Live at Montreux 2004  

[Eagle Eye Media]

When Phil Collins announced his retirement from music in March 2011, it was no surprise—but it was a sadly muted way to end the diverse and surprising career of a madly underrated talent. Beginning as drummer extraordinaire for Genesis in 1970, Collins eventually led the group to crossover success as its unlikely lead singer. He spent the 1980s balancing work with that band, his own massive hits as a solo artist, and increasing demand as a producer for others. But by 2000 he was suffering from hearing loss due to a viral infection, and at that decade’s end he announced that his ability to play drums—his first and most abiding love—was hindered due to spinal problems. A seemingly unstoppable musical force meets the immovable object that is time.

This flawlessly mastered new Blu-ray (a DVD release will follow later) offers a fresh reminder of two very different versions of Collins—the hit-maker and the adventurer. The main feature is a 2004 show from the Montreux Jazz Festival that demonstrates Collins’ unerring knack for a smoothly sophisticated pop, taking only a couple of moments to show off his still-potent drum prowess in tandem with loyal percussion partner Chester Thompson. Although billed as merely “bonus material,” an included 1996 show with his mighty Phil Collins Big Band clocks in at a full 13 songs and spotlights a born drummer joyfully driving a bigger musical engine than ever. Too bad the big-band show wasn’t shot in high-definition—but time, for better or worse, marches forward. –Chris Neal

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