David Browne
November 01, 1996 AT 05:00 AM EST

Dance Into the Light

Current Status
In Season
Phil Collins

We gave it a C+

Even Phil Collins must know that we all grew weary of Phil Collins. On Dance Into the Light, the original King of Pop forgoes the stillborn mood of his recent albums and tries to broaden his palette. Afro-beat rhythms propel the title song, which also tosses in politically correct references to South Africa. Other songs string together oblique observations about the breakup of his second marriage. This time, at least, jazzy pianos and uncharacteristically subtle horn sections perk him up. And several tunes pay homage to mid-’60s British Invasion pop, albeit of a moodier sort — imagine the Hollies in a deep funk.

Despite the sonic overhaul, the music feels less experimental than it does derivative. The world-music tracks are, ironically, watered-down versions of the work of his former band mate Peter Gabriel, and ”Wear My Hat” is an outright Xerox of Paul Simon’s ”I Know What I Know,” but with cutesy lyrics about groupies. As always, Collins is never less than melodic, but for a record meant to convey his newfound freedom — from Genesis and his wife — both the music and his delivery are oddly dry and passionless. His Christmas-music-style remake of ”The Times They Are A-Changin”’ won’t rouse anyone except Bob Dylan’s accountant. C+

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