Day 36. Your least favorite cover song.
“I’ve Been Trying” – Phil Collins
As I’ve said before, there are a lot of cover songs out there. Trying to narrow the field down to your least favorite is kind of like trying to find the one grain of rice on your plate that is the most undercooked. So when thinking of a candidate for today’s post, what I finally decided was that I needed to find a cover I couldn’t stand from an artist that I normally like. I didn’t have to go too far. Phil Collins has done a lot of really good cover songs. Right out of the chute, his debut solo album Face Value included two covers (“Behind The Lines,” which was the first known recorded Genesis cover, and a cover of The Beatles’ “Tomorrow Never Knows”). The follow-up album, 1982’s Hello! I Must Be Going included perhaps his best-known cover, “You Can’t Hurry Love.” Heck, his last album (to date) Going Back, was a whole album of Motown covers. But, time out. Let’s take a step back. For the sake of completeness.. or maybe parallel construction.. or (the most likely) padding my post…
For those that don’t know, Phil Collins happens to be the same Phil Collins who is/was in Genesis. Or for those that know Genesis only by the “Land Of Confusion” video, the guy to the left. Alright, you probably know who Phil Collins is. I told you it was padding. Go with it.
<rant>To be clear, Genesis is a band all on its own. Don’t let me catch you pulling that “Phil Collins and Genesis” crap that the DJs like to do. What Genesis does is, in general, noticeably different from what Phil does solo (except for “Hold On My Heart”). To insinuate that Genesis was somehow Phil’s backup band does them a huge disservice. And I will beat you mercilessly if you try it.</rant> Back to the covers. Given Phil’s history with covers, you’d think he’d know what he was doing. But, even the best of artists have low points, and the subject of today’s post is, in my opinion, in the bottom five of Phil’s career output. Some background: In 1993, Phil did an album called Both Sides on which he played all the instruments. I’ll be honest: it was uneven. Shortly thereafter A Tribute to Curtis Mayfield appeared, and Phil Collins had a song on it: “I’ve Been Trying.” So, being a lunatic completist who needs everything any member of Genesis ever did… er… collector, I bought it. Turns out it was another example of Phil playing all the instruments. And it was worse than anything on Both Sides by far. Now, I’m not intimately familiar with Curtis Mayfield’s output. I don’t know the original of this song, and Phil’s version did nothing to make me want to track it down. But I hope it’s better than the plodding, boring, monotonous thing that is Phil’s cover. It’s got to be. No song good enough to actually inspire someone to cover it can be that bad. Unless some crazy person has covered Rick Astley. Or Color Me Badd. Or Michael Bolton. But I digress. Phil must like the song, because it showed up later on his Love Songs compilation. Granted, it’s a two-disc set, so maybe he felt he needed some padding, too. I can respect that. But it’s more likely that he’s got a soft spot for the recording. God knows why. Like I said everybody has their low points. Everybody makes bad decisions. Phil had been married and divorced three times, so that may tell you something about some of his decisions. He did manage to redeem himself a little bit afterward. He did a cover of “The Times They Are A-Changin'” that I think is better than Bob Dylan’s original (because, y’know, Phil can actually sing) and a cover of “Golden Slumbers / Carry That Weight / The End” for George Martin’s Beatles tribute that was perhaps on par with the original. Oh yeah, and “True Colours” on his Hits album. And… wow, he’s done a lot of covers when you think about it. So I guess I can forgive him for the occasional misstep when it comes to his covers. If I have to. You still can’t make me like the song. So, out of curiosity, what is your least favorite cover?