Oddly enough, on an album of such dizzying extremes, the biggest improvement on this new remaster of Phil Collins’ Hello, I Must be Going! is in its mid range. The audio tweaking by Steve Hoffman gives Collins’ second solo release a clarity, and a sense of purpose, that the album itself sorely lacked.
Turns out, even by the time of Hello, I Must Be Going!, the Genesis frontman hadn’t yet let go of these angry recriminations over an ugly divorce (something that recalls his far more consistent solo debut Face Value from two years earlier), even while he begins to experiment with the polished groove-pop that would send Collins’ subsequent No Jacket Required to the toppermost of the poppermost.
The results are sometimes confusing: Is Collins the spittle-spewing ex-husband, raging against the feelings he once had, as on the Top 40 hit “I Don’t Care Anymore”? Or the broken romantic who desperately hopes for reconciliation, heard here amidst the manic delirium of “Do You Know, Do You Care?” The quiet and thoughtful lover of “Why Can’t It Wait ‘Til Morning’? Or is he, in fact, the creep-tastic stalker dude from “Thru These Walls”?
Answer? Well, yeah, kinda. In a way, Hello, I Must Be Going! holds inside of it the entirety of Collins’ musical DNA strand, both as a solo artist and a member of Genesis.
[CAN'T GET YOUR FILL OF PHIL?: We also revisited Collins' 'Face Value.' Thought of as a divorce record (thanks to “I Missed Again” and “In the Air Tonight”), it's something much different in the listening.]
“I Cannot Believe It’s True,” a low charter at No. 79, is a rewrite of 1981′s “I Missed Again,” right down to the undulating rhythms and swaying brass. “Like China” finds Collins using a cockney accent last heard on the late-1970s Genesis projects. “It Don’t Matter To Me” employs the memorable hooks and forehead-slapping horn parts — courtesy of Earth Wind and Fire‘s Phenix Horns — that would become a signature element of his hitmaking zenith a few years later. Collins’ note-for-note redo of the Supremes’ “Can’t Hurry Love,” itself a No. 10 hit, gave an early indication of a passion for Motown that would eventually lead to 2010′s plastic-soul Going Back covers album.
But such a disparate collection of moods, tempos and personas ends up giving the album the choppy feel of a hits collection. Only, without the hits, of course.
The only unifying element to this new edition is the sterling mix, as Hoffman polishes up every trumpet blast into a searing shard of sunlight, every keyboard thrill into a knifing delight, every Don Myrick sax wail into an velvety cry. Unfortunately, Hello, I Must Be Going! sounds so much better than it really is.