1981年令世人对Genesis主唱Phil Collins刮目相看的独唱处女作《Face Value》之后,他于1982年推出的第二张独唱专辑《HelloI Must be Going》是一张同样水平超凡却倍受当时媒介忽视的续篇。即便如此,在我心目中它与公认的经典《Face Value》所占地位一直不相上下。

Face Value》描述的是发现被情人背叛之后的最初感受,《HelloI Must be Going》体现的则是接下来如何为学会面对这个现实而付出种种艰辛努力。虽然少许自欺欺人的否认和无奈的悲哀依然会延续("I Cannot Believe it's True", "Don't Let Him Steal Your Heart Away"),但愤怒和反省的心情在这张唱片里已经明显占了上风("I Don't Care Anymore", "Do You KnowDo You Care?", "It Don't Matter to Me")。此外一向追求多元化的Phil又从中夹杂了几首特别新奇“另类”的作品("Like China" 和"Thru These Walls")。 

Phil的歌喉那令人无法抗拒的感染力。他那不断随岁月演变的歌声,虽没有七十年代时那样纤弱动人或九十年代时那样圆润潇洒,但正处於他音乐生涯中最饱满最深情的阶段。我尤其喜爱他在"It Don't Matter to Me"和某几首其它歌里把声音作为敲打乐器的独特处理手法。说真的,到底有几个歌手能如他一般铿锵有力地以"I Don't Care Anymore"这种典型摇滚歌曲开场,再同样拿手地以"Why Can't it Wait 'til Morning"这样的舒缓爵士情歌来压轴呢?

PhilR&B影响最大的一次尝试,很多快节奏歌都明显蒙受Motown启发。比如"I Cannot Believe it's True"和"It Don't Matter to Me",再如那首常受诋毁的翻唱"You Can't Hurry Love"。尽管后者被多数Genesis老歌迷们视为Phil彻底丧失艺术人格的佐证,笔者反倒觉得它是一首非常关键的好歌。闻名遐迩的Holland/Dozier/Holland组合创作的经典歌词完美地概括了那苦乐参半追求真爱的历程,而Phil Collins本人又何尝没亲身体验过这种经历。更难得的是,以下这几行简单又精彩的歌词


When I feel I can't go on 

These precious words keep me hanging on: 

You can't hurry love, no you just have to wait 

She said love don't come easy 

It's a game of give and take



I Don't Care Anymore"。不知有意无意,它听起来象"In the Air Tonight"的姊妹篇, 又有点象Genesis稍后推出的"Mama"一曲的先河。据称是接到他前妻离婚律师来要钱的信件之后有感而发,这首歌最大特点是平时Phil很少展示的强劲声线。正如"In the Air Tonight",这支歌以一个听似简单的重复鼓点制式营造气氛,同时歌者开始象法庭检察官一般平静地列举对前妻的一项项控诉。但是,越往下唱,他压在声音底下的愤怒就变得越来越难掩饰。唱到一半,这股怒气终於爆炸式地随著这句歌词冲了出来:


I don't care what you say

I never did believe you much anyway 

I won't be there no more, so get out of my way, let me by 

I've got better things to do with my time


随著歌中主人公心中怨气的加深,甚至连背景鼓点听起来都象是在控告。最后一切理智都甩在脑后,完整的句子也消失了,只剩下惊雷滚动般的鼓点和一再重复的怒吼声"don't care no more, no more, no more..."。除了"In the Air Tonight"和"I Missed Again"两首来自《Face Value》的单曲以外,这几乎是唯一一首在美国的经典摇滚电台还常常播放的Phil Collins歌,而且我想这不难解释。这是Phil处於音乐创作的颠峰状态,不仅挖掘个人经历,更把家庭争分升华为绝顶好戏。不管我们承认与否,每个人内心深处都有个窥测狂。观看别人痛苦古往今来算是一大娱乐。

好象想进一步证明他的创作不是一成不变,Phil推出他写的一首长达五分钟的爵士器乐"The West Side"。这首曲子总是让我联想到他早先在爵士融合乐队“Brand X”时写的"...And So to F..."。两首乐曲都由一个一遍就令人难忘的主旋律从头到尾贯穿。相信没人会否定Phil Collins可能是有史以来最富乐感的一个鼓手。这一次Phil试著加入一段宁静的萨克斯独奏,期间又不时混杂欢快的小号。当然一曲将尽之前他又非常有效地补上他特有的原始呼叫。在我看来这似乎是个改编成大乐团爵士乐再好不过的候选。

Thru these Walls",主要是由於它的独特性。我实在想不出另一首与此类似的Phil Collins歌。最欣赏的是Phil作词时打破惯例探讨非常规主题(至少对他来说是非常规,可能对Peter Gabriel来说只是稀松平常)。以前Phil在舞台上成功塑造过鬼鬼祟祟的阴暗面人物,这回他把那些经验派上了用场,连那令人直起鸡皮疙瘩的配乐也暗示歌中主人公神经不太正常。不管怎么说,你必须佩服一个能把一首关于性变态的歌曲谱写得无限上口的人。

HelloI Must be Going》在多数人记忆中是Phil Collins于《Face Value》之后继续成功巩固他自创的独特个人风格的一张专辑。这个传统摇滚外加自传式情歌的强力处方很快将会凭借《No Jacket Required》专辑使Phil Collins成为家喻户晓的一个名字。但是,夹在两张特红专辑之间的《HelloI Must be Going》在商业上相对的失败并不能泯灭一个事实:它所焕发的那种未经雕琢的自然能量是在Phil后期作品中很难找到的。


An excellent but all-too-often-underrated follow-up to "Face Value", some days I am convinced that this is my co-favorite Phil Collins solo album along with its more acclaimed predecessor. 

