Friday, June 27, 2014

Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker (Kojima, 2010)

Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker is the fifth entry in the storied Metal Gear Solid franchise (and the umpteenth entry in the entire Metal Gear franchise). Whereas the previous entry Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots featured series protagonist Solid Snake as an aging war veteran grappling with his purpose as a soldier in a near future world overrun by private military contractors, MGS: Peace Walker goes back to the past. If you'll recall, Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater took place against the backdrop of the 1960s Cold War between the USA and USSR. In an ambitious piece of storytelling MGS3 told the story not of Solid Snake, but of his father, Naked Snake. MGS3 used the backdrop of the Cold War to tell the story of how Naked Snake would become the series antagonist Big Boss, in a move somewhat similar to how the Star Wars prequels told the story (however poorly) of Anakin becoming Darth Vader. It's just that MGS3 did it much, much better and is widely considered the best entry in the series.

Taking place in 1974, Peace Walker details how Big Boss and his band of mercenaries set out to create their perfect little haven from the world, known in later games as "Outer Heaven". The location for this outing is a unique one in videogames, taking place in the jungles of Costa Rica. Series director and mastermind Hideo Kojima uses this setting as a place to further elaborate on the machinations of the Cold War powers, with the Soviets and Americans vying for control of the Central America region in a bid for geographic supremacy.

The use of Costa Rica isn't just window dressing either. There's a certain character in the game who will go into exhaustive detail of the history of the country, its geography, its inhabitants, its flora and fauna, even why its coffee tastes so good. It's all rather excessive and rather unnecessary, and it doesn't help that the character relating all this info is rather precocious. It's really just another sign of Kojima's typical penchant for excessive detail.

What's also on display here is Kojima's usual blending of the hyper real with the hyper absurd. A perfect example: during the mission briefings a character will go into great detail on the grim implications of Cold War strategies and maneuvers, but while the mission is underway the enemy's state of mind is conveyed using Looney Tunes like "zzz's" hovering over a soldier's head to indicate that he's sleepy. This is such a well known aspect of the MGS series that the "!" mark appearing over an alerted soldier's head and the accompanying sound effect are absolutely iconic among gamers.

This leads to Kojima's unabashedness for breaking the fourth wall. Many modern games try to keep hidden that they are actually games that you're playing, often with tutorial sections given in-game reasons for existing (such as the tutorial stage being a boot camp where the player is being trained). Kojima dispenses with this notion - he wants to remind you that what you are playing is a game. This is quite noticeable in the often diegetic way that characters talk about functions in the game. A character might say something like "Remember Snake, hit the X button to reload your weapon!", with no attempt made to hide this mechanic behind some in-game veil.

Speaking of absurd, this character's name is 'Hot Coldman'

The game structure of Peace Walker is noticeably different than previous franchise entries. The game uses a mission structure where the player can choose which mission to undertake and the order in which to undertake them. I found this to be a refreshing approach to the standard MGS game, and I enjoyed that many of the missions were much shorter than in previous games. The player can even repeat the same mission again and again. This gives the game a stripped down approach, with many of the more advanced tactics of previous entries having been removed. This change in game structure is most likely due to the fact that Peace Walker was initially released as a game for the Playstation Portable, Sony's answer to Nintendo's Game Boy. Peace Walker was made available in the Metal Gear Solid HD Collection on the Playstation 3, where the first three entries in the series, along with Peace Walker, were given the high definition treatment to bring them up to modern graphical standards (this was the version I played).

Overall I greatly enjoyed Peace Walker. The stripped down approach to the gameplay and mission structure kept things feeling fresh, and the plot moved Big Boss's story forward in a big way. The game also makes great use of a comic book-like art style. This was initially seen very briefly back in Metal Gear Solid 2 when pictures of the Illuminati-like "Patriots" were shown in a hand drawn sketch style. In Peace Walker it's been expanded so that nearly all of the cutscenes are done in this style. It looks great.

