Monday, 28 February 2011

Phil Collins and the Genesis 'Match Of The Day' song he'd rather you forgot all about

I suppose Phil Collins was always going to write a football song really. After all, he's a man of the people, an earthy Chiswick boy made good. He's the plucky drummer that stepped into the breach when Peter Gabriel left Genesis and Collins took over on vocal duties.

So dedicated to serving his public in musical form is Collins that he famously performed in both London and Philadelphia during Live Aid in 1985 - the unselfish act of a generous man, and in no way a publicity stunt to make him appear to be the most do-goody of the pop star do-gooders that day, far better than that idle Geldof fella who just lounged around in London all day. I'm sure Collins travelled economy class on Concorde as he dashed off to give the Philly folk their Phil fill.

Yes, there can be no denying that the Genesis frontman is a multi-talented instrumentalist and singer, not to mention creatively dexterous enough to have pulled a few (surprisingly non-Oscar nominated) acting performances out of his bag of tricks over the years, all while still supporting his beloved Tottenham Hotspur, generally loving his football and being an all-round folk hero. A fair assessment, no?

So given that we've established Phil's credentials as a suitable man to pen a football song for the masses, what in the name of Subbuteo is this?

There have been an abundance of terrible football songs over the years, but this has an earnest quality to it that makes it all the more offensive. How cheap does that keyboard riff sound? I keep expecting John Shuttleworth to pipe up with a burst of "Austin Ambassador Y Reg". And in saying this, I worry I might offend John Shuttleworth...

And why does Collins keep going so high-pitched on the vocals? Like tomato in a shop-bought sandwich or casual racism at the barber's, there are certain things we shouldn't have to put up with, and Phil Collins singing up an octave is most certainly one of them. He sounds like Vinnie Jones has got him by the goolies.

And then there's the lyrics. It's a ludicrously naff attempt at conveying the passion and commitment of a football match. And he does rather focus on the negatives, doesn't he? Was this song co-written with Barry Davies? You suspect that Phil doesn't really like football that much, he just likes having a good old grumble. He's certainly not fond of referees - slating officials is a common theme of the lyrics, with the idea of kicking one to death even getting an airing at one stage. Much of the rest is gibberish and barely makes sense. I've posted the full lyrics below for you. Take a moment to pore over them as you listen to the song. They are ludicrously bad from start to finish, but my personal highlight is this:

"There's a few things before we go
That I think you ought to know
Obstruction, body checking, heavy tackles"

I like how he sets this up as if he's going to give us some insider knowledge, something that will enrich our lives or keep us safe from harm - and then he just lists three more things he doesn't like about football. Thanks for the handy hints, Phil.

The following quote was supposedly made by Phil Collins on his internet forum in November 2004: "Match Of The Day... no video was done for this as far as I can recall... but I am weak and my limbs are frail.....etc. Etc. It was also not our finest hour looking back at it now!!! I wrote the embarrassing lyrics and the track featured an attempt to bring some of the hipper grooves of the day into Genesis, with very suspect results."

Hipper grooves? I think what we can take from this is that there definitely was a video for this song, but that it has been lost in the annals of time. There's an internet rumour that one was filmed on the terraces at Loftus Road. Does anybody have any further information? If anyone has a copy of the video, put it on Youtube - you will be a hero.

As bad as this song is, if one thing is telling, it's that Collins doesn't even touch on MOTD in terms of punditry or commentary. Because, as I have written about more thoroughly recently, it was much more about the football action in those days.

It's 1977. The kids are growing tired of radio-friendly pop and bookish prog. Something is brewing. Punk rock is about to whip them up into an angry, glorious frenzy. You'd like to think this song was something of a tipping point.

Collins: touched by genius? (Feel free to
insert your own 'Invisible Touch' gag here...)
Genesis - "Match Of The Day"
Released on "Spot The Pigeon" EP, 1977.

There's the Reds and there's the Greens
Super slicks and has-beens,
They're accompanied by three men dressed in black,
One's a whistle, two are flags, and quite often they're the drags
Kick the ball into the goal, they put it back.

Yes Match of the Day's
The only way, to spend your Saturday

Each side's eleven men, with numbers on their backs
But at a distance they all tend to look the same
But some own their boutiques, well they clean up every week
Inciting riots, causing chaos, such a shame!

But Match of the Day's
The only way
We spend our Saturday

And that's not all, our mates the keeper
Slippin' and sliding in the mud
Arms as long as creepers

Send him off Ref'
Where are your specs Ref'?
We'll kick you to death Ref'
Oi! Are you deaf Ref'?

There's a few things before we go
That I think you ought to know
Obstruction, body checking, heavy tackles
So put on your hat and scarf
Have a drink, have a laugh
From the terrace you can see your men do battle

Yes Match of the Day's
The only way
You can spend your Saturday

Don't forget, the trainers with their sponges
Managers with open cheques, liquid business lunches

Send him off Ref'
Where are your specs Ref'?

We'll kick you to death Ref'
Oi! Are you deaf Ref'?

