Why Genesis’ Pop-Chart Smash ‘Invisible Touch’ Wasn’t Phil Collins’ Fault
For some, Invisible Touch represented the moment in which Genesis were consumed by frontman Phil Collins' concurrent solo fame. Synth-driven and cute, it couldn't have had less in common with the extended prog explorations of the band's earlier era.
It sounded, in short, like a leftover from No Jacket Required, the multi-platinum 1985 Collins solo juggernaut that had just spun off four Top 10 hits, including two chart toppers. But there was a reason the songs on Invisible Touch were credited to all three members of Genesis, whatever the public perception on the matter.
"Invisible Touch" actually grew out of a jam around "The Last Domino," the second segment of a long-form track in Genesis' classic style found on the album's second side. "Tonight Tonight Tonight," another extended piece, developed from a band improvisation too. Genesis were still creating music together, as the trio had since its self-titled 1983 album, even as Collins became a force away from the band.
"He's still the same," Rutherford told the Los Angeles Times in 1986. "Nothing that happens outside seems to have much effect on us. We still go into the studio and write our songs as a group. We still do what we did before. Phil's solo success hasn't changed him."
It also helped that the others found some measure of their own solo success. Keyboardist Tony Banks had turned to composing film soundtracks, while bassist and guitarist Rutherford led Mike and the Mechanics to a similarly pop-focused Top 10 hit with "All I Need Is a Miracle." Genesis came back together, whatever it looked like from the outside, as equals. "I had decided to stay in the band even though my solo career had taken off," Collins told Rolling Stone. "When you're in a band, it's family."
Watch the Video for Genesis' 'Invisible Touch'
Invisible Touch soared to the top of the album chart, reaching No. 3 (their highest charting album) as it continued to launch a series of Top 5 singles, including "Throwing It All Away," a heavily edited version of "Tonight Tonight Tonight," "In Too Deep" and "Land of Confusion" – the latter of which was powered along by one of the '80s' most memorable music videos. They represented, with the exception of "Tonight Tonight Tonight," some of the punchiest, contemporary-sounding songs of Genesis' career, but they weren't solely the fault of Collins. "Throwing It All Away," one of the album's most adult contemporary-leaning moments, includes lyrics written by Rutherford.
"We've changed with the times," Rutherford said back then. "Our tastes have changed and pop music has changed. But we're still doing music that interests us." Collins remained similarly unapologetic, telling Rolling Stone that "Invisible Touch," the band's first and only No. 1 single, is "one of my favorite Genesis songs. There was a Sheila E. record out at the time, I think it was 'Glamorous Life,' and I wanted to write my own version of that."
In other words, Invisible Touch – rather than existing as another vehicle for Collins' out-sized '80s persona – was simply a representation of where the whole of Genesis were at that moment in time.
"Phil has had as much success as possible for a human to have, and we got back together and did another album," Rutherford argued in a talk with Orange Coast Magazine in 1989. "It shows people that the day Genesis stops, which will happen one day, it will not be caused by any friction from outside work. That's why I think we're doing so well, actually."