Hideo Kojima has pretty abandoned the notion that MGS 4 would be the last entry in the franchise, having recently released MGS: Ground Zeroes as a sort of prequel to the upcoming Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain, which looks to continue the story of Big Boss and how he ultimately becomes a symbol of evil (watch the trailer here). In a bit of a controversial move, Kojima dumped long time Snake voice actor David Hayter for... Keifer Sutherland. From the previews I've watched, it's just plain weird to hear Sutherland's voice coming out the mouth of Snake, even if  both actors share a similarly gravelly voice. Well, I suppose I better start playing Ground Zeroes, until next time.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

No Fun Aloud; However, Bad Puns Acceptable

Glenn Frey probably figured that if he couldn't compete with his erstwhile partner in the intellectual depth department, he could at least one-up him in the lame pun department. Despite the brilliant wordplay, however, the title of No Fun Aloud is only partly accurate: while very few listeners would consider it loud, I think even Oscar the Grouch would have a hard time denying that this album is at least several buckets of fun. Take the opening track, "I Found Somebody," which sounds like Frey's attempt to re-write "The Long Run," presumably to make sure that he would get to sing lead this time instead of that cunt Henley.

Like his former (and future) band mate, Frey took the expanded leeway of a solo debut to demonstrate his interpretive skills. If you've ever listened to Frankie Ford's New Orleans R&B classic "Sea Cruise" and thought, "You know, this would be pretty good, if only it were slower, blander, stiffer, and whiter," then boy, has Glenn Frey got a cover version for you. But he was probably better off generating his own rollicking Saturday night roadside bar vibe instead of plundering someone else's. Exhibit A: "Party Town."
I got sick of my job, sick of my wife
Sick of my future and sick of my life
I packed up my car and I got some gas
And told everybody they could kiss my ass

I'm goin' to Party Town (yeah, yeah)
I wanna party down (yeah, yeah)
I wanna have some fun
I wanna fool around
I'm goin' to Party Town

The sun comes up, the sun goes down
Doesn't really matter in Party Town
They go all day and they go all night
They keep on goin' until they get it right

Right here in Party Town (yeah, yeah)
They really party down (yeah, yeah)
Man it's a Party Town (yeah, yeah)
You know they all got their own
And they pass it all around

Well I'm burnin' like a blowtorch in my prime
Everybody here is a friend of mine
I met a little girl a couple shooters ago
She's teachin' me everything I don't know

About Party Town (yeah, yeah)
They really party down (yeah, yeah)
You know they love to ball
They do it in the hall
Right here in Party Town

"Well I'm burnin' like a blowtorch in my prime"? Is that how they described Gonorrhea in the '80s? "They do it in the hall"? With Glenn Frey standing right there? Was he like the parental chaperon or something? Also, could someone please clarify: are we talking about Party Town, Oregon, or Party Town, Washington? I just want to make sure I end up in the right Party Town, that's all.

But if you think Frey was just one carefree, mellow, easygoing dude, "All Those Lies" is a chilling reminder that, despite appearances, this Yuppie Rocker was locked in a Sisyphean struggle with his ever-present demons. The verse melody bears a passing resemblance to the upcoming "You Belong To The City," which raises the critical scientific conundrum: can an artist plagiarize his future self?
I woke up shakin' in a cold, cold sweat
I got so much goin' on, what did I forget?
I know there's somethin', but it got so late
I need someone to help me get my story straight
Who told shorty, who told you?
And who else knows about the things I do?
It's my own business, it's my own fun
So don't you breathe a word of this to anyone

All those lies - I hope I can remember
All those lies - I'm a bad pretender
All those lies - comin' back to haunt me
All those lies - I get the feeling like they want me

Listen, baby, you can take my word
Don't you believe a single lie you've heard
They're all out to get me and then get you
There's just no tellin' what these kind of people will do
They're sayin' certain things behind my back
I can't believe you'd listen to those one eyed jacks
They look you in the eye, say it with a smile
They wanna see you sad and lonely all the while

