Phil Collins | The Singles | 7/10
Phil Collins goes all-in. The only person to perform at both the US and UK legs of Live Aid, he had more UK top 40 singles than any other artist of the 1980s and is just one of three people to sell over 100 million albums as both a solo artist and member of a band. For a while, he’d even amassed the largest private collection of Alamo artefacts.
Unsurprisingly then, his comeback isn’t lacking in ambition. There’s the tell-all autobiography (‘Not Yet Dead’), the live shows (including five nights at Royal Albert Hall), and the full reissue treatment for his back catalogue (culminating in this career-spanning ‘The Singles’ collection).
Cutting through all the marketing noise accompanying his return, the 33 tracks assembled here are an instant reminder why it’s happening at all. There are the smash hits: brassy ‘80s staple ‘Sussudio’, the timeless and unmistakable ‘In The Air Tonight’, social justice pop song ‘Another Day In Paradise’, and compulsory wedding playlist inclusion ‘One More Night’. There are the Hollywood soundtrack chart toppers – that plaintive rendition of ‘A Groovy Kind Of Love’, the triumphant ‘Against All Odds (Take a Look at Me Now)’, the sunny slice of ‘60s R&B ‘Two Hearts’.
There are the overlooked post-‘80s singles: the epic ‘Both Sides Of The Story’, samba swing ‘Dance Into The Light’, and unstoppable ‘I Can’t Stop Loving You’. There are the big-but-not-ubiquitous fan favourites: the Clapton-starring lighter anthem ‘I Wish It Would Rain Down’, unforgettable ‘Don’t Lose My Number’, the running on a dream ‘Something Happened On The Way To Heaven’, the mass singalong goodnight song ‘Take Me Home’. There are the love letters to Motown: the swinging Philip Bailey duet ‘Easy Lover’, his breathless cover of The Supremes’ ‘You Can’t Hurry Love’, the heartfelt title track of his final studio album ‘Going Back’. There’s even the Disney soundtrack work, including the Oscar-winning ‘You’ll Be In My Heart’ from ‘Tarzan’.
Sequenced with care – rather than chronologically – these songs tell a story that – despite Collins’ one-time global dominance – still manages to provide surprises aplenty.
- ‘The Singles’ is also available as a 3-CD Deluxe Edition compiling his 45 singles in chronological order.