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Album Review: "The Singles" by Phil Collins

Keen interest in pop star Phil Collins has been on the upswing in recent months, particularly in the wake of reissues of Collins’ back catalogue, as part of his "Take a Look At Me Now" series, where he has included his classic solo albums with updated cover photos of himself and additional material.

We recently reviewed the reissue of his smash 1985 album No Jacket Required here. And then there is his new autobiography, Not Dead Yet, which we reviewed here. It’s clear that Philmania is back.

So, not surprisingly, Collins’ longtime label, Atlantic Records, just released the simply-titled Collins singles collection – The Singles – this fall, in anticipation of this renewed interest in the once-derided musical superstar and one-time lead singer and drummer with Genesis.

I wish this was a more exciting two-disc collection. Yes, we get Collins’ singles, but little else. The songs are presented in a jumbled, non-chronological order and the liner notes are seriously lacking. There’s no information included about what year a particular single came out or from what album or film project it was connected. It just seems lazy to this longtime fan of Phil Collins’ music and career.

Disc one does get an appropriate sendoff with 1984’s "Easy Lover," his duet with Earth, Wind & Fire’s Philip Bailey, followed immediately by 1988’s bouncy, Sixties-inspired "Two Hearts" (from the Buster soundtrack) and then right into 1985’s "Sussudio," a particular favorite of mine (was I channeling Patrick Bateman just then? Egad!).

Other highlights are his 1989 single "I Wish It Would Rain Down," featuring pal Eric Clapton on guitar and the sadly overlooked, jaunty and world-music inspired 1997 single "Wear My Hat."

The second disc focuses more on the ballads and adult contemporary pop material Collins is also known for, including the number one 1985 single "Separate Lives," with Marilyn Martin and a cover of Wayne Fontana & The Mindbenders’ 1966 ballad "A Groovy Kind of Love," which Collins featured on the soundtrack of 1988’s Buster, which he also starred in.

If you picked up Collins’ 1998 singles compilation, … Hits, then you know that collection was a jumbled mess as well. But then I guess I care because I like hearing the songs in the order they were released because it shows the development of the artist. At least it does for me. So, this smells like a cash-in.

But that’s not to say the music isn’t great. It is. And unlike ‘98’s … Hits, we get latter-day singles, including material featured on his 2010 Motown covers album Going Back, including the Goffin/King composition "Going Back" and "(Love Is Like a) Heat Wave." If anything, it’s good for those folks who missed out on some of Collins’ more recent material, including 2002’s Testify.

There are no new songs here, unfortunately. But you do get the classics, from "Don’t Lose My Number" to "Against All Odds (Take A Look At Me Now)." And lesser known singles like "Dance Into the Light," "Both Sides of the Story" and 1990’s anti-war "That’s Just the Way It Is," a single pulled from the …But Seriously album and featuring a duet with David Crosby.

The Singles, from Phil Collins, is really one of those guilty pleasure discs that anyone who grew up hearing Collins’ voice nearly everywhere for a decade or so and like hearing that bloke for old times’ sake. Nothing wrong with that!

© Reddirtreport, by Andrew W. Griffin

Video

Phil Collins - The Singles (TV Promo) Phil Collins

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