All those lies - I hope I can remember
All those lies - I'm a bad pretender
All those lies - it's a bad situation
All those lies - tryin' to ruin my reputation

There's some bad wheels in motion, tryin' to run us down
Spreadin' dirty lies in this dirty little town
Ooh baby, you know I wouldn't dare
You know how much I love you, you know how much I care

Finally, No Fun Aloud goes out on top with the double whammy of "She Can't Let Go," which could go toe-to-toe with "An Innocent Man" in the Drifters rip-off sweepstakes, and "Don't Give Up," which sounds as if Journey got punched in the balls by George Clinton and then tried to record a song afterwards. In sum: with his solo debut, Frey established himself as the goofy McCartney to Henley's more topical Lennon. "You know what, Don? You can go ahead and try to be an 'artist,' but, hey man, I just want to have a good time."

Friday, June 20, 2014

It's A Cruel Summer, But A ... Kinder Indian Summer?

Ah yes, Bananarama. The last we'd heard of Keren, Sara, and Siobhan, they were the Fun Boy Three's little pet project/spin-off group. Nothing too serious, nothing too complex ... certainly not destined for any longevity. Of course, due to the Newtonian laws of '80s pop irony, it was inevitable that Bananarama would outlast their predecessors. Honestly, I think the Fun Boy Three might have survived if they'd simply been able to find an "a" to put in their name; tragically, their sister group had monopolized every last one of them.

So out of the ashes of the ska revival, there arose a dance-pop trio. I'm not exactly sure what the members of Bananarama did, but whatever they did, on "Cruel Summer," they did it right. At least one fact cannot be debated: best use of xylophone/vibraphone/kalimba ever. Or whatever it is. Possibly an ancient pile of bones? But that little quasi-xylophone riff is the hook my friends, that is the hook. Also, bonus points for the jangly Johnny Marr-esque rhythm guitar on the chorus, and the eerie, droning background vocals that precede and follow same chorus.

I think what ultimately makes "Cruel Summer" linger is that, like "Vacation" before it, it's a summer single that is actually kind of sad. School's out, the weather's nice, you're supposed to be having a good time, but instead you're just sitting around depressed! Which is even more depressing than it would normally be, because ... it's summer! As the Rolling Stones put it in a slightly darker song, "I see the girls walk by dressed in their summer clothes/I have to turn my head until my darkness goes." Did I just compare "Cruel Summer" to "Paint It Black"? You decide.
Hot summer streets
And the pavements are burning
I sit around
Trying to smile
But the air is so heavy and dry
Strange voices are saying
What did they say
Things I can't understand
It's too close for comfort
This heat has got right out of hand

It's a cruel, cruel summer
Leaving me here on my own
It's a cruel, cruel summer
Now you've gone
You're not the only one

The city is crowded
My friends are away
And I'm on my own
It's too hot to handle
So I got to get up and go
The group does sound rather casual about its misery. I love the playful pause after "It's a cruel," which is followed by a meek little "cruel!" Why do I get the feeling that this summer isn't all that cruel? Also, what's with the line "You're not the only one"? Does that even make sense? Or did it just sound good when they were writing it? He's not the only one who's gone? Sure he is. He's not the only one who's depressed in summertime? Jesus, it's like a Magic Eye poster. If I stare at it any longer my head is going to explode.

The song peaked at #8 in the UK but didn't do a thing over here until it was featured in the greatest cinematic achievement of its age, otherwise known as The Karate Kid. Bananarama on, Banamarama off. In this case, it was Bananarama on: the single hit #9 stateside.

In the official music video, the girls demonstrate, as they prance around New York in grimy, baggy overalls, that they may have abandoned their ska roots, but not their tomboy image. Still, if you're worried that Bananarama would never give in to temptation and transform into trashy MTV sex objects, don't worry: they would. Nope, at this stage they simply hitch a ride on a semi and get chased around Brooklyn by Boss Hogg (who, when he eventually catches up to the girls, shows he can really bust a move!). Good thing there weren't any real cops around, because according to Siobhan Fahey, the band was only able to make it through the cruelty of this particular summer with the assistance of everyone's favorite '80s chemical:
"It was August, over one hundred degrees. Our HQ was a tavern under the Brooklyn Bridge, which had a ladies' room with a chipped mirror where we had to do our makeup."

