No Jacket Required
1985: Atlantic 81240-2
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 its 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 Dont 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 thats equally mockable and untouchable.
Dont 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 youd already forgotten about the opening track seriously, its even in the same key!
Doesnt 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 hed finally tapped on this album its, well, its there but its 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 doesnt 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 Terrya teaming that makes perfect sense when youve heard all three (four) of them individual. Finally, its worth noting about the song that the length is perfectbecause, 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 Ive 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.
Comments © 2005 Mark Ellis Walker, except as noted, and no claim is made to the images and quoted lyrics.