Music Review – PHIL COLLINS: FACE VALUE (1981) and BOTH SIDES (1993) – Remastered reissues

FACE VALUE (1981) ∗∗∗∗½
BOTH SIDES (1993) ∗∗∗Phil Collins’ back catalogue is being reissued at a rate of two releases per month. The first batch under the umbrella release title of Take a Look at Me Now… consists of the Genesis singer/drummer’s 1981 debut solo album FACE VALUE and his introspective 1993 release BOTH SIDES. Both albums have been remastered by Nick Davis and include a second CD containing live versions of some of the songs from that album alongside demos. They also feature recreations of the original album covers.

The writing process for FACE VALUE began in 1979 whilst Genesis had taken a hiatus so Collins could try and patch up his broken marriage. Tony Banks and Mike Rutherford took the opportunity to record their debut solo albums (A CURIOUS FEELING and SMALLCREEP’S DAY). When Collins found his marriage was beyond repair he found himself with time on his hands and started writing. The resultant songs were reflective of his state of mind at the time but also drew on his wide range of musical influences. Two of the songs, “Misunderstanding” and “Please Don’t Ask” (demos of which are available on CD2), made it onto Genesis’ next album DUKE (1980). Once that album and the following tour were complete, Collins took the opportunity to take the rest of his songs and record his first solo album. He used his demos as the basis for the tracks and added instruments in studio with musicians such as Eric Clapton, Alphonso Johnson, John Giblin, Stephen Bishop, Joe Partridge and Daryl Stuermer. The resultant album is the most varied of his career with lead-off single, the stark and dramatic “In the Air Tonight”, a huge hit buoying sales of the album. The song has Collins’ powerful signature drum fill, which has been become part of music history. Although the bitterness evident in the lyrics fuelled the view that this album was a series of open letters to his ex-wife. That view ignores the broader range of songs and sentiments on the album. There is the romanticism of new love found in “This Must Be Love”, the middle-eastern inspired instrumental “Droned”, the aching desperation of “The Roof is Leaking” and the psychedelic rock of his more melodic cover of The Beatles’ “Tomorrow Never Knows.” Collins also adds a horn section to the Motown-style soul of “I MIssed Again”, the anthemic, big band influenced instrumental “Hand in Hand” and the warm soul of “Thunder and Lightning”. He reworks “Behind the Lines” from DUKE into a fast and punchy lament. Other songs include the bright “I’m Not Moving”, the piano led ballad “You Know What I Mean” and the late-night saloon-styled reflection of “If Leaving Me Is Easy.” Collins had demonstrated his versatility as a writer and musician and had set the wheels in motion for a decade of hit albums both on his own and with Genesis.

By contrast BOTH SIDES is Collins’ most introspective album. It is his personal favourite amongst his catalogue and this is largely driven by the fact he played everything himself in realising his vision for the songs, which were written with a spontaneity that recalled some of his writing on FACE VALUE. The album is made up of mainly slow to mid-tempo songs which are highly personal and reflective, such as the warm yearning of “Can’t Turn Back the Years” and the hopeful “There’s a Place for Us.” The more up-tempo songs such as the driving “Both Sides of the Story” and the call to arms of “We Wait and We Wonder” take on more generic social and political themes mirroring his approach on …BUT SERIOUSLY. Whilst it is easy to see why this album meant so much to Collins, his uncompromising approach gives the songs a sameness of feel that leaves the listener searching for a sudden change of tempo or a blast of horns (absent from this album). The songs individually are strong, but as a whole the album just needs the variety that is so much in evidence on its sister reissue, FACE VALUE. Whilst the lovely melodic “We’re Sons of Our Fathers” delves into new ground for Collins with a bluegrass feel to it, it calls out for authentic instrumentation rather than synthesized simulation. Many of the songs would come to life more on stage, as can be witnessed on the second CD, which carries some rare live material from the tour that followed. There is a particularly bouncy unplugged version of “Both Sides of the Story” and “Can’t Turn Back the Years” benefits from a lovely worked intro between on-stage musicians Brad Cole (keyboards), Daryl Stuermer (guitar) and Nathan East (bass). BOTH SIDES can be viewed as an album that is less than the sum of its parts, but demonstrating a side to Collins that showed he wasn’t afraid to experiment and work against his public image.