After an exhausting morning, the band returned to the tavern for lunch. They made the acquaintance of some of the local dockworkers, who upon learning of their situation shared vials of cocaine with them. "That was our lunch" said Fahey, who had never tried the drug before. "When you watch that video, we look really tired and miserable in the scenes we shot before lunch, and then the after-lunch shots are all euphoric and manic."
Welcome to America, girls. Welcome to America.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Don, Belinda, And Jane On The "Zoom" (And Maybe A Few Other Things)?

The VisionQuest soundtrack. Need I say more? All right, guess I need to say a little more.

Most people may remember the VisionQuest soundtrack, if at all, as the source of Madonna's #1 hit (and first attempt at trying to seem acceptable to your parents), "Crazy For You." As discussed several years ago on this blog, more hardcore Madonna fans also know the VisionQuest soundtrack as the only place to find the Madonna obscurity "The Gambler."

All well and good, but hardly the end of the story. Nothing against Journey's "Only The Young," Dio's "Hungry For Heaven," Sammy Hagar's "I'll Fall In Love Again," and The Style Council's "Shout To The Top," but, without a doubt, for reasons I am about to explain, the VisionQuest soundtrack's most notorious track would have to be Don Henley's "She's On The Zoom."

She's on the what? Uh, Don ... "Zoom" is not a noun. That's like saying, "He picked up the Bam!" Is it like being on a Segway? I'm guessing Henley wasn't too proud of the track, as it has never appeared on any legitimate Henley album or collection. No, there is only one place to find "She's On The Zoom," and that is on the VisionQuest soundtrack. And to be fair, it is kind of crappy. But its quality or lack thereof is not what makes this song notable. What makes it notable, my friends, is that the backing vocalists are none other than Belinda Carlisle and Jane Wiedlin.

OK, OK, hold on a second, what was going on here? I wanna know: how exactly did this go down? Who was hanging out with whom? Did Belinda and Jane end up across the hall in the same studio as Don one night, and maybe he figured, 'Oh, fuck yes, I'll get the Go-Go's on my awesome soundtrack song!" Here's what I really want to know: exactly how much coke was in the studio that night? Ten grams? Twenty? I don't really know how much coke is a lot of coke. But whatever it was, it must have been a lot. I mean, you've got Don Henley and Belinda Carlisle in the same room. Actually, Don had probably outgrown the dust by that point, but I know another singer who certainly hadn't.

When did this even happen? The VisionQuest soundtrack came out in 1985, right around the time the Go-Go's broke up, and I think Jane had already left by that point anyway. My impression of that period is that Jane would have been too pissed off at Belinda to be cruising around L.A. with her more popular band mate late at night, looking for recording sessions to crash, teaming up for backing vocals, but I suppose not. The lure of the Henley is strong. I'm going to guess early 1984.

I can just see the scene several months later. Record label: "Hey Don, we need another song for the VisionQuest soundtrack, you got anything good? What's this one, 'Boys of Summer' - that kind of sounds promising." "No, no, get your hands out of there, that's all stuff for my next solo album." "Come on Donnie, we need a song, you've gotta have something lying around." "Oh yeah, there's that shitty one I tossed off at three in the morning in a blurry haze while partying with two of the Go-Go's, here, take that one."

