“Seriously Hot Nights” - Phil Collins’ Serious Hits Live And A Hot Night In Paris live albums reviewed by Alan Hewitt.

Well, the rehabilitation of Phil Collins’ musical career reaches its final stages with the release of these two live albums. Almost a decade separates the two of them and they are completely different animals as we shall see.

Serious Hits Live, was released in 1990 on the back of the hugely successful But Seriously album for which Phil toured incessantly for the better part of a year. Now, as anyone who saw any of those gigs will tell you, this was Phil at the very top of his game. A superb set drawn from his increasingly growing repertoire of hits, a band match fit and evidently having a blast performing this music and a stage set that was without doubt one of the most inventive and impressive ever contrived by Phil’s people.

The music? Well, what you have on this reissue is the edited highlights of what was, each night, an almost three hour show - yes, Phil never stinted his fans in terms of entertainment value and you have roughly half of the show here on disc. If you weren’t at these gigs, or for some reason haven’t already added this album to your collections, then you are in for a treat. There simply isn’t a duff track on this album, an here they are in an impeccable mix which fully brings out the details for your delectation and delight.

Moving forward a further eight years, we come to what for many fans was the biggest surprise move Phil ever made. The two big Band Jazz tours of 1996 and 1998 were never going to be to everyone’s taste. Big Band Jazz certainly isn’t too my taste that’s for sure! I can still remember hesitating about getting tickets for one of the pair of shows Phil did in the UK in 1998 but I can honestly say I do not regret doing so! I have vivid memories of that gig and always will.

Here we have once again, edited highlights of what was a truly remarkable performance polished up and sparkling like a polished diamond. Of the two albums, A Hot Night In Paris is definitely the winner in terms of over all sound, and it is a joy to hear these tracks again in such excellent quality.

There you have it, if you were a fan who attended any of these gigs, you will know the sheer joy that they were to watch and listen to. If you are a new fan coming to these recordings late, then you have a treat in store for you as they are both excellent - but this is Phil Collins we are talking about here so would you expect anything less…?

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Phil Collins: Serious Hits Live Atlantic Records 603497554257. (CD)

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Phil Collins: A Hot Night In Paris Atlantic Records 603497854226 (CD