Genesis – Invisible Touch
Genesis have always fascinated me: three excellent musicians (Mike Rutherford and Tony Banks as well as the immense Phil Collins), an important past with Peter Gabriel, a decisive imprint on the early Eighties. In short, maybe they even arrived a little too soon, but they still left an incredible mark in pop music. Their star, in the middle of the decade, seemed a bit on the wane, perhaps overshadowed by the great solo careers of Peter Gabriel and Phil Collins. And yet, in May 1986 they released this fantastic song was was opening the path for the self-titled album that they would release the following month, Invisible Touch.
Phil Collins was asked several times why he continued to be part of Genesis if he now had a great solo career. He replied that being in a band for a long time is a bit like being in a big family that also includes all the people who work around them for records and tours. If he had said one day “hello, I leave you”, the technicians and the people who worked for them would probably have answered … and how do we do now, that we have a mortgage to pay?
Phil’s British humour aside, the truth was that he really got on well with Banks and Rutherford, and playing with Genesis was mostly like having fun with friends. And I would say that it’s all very clear from this song and this video.
The song was born, as often happens, by chance. During a rehearsal session they built the rhythmic section of the song, and Phil started inventing a few words almost at random. It seems that he was fascinated by the sound of an electronic drum machine, which reminded him a lot of the sounds of Prince’s songs (let’s remember that we are in 1986, and therefore we are talking about the Prince of Purple Rain and Raspberry Beret, long before the turning point of Kiss and Sign o’ the times).
And then Phil Collins remembered who played the drums for Prince, the talented and beautiful Sheila E., whom the genius from Minneapolis had helped by producing her The Glamorous Life. And so, thinking about her Phil Collins came up with the phrase “she seems to have an invisible touch”, thinking about how the drums sounded.
Then, of course, the song became a love song, about a girl who has a spell on a man, if you like, but very pop, very funny, and the atmosphere of the recordings is also seen in the video. Phil Collins is dressed in a frankly awkward big coat (but let’s remember that elegance and Collins often quarreled, and he went down in history for being the first human to wear tennis shoes under a suit and tie), and during rehearsals he laughs and he jokes with Banks and Rutherford, not without some silly ideas, like the scenes where he sings into drumsticks, Rutherford arrives on his bicycle and Banks comes out of a van! In a word: great !!!!
Invisible Touch was the key for Genesis to connect with a new generation that was too young in the days of Abacab and Mama, just like David Bowie did with Let’s Dance. As playful as it was, the song did great not only across Europe, but also in America, where it was the only Genesis’ song to make it to the top of the hit parade. Curiously, after several weeks the song was overtaken by Peter Gabriel’s Sledgehammer, also a former member of Genesis. Phil Collins commented years later that unfortunately at the moment they did not realize that they had been overtaken by Peter Gabriel, otherwise they would have written him a telegram with only two words: “Congratulations, bastard!”
Genesis on Wikipedia