...Phfff! Good game 'ey, Ron?...
...D'you see that goal in the second half? Cor!...
...Bit of a dirty tackle that, mate!...
...I reckon that should've been a penalty myself...
...We paid £400,000 for him, d'you realise that?...
...Ooh, look out, here comes a bottle...
...Yes, fancy a pint then? My round...


tikabooson said...

Wish we'd heard this before publishing our Football Oscar winners. Would have walked away with Best Musical Score uncontested!! - this song is truly awful and we love it!!

markcurtains said...

Rhyming scarf with laugh? Dear oh dear

Anonymous said...

This truly beggars belief. Come back Hoddle and Waddle, all is forgiven...

Mark Critchley said...

Jesus Christ on a fucking speedboat.

'We'll kick you to death, ref'? What a fantastic twat.

The Rev Jesse Custer said...

Nice polo your sporting though Phil. Very tidy.

LargePenis said...

fancy a pint mate, yeh phil collins one of the lads.

What a big steaming pile of horse shit

Anonymous said...

You poms are whingeing even more than Phil does in the song.

"English football" - an oxymoron if I've ever heard one...

Keith Kosmal said...

Put this in a playlist with who dunnit on repeat and you'll kill yourself in a day.

Anonymous said...

Actually I kind of like the music to the song, though it's far from the best Genesis could do. But it's true the lyrics are pretty awful (I suspect he may have been attempting to write in character ala Randy Newman, but he couldn't pull it off). Still, Phil's greatest talent in those days was as a drummer; this was several years before he really got into songwriting (with results ranging from great to mediocre). In any case, the people who always slag him off should give it a rest. Aside from being a talented musician, he strikes me as one of the few celebrities who is a genuinely nice guy with a good sense of humor.

jba63477 said...

I don't get "There's the reds and there's the greens"

Why not the Blues?

Anonymous said...

This track is pretty funny, I kind of like it.

I mean, come on, at least it's ways better than Who Dunnit.

Anonymous said...

Even though you hold this song in as much contempt as the band who wrote it.....I think you are completely wrong. I love this song....sure the lyrics are cliched but it is so easy to castigate song lyrics....most song lyrics can be held to ridicule in the light of day...I think these song lyrics are straightforward and amusing, the guitar riffs are terrific and the melody is toe tapping and engaging....this was Steve Hacketts last contribution to Genesis and how they missed him subsequently. It is a catchy song in my humble opinion and the EP it came from is great....Pigeons is another catchy tune and Inside and Out is one of the best Genesis tracks ever and was shockingly omitted from the Wind and Wuthering album, instead replaced by the awful Your Own Special Way. A great EP and a great little song......haters will hate.....its all about opinion is somewhat different. Best wishes Matt

Anonymous said...

Another belated lover of the track here - and a huge fan of Genesis - mostly the Peter Gabriel era but increasingly (as I get older) enjoying more of the post-Gabriel songs. Collins was an AWESOME drummer and multi-instrumentalist and singer. Not a fan of all his songs but he put his heart out there and he was hugely popular. Maybe he was a bit too omnipresent in the 80's / 90's but as was said above, always seemed like a very likeable man with a great sense of humour as well as a truly world-class musician.


jdfromfla said...

I'm with not into themselves they could depart the model and still enjoy the "author" of this slam the immortal words of Henry Potter.."drop your drawers and take a slide on the ice"...way too much hate in one little piece...

Anonymous said...

Ph dear one of the worst Reviews I have ever read. Not only does the author only hold disdain and hatred for a highly regarded Singer/Artist but the author doesn't understand musical lyrical content at all. Grow up and get a real job or fond something better to do than slag off one of the most respected singers /bands in the world

Anonymous said...

You've clearly never investigated the joys of rhyming.

Days of Broken Arrows said...

There is a tongue-in-cheek element to these lyrics that I think the writer here didn't pick up on. I don't hear any earnestness at all, especially not during the comic narration in the fade (which echoes the Who's similarly giddy "Dogs," which might have served as the inspiration for this tune).

One reason this song was left off "Wind and Wuthering" is because it's jovial mood didn't fit in with the rather somber vibe of that LP.

Not everything is serious in life. Reading this reminded me of the feminists from a few years ago who also missed the humorous elements of "Baby, It's Cold Outside" and declared it a rape anthem.

I think the idea of humor is starting to be lost on the current generation, who seem to take offense to things when they're not taking them personally.

The song that followed this on the original EP was equally as silly. That song, called "Pigeons," was a diatribe against the bird that had an opening line that asked who put "fifty tons of sh*t on the Foreign Office roof?" I'm waiting for the day someone decides to take that one seriously as well: "Genesis: Promoting cruelty to animals! OMG!"

Anonymous said...

I almost felt guilty for still liking this song after the review, but I'm cured now. It's fun.

Anonymous said...

Put on your hat and scarf, have a drink, have a larf...

C'mon you dolts the song is a sardonically sweet (or is it a sweetly sardonic) look at memories of watching a game on Saturday. Plus the music just makes me feel good. Shut yer gob.

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