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Phil Collins Recording Compendium
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When another Phil Collins compilation was announced a couple of years ago nobody saw much sense in it because there already was the ...HITS collection. Scepticism did not diminish when it turned out this was be a collection of love songs. It was hard to image something more superfluous.

Then Phil Collins took the lead and picked the songs himself. Suddenly there was enough material for a double album. Those who expected HITS 2 were surprised. The compilation includes smash-hits like Two Hearts, You’ll Be In My Heart and other songs from the “usual suspects” department, but it also showcases a number of curiosities and the odd “technical” surprise. The first edition was released world-wide between September and November 2004. Later it was upgraded in several countries. More about that below.

The first song is a whole new song. Tearing And Breaking is a slow ballad (like most songs on this album) and was written by Phil Collins’ friend John Martyn. Many classic hits like Against All Odds mix with material rarely played on the radio, such as Please Come Out Tonight, one of the weaker numbers. The first curiosity is It’s In Your Eyes which is 15 seconds shorter than on Dance Into The Light. In the forum Phil later confirmed that this song had been accelerated. One More Night sounds different, too, but much bettern than on the ...HITS compilation. The reason: It’s a down-mix of the existing 5.1 mix for DVD-Audio / SACD. Can’t Stop Loving You provides a lively ending for the first CD, which relies heavily on Both Sides.

More surprises on CD2. As the opening song Testify leaves a different impression than as song no.3 on the eponymous studio record. The first highlight, however, is True Colours as recorded during rehearsals for the 2004 European tour. It really is the a capella version known from the concerts. Another rarity is Phil’s rendition of the Curtis Mayfield Song I’ve Been Trying. This one originally appeared on a Curtis Mayfield Tribute album and might not be completely unknown to fans. The mood of I’ve Been Trying fits the Both Sides era and the next song on the Love Songs CD, I’ve Forgotten Everything.

stampThis song was accelerated, too. The next rarity is Somewhere which developed at the time of Both Sides. It was recorded for and released on a Leonard Bernstein tribute album called Songs From The West Side Story. Somewhere inspired Phil to write his own song There’s A Place For Us which might have been excluded here for this reason. Least You Can Do did not just lose the “the” in its title, it is a completely different version than the one on Testify. When Phil was asked about it in the official forum, he was surprised at the question and, curiously enough, explained that it was the same version. It isn’t, though.

The last four songs are more or less rare, too. Separate Lives is the 1990 live version featuring Brigitte Bryant – one would have expected a later version with Amy Keys and Arnold McCuller. My Girl is from the Both Sides Tour, while Always is another recording from the Serious tour. Finally, there is the not-so-well-known The Way You Look Tonight Phil performed on his Big Band tour and which had not been previously released (except on the Tribute To Buddy Rich DVD).

Here we have two CDs full of familiar hits, peculiar new mixes and rare, previously unavailable songs. The whole ensemble is sold as Love Songs – a curious idea. It comes in an attractive package, using a classic love letter design with lots of little in-jokes on the cover (e.g. Phil Collins’ place and date of birth on the postmark). Phil writes in the notes that he had wanted to put out this compilation for a long time for two reasons. First of all, he wanted to expose some of the songs that did not fit on ...HITS to a broader audience. He also wanted to give fans access to rare songs (some of which he did not write himself). We shall not complain about it. Phil does not call this CD HITS, but Best Of.

That gives us an appetite for more. How about an archive set?

Hang on, the story continues. The double CD had scarcely been released when rumours about a Valentine’s edition surfaced. In the UK, this was to include an irrelevant bonus DVD (irrelevant because all the chosen videos were already released on the Finally DVD). Other videos were planned for inclusion in the French (Edition Noel) and German (Valentine’s Edition, later Special Edition + Extra Stuff) special releases. The driving force behind this was the record company, but Phil Collins wanted to chose the stuff himself again. He wanted to release some more rarities that had not made it onto Finally. That’s why another fine digipak was released with a bonus DVD that features six videos: I Wish It Would Rain Down, Do You Remember, Everyday, Can’t Turn Back The Years, The Way You Look Tonight and It’s In Your Eyes. A lovely gesture, even though the bonus videos are in stereo sound only.

One is really tempted to ask: What about a 5.1 surround sound video hits collection like Peter Gabriel’s PLAY?

Hang on, first of all we have to dissolve the confusion about the release of the Love Songs Special Edition. It was first announced for January, then it was moved back to February and March. In March the digipack briefly hit several record stores in Germany, but there has been another release date. The current release date is May 31, but there is confusion about the track list of the bonus DVD. Things are not entirely clear. Let’s hope the CD does not get scrapped and most of the fans miss out on the rare videos. Least You Can Want.

Update July 2005: The Deluxe Digipak-Edition with the Bonus DVD will not be released anymore. This means it actually never has been released. It was actually available at "Saturn", one of Germany's biggest CD sellers - for a short period. Anyway, the special edition is not available and as far as we know won't be available anymore. Least you could have wanted. 

by Christian Gerhardts

translated by Martin Klinkhardt


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