Whereas Face Value dealt with the immediate emotional aftermath of discovering a partner's betrayal, HIMBG depicted a man's long and painful efforts to face the facts and learn to cope.  While some degree of sadness and denial still lingered on ("I Cannot Believe it's True", "Don't Let Him Steal Your Heart Away"), the prevailing mood here was that of anger and resentment ("I Don't Care Anymore", "Do You Know, Do You Care?", "It Don't Matter to Me").  For variety, there was also a pair of quirky numbers ("Like China"
& "Thru These Walls") thrown in for good measure. 

Again, I can't overstate the irresistible appeal of Phil's vocal performances.  His ever-evolving voice, while not as affectingly fragile as in the 70's or as smoothly jazzy as in the 90's, is at its soulful best at this point in his career.  I love the way he used his voice as a percussion instrument on tracks like "It Don't Matter to Me".  Honestly, how many singers can pull off an all-out rock standard like "I Don't Care Anymore"
to open an album and then equally convincingly close it out with a tender ballad like "Why Can't it Wait 'til Morning" anyway? 

Musically, the album is the most R&B influenced of Phil's career, filled with up-tempo Motown-inspired numbers such as "I Cannot Believe it's True"
and "It Don't Matter to Me", not to forget the much-maligned cover of "You Can't Hurry Love".  While the latter track was perceived by many a Genesis fan as hard proof that Phil had fed his artistic integrity to the dogs, I actually thought of it as a key track on this album.  The classic Holland/Dozier/Holland lyrics perfectly sums up the bittersweet quests for true love that Phil Collins knows all too well.  What's more, there is something uplifting and therapeutic about the line "When I feel I can't go on, these precious words keep me hanging on:  You can't hurry love, no you just have to wait, she said love don't come easy, it's a game of give and take".  Coupled with sweet harmonies and tasteful rhythm and strings, it's unbelievable how much of an emotional punch can be packed into a 2 minute 50 seconds song.  No wonder the single was such a massive hit for Phil on both side of the Atlantic. 

That being said, my favorite track on the album has to be "I Don't Care Anymore", which intentionally or not seems like a sister track to "In the Air Tonight".  Reportedly written after receiving some letters from his ex-wife's lawyers requesting for more money, this song features one of Phil's all time most powerful vocal performances.  Similar to ITAT, the tune began with a deceptively simple drum pattern which set up the atmosphere, while Phil began to calmly list the charges against his ex like a prosecutor in a divorce court.  However, with each verse, the repressed anger underneath his voice became harder and harder to conceal.  Inevitably, it exploded into the open midway through the song with the realization "I donˇt care what you say, I never did believe you much anyway.  I won't be there no more, so get out of my way, let me by, I've got better thing to do with my time".  As the frustration built up progressively, even the drums began to sound accusing.  Finally all attempts at reasoning failed as sentences disappeared and all that remained are thundering drum beats and repeated furious declarations of "donˇt care no more, no more, no more, no more".  Along with ITAT and "I Missed Again"
from Face Value, this is one of the few Phil Collins tunes still regularly heard on U.S. rock stations today and it's easy to see why.  This was Phil the songwriter in top form, mining personal experiences and elevating domestic strife into high drama.  And let's face it, there is a voyeur in all of us.  There is always great entertainment value in watching others suffer.

As if to prove that he was not an one-dimensional songwriter, Phil served up the five minute jazzy instrumental "The West Side".  This track always reminds me of his much earlier composition "...And So to F..."
while a member of the jazz fusion group Brand X.  Both featured a strong main melodic line which pervaded the song from the start to finish.  There is no denying that Phil Collins may be one of the most melodic drummer ever.  In this case, Phil experimented with the fusion jazz formula by incorporating a tranquil alto sax solo periodically interrupted by the jubilant Phoenix horns.  Of course all was effectively supplemented towards the end by his signature primal screams.  Seems to me to be a perfect candidate for a big band treatment (hint, hint).

Another standout track for me is "Thru these Walls"
mostly due to its uniqueness.  I can't think of another Phil Collins tune that this is similar to.  I like it when Phil breaks the mold and tackles unconventional subjects (for him anyway, maybe not for Peter Gabriel).  Traditionally Phil had been very good at playing creepy, shady characters, and he used this talent to his advantage here.  The music was also appropriately suggestive of paranoia.  When all is said and done, you must give the man credit for making a song about pedophiles infinitely catchy and hummable.     
Historically, HIMBG was mostly remembered for further establishing the unique musical style that Phil had originated in his debut album.  The potent formula of combining atmospheric rockers with autobiographical ballads would soon make him a household name thanks to a little collection of songs called "No Jacket Required".  However, the relative lack of commercial success of HIMBG does not change the fact that it bursts with a raw energy that is rarely found in later PC albums.