"Still Dancing" - Phil Collins' new album, "Dance Into The Light". Review by Matthew Isaacs.

I was rather intrigued to read in Q magazine - particularly after the moody and sombre "Both Sides" - that Phil wanted to make an album as rough as Oasis. "Dance Into The Light" makes Eric Clapton sound like The Buzzcocks!

When the title track came out as a single before the album's release, I was pleasantly surprised to hear Collins back with a full band especially that it is the band he toured with in support of the "Both Sides" album. The Vine Street Horns really make the song stand out.

However, the album doesn't always maintain this standard. Some of the tunes lack the inspiration and feeling of previous albums though "Dance Into the Light" does contain some very strong moments. "That's What You Said" gives an affectionate nod to the mid 1960's with some fine melodic guitar playing from Daryl, and Phil's old mate from Flaming Youth, Ronnie Caryl. Collins' own attempt at guitar soloing works very well on this also.

"Just Another Story" hints at a modern trippy dance sound and the lyrical content works well with the smooth and sassy rhythm. "No Matter Who You Are" stands well among some of Phil's finest ballads. His version of "The Times They Are A-Changin'" bears up well with the original although I wish he would release his live version of "Knockin' Oh Heaven's Door" on one of his future singles. The less said about "Wear My Hat" (which makes "I Can't Dance" sound like "Afterglow") the better!

The South African influences that are found on this album do remind me of Paul Simon's "Graceland" album not to mention some of the recent African-influenced work by another former member of Genesis. This does sound a bit contrived on "Lorenzo" though there are some haunting authentic sounds on the track. "Take Me Down" sounds more heartfelt and, once again, the Vine Street Horns back Phil up admirably.

The album's highlight is "River So Wide". One of the elements that made Phil's other albums so enjoyable was the interplay between band members especially Daryl who excels and Amy Keys and Arnold McCuller are also superb on this track.

Over all, "Dance Into The Light" fails to reach the brilliant heights of "Hello I Must be Going" and "But Seriously" but there is certainly plenty of light after the darkness of "Both Sides". After all, even that album sounds terrific live so therefore... the standout tracks on this album will probably be awesome next time he tours!

Click to see full-size picture