614. ‘A Groovy Kind of Love’, by Phil Collins

Just when I’d made such a big point about us being past the gloopiest years of the decade…

A Groovy Kind of Love, by Phil Collins (his 3rd and final #1)

2 weeks, from 4th – 18th September 1988

It’s Phil, a keyboard, some subtle background strings and percussion, all drenched in glossy, echoey reverb. Only three and a half years have passed since his last #1 – ‘Easy Lover’ – but already Phil Collins feels old-fashioned and left behind by this dancey, sample-heavy era. This feels very 1985… And the use of ‘groovy’ in the title is worth suing for false advertising!

Not that it’s terrible. There’s always space in the musical landscape for a smoochy ballad. It’s just fairly dull, and the lyrics are delivered so slowly that their clunky rhymes stand out even more: When I kiss your lips, Oooh I start to shiver, Can’t control the quiver, -ing inside… When you think of Collins’s hits that didn’t make the top – ‘In the Air Tonight’ and ‘Against All Odds’ both peaked at #2 – you might wonder why this unremarkable one made it.

But then Phil Collins isn’t the only artist to be unfairly represented by his chart-toppers. Sometimes there’s a lull at the top, and something understated and gentle can take over for a couple of weeks. It was also on the soundtrack to the movie ‘Buster’, which I’m guessing helped as well.

For something more interesting we must delve into the history of ‘A Groovy Kind of Love’, which I had never realised dated back two decades, to a #2 hit in 1966 for The Mindbenders. (The use of a term like ‘groovy’ makes much more sense in the mid-sixties…) It was their first release after Wayne Fontana had left the band, and I prefer that version, also a ballad, purely because it sounds like it’s from the 1960s (snappy and guitar-led) and not the 1980s, and I’m biased. Sorry! Meanwhile, the melody is based on a piece by 18th century Italian composer Muzio Clementi, instantly propelling this innocuous ballad into the top two or three oldest #1s, ever. Who knew?

Phil Collins won’t be topping the charts again, but his career will keep ticking away throughout the ‘90s and 00’s, despite him becoming a bye-word for ‘uncool’. It probably didn’t help that he always looked, to me at least, like one of my dad’s old school friends. However, he regained some respect from the hip-hop community, of all places, and still tours despite various health problems. Nowadays his influence is much more recognised, and rightly so. For what it’s worth, he’s the world’s 2nd richest drummer, behind Ringo Starr.

8 thoughts on “614. ‘A Groovy Kind of Love’, by Phil Collins

  1. I agree – the Mindbenders’ version was better. This one is so glossy it sounds burnished to a tee, as if the emotion has been sucked out of it. Phil Collins was a bit like the American version of Michael Jackson (except he managed to stay the course, despite his own health issues) – by the late 80s, you just could not get away from him. He was everywhere. But most problems must be soluble when you’re the world’s 2nd richest drummer – though I suspect Don Henley, who is still touring at 75 though apparently going it easy on the drums these days due to back pain, may not be far behind.

    • That’s a good point about drummers… It’s not a job well-suited to old age. Less so than singing and guitar playing, I’d say. Especially not rock drumming. I’ve not looked into it, but I wonder how many of Phil Collins’s health issues are down to decades of pounding away?

      • A good deal, it seems. Don Henley seems more of a rhythm guitar or just hand mic and lead vocals man with Eagles these days, and Ringo likewise just sings, leaving the sticks to someone else. But not bad for a man in his 80s who people used to say in the 60s could not sing full stop! Dave Munden of the Trems likewise used to come out from behind his drums and just sing more and more towards the end of his time with the band on stage. Sadly he had to give up drumming after a fall and, I think, a kneecap op or two which forced him into retirement a few years before he died.

  2. I liked hearing Phil doing something else but he didn’t improve on the original…I still like the original better but it was cool hearing “groovy” in the ungroovy 80s.
    I liked his version of You Can’t Hurry Love more.
    Looking back…I can’t believe Phil didn’t have a number one every week of the year. It’s wasn’t because of the lack of trying. He had to be the most played during the 80s.

  3. Sorry to correct you but Wayne Fontana had nothing to do with Groovy Kind Of Love. It was The Mindbenders after he’d left the band to try a solo career. They continued without him and succeeded while he didn’t. Did you note who wrote this song, two famous women and one who had been at no.1 before, albeit uncredited

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