(Disclaimer: this book i had requested to review almost nine months in advance of publication. It has been something I have wanted to read for a long time. What follows is an honest review.)
Who recalls dancing to a Genesis record, or the Magnum Opus of In The Air Tonight?
As soon as I read that the auto-biography of Phil Collins was going to be released, I knew I had to read it. (As Rock Fan, Genesis Fan, and Nosey Journalist/Blogger. Yes, they all deserved to be capitalized.) There was a wishlist I compiled for the release day, as to what I wanted read.
It is not what it seems.
An autobiography from somebody who has worked in music for over four decades; wouldn’t you expect to hear about this part of their life? In Boys In The Trees for instance, we have the origins of You’re So Vain, as well as Mockingbird, etc. You don’t really get this in Not Dead Yet.
So, let’s set the record straight; In The Air Tonight was improvised, largely. And isn’t about some dark accident witnessed as a child. It’s written in a sort of swinging mood about a subsequent Divorce. That is maybe a page and a half out of over three hundred.
It seems to fit a pattern, or rather, follow: meet a pretty girl, marry, see another girl, affair, and divorce. It just seems to repeat almost over and over. I know that this is somebody’s life, but to make a book this big, it could have been more inclusive of other events. So: specific Genesis albums, thoughts whilst recording, notable shows. This is in Boys In The Trees; why couldn’t the same be done?
But it strikes me how Rock infused this book is, almost as if it has its own soundtrack; there’s reference to Queen, Cream, The Who, Jimmy Hendrix, Led Zepplin. What a life. And what great music.
But I like the book more when it’s like this, such as with one self-deprecating chapter title: Live Aid: My Part In Its Downfall. I wasn’t alive to see that show, and from this, I so wish I had. Collins is the only performed to have performed at both concerts that day-but almost messed it up, in part to the band he had helped get onto “the Bill” that day.
Candid in tone, I think this book suffers from lack of personal detail, as well as too much. There’s a lot about Collins’ divorces, and family life, his alcoholism, various health issues. But there’s hardly anything about his Genesis days-merely “I was on this tour, it overlapped with this album..” still a good read though.
I give this a twelve out of fifteen score.
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