Released in 1989, …But Seriously was the fourth and final of Phil Collins’ blockbuster albums. As with his previous three albums, it was produced in collaboration with Hugh Padgham and sounds very much of its era. The production is actually scaled back somewhat, giving the record a relatively simpler overall sound than 1985’s No Jacket Required. A worldwide chart topper, the album spawned five Billboard Top 40 singles, including the number one hit “Another Day in Paradise.”
For reasons that are less than obvious, Phil Collins has never really overcome his image as a mainstream pop featherweight. It’s almost as if his formidable skills as a musician, songwriter, and vocalist don’t count, maybe because he was perceived as simply too damn popular to be any good. With four smash albums as a solo artist and four similarly successful albums as front man of Genesis, Collins owned the ‘80s are thoroughly as any artist of the decade. He was a hit-making machine during those years, not always the best way to earn respectability. But his music has aged at least as well as many of his contemporaries.
…But Seriously, as suggested by the title, was an attempt by Collins to tackle some meatier issues in his lyrics. “Another Day in Paradise,” a call for awareness of the plight of the homeless, exemplified this approach. It worked in spades thanks to a strong hook and a relatively subtle, observational take on the subject. The anti-apartheid anthem “Colours” was even more far-reaching, and a bit more heavy-handed. The nearly nine minute track is musically ambitious as well, beginning as a pensive ballad but switching gears to up-tempo pop rock. Featuring the distinctive lead guitar of Eric Clapton, “I Wish It Would Rain Down” works better than the political-oriented stuff. The mournful reflection on a failed relationship turned out to be the album’s second biggest single.
Collins’ middle-of-the-road, mainstream tendencies make the album a bit of an uneven affair. The worst case of sequencing on the album comes early, with the back-to-back placement of “That’s Just the Way It Is” and “Do You Remember?” Both songs open with strikingly similar percussion and synth intros, emphasizing one of Collins’ most annoying traits–an overreliance on generic balladry. That said, …But Seriously is a very sturdy album of easily digestible, melodic pop. Aided by a pretty sax intro by Don Myrick, “All of My Life” stands out as a lesser-known highlight, with a soaring chorus that boasts an impassioned vocal. Speaking of Myrick and his sax playing, the Phenix Horns provide a lift to numerous tracks, including the jazzy instrumental “Saturday Night and Sunday Morning.”
Audio Fidelity has given …But Seriously their one-of-a-kind remastering treatment, pressing the CD on a 24 karat gold surface. This limited-edition release is individually numbered. The sound quality is excellent, utilizing the original album mix. For more information about the Audio Fidelity’s remastering process, visit their official website.