Phil Collins: Take a Look at Me Now – Retrospective Reissue Series

Performance
Sound
Phil Collins required rehabilitation, and stat. Not only did the noted drummer/vocalist have to deal with a bout of sudden deafness, a lingering hand injury, and recover from back surgery, he also needed to tend to the state of his image. No one could fault the man’s acuity behind the drum kit—a reputation initially forged by his creative deployment of odd time signatures with progressive rock giants Genesis and the fusion improv collective Brand X—but his level of ubiquity on the charts as a solo artist in the ’80s and beyond ultimately served to tip his musical-reputation scales in a not-so-favorable direction.

Luckily, time—in addition to top-drawer remastering and choice bonus material—heals all music-related wounds. Witness Collins’ Take a Look at Me Now reissue campaign, which saw double-disc presentations of his eight solo albums released two at a time over the first six months of 2016. In addition to offering (yes) 95 demos, B-sides, and live tracks (many of them previously unreleased), each album saw its cover art undergo clever reimagining. The updated covers consist of shots of the here-and-now Collins replacing the originals, which mainly consisted of differing angles of the man’s visage, all having stemmed from the head-on B&W photo gracing the front of his stark 1981 solo debut, Face Value.

Many buyers are likely to lean more toward obtaining the four core ’80s releases—Face Value (1981), Hello, I Must Be Going (1982), No Jacket Required (1985), and …But Seriously (1989). But rest assured, Collins’ four subsequent albums—Both Sides (1993), Dance Into the Light (1996), Testify (2002), and The Essential Going Back (2010)— are all also worth the investment, as many overlooked gems are waiting to be discovered within each of those sets.

All eight albums have been remastered by longtime Genesis audio guru Nick Davis, who oversaw the five-star remastering and surround sound mixes for Genesis’ full-catalog DVD-Audio and SACD “cube” box sets from the previous decade. There’s also 180-gram vinyl to be had here, but only for the main albums themselves and none of the bonus material. Unfortunately, surround mixes are not planned for any of these entries. I asked Collins, and while he agreed, “it’s staggering what a difference it makes with the early ’70s stuff,” he’s not interested in presenting his solo material in 5.1.

All that said, the very first track on the first album of Collins’ solo career must be the one discussed here first, and at the most length—namely, the monster beast-mode track containing one of the most infamous drum breaks in recorded history, “In the Air Tonight.” The remaster brings out all the nuances of this track: Collins’ deliberately ominous Vocoder-ized vocals wafting over processed guitar, keyboard burbles, and drum machine patterns blended from a Sequential Circuits Prophet-5 and a Roland CR-78 Disco-2. The song builds like so much swamp heat right up to the initial impactful 4-second burst of abject percussive thunder that commences at 3:41. It’s as satisfying as any sonic sequence you’ll experience. If Phil ever reconsiders his solo 5.1 ban, “Air” would unquestionably be the one to earmark for the first full-channel assault. (Paging Nick Davis: I can feel it coming…)

After “Air,” there are many subsequent catalog highlights, which can only be summarized here as follows in the lightning round: The demo take of Value’s almost tepid “The Roof Is Leaking,” featuring Eric Clapton’s much gnarlier dobro lines. The foreboding keys, marimba, and drum-kit crashes pulsing “Thru These Walls” on Hello. The layered background vocal buildup of Peter Gabriel, Sting, and Helen Terry on Jacket’s uplifting “Take Me Home.” The scat-blues lead vocals and backing choir mixed with soul-searing Clapton lead guitar and Pino Pallodino’s tasteful bass on Seriously’s “I Wish It Would Rain Down.” The propulsive bassand-tambourine kick fueling the lament of “Survivors” on Sides. The funkin’ A horn stabs chronicling the ups and downs of “Just Another Story” on Dance. The pure, a cappella harmonic vocal mesh during the “True Colors” soundcheck on the Testify bonus disc. The Motown magic captured on the live version of “Papa Was a Rolling Stone” on the bonus disc of Going Back, culled from an elegiac 2010 performance at Roseland in New York.

Let’s take a look at him now: After many hours (and days!) of repeat listening, it’s clear Collins’ solo catalog takes up much more than an empty space, reminding you of the memory of how his prog prowess with Genesis couples nicely with the smart sound design behind some of the best confessional pop songwriting you’ll ever sink your ears into. But seriously: Take a long listen to Look and join in on another satisfying day in audio paradise.

CD
Label: Atlantic
Audio Formats: 96-kHz/24-bit PCM Stereo (Face Value and Hello, I Must Be Going downloads); 44.1-kHz/16-bit PCM Stereo (CDs and No Jacket Required, But Seriously, Both Sides, Dance Into the Light, Testify, and The Essential Going Back downloads)
Number of Tracks: 189 on 16 CDs
Length: 13:47:19
Producers: Phil Collins (original albums and all reissue material); Nick Davis, Miles Showell (reissues, demos, B-sides, and live material); Hugh Padgham (Face, Hello, Jacket, Seriously, Dance); Rob Cavallo (Testify)
Engineers: Hugh Padgham (Face, Hello, Jacket, Seriously, Dance); Nick Launay, Karen Segal (Face); Howard Gray (Hello); Steve Chase, John Jacobs (Jacket); Ed Goodreau, Simon Osbourne (Seriously); Paul Gomersall (Both Sides); Allan Sides (Testify); Yvan Bing, Thoraya Binzagar, Thierry Chaunay (Going Back)

COMMENTS
pejwan's picture

phil colling is my favorit.
paket umroh desember

Bisrie's picture

These artists are my favorite artists

Bisrie's picture
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