By Monty Brower
June 04, 1984 12:00 PM

Phil Collins

Phil Collins combines an impish performing style with attentive songwriting, and this release, as directed by Stuart Orme, complements both those qualities with its satisfying craftsmanship. In the Air Tonight starts off the 17-minute tape with a brooding mood that blends paranoia and anticipation. Collins’ face, changing into a white mask, hovers like the manifestation of a conjured soul, then gives way to percussively intercut color effects, nicely timed to drummer Collins’ tom-tom-heavy signature beat. Collins has more fun with I Missed Again, sporting various colorful jerseys as he mimes playing each instrument on the track. Orme makes clever use of this “solo” performance, bringing all the jamming Collinses together in one image on the tune’s last measures. In Thru These Walls, voyeurism provides a self-defeating fix for loneliness as Collins puts a glass to the wall and listens in on a couple making love in the room next door. The yearning for a partner gets more joyous expression in the old Supremes’ hit You Can’t Hurry Love, with Collins self-replicating into a look-alike duo of ’60s R&B stars. Overall, Collins comes through as a lonely guy with what amounts to a joy-mongering streak, a portrait in keeping with his music.