Let's hear it for Wikipedia, because otherwise I'm not sure I would have ever caught this memorable guest spot. Although I do feel like I would have been able to recognize the big C's forceful quiver anywhere. And let's face it: not just any pair of backing vocalists could have summoned up quite the proper amount of incredulity needed on "Pictures of his car???" In the end, this whole episode is a such perfect illustration of why I love, and am endlessly amused by, Belinda Carlisle's career. I mean, here we have the rare instance of Madonna and Belinda Carlisle appearing on the very same album. But while Madonna sings lead vocals on a dramatic, career re-defining number one hit, Belinda sings blink-and-you-miss'-em backing vocals on a freaking Don Henley throwaway. And yet, the thing is, I'm pretty sure I know which singer had more fun providing her contribution.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Just How Innocent Could A Man Really Be (With A Girlfriend Like That)?

See, you get a supermodel girlfriend, and let me tell you, your priorities change. Vietnam? Unemployment? Touring Norway while pumping your veins full of heroin? For Billy Joel in 1983, that stuff was so "last album." Christie Brinkley made Billy Joel forget the late '60s even happened. On An Innocent Man, he was feeling so innocent, it was like JFK hadn't even been blown away, and what else did he have to say?
After I did The Nylon Curtain and we went on the road, I wanted to do something that was 180 degrees in the other direction. I'd gotten divorced, and I started dating these different women, I was going out with models ... I was a rock star, a single guy who was a rock star, I was like amazed at my good fortune at the time, and I started dating Christie Brinkley at the time too, and I started writing songs about these experiences. I kind of felt like a teenager all over again. All those songs that I remembered from the early '60s - the R&B songs and the Four Seasons and Motown music and soul music - that's how I felt ... I was kind of re-living my youth.
Oh my God, I totally know the feeling!

Jesus. Just looking at it makes me sick.

So after getting the late period Beatles out of his system, Billy went back even further, further, to early '60s pre-Beatles pop: doo-wop, girl groups, Motown, Atlantic Records. He went back to music that, like the Beatles, was also great, but great in a very different way. The funny thing is, I don't know if this was really a stylistic departure so much as a return to the piano-based, New York-flavored sound of The Stranger and 52nd Street, except with less of a singer-songwriter feel and more of a Top 40 bent.

Well, if it was Top 40 he was going for, it was Top 40 he got. An Innocent Man was Billy's Thriller, his Sports, his Born In The U.S.A., his Can't Slow Down, where the album ultimately consisted of more hit singles (six) than non-hit singles (four). The radio milked this one for all it was worth. Like a lot of blockbuster '80s albums, though, I don't really know if it's a "classic" album, even if I think there are more "classic" songs on it than non-classic. Let's say this: I don't think, song for song, it holds together as well as The Nylon Curtain does, but if I were making a "Best of Billy Joel" mix tape, I would include more songs from An Innocent Man on it than I would from its predecessor. We're talking about some of the core canon here.

Quick run-down on the album tracks: "Easy Money" sounds like someone chopped Wilson Pickett's balls off and dropped them in a glass of New Coke, "Careless Talk" sounds like your orthodontist shot Dion & the Belmonts on safari, then stuffed and mounted them in his lobby, and "Christie Lee" sounds like Little Richard ate a bowl of Raisin Bran mixed with Metamucil and left the microphone on while he took a shit. I used to think "This Night" was actually pretty good until the day I heard Beethoven's Piano Sonata #8 (Pathetique) and realized that Billy Joel had stolen the chorus ... from Beethoven! Procol Harum turning Bach into haunting psychedelic pop ("A Whiter Shade of Pale") is one thing, but turning Beethoven into ... doo-wop? I guess when your girlfriend is Christie Brinkley, you start to think you can get away with anything. But the singles. Oh man, the singles.

Despite being the title track, "An Innocent Man" is, ironically, one of the album's least representative cuts, and even thought it was the third biggest hit off the album (peaking at #10), I think it's been sort of lost in the blinding glare of "Uptown Girl," "The Longest Time," etc. And yet, it might actually be the album's most sophisticated, mature single. In other words, when I hear of people who claim to hate Billy Joel, I just want to play them "An Innocent Man" and say, "How can you hate such a crystalline torch song/traditional pop standard?" It's like hating Sinatra. You can't even call yourself American. There are a lot of qualities in Billy's music that I imagine listeners would find irritating, but to me, "An Innocent Man" possesses almost none of these. If you don't like "An Innocent Man," then ... I got nuthin'.

