547. ‘Easy Lover’, Philip Bailey with Phil Collins

I do like an intro with a sense of purpose, with a bit of drama to it. This next number one has such an intro…

Easy Lover, by Philip Bailey (his 1st and only #1) with Phil Collins (his 2nd of three #1s)

4 weeks, from 17th March – 14th April 1985

To be honest, the rest of the song doesn’t quite live up to the theatre provided by the drums and power chords of the opening ten seconds. It sounds as if we could be shaping up for a proper classic… As it is, we have to settle for fun yacht rock.

Is this yacht rock, though? I have to admit that’s a genre I struggle to place. It always makes me think of Duran Duran’s ‘Rio’… But is that yacht rock, or is that just rock with a yacht in the video…? I think ‘Easy Lover’ is glossy and catchy enough to be yacht rock. She’s an easy lover, She’ll take your heart but you won’t feel it… It’s light and breezy – the woman sounds fun, rather than dangerous – perfect for a cruise along the southern Californian coastline.

Unlike some recent chart-toppers, though, the gloss doesn’t render this song too dull. Philip Bailey’s verses are almost funky, and his falsetto has an edge to it. Phil Collins provides a counterbalance, growling out his lines on the bridge… Now don’t try to change it just leave it… and his presence is presumably why the drums are front and centre here. You get the feeling that the pair had fun recording this, maybe even trying to outdo each other, and that adds to the enjoyment. Meanwhile, the guitar solo verges on proper hard rock.

This is a song I didn’t much know beyond the chorus. It’s a good one, though. Fun and lighthearted, clearly born of the mid-eighties but not drenched in the sound and recording techniques of the time. It still sounds pretty fresh thirty-five years on. On paper, a former member of Earth, Wind & Fire collaborating with a former member of Genesis doesn’t sound all that promising, given there wasn’t a huge amount the two bands had in common, but there you go…

Philip Bailey didn’t quite manage the same level of solo success as Phil Collins: ‘Easy Lover’ was his only significant hit away from the day job. And I wonder, is this the only occasion on which two people with the same first name have shared a #1 record…? It feels like something that must have happened more than once, but nothing springs to mind… Oh, and while we’re at it, let me know if you think this is yacht rock, or not, as well…

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