17
Sep 09

PHILIP BAILEY (DUET WITH PHIL COLLINS) – “Easy Lover”

FT + Popular68 comments • 5,722 views

#547, 23rd March 1985, video

The two Phils team up to warn a vulnerable pal off a wicked woman, this intervention requiring a jeepful of mid-decade production flim-flam. “Easy Lover” is full of wannabe hooks – a guitar jab here, a keyboard twinkle there – which collide more than they connect. It stomps and stumbles and hollers about chaotically before pulling itself together just in time for another round of “SHE’S AN EASY LOVER!” – and then it’s off again.

But this is exactly why “Easy Lover” is a cut above most stadium pop of the time – there’s an urgency to it which breaks through its chunky period fictures and grabs you by the expensively tailored collar. A lot of this is down to Philip Bailey: the arrangement tends to calm down a bit when his angry falsetto comes in, and it’s strong enough to carry the song. That frees Collins up to do his hard-knocked everyman bit without the music needing to slow down to fit. An unlikely duet, then, but a canny one.

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Comments

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  1. 51
    Conrad on 18 Sep 2009 #

    I seem to recall a phase where the NME kept referring to him as Phil College for some reason. I don’t know why, but it made me laugh.

    Perhaps it was the Genesis connection, although of course Phil was never Charterhouse material

  2. 52
    johnny on 18 Sep 2009 #

    #50 – not only that but “in the air tonight” is used by many basketball players as pump-up music, including none other than the mighty lebron james.

    #49 – my comments weren’t directed at you personally, just the general argument against phil college (brilliant pun that). interesting to think about what phil could’ve done for Nu-Pop. i wonder if the genre would still be of interest today if phil collins had been the one to pioneer/perfect it? the CollinsDrums (not just the sound, but actual Phil playing ’em) could’ve improved countless wispy ’80s hits – imagine “How Soon is Now” with *THOSE* drums!

  3. 53
    lonepilgrim on 18 Sep 2009 #

    Re nu-pop/prog – I commented earlier how prog Duran sounded on The Reflex and another (ex) Genesis member was waiting in the wings

  4. 54
    anto on 18 Sep 2009 #

    It’s astonishing to consider just how big a star Phil Collins was for the entirity of the eighties. There were number ones. There was one big hit after another – In the Air Tonight, Against All Odds, Sussudio, Seperate Lives, Another Day in Paradise. He was still with Genesis and they were having proper hits. He was closely involved with Band Aid/Live Aid. He was an A list star in America as well as the UK.
    His LPs sold by the boxload.
    Much-maligned he might be, but Phil Collins was seriously big at this time. I didn’t even know he was a drummer for several years?!?!

  5. 55
    wichita lineman on 22 Sep 2009 #

    The odd credit was due to the parent album being Philip Bailey’s Chinese Wall – I don’t think it was on a Phil Collins album. The album was out before the single. Our Price had it in their jazz section before it charted, where next to no Easy Lover fan would think of looking.

    Re 46: Easy Lover gives the impression of some soulful significance, a seriousness at least, yet is light and forgettable, while You Spin Me Round may be soulless but it has FUN tattooed on its forehead.

    This has more than a whiff of work ethic (so un-pop), which may be why Phil C was wrongly maligned as an arch Tory. Hard to love or hate, really, as others have already said, but from other songs referenced above I’d much rather have seen Ya Mo Be There or Photograph at number one.

  6. 56
    Billy Smart on 27 Sep 2009 #

    Light Entertainment Watch; A brief European promotion stopover for Philip;

    THE LENNY HENRY SHOW: with Philip Bailey (1985)

    THE MONTREUX ROCK FESTIVAL: with Boy George, Talk Talk, Philip Bailey, Culture Club, Dead Or Alive, Elton John, Millie Jackson, Howard Jones, Kenn Loggins, Shakatak (1985)

    THE MONTREUX ROCK FESTIVAL: with Philip Bailey, Culture Club, Dead Or Alive, Elton John & Millie Jackson, Howard Jones, Kenny Loggins, Shakatak, Talk Talk, Paul Young (1985)

  7. 57
    Martin Barden on 27 Sep 2009 #

    re: this thing about such-and-such record keeping another off number one (#27 and others), which has been going on for decades. It always strikes me as being a very flawed argument. It assumes that if the people who bought the record at number one had not bought it, then number two would have been instantly elevated. What if the people who bought the number one record had decided to buy the number three, four or five record instead? All that ‘kept’ whatever record at number two was a lack of record sales. Or other skulduggery…

  8. 58
    mike on 28 Sep 2009 #

    Autobiographical note: this record was at Number One when I dumped my penultimate Gentleman Caller – and it was still at Number One when I started stepping out with my current Gentleman Caller. (We’ll be celebrating 25 years together in April 2010.) I wish it had been a better record, but you can’t have everything!