Although I certainly get that Porter/Gershwin vibe, I think the musical reference point Billy was actually going for was the Drifters' "Under the Boardwalk," with a touch of Ben E. King for good measure. It certainly boasts the best usage of a triangle since "Spanish Harlem." Well, although the bass line is supposed to be from "Under the Boardwalk," I always thought it sounded a bit like the one from Steely Dan's "Rikki Don't Lose That Number," which itself was lifted from Horace Silver's "Song of My Father" ... so I guess everybody gets a pass.

While stylistically, with its early '60s homages, it's of a piece with the rest of the album, its bitter, defensive lyrics set it apart from the other songs' giddy celebrations of young romance. Methinks this was the last final holdover from his first divorce, and Billy thought it too strong to keep off the album. Elizabeth Joel, ladies and gentlemen - still making the hits happen. Or perhaps Billy was caught with three underage Guatemalan prostitutes, the judge asked him if he had any defense, and here it was. The point is, while it's no "Laura," "An Innocent Man" is definitely the darkest song on An Innocent Man, but it's not dark so much as it's moody. It starts out soft and gentle, Billy's philosophical lyrics gelling nicely with the sway of the Drifters bass line:
Some people stay far away from the door
If there's a chance of it opening up
They hear a voice in the hall outside
And hope that it just passes by

Some people live with the fear of a touch
And the anger of having been a fool
They will not listen to anyone
So nobody tells them a lie
Actually, whenever I hear a voice in the hall outside, I usually shout, "Hey, who is it? Why are you in my hallway?" But never mind. Billy's lulled you into a cozy vibe, you think you can just lay back and relax, but the bridge suddenly gets intense: "I know you're only protecting yourself/I know you're thinking of somebody else/Someone who hurt you." And then swoop! He takes you right back to the cozy vibe again:
But I'm not above
Making up for the love
You've been denying you could ever feel
I'm not above doing anything
To restore your faith if I can

Some people see through the eyes of the old
Before they ever get a look at the young
I'm only willing to hear you cry
Because I am an innocent man
And then Billy sits on a tack because WHOA, what a high note. I'll bet you didn't even think he could hit a note that high. He didn't either, and he couldn't - at least not for much longer: "I had a suspicion that was going to be the last time I was going to be able to hit those notes, so why not go out in a blaze of glory? That was the end of Billy's high note." Indeed it was. In subsequent live performances, one will hear a young male back-up vocalist take over as Billy approaches the chorus. But at least he captured it for posterity.

Now that I think about it, "An Innocent Man" might be Billy's best performance as a pure singer. No one has actually spent very much time talking about Billy Joel as a singer, but without a great vocal performance, this song wouldn't be nearly as effective. He soars high on the choruses, he swoops down on the verses ("you've been de-ny-ing you could ever feel" - seriously, you try it sometime), he's hushed, then he's full-throated - the man's covering left, center, and right field.

Honestly, I can't tell if the song is from the point of view a guy trying to convince a girl who's still bitter over a previous break-up to open up and love again (the lines about restoring faith, or never believing promises again) or if it's about a previously established couple that's falling apart (the lines about resurrecting a love, or going back to the start), but whatever man, he sells it. There's even a second bridge that's more dramatic than the first ("You know you only hurt yourself out of spite/I guess you'd rather be a martyr tonight!") which slides right back into the soothing Drifters verse:
That's your decision
But I'm not below
Anybody I know
If there's a chance of resurrecting a love
I'm not above going back to the start
To find out where the heartache began

Some people hope for a miracle cure
Some people just accept the world as it is
But I'm not willing to lay down and die
Because I am an innocent man
Well, in the eyes of the law, he may be an innocent man, but if it's a crime to create a timeless Yuppie Rock ballad, then I'm afraid Billy Joel is guilty as charged.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

