No Jacket Required

Phil Collins

1985: Atlantic 81240-2

  1. Sussudio
  2. Only You Know and I Know
  3. Long, Long Way to Go
  4. I Don’t Wanna Know
  5. One More Night
  6. Don’t Lose My Number
  7. Who Said I Would
  8. Doesn’t Anybody Stay Together Anymore
  9. Inside Out
  10. Take Me Home
  11. We Said Hello Goodbye

Each of his first two albums has standout tracks or at least ones that I found compelling enough to justify having the album, but No Jacket Required has more ample meat to work with. It may be a little synth-heavy, but it has some excellent poppin’ horn arrangements (whether real or digital) and of course it has the “dance numbers.” The first two tracks are in the latter category, very very mid-’80s but as long as you indulge in the dancing wholeheartedly and with a laugh it’s still great fun. Unfortunately then he has a typical downer number that truly *does* suffer from its synths being too clear as the structure, and “I Don’t Wanna Know” has a jerkily odd rhythmic pacing but otherwise is completely disposable pop; “One More Night,” however, is iconic disposable pop, a perfect mellow radio hit that’s equally mockable and untouchable.

“Don’t Lose My Number” is what you get if you add all the other tracks on this album together and distilled their juice, and “Who Said I Would” is essentially “Sussudio” again just in case you’d already forgotten about the opening track…seriously, it’s even in the same key!

“Doesn’t Anybody Stay Together Anymore” makes me think he was trying out a leftover song from his first two solo albums but using the more thunderous firepower of studio effects he’d finally tapped on this album…it’s, well, it’s there but it’s gone from my brain shortly after the next song starts, and not because of “Inside Out,” which is very much the same kind of song actually.

“Take Me Home,” however…now HERE is a track worthy of closing an album that starts with the punchy fireworks of “Sussudio.” Its tense gentleness as it opens doesn’t just hint at greatness to follow, it practically *promises* that we will be led up a staircase into blinding light. That light never quite actually reaches the “blinding” point, but if you can crank your stereo or headphones sufficiently, it gets damned close. This is partly because of the vocal chording and repetitions, but far more credit must be given to the vocalists who join Collins to *make* those chords shine so brightly: Peter Gabriel, Sting, and Helen Terry—a teaming that makes perfect sense when you’ve heard all three (four) of them individual. Finally, it’s worth noting about the song that the length is perfect—because, honestly, how often do you get to say that? Really the only thing that could improve this track would be a deeper-and-mightier bass line.

And then the perfect end to the album is frittered away with the addition of “We Said Hello Goodbye.” ANYTHING after “Take Me Home” would have been a misstep; this track just put a big fat annoyed questioning frown on my face, and still does, so I’ve pretty much blocked out the fact of its existence. For me, the album ends with “Take Me Home,” an ending track if ever there was one.