Of beat-keeping, boozing, and stardom: Genesis drummer and solo star Collins tells…well, something approaching all.
Two things are evident from the beginning of this amiable tour of a life in pop music. The first is that the author is a somewhat reluctant star, glad of the successes of others and mistrustful of his own: “I ha[d] to follow a solo album that wasn’t meant to be an album, far less a hit,” he writes of his early 1980s breakthrough. “Writing another may not be a task I’m up to.” The second is that Collins is a true-blue fan of rock, having first tasted it as an extra on the set of the Beatles’ 1964 movie A Hard Day’s Night, his scene left on the cutting-room floor for reasons he winningly explains. Throughout, the author skirts some of the tender issues that broke up the monster band Genesis, sending Peter Gabriel to a solo career and Collins from the drummer’s stool to center stage as lead singer. When he criticizes, it is mostly himself in the cross hairs, and when he writes of the dynamics resurrected in a reunion some years back, it is gingerly: “Peter will therefore, unavoidably, take charge of some aspects of the operation. And with the best will in the world, there might be some resentment from some quarters at this.” Collins writes with sensitivity of his alcoholism and shrugs off some of the angst that propelled his biggest hits. “If I was feeling that much pain night after night,” he writes, “I’d be a crackpot.” And he doesn’t toot his horn overmuch, though anyone who can listen to The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway without being moved and grooved has no soul. As for “Sussudio,” granted, not so much….
Though without the gruff nastiness of Keith Richards’ Life or the raw poetry of Bruce Springsteen’s Born to Run, this is a pleasing entry in the pop-confessional genre.