Hot on the heels of the reissues of Face Value (1981) and Both Sides (1993) come the latest one-early/one-late releases in the Phil Collins comeback campaign.
Each one, curated by Collins, includes numerous live versions and a few demos and B-sides – Collins admitted he wanted to demonstrate “how nicely the songs developed when played on stage, rather than showing how they originated”. You also get the original sleeve poses recreated by the now 65-year-old which, when you consider the front cover of Dance Into The Light, must have hurt.
Hello, I Must Be Going! (7⁄10) in 1982 saw Collins increasingly embrace R&B, utilising Earth, Wind & Fire’s Phenix Horns, also suppliers of brass to Genesis. Hence the similarities between Collins’s solo material and his contemporaneous output with the prog rockers: Do You Know, Do You Care? is a virtual dry-run for Mama.
Most of the tracks from Hello… made the charts somewhere on Earth, a planet which, by the end of the decade, Collins pretty much dominated, give or take Jacko, Madge and Prince. Which makes the darkness of the material all the more striking – yes, this is the album featuring You Can’t Hurry Love, but it’s also the one with the songs about shenanigans in suburbia (Thru These Walls), the guitar-thrashy Like China on which Collins’s exaggerated tones were oddly reminiscent of Johnny Rotten’s, and the bleak I Don’t Care Anymore.
Dance Into The Light (6⁄10), from 1996, was Collins’s commercial low-point, yet many consider it his most upbeat album. Certainly it saw him venture into world-music territory, with polyrhythmic experiments a-go-go, and although he did so with less inventive aplomb than Peter Gabriel, he never lost his accessible touch. There were also nods to his 60s roots with the Beatles-esque That’s What You Said, although the less said about the cover of Dylan’s The Times They Are A-Changin’, the better.