllMusic.com noted in their review of Scot’s self-titled album, from which this song originates, this is the sort of LP that leaves current music fans wondering how on earth this relative unknown managed to get such an all-star cast of musicians playing on his record? The answer is that he wasn’t an unknown at the time: Scot was bringing in big crowds for his live shows back in the day. Still, even knowing that about him, to see that Collins, Peter Gabriel, Brinsley Schwarz, Robert Fripp, Rick Wakeman, Jon Anderson, and Peter Hammill and David Jackson of Van Der Graaf Generator were all part of the proceedings is downright astonishing.

3. Brand X, “Unorthodox Behavior” (1976) – Every musician in a band is entitled to have a side project, and the one which Collins first became known for… Well, look, every musician in a band is also entitled to indulge their jazz fusion jones if they so desire, and that’s what our man Phil can be heard doing here on the title track of Brand X’s debut album. In addition to his usual credit for having contributed drums and percussion, Collins is also cited as being responsible for “cellophane” and “bird calls,” but we’re just going to chalk that up as being the fault of the 1970s.

4. Jack Lancaster, “Carlin How” (1980) – Best known in his stead as a founding member of the band Blodwyn Pig, Lancaster’s solo album was one that was filled with top-flight talent. In addition to Collins’ contributions, you can also find Gary Moore, Mick Rogers, Rod Argent, and a number of other very talent folks from the British music scene.

5. Orleans, “Wind” (1980): You know them from songs like “Dance with Me” and “Still the One,” but you probably don’t know them for this track, which appeared on Orleans’ debut album for MCA Records. If you’re wondering how Collins found his way onto this song, the answer is actually an easy one: he was friends with Robin Lumley, who produced the album and – one presumes – asked his buddy Phil if he’d pop by to sing on a track.

6. John Martyn, “Sweet Little Mystery” (1980): A legend of the British music scene, Martyn had a number of high-profile fans in his corner, including Collins, Eric Clapton, and David Gilmour. He was not, however, a man who was known for his hit singles, predominantly because he didn’t really have any. When you go listen to this track, you will be astonished as to why this was the case.