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Music for Montserrat - 1997

Recorded at the Royal Albert Hall on September the 15th 1997 the benefit concert was in aid of the people of Montserrat who suffered after the eruption of the volcano on their island.

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Face Value - 1999

This documentary delves into the period where Collins left Genesis and began working on his first solo album, taking his love of black music, and infusing it with his working class English background and the emotion of his recent divorce.

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All Live! - 2003

Recorded live on 29 May 1985 in Reunion Arena, Dallas, Texas.

Track Listing

01. Only You Know and I Know
02. Against All Odds
03. Who Said I Would
04. Sussudio
05. Behind the Lines
06. Westside
07. One More Night
08. In the Air Tonight
09. Like China
10. You Can't Hurry Love
11. It Don't Matter to Me
12. Hand in Hand
13. Take Me Home
14. It's Alright
15. Droned

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A Life Less Ordinary - 2003

This DVD features a documentary first shown in November 2002 on BBC One, and it features interviews with Phil, friends, family, members of his solo band and members of Genesis, including Peter Gabriel. Along the way there are excerpts from various songs, but there's never a full performance of any of them, so if you're looking for a collection of Collins music on DVD, look elsewhere.
Phil Collins: A Life Less Ordinary

Video

A 1.78:1 anamorphic transfer is on offer here, just as it was shown on BBC One last year. The quality is pretty much perfect as the image is untarnished. The only tiny niggle (and this is something that is now standard BBC practice) is that archive footage is all zoomed and cropped top and bottom to make it look widescreen.
Phil Collins: A Life Less Ordinary

Audio

Only a DD2.0 stereo soundtrack, which is unsurprising given that this is a documentary. There's quite a bit of music in it, but as it's really only extracts and snippets from songs then DD5.1 isn't too badly missed. It would have been nice of them to make the effort though.

The sound itself is just fine, just as it was on first broadcast. No complaints about the quality. The documentary is narrated by Mariella Frostrup - I felt I had to mention that since her voice has many fans. Can't see what the fuss is myself, she just sounds like she should give up smoking.
Phil Collins: A Life Less Ordinary

Features

The extras here are what seem to be the full versions of interviews used in the main feature, as well as some that weren't. In total the interview footage runs for over 90 minutes, featuring everyone seen in the main feature, but talking at length as opposed to the more soundbite format of the documentary. Each clip is captioned at the start to tell you what they were talking about. Bob Geldof's section probably explains why the DVD got a 15 certificate (his description of Collins is typical Geldof).
Phil Collins: A Life Less Ordinary
Excellent picture, fine sound and lots of extra footage make this a good DVD.

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Serious Hits....Live! - 1990

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.

Track Listing

Disc 1
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

Disc 2
01. Doesn't Anybody Stay Together Anymore
02. One More Night
03. Colours
04. In the Air Tonight
05. You Can't Hurry Love
06. Two Hearts
07. Sussudio
08. A Groovy Kind of Love
09. Easy Lover
10. Always
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.

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Finally...the First Farewell Tour - 2004

Due in part to the partial hearing loss in his left ear combined with his desire to be around for his children, Phil has scheduled this, his "First Farewell Tour". Yes, it is partly tongue-in-cheek thanks to artists like Cher, Kiss, the Eagles, etc. announcing their "farewell" tours only to tour immediately afterwards. (However, there might be hope Phil fans; during an interview on the disc, he states that he might do another Big Band tour).

Filmed on June 16th, 2004 in Paris, France, the concert [1h 18m] is spread over two discs. During which, we're treated to all of his classic songs and the first disc starts with Phil doing what I think he does best - playing drums. At the beginning of each song, a small smiley face icon appears in the upper right hand corner of the screen. When you see it, clicking enter will bring you to a submenu giving you the option of watching the original video for the song Phil is about to play in concert. On two of the songs, "Against All Odds" and "Separate Lives", there are also extra treats: The "Against All Odds" submenu allows you to choose from the original video or Phil's performance of the song in Philadelphia during Live Aid [4m 18s]. On the "Separate Lives" menu, besides the option for the video, there's also a "Wild Card" icon that, when selected, will bring you to a performance of "Pick Up the Pieces" with Phil and his big band at the Montreux Jazz Festival in 1998.

