Why Phil Collins thought Eric Clapton sounded “lame”?

Phil Collins

Depending on the progressive rock fan you ask, Phil Collins is either a brilliant inventor or the death of mainstream music. Regardless of his pedigree in Genesis and throughout his solo career, Collins has frequently been mocked for his soft-rock demeanor. This often plays to his abilities in penning ballads that are too mild for the hard-rock audience. Though some may find Collins’ music lame, he asserted that one industry heavyweight was notably less fashionable than him.

Collins, for as popular as he was in the 1980s, was never particularly interested in fashion. Compared to the other giants who roamed the Earth, Collins was content to be a sideman for the rest of his career, until Peter Gabriel chose to leave the band in quest of a solo career and time with his family.

While Collins seemed like the perfect fit, he quickly found himself juggling his solo career and his time with Genesis. Although Collins avoided most conventional material during his solo career, he never sold out for financial reasons.

Collins wrote songs that reflected his emotional state, such as the sadness he felt after his first marriage ended. By the time he began covering pop-rock standards like ‘You Can’t Hurry Love,’ he was still passionate. He aimed to share his love of soul music with a new generation.

Around the same time Collins went pop, another major troubadour attempted to reclaim his position on the charts. Eric Clapton, long celebrated as a blues-rock deity, embarked on a mission to inject his signature bluesy and dirty guitar riffs into the mainstream. He scored some of his biggest solo hits with songs like ‘Wonderful Tonight‘.

Although Collins was proud to call Clapton a buddy throughout his career, he could see him relying on his inadequacies as a songwriter. This was particularly evident in songs such as Money and Cigarettes. Clapton hailed as a guitar god, delivered a record that fell short of his usual grandeur. It seemed to convey his blues fury with a little pop of honey.

While Collins would eventually assist Clapton in steering himself in the right direction on future albums such as Edge of Darkness and August, he admitted that he wasn’t a fan of his early 1980s work. He expressed this to Consequence, stating, “I kind of felt like I brought him into this era.” Phil Collins mentioned that some of Clapton’s earlier albums, like Money and Cigarettes, were a little lame. I believe he was on automatic pilot when I kicked him out and forced him to start writing.”

Even while Collins’ collaboration with Clapton had elements of 1980s music, it wasn’t long before Clapton returned to his roots. He made a strong comeback on the album Journeyman before redefining himself on acoustic guitar for his appearance on Unplugged. While Clapton would reach new heights without Collins’ guidance, the Genesis drummer may at least take credit for breaking him out of his creative stalemate.

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