Second tranche of Phil Collins re-masters announced

Phil Collins has announced the next two releases in his re-master series with 1982’s Hello, I Must Be Going! joined by 1996’s Dance into the Light. Both again come with re-created covers. The release date is 26 February.

     

Track lists:

Hello I Must Be Going!

“I Don’t Care Anymore”
“I Cannot Believe It’s True”
“Like China”
“Do You Know, Do You Care?”
“You Can’t Hurry Love”
“It Don’t Matter to Me”
“Thru These Walls”
“Don’t Let Him Steal Your Heart Away”
“The West Side”
“Why Can’t It Wait ‘Til Morning?”

“I Don’t Care Anymore” – Live
“I Cannot Believe It’s True – Live
“Like China” – Live
“You Can’t Hurry Love” – Live
“It Don’t Matter to Me” – Live
“The West Side” – Live Rehearsal
“People Get Ready” – Live
“Thru These Walls” – Live
“It’s Alright” – Live
“Oddball” – Demo of “Do You Know, Do You Care?”
“Don’t Let Him Steal Your Heart Away” – Demo

Dance into the Light

“Dance Into the Light”
“That’s What You Said”
“Lorenzo”
“Just Another Story”
“Love Police”
“Wear My Hat”
“It’s In Your Eyes”
“Oughta Know By Now”
“Take Me Down”
“The Same Moon”
“River So Wide”
“No Matter Who”
“The Times They Are A-Changin’”

“Dance Into the Light” – Live
“Just Another Story” – Live
“Wear My Hat” – Live
“River So Wide” – Live
“Take Me Down” – Live
“Lorenzo” – Demo
“That’s What You Said” – Demo
“Another Time” – B-side
“It’s Over” – B-side
“I Don’t Wanna Go” – B-side

Phil Collins autobiography due October 2016

Phil Collins has intimated many times over the years that he would eventually write his autobiography. Well now it seems the time is right. With health problems curtailing his musical career Collins has made a publishing deal with Penguin Random House for an October 2016 release date.

Collins says, “Having found the right publisher in Penguin Random House I am ready to go on record about my life in music with all the highs and all the lows and to tell the story from my point of view – warts and all!”

With a mega-star career spanning nearly 50 years as drummer and singer with Genesis, solo artist, session player and producer as well as, for a time, actor, It promises to be a great read.

Phil Collins – Remastered back catalogue releases commence on 6 November

Phil Collins’ back catalogue has been remastered and readied for re-release with added material including live versions not previously released, demos and non-album tracks. The first two albums to be released are Phil’s highly influential debut FACE VALUE (1981) and potentially his most personal album BOTH SIDES (1993). The releases, scheduled for 6 November, will include 2-CDs for each album as well as downloads and vinyl versions. New artwork has been produced, which basically updates the previous covers with new photos of Phil.

Phil Collins - Face Value 2015              Phil Collins Both Sides 2015

               Bonus tracks for both releases:

Face Value Bonus Tracks:
1. “Misunderstanding” – Live
2. “If Leaving Me Is Easy” – Live*
3. “In The Air Tonight” – Live*
4. “Behind The Lines” – Live*
5. “The Roof Is Leaking” – Demo*
6. “Hand In Hand” – Live*
7. “I Missed Again” – Live*
8. “….And So To F” – Live*
9. “This Must Be Love” – Demo*
10. “Please Don’t Ask” – Demo*
11. “Misunderstanding” – Demo*
12. “Against All Odds” – Demo

Both Sides Bonus Tracks:
1. “Take Me With You”
2. “Both Sides Of The Story” – Live*
3. “Can’t Turn Back The Years” – Live*
4. “Survivors” – Live*
5. “Everyday” – Live*
6. “We Wait And We Wonder” – Live*
7. “Can’t Find My Way” – Demo*
8. “I’ve Been Trying”
9. “Both Sides Of The Story”
10. “Hero” – Demo
* Previously unreleased on CD

Music Review – TONY BANKS: A CHORD TOO FAR (2015)

TONY BANKS – A CHORD TOO FAR (2015, Esoteric, 4CDs) ∗∗∗∗

CD1:

