Jul 10

PHIL COLLINS – “A Groovy Kind Of Love”

Popular120 comments • 4,865 views

#614, 10th September 1988, video

All cover versions flirt with anachronism but in this case it’s baked in before the record’s even left the sleeve: that word “groovy”. Linguistically switched-on for 1965, the Mindbenders’ brightly confident original now sounds caught in time: pop loosening up a little but still riding a beat group fad. Phil Collins, on the other hand, approaches the word and the song hesitantly, as if reaching for long-unfamiliar slang of his youth to describe an idea – love – which also might be lost somewhere in his past.

As I’ve said before this was pretty much the point of Phil Collins in the 80s, a stolid everyman who could channel blokish emotions without ever risking his rather stodgy masculinity. A quick rewind back to Chris De Burgh tells us how awful this approach could be, and for the second time Collins has hit the top with a cover that lands safely on “bearable”. In fact “A Groovy Kind Of Love” gets a more interesting reading than Phil’s bluff charge at “You Can’t Hurry Love”: he sounds like a man remembering a song and a feeling, rather than thumping away at one.

The video makes this meta-cover approach more explicit, with the extra twist that Collins seems to be in a darkened studio-cum-prison, remembering his own performance in Buster. Phil played the title character, train robber Buster Edwards: maybe the film, which I’ve never seen, moved away from a “loveable rogue” approach but the publicity (and this record) surely didn’t. It’s ultimately let down by its arrangement, swamped by echoed pianos and synthesised strings. The strings are particularly unpleasant, evoking not the brash world of 60s pop but the near future of the blockbuster rom-com. If Phil Collins could turn 60s pop into AOR, why couldn’t anyone else with a soundtrack to promote do the same? The consequences, some years down the line, will be thoroughly un-groovy.



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  1. 101
    Tom on 9 Jul 2010 #

    #99 not joking at all! I chose the words “a record I enjoy” rather than (say) “enjoyable records” carefully. I respect her records, I admire her records, I intellectually agree with almost everything you say (and obviously have read similar things a hundred times, none of which I’ve felt able to quibble with). I wouldn’t even argue that she’s overrated. I just get almost no pleasure out of her music – nothing connects. She’s the very definition of a blind spot for me. She seems to me light years more coherent and interesting than, say, Radiohead, but even so there are Radiohead records I like.

    I am very glad there is room in pop and beyond it for someone like Bjork, but I own none of her music and I suspect I never will.

  2. 102
    punctum on 9 Jul 2010 #

    #94: Yep, the Nautilus on Fortune Green Road is still there.

  3. 103
    thefatgit on 9 Jul 2010 #

    I agree with Tom re: Bjork. Admirable and never less than interesting, but I can’t bring myself to invest in her literally or emotionally.

    Having said that, “All Is Full Of Love” is a video listed on my YouTube favourites, but I suspect that it’s the attraction of Chris Cunningham’s (“Rubber Johnny” is my MOST FAVOURITE VIDEO atm) work rather than Bjork herself, that drew me to it.

  4. 104
    Steve Mannion on 9 Jul 2010 #

    Was trying to avoid Bjork talk here but I consider her first four studio albums all excellent works simply in terms of how they sound and the ideas they contain and she may have had the best ‘different producer for each album’ run in pop. Obv. her key characteristics are Marmitey but enjoyment of the music can come from investment in the producers as much as in Her, and she really has worked with the best.

  5. 105
    Old Fart!!!!!!! on 12 Jul 2010 #

    Actually, I’d like to hear Bjork do a spiffy cover version of “Groovy Kind of Love”!!!!!!!!! It would certainly be a major improvement on this pallid Phil prod!!!!! I remember hearing Phil warble and plonk on a piano apparently borrowed from Simple Minds, and spent the first two verses wondering the actual blimmin’ chune was going to start!!!!! And then my heart sunk as the strings faded in, and someone switched on a Casio auto-accompaniment rhythm!!!! And there wasn’t even any of Phil’s trademark “AUGH-AUUUUUUUUUUGHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!”s to jolt one awake!!!!!!!!!! From the genius of “Sussudio” to this- damn you, Phillip!!!!!!

  6. 106
    Richard on 28 Jul 2010 #

    This song will always be special to us…Although we can not be together, this song will always be in my heart…



  7. 107
    lex on 3 Aug 2010 #

    Well I didn’t know that there was Björk talk HERE of all places. Like Swanstep I am shocked and appalled at the dismissals. I have no idea what criteria you have to be using for “memorable tune” to claim that Björk only has two, but I suspect that it doesn’t have much to do with hooks or catchiness. I can pretty much remember how 90% of her output goes, offhand. I’ll grant you that her voice is Marmitey, though, and she’s influenced far too many people whose vocal strategy seems only to be about reducing her to her vocal idiosyncrasies.

    Debut – got this in retrospect. Listening now it basically seems like “the seeds of everything”. Really good balance between tapping into early ’90s club sounds and odder forays horns and strings and tribal drums. You could talk about the arrangements all day but it’s the emotional component that makes it hold up. I think “Venus As A Boy” is one of her weakest singles! (Though “Human Behaviour” is one of her best.) Fav song = “Come To Me”.

    Post – my introduction to Björk. Totally scattershot and all over the place; makes sense that it was her most successful; I like it a lot but it’s not my favourite album by her. Again I think the “consensus” single, “Hyperballad”, is actually one of her weakest (though the Brodsky Quartet version = amazing). Fav song = “Enjoy”.

