Once Upon a Time at the Top of the Charts: Phil Collins, “Sussudio”

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Wednesday, July 6, 2016
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80s
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Phil Collins
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Once Upon a Time at the Top of the Charts: Phil Collins, “Sussudio”

31 years ago today, Phil Collins hit the top of the Billboard Hot 100 with the track that led off his 1985 album No Jacket Required…and, no, this is not just some elaborate ploy to remind you that we’ve just reissued Phil’s back catalog in deluxe-edition form, but as coincidences go, you have to admit, the timing’s pretty great.

Written by Collins and co-produced by him, too, along with the assistance of Hugh Padgham, “Sussudio” – which was released in January 14 – was the song that teased the world at large about what No Jacket Required would sound like when it hit record store shelves the following month. This ultimately proved to be a good thing for consumers, but it occasionally proved frustrating for Collins…and apparently still does, at least to some extent, based on his interview with the Onion A.V. Club earlier this year.

When asked whether or not there was an overt intent with No Jacket Required to pursue a more commercial sound, Collins admitted, “I did say to myself, ‘You know, it’d be interesting to try writing a couple of dance songs, to change the tempo of what I do a bit, just to mix it up.’ So I think we’re talking, really, about ‘Sussudio.’ I think the rest of it is standard what you’d expect from Phil Collins. But ‘Sussudio’ was a huge hit, and…this is an example of people glossing across the surface of a career and actually summing it up by a couple of songs.”

True enough.

As for the title of the song, Collins revealed during his installment of VH-1 Storytellers that it was improvised whilst playing around with a drum machine. “I kinda knew I had to find something else for that word, then I went back and tried to find another word that scanned as well as ‘Sussudio,’ and I couldn’t find one, so I went back to ‘Sussudio.’”

Hey, stick with what works, right?