  1. Rebirth – From Soundtracks
  2. At The Edge Of Night – From The Fugitive
  3. Walls Of Sound – From Strictly Inc.
  4. Lion Of Symmetry – From Soundtracks
  5. The More I Hide It – From Bankstatement
  6. Shortcut To Somewhere – From Soundtracks
  7. The Waters Of Lethe – From A Curious Feeling
  8. I Wanna Change The Score – From Still
  9. Water Out Of Wine – From Still
  10. Something To Live For – From Strictly Inc.
  11. By You – From The Fugitive
  12. Never Let Me Know – From Strictly Inc.
  13. Thirty Three’s – From The Fugitive

CD2

  1. Charity Balls – From Strictly Inc.
  2. An Island In The Darkness – From Strictly Inc.
  3. The Border – From Bankstatement
  4. Lucky Me – From A Curious Feeling
  5. Another Murder Of A Day – From Still
  6. Moving Under – From The Fugitive
  7. Still It Takes Me By Surprise – From Still
  8. Red Day On Blue Street – From Still
  9. After The Lie – From A Curious Feeling
  10. Redwing – From Soundtracks

CD3

  1. Queen Of Darkness – From Bankstatement
  2. A Piece Of You – From Strictly Inc.
  3. Big Man – From Bankstatement
  4. Angel Face – From Still
  5. This Is Love – From The Fugitive
  6. I’ll Be Waiting – From Bankstatement
  7. Back To Back – From Still
  8. For A While – From A Curious Feeling
  9. Throwback – From Bankstatement
  10. You Call This Victory – From Soundtracks
  11. And The Wheels Keep Turning – From The Fugitive
  12. You – From A Curious Feeling
  13. The Final Curtain – From Still

CD4

  1. Blade – From Six Pieces For Orchestra
  2. Black Down – From Seven
  3. Siren – From Six Pieces For Orchestra
  4. Earthlight – From Seven
  5. From The Undertow – From A Curious Feeling
  6. Spring Tide – Demo
  7. Neap Tide – Demo
  8. City Of Gold – Demo
  9. The Chase – From The Wicked Lady
  10. Kit – From The Wicked Lady
  11. Poppet – Previously Unreleased
  12. The Wicked Lady – From The Wicked Lady

Tony Banks is the most influential contributor to the Genesis sound and yet his solo career has been the least successful of all the band’s core members. Listening to this excellent collection it is evident that his solo output is of a high quality and should appeal to Genesis’ fan base. But where Banks has suffered in comparison to his band mates is in the personality department. He has never been at home in the limelight and his reluctance to front his own songs – with the exception of The Fugitive, he has relied on others to interpret his songs – has led to them having a lack of identity. Phil Collins and Peter Gabriel had the advantage of being singers in the first place, whilst Mike Rutherford employed two of the best in Paul Carrack and Paul Young for his Mike + The Mechanics project. Secondly Banks has never been one to compromise or overly simplify and whilst many of the songs here eschew his prog rock roots, they also are more complex in structure and harmony and therefore more challenging to the listener.The first thing you notice about this collection is the excellent remixes of tracks from the earlier albums – notably the period of A Curious Feeling through to Bankstatement. The initial CD releases had lacked a certain dynamic quality, which has been fixed here bringing new life to those tracks (A Curious Feeling having already been spruced up a couple of years ago). Banks has also sequenced the 4 CVDs and not simply followed a timeline. This gives a good balance to the collection and allows for some new creativity with the morph of the gentle instrumental “Redwing” into the rocking “At the Edge of Night” working particularly well at the outset.

Banks has employed some significant talent over the years and they are evident over the first 3 CDs. Singer Kim Beacon and Genesis touring drummer Chester Thompson worked on his debut A Curious Feeling, which remains the album from his solo career that Banks feels closest to with six of the tracks featured here. It was the album that was closest to his work with Genesis and it remains a very satisfying experience. Banks sang himself on 1983’s The Fugitive and did a decent job. The songs were simpler and more pop orientated, but still has the essence of Banks’ ear for harmony and chord structure. Five tracks are represented here. The Wicked Lady (1983) and Soundtracks (1985) featured instrumental and vocal work he had contributed to films in the early to mid 1980s. The synth pop of “Lion of Symmetry” is a classic example of how Banks can build a song with Toyah Wilcox supplying distinct vocals and lyrics.

