Phil Collins is a Can-Do Kid. From child actor on London's stage (he started out in "Oliver") to adult star as drummer and vocalist for Genesis, he's tackled a multiplicity of styles and walked off in control.
Having a clear and distinct voice has certainly helped. Yet on his second solo album (not counting his work with Brand X), Collins comes up with six songs that feature the notions "don't" or "can't" in their titles.
"Hello, I Must Be Going" repeats the crisp and tight production of last year's "Face Value," but embraces a wider variety of styles; "I Cannot Believe It's True" and "It Don't Matter to Me" use the Phoenix Horns (out of Earth, Wind and Fire) to give them a punchier funk fineese. It works on the first cut, stifles the second. There's a Brand X-style instrumented ("The West Bide") with some stinging guitar from Darryl Stuermer, but the song degenerates into a Police riff. "Like China" is terse and unconvincingly street-wise, while "Do You Know, Do You care?" has a grandiose manner that evokes Peter Gabriel-era Genesis.
The best songs are "Thru These Walls," a vivid and amusing voyeuristic ruse that resolves poignantly, and "Why Can't It Wait Til Morning?" a piano-vocal-string sortie halfway between a hurting heart and a cold angle.
Collins' remake of the Supremes' "You Can't Hurry Love" is currently in the Top Ten; it makes up in warmth what it lacks in urgency. He celebrates the soul spirit without adding to it, but that's a step up from most Motown covers by white artists. ON RECORD, ON STAGE THE ALBUM PHIL COLLINS -- Hello, I Must Be Going (Atlantic 80035-1). THE CONCERT PHIL COLLINS, at the Warner Theater, Sunday at 7 and 10:30 (both shows sold out).