Celebrating the thirtieth anniversary of Phil Collins film ‘Buster’ and its soundtrack.
Thirty years ago Phil Collins made his film debut as Buster Edwards, one of the great train robbers of the 1963 heist, in the film ‘Buster’. He also contributed heavily to the film’s soundtrack with a number one hit single, an Academy Award nominated song and wrote another song that was performed by the legendary Four Tops.
Directed by David Green and co-starring Julie Walters (‘Educating Rita’), Larry Lamb (later to appear in Eastenders), Martin Jarvis and Sheila Hancock, the film centres on Edwards’ life as a petty criminal prior to his involvement in the now iconic robbery of a mail train on 8th August 1963 that saw the gang of fifteen lead by Edwards get away with £2.6 million (£51.7 million in today’s money), the largest ever robbery committed in the United Kingdom at the time. Edwards together with his family flee to Acapulco (cue song) while many of the gang members are tracked down and arrested and sentenced to between 20-30 years in prison. The story concludes with Edwards reluctantly returning to the UK and voluntarily surrendering himself. The film is notable for an early screen appearance of actor Christopher Ellison who would later become a household name in the long running TV series The Bill. It was also the last major screen role for the distinguished actor and stage director Sir Anthony Quayle, who died the following year.
The film premiered on 15th November 1988 and opened in cinemas from 23rd and played well throughout the Christmas season and into the early new year (1989) taking $3.9m (£1.9m) at the UK box office and $540,000 (£210,000) in the US. The film’s soundtrack would prove a huge hit featuring two new recordings by Phil Collins and The Four Tops as well as many of the biggest hits of 1963 thrown in for authenticity. The album has been triple Platinum certified in the UK for sales of over 900,000 copies and sold over half a million copies in the US as well as charting in many other countries around the world and selling four million copies globally.
Collins had preceded the film in September by releasing his cover of The Mindbenders 1965 UK and US No.2 hit “Groovy Kind Of Love”, which he took one further and topped both charts as well as making the top ten in a further 15 countries around the world.
He followed this in November with a new composition “Two Hearts” which topped the UK singles chart and made No.6 in the UK, and was nominated for the Academy Award for best original song at the 1989 Oscar ceremony. He would lose out to Carly Simon’s “Let The River Run” from ‘Working Girl’ in the outset.
The song that followed Edwards in Acapulco was another new track called “Loco In Acapulco” that was co-written by Collins and Lamont Dozier and performed by legendary quartet The Four Tops. The track was released as a single shortly after the film hit the cinema and reached No.7 in the UK.
The soundtrack also included the likes of Dusty Springfield with “I Just Don’t Know What To Do With Myself”, The Searchers “Sweets For My Sweet”, Sonny & Cher’s “I Got You Babe” and Gerry and The Pacemakers “How Do You Do It?” to name but a few. The film was scored by Anne Dudley who as one half of the production duo Art Of Noise had recently joined foces with Tom Jones and scored a top five hit with Prince’s “Kiss”. She would go on to write and produced chart hits for Cathy Dennis, Seal and Robbie Williams and in 1998 she won an Academy Award for scoring the film ‘The Full Monty’. At the 1989 Brit Award ceremony she won the award for best film soundtrack for ‘Buster’.
Collins could already boast of a hugely successful music career with the group Genesis and as a solo artist prior to making ‘Buster’ and this would continue with his enormously successful 1989 album “…But Seriously” and beyond. Phil would make further screen appearances in ‘Hook’ (1991) and ‘Frauds’ (1993) and would voice the character Lucky in the 2003 animated film ‘Jungle Book 2’. But ‘Buster’ remains his best known and most successful movie role and the historical account of this famous crime doesn’t seem to of aged or lost any of its charm thirty years since it first hit the big screen.