FFWDing to the Best Part: “Invisible Touch,” Genesis (1986)

Phil Collins is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma.  Do people choose to like him ironically?  Do people love to hate him?  Hate to love him? Actually, unapologetically (gasp) like him?   

His entire life is one of seeming contradictions … many say his addition behind the drum kit ruined Genesis as a leading progressive-rock pioneer, but it also, quite inarguably, made them immensely more popular. As a solo artist, his music is thought to be empty and shallow, yet he’s sold 100 million albums and has 16 top-20 singles in the U.S. alone.  He’s allegedly sort of a dick in his personal life, but raises money for PETA and famously flew across the Atlantic to be the only performer to take the stage at both the UK and US Live Aid concerts. (Not to mention, his singing voice is kinda sweet as kittens.)

The paradox that is Phil Collins is a popular topic among rock critics.  Behold:

Of course, Phil is not the first artist to be accused of “selling out” in one way or another. For me, I like what I like, and some of that includes songs from Collins-era Genesis, as well as a solo hit or two (or five).  Hell, I even dig “Easy Lover” — how can one NOT?

But after all that, I’m here to talk about a Genesis cut, which loyal reader RBerman alluded to in his most recent comment.

Best part? This is a perfectly accessible, inoffensive, quality mid-80s jam. Like “Kind of a Girl,” “With or Without You,” or many other tracks, “Invisible Touch” waxes on love gone awry because of some woman with the power of a shape shifter: “And though she will mess up your life, you’ll want her just the same.” (As I said to RBerman, there is a live track of this where Phil subs in “f*ck” for “mess,” and it is a super unsettling thing to hear out of the aforementioned kitten voice.)

But I digress … once again.

The best part isn’t the key change at 3:10 (though it’s a pretty good one), but rather at 3:25, when a new element of backing vocals emerge … “She seems to haaaave, an invisible touch, she seems to haaave, an invisible touch.”  Vaguely in the style of a (less cool) Police, we hear this refrain into the song’s fade.

Also, he’s using drum sticks as a fake microphone. Adorable, y’all!




One thought on “FFWDing to the Best Part: “Invisible Touch,” Genesis (1986)

  1. I have given up the pretense of the guilty pleasure; like you, I like what I like, which turns out to be anything from Sufjan Stevens to T.I. to Gram Parsons to Doris Day to Petra Haden to Petra. (Except Freestyle music. Ugh.) Arena rock is terrific, and Genesis was terrific at arena rock, which makes the whole Invisible Touch album an 80s highlight for me, perhaps half a notch below Dire Strait’s “Money for Nothing” and slightly above Peter Gabriel’s “So.”

    The descant you describe is a nice moment in the song, which overall appears to be Phil Collins blaming an affair on the woman, not his finest lyrical moment. This may be the odd song for which, contra “In the Air Tonight,” my favorite moment really is the opening drum fill.

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