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A Look Back At Genesis' 'Invisible Touch' 30 Years Later

06/09/2016
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Genesis

(Radio.com) It's strange in 2016 to think of Phil Collins as an artist at risk of overexposure. He's rarely recorded, toured or made any public appearances in the past decade, and doesn't do many interviews. He's had other issues to deal with, of course: namely some rather serious physical ailments that have prevented him from playing his beloved drums.

But in the '80s and early '90s, it seemed like he was kind of everywhere. He'd go from multi-platinum solo album and arena tour to multi-platinum Genesis album and stadium tour. Somewhere in the middle, he'd produce other artists (including Frida, Howard Jones, Adam Ant and Eric Clapton) and play drums for other artists (including Robert Plant, Brian Eno, Peter Gabriel and Clapton). He even was getting into acting (with a one-off role on Miami Vice and a staring role in the film Buster). He was on MTV and VH1 a lot during an era where that really mattered. And you could hear him, and Genesis, on a number of radio formats in high rotation.

But while broadcasters and fans couldn't get enough of them, the critics cheerily had their knives out for both Collins and Genesis (Collins, of course, was the band's drummer and singer; the group also included guitarist/bass player Mike Rutherford and keyboardist Tony Banks).

Genesis combined two things that critics didn't digest well: progressive rock (the roots from whence the group came) and adult contemporary (a direction that Collins was credited, or blamed, with bringing them in).

By 1986, when the band released their most successful album, Invisible Touch, Collins was a bona-fide solo superstar; his latest album, 1985's No Jacket Required, topped the charts, won three GRAMMYs (including Album of the Year) and sold over ten million copies in the U.S. alone. Few bands would ignore that kind of success when starting to work on their new album. But Mike Rutherford's influence could also be felt: his band, Mike + the Mechanics, debuted with a self-titled EP in 1985 that yielded three hits, including "Taken In," which easily fit into the "soft rock" category.

The band's old-school prog-rock fans would often grouse about the group's more accessible work. But by the mid-'80s, Collins, Rutherford and Banks were in their mid-30s; at that point in one's life, not every song is going to fit on a black-light poster. Divorces happen; so does heartbreak and other disappointments that come with adult life. That's the "adult" part of "adult contemporary." It may not be sexy, but artists like Collins, James Taylor, Bonnie Raitt and Billy Joel were writing and singing about what it's like to be a grown-up (which was not necessarily what rock and roll was designed to do). Read more here.

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Copyright Radio.com/CBS Local - Excerpted here with permission.

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