For me, the biggest problem with the Phil Collins singles machine version of Genesis — like The Beatles in reverse, where they get less arty as the years went by — was how inconsistent it all was.
So while “Trick of The Tail,” “Misunderstanding,” “ABACAB” and “That’s All” were all great singles — regardless of chart position — they were counterbalanced by dreck like “Follow Me, Follow You,” “No Reply at All,” “Man on the Corner” and all five of the Top Five (!) singles from Invisible Touch.
And smack dab in the middle of that run of singles is “Paperlate,” which to me epitomizes all of the charm of their singles period. It’s upbeat — Collins is having fun here — nonsensical (though not quite as nonsensical as the song they titled after the structure of the song), and extremely-well-played.
Not only does it juxtapose ringing guitars with slightly-too-busy fills by Earth, Wind & Fire’s horn section, “Paperlate” features some really great drumming. I realize that’s silly to say like it’s a surprise or something, but since Collins is playing a tom-oriented, roll-filled and completely unconventional drum part, it kinda is, given that “Paperlate” was designed to crack the top 40.
Anyways, at the time, I loved “Paperlate” despite myself. What could be more uncool than a horn-filled single by a former art-rock band?
But that’s on me, because of course, then as now, all of those objections were obliterated by the infectious chorus and joyful performance.
“Paperlate” performed on Top of The Pops, 1982
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