Shot in 1990 during his eight-month, 127-concert tour, Serious Hits... Live! finds Phil Collins at the end of an amazing run.
Phil Collins: Serious Hits... Live! appears in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 on these single-sided, double-layered DVDs; due to those dimensions, the image has not been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. An erratic picture, much of Hits looked fine, but a mix of concerns left it with an average grade.
Sharpness varied. Close-ups seemed nicely detailed and concise, but shots that went farther out than that started to encounter problems. Definition faltered to different degrees with those images, largely because the presence of jagged edges made them look rough. The farther the camera pushed out, the more prominent these became, and they could offer some distractions. A little shimmering popped up as well, though I noticed no signs of edge enhancement. A smidgen of digital artifacting occurred, but not much, and otherwise the program seemed free from source flaws.
Via clothes and lighting, Hits presented a pretty broad and lively palette, but the DVD only managed to achieve moderate success in regard to the replication of these tones. At times, the various colors looked nicely bright and vivid, but they also could come across as somewhat muddy and messy. Colored lighting often seemed a bit too dense and runny. The clothes fared better, though since the lights affected them, they remained erratic. Blacks were fairly deep and firm, but low-light shots tended to seem a little too dense. Shadow detail appeared acceptable but no better. Ultimately, Hits was a decent but unexceptional picture that merited a "C".
The Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of Serious Hits... Live! fared better but didn’t quite live up to standards. The soundfield seemed well executed, though. As one might expect, most of the audio stayed in the forward channels. They displayed good stereo imaging and spread the music smoothly across the front. Various instruments seemed appropriately placed and meshed together cleanly. The surrounds added crowd noise mostly, but some mild instrumentation also occasionally appeared back there to give the track a nice sense of dimensionality.
For the most part, audio quality was good, but those elements didn’t seem great. Vocals usually sounded reasonably natural and distinct, but the track suffered from a little too much faux arena reverb, which left the singing a bit hollow at times. Most of the instruments seemed well replicated and accurate, with the main exception of high-end material. Horns displayed a rather choppy and sibilant sound, and cymbals sometimes followed suit. Bass response appeared good but unexceptional. Low-end seemed fairly deep and warm but didn’t add tremendous life to the package. Overall, the audio appeared somewhat above average but not by a lot.
While the concert itself didn’t give us the greatest form of presentation, Serious Hits... Live! presented a nice collection of extras. The coolest aspect of the package stems from all its multiple camera angles. While sets like the Stones’ Four Flicks offer this option on only a smattering of songs, 22 of Hits’ 24 tracks presents the choice. (Only "Doesn’t Anybody Stay Together Anymore" and "One More Night" lack the choice; you also can’t switch angles during the extended band introductions.)
The cameras used change from song to song; helpfully, the DVD includes a diagram that displays their locations and indicates which ones get featured in each track. Invariably, one of the two angles focuses on Phil, so you could watch him for almost every second of the show if desired. The other angle varies between Phil and different band members. This is an extremely cool addition to the set and makes viewing the show a much more interesting and interactive experience.
Other than the multiple angles, the key attraction on DVD Two is a documentary. It lasts 24 minutes and 30 seconds as it mixes show clips with comments from Phil. He chats about band rehearsals, reworking some of the songs, reactions from crowds in different countries, and his plans for the future circa 1990. It’s a dull program. Collins’ remarks reveal little, and we see many, many concert snippets. Since we already own the entire performance, these become redundant.
DVD One tosses in a nice extra: a stillframe replication of the 1990 tour’s programme. We flip through the pages just like we were reading the original tour book, and this is a fun piece. In addition, both DVDs One and Two feature separate galleries. Disc One’s includes 16 photos, while Disc Two’s presents 17 shots. These offer a moderately interesting roster of concert pictures.
Another piece exclusive to DVD One, The Stage tells us about the show’s rigging. This feature combines photos and text to educate us about the topic. It’s short but informative.
01. Hand in Hand
02. Hang in Long Enough
03. Against All Odds (Take a Look at Me Now)
04. Don't Lose My Number
05. Inside Out
06. Do You Remember?
07. Who Said I Would
08. Another Day in Paradise
09. Separate Lives
10. Saturday Night and Sunday Morning
11. The West Side
12. That's Just the Way It Is
13. Something Happened on the Way to Heaven
01. Doesn't Anybody Stay Together Anymore
02. One More Night
04. In the Air Tonight
05. You Can't Hurry Love
06. Two Hearts
08. A Groovy Kind of Love
09. Easy Lover
11. Take Me Home
The version of "Doesn't Anybody Stay Together Anymore" performed on the Serious Hits... Live! recording differs considerably from the original version on the album No Jacket Required - having been re-arranged into a ballad style.
- Actors: Phil Collins
- Directors: Jim Yukich
- Producers: Phil Collins, Robert Colby
- Format: Color, Dolby, DVD, NTSC, PAL, Surround Sound
- Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
- Number of discs: 2
- Release Date: Tuesday, 11 November 2003
- Run Time: 184 minutes