    Homogenic – THE GODHEAD. I don’t know, this album is just perfect from start to finish. So majestic and powerful. “Jóga” and “Bachelorette” are two of the best songs ever made by any human being ever. In awe. 13 years on and nothing has come close to sounding like it.

    Vespertine – also pretty GODHEAD tbh; you can totally immerse yourself in it, the way it’s so intimate and so open. “Hidden Place” and “Aurora” are so beautiful.

    Medúlla – at the time I assumed it was one of those “interesting”, “admirable” records that did its job of keeping me basically interested in the artist, and making sure they weren’t resting on their laurels, but which I wouldn’t really listen to that much ever. I was wrong! It’s no Homogenic or Vespertine but she did a great job of taking an esoteric concept and making an album that isn’t just a museum exhibit in her career. Also: duet with Kelis on the “Oceania” remix!

    Volta – the opposite; assumed it was a return to, if not form, then accessibility, when I first heard it. Then pretty much never went back to it as for the first time in her career, most of the songs just don’t hold up. Should have seen it coming tbh: the warning sign was how tardy the Timbaland collaboration was for both of them (even though “Earth Intruders” turned out to be the best thing on the album).

    These days she appears to be working with the Dirty Projectors :(

  8. 108
    sükråt tanned rested unlogged and awesome on 3 Aug 2010 #

    Vespertine was the one my dad really liked. He got it free via The Times somehow.

  9. 109
    swanstep on 3 Aug 2010 #

    @Lex. Yay! But what’s your objection to Dirty Projectors? I know their Brooklyn scene has been hugely hyped, but that’s hardly their fault. DProjs just seem to have talent to burn (so much in fact that it’ll be hard for them to stay together long I think), and Bitte Orca was, by any reasonable standard, a very solid first record (Cannibal resource and Two doves were two of my 2009 fave songs). Or is your objection just to Bjork’s working with them, say, because they should be ‘beneath her’ or some such thing?

  10. 110
    jeff w on 3 Aug 2010 #

    I think The Times thing was actually a 9-track Bjork ‘career overview’ – or at least, that’s what I have. It was however given away to help promote Vespertine. So the slipcase included a detail from the album sleeve, the CD-R contained two songs from the album and you could also stick it in your PC and get other Vespertine-related content. It was one of the better quality newspaper freebies of the time.

    There was all sorts of super-crazy cross-promotion happening for that record though. Didn’t one style magazine give away one-track CDs, containing a random selection from the album (“By 12 copies and collect the set!”) or am I imagining this?

  11. 111
    lex on 3 Aug 2010 #

    @swanstep I just hate the DPs (well, I hate “Stillness Is The Move”, which put me off hearing anything else by them). And I’m not feeling the Björk/DPs collab, judging from the online samples. And then the hype made me hate the DPs even more, because it really galled how indie kids got praised for having so-called R&B influences and doing bad Mariah pastiches, while actual R&B and actual Mariah got ignored by those same moronic “critics”. So yes, they are way beneath Björk.

    BTW this recent interview w/Björk is a must-read for anyone interested in her, in post-economic crisis Iceland, in pop stars being political activists (M.I.A., read and learn).

  12. 112
    pink champale on 3 Aug 2010 #

    lex, that sounds interesting (though i have to say i’m another one who thinks bjork is great in theory but just can’t manage to like any of her records) were you meaning to post a link?

  13. 113
    lex on 3 Aug 2010 #

    Haha whoops yes: http://grapevine.is/Features/ReadArticle/Bjork-Feature

  14. 114
    pink champale on 3 Aug 2010 #

    hmm, i have to say i was less than convinced by her explanation of her tax affairs! other than that though, she did seem fairly lucid by the standards of famous person talking about this kind of stuff.

  15. 115
    swanstep on 4 Aug 2010 #

    @Lex. Thanks for that Bjork interview link. I feel quite caught up with her now! As for ‘Stillness’ by the DPs, I didn’t react allergically to it, but I can sort of see how that’s possible (the dreadful, not-cheap vid. didn’t help). The rest of the album is better I find, and certainly has worn better for me than the other big records from this scene last year.

  16. 116
    Billy Smart on 5 Jan 2012 #

    I’ve just heard Patti LaBelle’s version of Groovy Kind Of Love for the first time – She sounds like she’s in a more discombobulating emotional place than the Mindbenders were, and its a LOT better then Phil Collins;


  17. 117
    Brendan F on 4 Jan 2013 #

    This one is so bloody awful that when I heard it while I was at a barber’s I told him to stop cutting so I could get the fuck out of there and not have to listen to this shit.

    That sheer loathing of this song caused me to skip over it post-haste when I was going through all the entries thus far and so I missed the Bjork appraisal which I just spotted now. For me, hearing Birthday was a life-changing experience in terms of what I wanted to listen to. Just at the point where I’d lost interest in virtually everything that was getting in the chats I heard this music which sounded like it was being beamed in from another planet. Like everyone, she’s had her ups and downs since but for what she represents I won’t have a bad word said against her.

  18. 118
    DanH on 20 Jul 2013 #

    Listened to “Teardrops” thanks to this board. America drops the ball once again by ignoring this, and giving their attention to Kokomo instead.

  19. 119
    Brendan on 2 Dec 2014 #

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  20. 120
    Rufus Headroom on 18 Sep 2015 #

    The mindbender’s ’65 original is so charmingly clumsy, just a big goofy dork kind of record. So great! Phil’s take is very stately, I can see people waltzing to this. Vast difference, love the recontext, good cover. Good on you phil.

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