  9. 59
    Mark M on 1 Oct 2009 #

    I think a number of ’80s fashion strands are getting muddled. Will, at 26, says the two Phils looked like accountants. Possibly off-duty ones. They certainly looked like men who would be happy discussing the fuel-injection on the latest Audis. In the video for Easy Lover, Phil C is actually wearing his suit normally, but Phil B with his strange loose tie and black shirt is doing that early/mid 80s thing of wearing a suit but in a way that says – as a child of the pop era – ‘I’m not wearing a suit like my old dad would’ve worn a suit’.

    And that ties into with the Miami Vice thing. But although the Vice look was very influential in the late-ish 80s, it’s actually at heart rather early 80s, little different from tropical/exotic era Duran Duran of the Rio/Hungry/Save A Prayer videos.

    Dexys (as ever) are out on their own here, with a pastiche of stuffy British finance just pre-Big Bang.

    Next, mentioned by London Lee at 41, were the high street wing of what was to come: the point at which it was no longer deemed necessary to apologise for wearing a business-minded suit, which would probably be a double-breasted one in Prince of Wales check at that. This would manifest itself in the charts with the likes of Johnny Hates Jazz, but we can discuss that more as Tom moves through the decade.

  10. 60
    Tim on 1 Oct 2009 #

    (Mark I think you’re right, apart from Dexys’ look at that time being British finance: the look was more Wall Street, I think (I seem to recall KR being quite open that the clothes were from Brooks Brothers) than British. This is clearer on the sleeve of the most recent reissue of “Don’t Stand Me Down” than it is on the original.)

  11. 61
    Mark M on 2 Oct 2009 #

    Re 60: I bow to your far greater Dexys’ knowledge (and a wise move on their part: Brooks Brothers do do a lovely shirt).

  12. 62
    wichita lineman on 2 Oct 2009 #

    I think the first “they look like accountants” jibe was directed at OMD, possibly by Julian Cope. My memory of this era is that EVERYONE wore cheap suits to go out, and did until house came along. I was living in Peterborough in ’85, super-provincial, but I’m guessing it was the same in most of the UK. You were marked out if you didn’t wear a suit and tie on a friday or saturday night. Polo necks were definitely not the norm.

  13. 63
    James BC on 8 May 2013 #

    When this was posted, the average score given on Popular was 5.512 – a peak that has never been matched (as of Rednex in 1995). It’s been a long, slow decline ever since, score-wise at least.

  14. 64
    Tom on 8 May 2013 #

    That’s fascinating!

    The average OUGHT to end up at 5.5, if I’m grading on a bell curve (which was the rough intention). Obviously it’s going to end up lower, unless I embark on any kind of grand re-marking project – not in the spirit of the thing.

  15. 65
    flahr on 8 May 2013 #

    I refuse to believe this fact until presented with it in GRAPH FORM

  16. 66
    James BC on 8 May 2013 #

    Actually the two joint number ones in the 50s and 60s knocked my calculations out – it’s 5.505, but this is still the peak.

    I have a spreadsheet I could send you, with a graph, if you message jbc_here on Twitter with your email address or something.

  17. 67
    Lazarus on 22 Jun 2015 #

    Just been reading this, an interview with the co-writer …

    http://www.allmusic.com/blog/post/nathan-east-on-the-writing-recording-and-legacy-of-easy-lover

  18. 68
    wichitalineman on 24 Jun 2015 #

    Even with 30 years distance, the opening line of that interview chills me:

    “At that time, I was pretty much carving a session career out. I’d done some touring with Kenny Loggins, Al Jarreau and Joe Sample. I was getting the party started.”

    Hell’s bells. That’s exactly how early 1985 pop felt to me, working in Our Price, Grafton Centre, Cambridge. Pink and grey cashmere, loud snares, no bass, no hope.

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