Here's the tracklisting for disc one:

01. Something Happened On the Way To Heaven
02. Against All Odds
03. Don't Lose My Number
04. You'll Be In My Heart
05. One More Night
06. Can't Stop Loving You
07. Hang In Long Enough
08. True Colors
09. Come With Me
10. Groovy Kind Of Love
11. I Missed Again
12. Another Day In Paradise
13. No Way Out
14. Separate Lives

Disc two, which runs 53m 52s, starts with the song that put Phil (and Miami Vice) on the charts - "In the Air Tonight". On the sub-menu, there's also an option to hear Phil's debut performance [4m 55s] of the song on the piano at the "Secret Policeman's Other Ball".

The tracklisting for disc two is:

01. In the Air Tonight
02. Dance Into the Light
03. You Can't Hurry Love
04. Two Hearts
05. Wear My Hat
06. Easy Lover
07. Sussudio
08. It's Not Too Late
09. Take Me Home

In addition to the concert and the videos for each song played, there are still more extra features on this disc. Clicking on the Phil's World option will give us three choices:

  • A Bit Of A Parking Problem - This featurette [16x9, 17m 47s] has Phil playing "Superintendent Strange" as he gives us an inadvertent look backstage while trying to get to the bottom of who's in charge of the parking for "Bill" Collins' trucks and buses. Those who are familiar with Phil's cheeky sense of humour know what to expect from this.
  • Finally...the First Documentary - This documentary [16x9, 30m 10s] shows us how the "final" tour came together.
  • > Phil's Flash Gallery - This is a tour photo gallery.

The "final" special feature is "the Long Lost Network TV Special". Filmed during "the Serious Tour" in 1990, this 47m 40s special features cameo appearances by Bruce Willis, John Travolta, John Candy, Don Johnson, Gilbert Gottfried, Barbara Mandrell, Paul Shaffer, Vanessa Williams, Jeffrey Tambor, Henry Mancini, Dr. Dre (the East Coast Dre, not the one from the West Coast), "Weird" Al and the Ultimate Warrior?!?!  

Video

The video on this two disc set varies. The concert is presented in an anamorphic 1.85:1 format and the picture is close to flawless. The colors are rich and vibrant and the blacks are deep. At times, we're also presented with the option of switching angles. The music videos and the TV special are presented in a 1.33:1 fullframe ratio and the quality of the music videos range from great to acceptable. It would've been great if every single video had been remastered, but there really isn't anything that's unwatchable.

Audio

For the concert, we're given the option of choosing from Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround, 2.0 Stereo or dts 5.1 Surround. To my ears, the best sounding was the dts track, but the other two weren't all that terrible. The music videos and the featurettes are all presented in 2.0 stereo. While I wish the music videos were remastered in 5.1, with the amount of stuff crammed into this release, i'm not going to be bitter that they weren't.

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The Long Goodnight - 2004

Documentary charting the last stages of Phil Collins's final tour.

"In 2004 I came to a major decision in my life. I decided to stop my seemingly endless days of touring. I had been on the road for the last 30 years, and now with 2 young children I decided that enough was enough. It was time to say goodnight. This film documents the last stage of that goodnight tour. It covered many places I'd never played before, and some places NO ONE had played before. The result was that we encountered many remarkable obstacles. Sadly it was during this tour that my marriage slowly disintegrated before my eyes... and there was nothing to be done but continue. Filmmaker Anthony Mathile was with me from the first day of rehearsals to the last date in Prague. Therefore he captured many moments, good/bad... happy/sad. For me it is a film of mixed emotions, but it is also a film that touches me more than anything I've done before." Written by Phil Collins

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