“Take a look at him now!” - Phil Collins’ The Singles reviewed by Alan Hewitt.

“If only we had a time machine!” Has been the frequent observation among fans when discussing the history of the band and its solo members. Indeed, it would be fantastic if we could go back and revisit the past and relive our memories. Well, sadly, until some genius invents one we can’t but a compilation like this brings us pretty close!

Here, in one superb collection we have the ideal answer not only to those critics who have derided Phil’s music but also to the purists who have done so too. Seldom has a collection spanning over three decades of hit making been crammed with quite so many amazing tracks!

Compiled anorak fashion, in chronological order at least on the three disc set - the two disc edition mixes things up a bit more, here we see Phil’s development from an accidental solo artist to the stadium filling legend he subsequently became. With stops along the way for film music, a couple of superb covers and much more besides. As someone who has effectively grown up with this music, it is fair to say that it represents a soundtrack to my own life. And what a soundtrack it is! In The Air Tonight, I Don’t Care Anymore, Easy Lover… the titles trip off the tongue so easily but there is much more to them than that. Each and every track demonstrates not only Phil’s consummate skill as a lyricist and musician - yes folks, drummers ARE musicians too, ya know!

Completists may not see anything directly to recommend this set but there are a handful of tracks which may have eluded you on this set including the German only No Matter Who and several of the cuts from Phil’s Disney soundtracks which were not released as singles - here in the UK at any rate! But this set is not about filling the holes in our collections now, is it? No, this set is the culmination of the recent restoration of Phil’s back catalogue and is an emphatic statement of just how far his talents and influences extended. An ideal Christmas present for some, but for others such as myself, it’s a trip back in that time machine mentioned earlier to a time when Phil wasn’t the only one who had hair! Thanks for the memories, Phil!

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Phil Collins - The Singles. Atlantic Records 081227945916 (3 Disc edition)
Phil Collins - The Singles. Atlantic Records 081227945930 (2 Disc edition)