Phil Collins

Atlantic, 1998


REVIEW BY: Benjamin Ray


Many years ago, in my first go-round as a reviewer for the Vault, I wrote a negative review of Phil Collins' Face Value. That has since been removed from the site, for various legitimate reasons, but my main thrust was that Collins seemed to abandon his more adventurous musical avenues for a bland, generic and truly commercialized sound.

I was wrong on a few counts. Face Value is not a bad album, though it's not a great one either. Moreover, I failed to realize that Collins used Genesis to pursue his art-rock/pop tendencies, Brand X for his jazz tendencies and his solo career for his R&B/ballad leanings. Granted, those latter ones spilled over into the final three Genesis albums, as anyone who was disappointed by Invisible Touch knows all too well.

The point is that Collins has unfairly taken heat for the bland schmaltz, overabundance of slow ballads and dated electronic pap he released in the ‘80s and early ‘90s. Unfortunately, these were the songs that brought him to widespread success (and derision), and the majority of them are captured on ...Hits, the first and best collection of Phil's solo material.

It is important to note that this is not a thorough overview of Phil's six solo albums released between 1981 and 1996; four of those albums are represented by only one song apiece. This collection is simply a roundup of all of Collins' major hits, the ones played on light-rock radio and Muzak stations every day, the ones you either love or loathe. Six of these songs were never released on a Collins album but rather on a soundtrack, making this necessary for casual fans.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Those include the Philip Bailey duet "Easy Lover," the new song "True Colors" (a dull adaptation of the Cyndi Lauper track), the power ballad "Against All Odds" (the one that is usually mangled on American Idol) and "Separate Lives." Also present are two songs from the Buster soundtrack, "Two Hearts" and the cover of "A Groovy Kind Of Love."

The first three songs make sense, but the final three weren't especially big hits, nor are they particularly good songs, although they fit in with the rest of the material. The dark yet excellent "I Don't Care Anymore" should be here but is not; the similar track "In The Air Tonight," Phil's finest solo moment, is buried at the end of the disc. About the only other song missing is "Everyday," a decent hit that somehow doesn't make the cut, even though there is enough time for it.

Serious Phil is present in most of the songs, from the aforementioned ballads and "In The Air Tonight" to the latter-day hits "Another Day In Paradise," "One More Night," "Take Me Home," the slight gospel influence of "I Wish It Would Rain Down" and the plodding "Both Sides Of The Story," the only song here from Both Sides. The commercial breakthrough No Jacket Required also offers the awful "Sussudio," the sound of which is an anomaly among the rest of this (save for "Dance Into The Light," which belonged in 1996 about as well as Danny Devito belongs in an NBA locker room). The Supremes cover "You Can't Hurry Love" rounds out the proceedings; it matters not whether you ever hear it.

The music is not presented chronologically, which makes absolutely no difference. If you've always disliked Phil Collins, this collection won't change your mind, but it succeeds in showing all the sides of solo Phil in the ways his individual albums don't while rounding up all the big hits and many of the lesser ones. Other than "I Don't Care Anymore," this is pretty much all the solo Collins anyone will ever need, though it is not all the Collins that one should be familiar with. Remember, this is the same man who helped write The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway, which will mess with your mind. This disc simply will bleat pleasantly in your minivan as you leave your suburban white community and head for Starbucks and Target, stopping to drop your kid off at soccer practice.

Rating: C+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated


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