How Phil Collins Was Invited To Join Genesis ... Or Was He? AKA The Legend Of Finn Coughlan's Foot

Look at that sexy body. As a strapping young English gentleman, Phil Collins had the world at his feet. And yet, in the potent spring of adolescence, it was not yet clear what fortune truly held in store for this humble lad. From Wikipedia:
He began a career as a child actor and model, and won his first major role as the Artful Dodger in the London production of Oliver! ... Despite the beginnings of an acting career, Collins continued to gravitate towards music. While attending Chiswick Community School he formed a band called the Real Thing and later joined the Freehold. With the latter group, he wrote his first song titled "Lying Crying Dying" ... Collins's first record deal came as drummer for Hickory, who changed their name to Flaming Youth by the time of their sole album, Ark 2 (1969) ... After a year of touring, band tensions and the lack of commercial success dissolved the group ...
He also wrote a second song called "Flying Trying Spying," but it met the same obscure fate as its predecessor. Meanwhile, on the other side of London, a fledgling, slightly derivative progressive rock band was struggling to find its voice - and a drummer:
In 1970, Collins answered a Melody Maker classified ad for "...a drummer sensitive to acoustic music, and 12-string acoustic guitarist." Genesis placed the ad after having already lost three drummers over two albums. The audition occurred at the home of Peter Gabriel's parents. Prospective candidates performed tracks from the group's second album, Trespass. Collins arrived early, listened to the other auditions while swimming in Gabriel's parents' pool, and memorized the pieces before his turn.

Fun story - aside from its being utter balderdash. The truth is, the band had originally tried to enlist the services of Mancunian drummer Finn Coughlan, not so much for his drumming prowess as for a much more ribald skill. According to an interview with longtime Genesis roadie Pops MacIntyre:
We originally wanted to get Finn Coughlan, because he was an absolute chick magnet. I mean a magnet. The rest of the band just wasn't getting any, you know? We thought we could snag a new drummer and some new groupies in one fell swoop. There was a legend about Finn, we'd all heard about it, but we wanted to find out if it was true - that he could impregnate a woman ... with his foot. No one knew how he did it. At any rate, we told the band's manager, and I guess there was some sort of mix-up, this little pipsqueak shows up and says he's "Phil Collins." I mean, my accent can be thick, but this was just a real fuck-up. Then we thought, "What a great joke, we'll send this poor fellow in to the audition, with the band thinking he's Finn Coughlan!" So the sad little bastard shows up, and they start asking him, "So how do you do it?" "Do what?" "You know - with your foot? Up a lady's ... come on, how does it work?" And they keep pressing him about the foot thing and he's completely flummoxed and he's turning red in the face. Meanwhile, Mickey and I are standing in the hallway almost choking to death from laughter.

So after the audition, Peter and Mike come up to me and say, "Hey, what's the deal, he didn't seem to live up to his reputation, you know." So I tell them the truth, and they're ready to kill me. "Phil 'Collins'? Who the fuck is Phil 'Collins'? No wonder why he was looking at us so funny. Not bad drumming, though." So it was just a prank, he wasn't the right guy. A couple of days later we found out that Finn Coughlan joined a glam rock band in Edinburgh. So they stuck with Phil, and I guess it worked out.
If Phil ever learned about the less-than-flattering circumstances behind his inclusion in the band, he hasn't let on. He certainly felt nothing but pride at the time, with a touch of uncertainty. From In The Air Tonight:
The night they told me I was going to be the new drummer in Genesis, I was sitting in my flat with Rot Rot, and I simply couldn't believe it.

"Do you think I'll be good enough?" I asked him.

"Oh Phil, I never think of humility as a flaw, but in your case, I'm afraid that it is." The spiny creature smiled his benevolent smile.

"Do you think I'll ever get the chance to sing lead, or maybe even write a song?"

"Not only that, but I think that one day, the name 'Phil Collins' will be more famous than the name 'Genesis'."

"Now Rot Rot, don't be preposterous."