My brother picked up No Jacket Required by Phil Collins right around “Sussudio” was storming up the charts. When he played the album on the stereo, it was apparent he struck gold. For a while, I was a bit jealous.
Then radio ruined everything.
Subsequent singles from the album — “Don’t Lose My Number”, “Take Me Home” — would get played to death on every station.
When No Jacket Required had run its course, I never wanted to hear anything from Collins again. I think even my brother was put off by the overexposure.
Oddly enough, I had something of a crush on Collins. I’m not sure what triggered it, because he was no Sting or Huey Lewis. Even today, it puzzles me.
I spotted a vinyl copy of No Jacket Required selling for $1 at Lifelong Thrift Store, and 30+ years seemed like a good enough temporal distance to re-examine the album’s initial appeal.
The bona fides of the singles are very well established. What gives an album merit are the non-single tracks — do they stand up well against the radio hits? In the case of No Jacket Required, they do.
That’s why it seemed my brother lucked out buying this album — any of the other tracks on the album could have been the next “One More Night” or “Sussudio”. Sting’s backing vocal on “Long Long Way to Go” complements Collins nicely, and it could have been quite the radio coup.
The heavy-handed ’80s production dates the album like crazy, but abstracted from its sonic veneer, No Jacket Required really is a good album. And it would have been better if radio didn’t go overboard.