Society Magazine

Song's of '83: "That's All"

Posted on the 20 November 2023 by Russellarbenfox
Song's '83:

Early 1980s Phil Collins and Genesis receive far more critical crap than they deserve, at least if one takes into consideration what they were going through at the time. They were a fine--maybe not Yes-level, but still, a major--progressive rock bank all through the 1970s, never having much impact on the American radio market but selling tons of records and tickets all across the UK and parts of Europe. Then came the departure of lead vocalist and resident weirdo-genius Peter Gabriel, followed by the departure of lead guitarist Steve Hackett. And then Phil Collins, emerging as lead vocalist while continuing on as drummer for the remaining threesome, discovers both drum machines and his own immense--if very pop-oriented--melodic sensibility, and over a period of a few years becomes both a massive radio sensation (thanks to his first solo album, Face Value) and nearly omnipresent as a studio musician in both the UK and America (he played the drums on last week's "In the Mood"). My favorite Genesis work is what they produced when they were right in the midst of working through all those transformations: And Then There Were Three is wonderful, for example, and looms large in my reconstructed memories of rock radio from 1978. But after five more years of adjustments passed, Genesis had become a straightforward, and efficient, pop machine, for better or worse. Collins was determined to kick off their 1983 album, titled simply Genesis, with a Beatlesesque pop song, complete with him purposefully imitating Ringo Starr's fills on the album's lead single, "That's All." Premiering on American radio 40 years ago this week, this song became their first Top Ten hit in America, to be followed by many, many more. The fact that, as far as pop songs go, it's nice but pretty much entirely disposable is, perhaps, sadly, part of the point.

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