Third album from the hip hoppers’ favourite 80s superstar.
Paul Lester 2010
Phil Collins’ third solo album established him as the most unlikely superstar of the 80s. Number one in eight countries, over two million copies sold in the UK, where it has been certified six times platinum, and including no fewer than four American ten 10 singles (two of them US chart-toppers), No Jacket Required was as much of a mid-80s radio and CD player staple as Purple Rain, Born in the USA, Like a Virgin and Brothers in Arms.
It was the quintessential Live Aid-era album from the definitive Live Aid-era artist – not for nothing did Collins interrupt the No Jacket Required World Tour to appear at the Philadelphia and Wembley Stadium Live Aid events on the same day. It sounded quintessentially mid-80s, too, with its machine rhythms and blaring horns. You couldn’t get more mid-80s guests than Sting, Helen Terry and Peter Gabriel, who all provide backing vocals on the album. The placement of some of the songs on the soundtrack to Miami Vice was none-more-80s, while the video to Take Me Home, wherein Collins is filmed everywhere from Tokyo and Sydney to Moscow and Memphis, reeked of Reagan/Thatcher-era conspicuous consumption and like-punk-never-happened excess.
But there’s no denying that, for sheer proficiency and mastery of its domain, this blend of power ballads and synthed-up, hook-heavy rock remains unbeatable. Sussudio may have been in hock to Prince’s 1999 up to its rolled-up-jacket-sleeve elbows, but it was a blistering album opener. One More Night was a slow jam just crying out to be covered – or sampled (Collins is an unexpected rappers’ delight). Don’t Lose My Number, a US single, had melodic echoes of Easy Lover, Collins’ chart-topping team-up with Earth Wind & Fire’s Philip Bailey from the same year. Take Me Home, the fourth single, ostensibly about a patient in a mental institution, successfully combined electronic and organic instrumentation.
Elsewhere, Long Long Way to Go recalled the work of fellow Genesis alumnus Gabriel and proved that Collins was equally adept at incorporating experimental ambient textures and world music polyrhythms into his music. No wonder it won the 1985 Grammy Award for Pop Album of the Year.