The catchy “Shortcut to Somewhere” was one of three collaborations with former Marillion vocalist Fish. The other two coming from 1991’s Still – the brooding “Angel Face” and the meandering but dramatic “Another Murder of a Day” actually work much better. That album also saw him link up with 1980s pop star Nik Kershaw as well as Andy Taylor and Jayney Klimek, having worked with the latter on Bankstatement two years earlier. Alistair Gordon was the other vocalist on that album.

Banks’ tasteful compositions and arrangements are evidenced on tracks such as the breathy “I’ll Be Waiting” and the reflective “The Final Curtain”. His taste for the epic is demonstrated with the 17-minute “An Island in the Darkness” from 1995’s Strictly Inc on which Banks collaborated with vocalist Jack Hues of the Hues Corporation fame. The lack of success of that album in particular led to Banks moving into the classical world where he could be more true to his flare for melody, harmony and complex musical structures. Seven (2004) and then Six (2012) followed to warm reception and this work forms the majority of CD4, on which there are also his demos of some of the pieces that would appear on these albums.

All in all this is an excellent collection, but one primarily targeted at Genesis’ and Banks’ fan base. To those curious to find out more It serves as a splendid sampler to one of rock’s most creative writers and inspirational keyboard players. The set comes with a beautifully presented and illustrated 60-page book written by Banks himself. There is the promise of a re-release of Banks’ full catalogue in 5.1 Surround to follow. It is a catalogue worthy of re-appraisal.

Steve Hackett 14-disc Charisma Collection set for October release

Universal Music Group is releasing a 14-Disc-Box set covering Steve Hackett’s time with Charisma Records between 1975-83 in October 2015. The set is titled Premonitions: The Charisma Years. The set will include bonus tracks, remixes and 5.1 Surround DVDs. It is the third major retrospective release from the Genesis stable following recent announcements from Tony Banks and Phil Collins.

The discs and track list are:

Disc 1 [CD] – Voyage Of The Acolyte / Please Don’t Touch (I):
01. Ace Of Wands
02. Hands Of The Priestess – Part One
03. Tower Struck Down
04. Hands Of The Priestess – Part Two
05. The Hermit
06. Star Of Sirius
07. Lovers
08. Shadow Of The Heirophant (Extended Version)
09. Narnia
10. Carry On Up The Vicarage
11. Racing In A
12. Kim
13. How Can I?
14. Seven Of Cups* (Bonus Track)

Disc 2 [CD] – Please Don’t Touch (II) / Spectral Mornings / Defector (I):
01. Hoping Love Will Last
02. Land Of A Thousand Autumns
03. Please Don’t Touch
04. Voice Of Necam
05. Icarus Ascending
06. Every Day
07. Virgin And The Gypsy
08. Red Flower Of Tachai Blooms Everywhere
09. Clocks – Angel Of Mons
10. Ballad Of The Decomposing Man
11. Lost Time In Cordoba
12. Tigermoth
13. Spectral Mornings
14. Steppes
15. Time To Get Out
16. Slogans
17. Leaving
18. Two Vamps As Guests

Disc 3 [CD] – Defector (II) / Cured:
01. Jacuzzi
02. Hammer In The Sand
03. Toast
04. Show
05. Sentimental Institution
06. Hercules Unchained (Bonus Track)
07. Hope I Don’t Wake
08. Picture Postcard
09. Can’t Let Go
10. Air Conditioned Nightmare
11. Funny Feeling
12. Cradle Of Swans
13. Overnight Sleeper
14. Turn Back Time
15. Tales Of The Riverbank (Bonus Track)
16. Second Chance (Bonus Track)

Disc 4 [CD] – Highly Strung:
01. Camino Royale
02. Cell 151
03. Always Somewhere Else
04. Walk Through Walls
05. Give It Away
06. Weightless
07. Group Therapy
08. India Rubber Man
09. Hackett To Pieces
10. Guitar Boogie (Bonus Track)
11. Time Lapse At Milton Keynes (Bonus Track)
12. Walking Through Walls (12″ Single Version) (Bonus Track)
13. Cell 151 (BBC Session 04/1983)* (Bonus Track)
14. Walking Through Walls (BBC Session 04/1983)* (Bonus Track)
15. Hackett To Pieces (BBC Session 04/1983)* (Bonus Track)
16. Please Don’t Touch (BBC Session 04/1983)* (Bonus Track)

