[Review] Phil Collins: No Jacket Required (1985)

The album where Phil Collins became a commercial force and probably began earning more money than some small countries.

Kronomyth 3.0: The dream of the green dollars.

I like Phil Collins as much as the next guy, but even I was getting tired of seeing his face everywhere. Unfortunately, his third album, No Jacket Required, was a massive hit, so I was either going need to find a big rock to burrow around or get used to living in a PC world. It’s a very good album, don’t get me wrong, just not my cup of tea: bouncy beats, horns, synthesizers, Sting, pop music pret a porter from the production room to the living room.

No Jacket Required featured a more aggressive sound than his previous two albums. There were no cute Motown re-creations, no lonesome piano ballads, as Collins seems to have gone into the recording studio with a “go big or go home” aesthetic. Because every song is produced at maximum force, I find it all a bit exhausting. On the clear winners—“Inside Out,” “Sussudio,” “One More Night,” “Don’t Lose My Number,” “Take Me Home”—the high-gloss treatment is warranted, but the album would have achieved a better sense of balance if Collins had underplayed his hand on the other half. Of course, that’s a personal taste thing; the fact that the album went #1 in the UK and US and sold millions of copies speaks for itself.

No Jacket Required is the first album to credit guitarist Daryl Stuermer on the writing credits. It’s nice to see their longstanding collaboration consummated by cowriting new material, even if the sum effect is the same as solo Collins in terms of sound and vision. Once again, the labels added a bonus treat for people who purchased the CD version: “We Said Hello, Goodbye.” Forsaking the high-gloss production for once, it’s one of my favorite tracks from the whole set, although I tend to like sad songs.

You could hear No Jacket Required as the commercial culmination of Phil Collins, or the moment when the hitmaking machine moved from handmade to mass production. I’m of the latter camp. “Sussudio,” for example, doesn’t even bother with a proper title, as though Collins could just covfefe his way into our hearts. And, really, rock & roll should issue a restraining order to keep Sting and Phil Collins at least 12 feet from each other. Again, these are likely just the grousings of a grumpy progger, but Peter Gabriel somehow managed to sell records without selling his soul.

Original elpee version

A1. Sussudio (4:23)
A2. Only You Know and I Know (Phil Collins/Daryl Stuermer) (4:20)
A3. Long Long Way to Go (4:20)
A4. I Don’t Wanna Know (Phil Collins/Daryl Stuermer) (4:12)
A5. One More Night (4:47)
B1. Don’t Lose My Number (4:46)
B2. Who Said I Would (4:01)
B3. Doesn’t Anybody Stay Together Anymore (Phil Collins/Daryl Stuermer) (4:18)
B4. Inside Out (5:14)
B5. Take Me Home (5:51)

CD bonus track
11. We Said Hello, Goodbye (4:15)

All songs written by Phil Collins unless noted.

The Players

Phil Collins (vocals, Roland 909, keyboards, bass, drums, Linn drum machine, Simmonds, Roland 808 percussion, backing vocals, vocoder, kalimba), Lee Sklar (bass, piccolo bass), Daryl Stuermer (guitars, keyboards) with Gary Barnacle (sax on A4, sax solo on B2), David Frank (keyboards, mini moog bass, DMX), Pete Gabriel (backing vocals on B5), Arif Mardin (string arrangements), Don Myrick (sax, sax solo), The Phoenix Horns (horns), Sting (backing vocals on A3/B5), Helen Terry (backing vocals B5), Tom Tom 84 (horn arrangements). Produced by Phil Collins and Hugh Padgham; engineered by John Jacobs, Hugh Padgham.

The Pictures

Album design by Phil Collins.

The Plastic

Released on elpee, cassette and expanded compact disc on February 18, 1985 in the UK (Virgin, T/TCV/CDV 2345), the US (Atlantic, 81240-1/4/2), Brazil and Germany (WEA, 251 699), Canada (Atlantic, 78 12401) and Japan (WEA, P-13077) with lyrics innersleeve. Reached #1 on the UK charts and #1 on the US charts (RIAA-certified 7x platinum record). Won Grammy Award for Record of the Year, 1985.

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