"Lord of the Dance" - Phil Collins' new album, "Dance Into The Light". Review by Alan Hewitt.
Well, Phil has certainly had an eventful eighteen or so months, and it looks like becoming even busier with the release of this, his sixth solo album. How does "Dance Into The Light" compare with previous outings? Well, we shall see...
The album's title track is the opener and first single and as such is a good representative of the overall feel of this album: meaty, beaty, big and bouncy to quote from another well known band whose name eludes me at the moment! [The Who, TWR achive Ed.] This irrepressibly up-beat number certainly sets the pace for the rest of the album.
"That's What You Said" continues the trend, a story of lost love, but the mood is not all depressed - the counterpoint between the sadness of the lyrics and the hope of the rhythmically charged music, leaves you thinking that the characters will work out their differences eventually. "Lorenzo" is the only collaborative effort on the album and with lyrics written by Michaele Odone, the subject of the film "Lorenzo's Oil". This is a truly beautiful song of hope triumphant over cynicism which nicely avoids the traps of wallowing in bathos and tells a story that should be an inspiration to everyone.
"Just Another Story" is a funkified soul groove driven by some heavy bass lines. A moral tale without preaching which manages to synthesise the best elements of "Another Day In Paradise" and "No Son Of Mine" without sounding derivative. Phil has brought diverse elements and influences into this album and the next track, "Love Police" bears an uncanny resemblance to The Byrds' "Mr. Tambourine Man", and the next track, "Wear My Hat" is a wry look at the demands made by fans upon their heroes, whilst also giving a passing nod to Paul Simon's mid '80's hit "You Can Call Me Al".
"It's In Your Eyes" and "The Same Moon" are both classic examples of Phil's love songs and an album without one such song would not be complete. These are two beautifully crafted and expressive examples. "Oughta Know By Now" is another solid effort greatly helped by some excellent guitar playing by Daryl. "Take Me Down" continues the singalong show closer tradition begun by "I Missed Again" and "Take Me Home" and I am sure that this one will become a firm favourite with concert audiences.
"River So Wide" is an expansive piece in which Daryl's guitar and Phil's drumming create a soundscape so big it is difficult to fathom how it fits on to the record. "No Matter Who" is a countrified affair which brings a further breath of optimism to the proceedings. "The Times They Are-A-Changing" is the surprise track on the album. A cover of the Bob Dylan classic, and of all the covers which Phil has committed to his albums over the years, I certainly think this one is by far the best and it ends the album in a truly magnificent manner.
So, there you have it. Thirteen tracks and over an hour's worth of music. The album is without doubt Phil's best yet. There is an intangible feeling of confidence and optimism abut the music which you cannot help but be affected by and which will easily lend itself to live performance and I for one cannot wait to hear these songs in the live context. The additional musicians have, as usual, contributed marvellously to the final version and, as Phil says on the album credits: "There's no drum machine on this one!" and the end result is all the better for it- well done, Phil a brilliant effort!