Disc 5 [CD] – Live In Oxford (New Theatre, 01/07/1979) (I):
01. Please Don’t Touch
02. Tigermoth
03. Every Day
04. Narnia
05. Red Flower Of Tachai Blooms Everywhere
06. Ace Of Wands
07. Carry On Up The Vicarage
08. Acoustic Medley: Etude In A Minor / Blood On The Rooftops / Horizons / Kim

Disc 6 [CD] – Live In Oxford (New Theatre, 01/07/1979) (II):
01. Optigan / Tower Struck Down
02. Spectral Mornings
03. Star Of Sirius
04. Shadow Of The Heirophant
05. Clocks
06. I Know What I Like
07. Racing In A

Disc 7 [CD] – Live In London (Theatre Royal Dury Lane, 11/11/1979):
01. Land Of Thousand Autumns/Please Don’t Touch
02. Tigermoth*
03. Every Day*
04. Ace Of Wands
05. Sentimental Institution
06. Red Flower Of Tachai Blooms Everywhere*
07. Spectral Mornings*
08. Clocks*
09. Acoustic Medley*: Etude In A Minor / Blood On The Rooftops / Horizons / Kim

Disc 8 [CD] – Live At The Reading Festival (28/08/1981):
01. Air Conditioned Nightmare
02. Every Day*
03. Ace Of Wands*
04. Funny Feeling*
05. Steppes
06. Over Night Sleeper*
07. Slogans
08. Tower Struck Down*
09. Spectral Mornings*
10. Show*
11. Clocks

Disc 9 [CD] – Please Don’t Touch (New Stereo Mix by Steven Wilson)*
01. Narnia
02. Carry On Up The Vicarage
03. Racing In A
04. Kim
05. How Can I?
06. Hoping Love Will Last
07. Land Of A Thousand Autumns
08. Please Don’t Touch
09. Voice Of Necam
10. Icarus Ascending

Disc 10 [CD] – Spectral Mornings (New Stereo Mix by Steven Wilson)*
01. Every Day
02. The Virgin And The Gypsy
03. Red Flower Of Tachai Blooms Everywhere
04. Clocks – Angel Of Mons
05. Ballad Of The Decomposing Man
06. Lost Time In Cordoba
07. Tigermoth
08. Spectral Mornings

Disc 11 [DVD] – Please Don’t Touch (New 5.1 Surround Sound Mix by Steven Wilson)*
01. Narnia
02. Carry On Up The Vicarage
03. Racing In A
04. Kim
05. How Can I?
06. Hoping Love Will Last
07. Land Of A Thousand Autumns
08. Please Don’t Touch
09. Voice Of Necam
10. Icarus Ascending
11. How Can I? [1977 Charisma Promotional Film] (Bonus Video Track)

Disc 12 [DVD] – Spectral Mornings (New 5.1 Surround Sound Mix by Steven Wilson)*
01. Every Day
02. Virgin And The Gypsy
03. Red Flower Of Tachai Blooms Everywhere
04. Clocks – Angel Of Mons
05. Ballad Of The Decomposing Man
06. Lost Time In Cordoba
07. Tigermoth
08. Spectral Mornings
09. Clocks [1979 Charisma Promotional Film] (Bonus Video Track)

Disc 13 [DVD] – Voyage Of The Acolyte (New 5.1 Mix by Steven Wilson)*
01. Ace Of Wands
02. Hands Of The Priestess – Part One
03. Tower Struck Down
04. Hands Of The Priestess – Part Two
05. Hermit
06. Star Of Sirius
07. Lovers
08. Shadow Of The Hierophant (Extended Version)

Disc 14 [DVD] – Defector (New 5.1 Mix by Steven Wilson)*
01. Steppes
02. Time To Get Out
03. Slogans
04. Leaving
05. Two Vamps As Guests
06. Jacuzzi
07. Hammer In The Sand
08. Toast
09. Show
10. Sentimental Institution

Phil Collins back catalogue to be remastered by Warner

PhilCollins-neuIt has been announced that Warner Music Group has bought Phil Collins’ back catalogue and will release long-awaited remasters of all eight of the Genesis singer/drummer’s solo albums starting at the end of the is year.

The package is also set to include material from Collins’ archive – although full details of what will be released are not yet available. Collins’ debut solo album, Face Value (1981), and his fifth, Both Sides (1993), will be the first albums re-released in remastered format.

This is great news for fans of Genesis who also recently learned of a similar venture for Tony Banks.

Music Review – GENESIS: R-KIVE (2014)

GENESIS – R-KIVE (2014, Virgin, 3CDs) ∗∗∗∗
Songs: Disc 1: The Knife; The Musical Box; Supper’s Ready; The Cinema Show; I Know What I Like (In Your Wardrobe); The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway; Back In N.Y.C.; The Carpet Crawlers; Ace of Wands (Steve Hackett); Disc 2: Ripples; Afterglow; Solsbury Hill (Peter Gabriel); Follow You Follow Me; For A While (Tony Banks); Every Day (Steve Hackett); Biko (Peter Gabriel); Turn It On Again; In The Air Tonight (Phil Collins); Abacab; Mama; That’s All; Easy Lover (Phil Collins); Silent Running (Mike + The Mechanics); Disc 3: Invisible Touch; Land Of Confusion; Tonight Tonight Tonight; The Living Years (Mike + The Mechanics); Red Day on Blue Street (Tony Banks); I Can’t Dance; No Son of Mine; Hold On My Heart; Over My Shoulder (Mike + The Mechanics); Calling All Stations; Signal to Noise (Peter Gabriel); Wake Up Call (Phil Collins); Nomads (Steve Hackett); Siren (Tony Banks)

818bjr+dEzL._SL1500_Whilst there is a certain logic in a compilation of the music of Genesis alongside solo songs from the 1971-5 line-up (of which each member chooses three each – not always the obvious ones). The end result is unlikely to satisfy hardcore fans of the band or any of the artists individually. For that you would need to look to each member’s solo compilation packages and Genesis’ Platinum Collection.

But this package is not aimed at the band’s collective or individual core fan base. It is designed to re-introduce and familiarise the music buying public with the extraordinary breadth of talent that came from this group of five writers and musicians. Arguably the only such instance outside The Beatles themselves.

The package is also an obvious tie-in to the BBC documentary Together and Apart (due for broadcast on 4 October 2014) and the Blu-Ray/DVD release to follow, The Sum of The Parts. As such it is an adequate reminder of the varied music produced by the members individually as well as the transition of the band from experimental prog-rock to a more mainstream approach. There are Genesis fans who like one and dislike the other and those who like it all. I fall into the latter camp having come on board with Duke in 1980, then having rapidly collected the back catalogue – in reverse order. Each new album from Abacab (1981) onward would also bring something new to the band’s history. That album in particular seems to be the dividing point for the fans who like prog Genesis only and those who like mainstream Genesis only.

What the solo material shows is how diverse these musician are individually. Gabriel explores world music and rhythms; Collins perfects a version of white soul; Rutherford produces finely crafted and tuneful songs; Hackett stays closest to his prog roots but explores different guitar styles such as flamenco; Banks loves challenging harmonies and an orchestral approach.

The music they produced together as Genesis has elements of all these things, but the hybrid makes for an even more exciting listen. The band evolved through musical epics such as Supper’s Ready via the surreal imagery of I Know What I Like and Carpet Crawlers with Gabriel fronting the band to the beautiful melodies of Ripples and Afterglow more suited to Collins’ vocal style. After Hackett’s departure, some of the adventure, but none of the craft disappeared. Mama is a bitingly hot tale of obsession that demonstrated the band could still produce challenging music alongside the hits.

As a collector of the band’s music I have purchased this and it will sit with the rest of their output. As a fan, it is unlikely it will be the prime source of my future listening – I will return to individual albums to enjoy all phases of the band’s career. But for casual listeners this will open up the band’s broader catalogue and serve as a strong representation of the talent within the Genesis family.