Phil Collins will soon begin rolling out super-deluxe versions of his solo albums as part of his “Take a Look at Me Now” retrospective campaign, beginning on January 29th with the re-release of 1981’s Face Value and 1993’s Both Sides. Collins dug into his vaults and unearthed many demos, B-sides and live songs to flesh out the albums into two-disc sets.
“I’ve always been quite proud of my demos and have often made them available as B-sides, but with a few exceptions, I have avoided including those on these collections,” Collins said in a statement. “Instead, I’ve focused on how nicely the songs developed when played on stage, rather than showing how they originated.”
The deluxe edition of Face Value contains a live version of his breakthrough solo single “In the Air Tonight,” which you can hear right here. Collins wrote the song while in the midst of a devastating breakup with his first wife. The stream-of-consciousness lyrics have been the subject of many wild urban legends over the years, but Collins swears he has absolutely no idea what they mean.
The song was written while Genesis were on a one-year break, and whether or not he showed the song to his bandmates remains an open question. “I know I played them everything,” Collins says in the official Genesis oral history, Chapter and Verse. “I didn’t want to hold anything because I didn’t know I was going to make a record at that point.” Genesis keyboardist Tony Banks recalls it differently. “If he had [played it] and we’d rejected it, I’d be very pissed off,” he said. “I don’t think he’d written it at that point.”
Whatever the truth, the song became the single that launched Phil’s entire solo career. The deluxe edition of Face Value will also feature demos of “Against All Odds,” “The Roof Is Leaking” and other key tracks from the period. The “Take a Look at Me Now” series will continue on February 26th with the re-release of 1982’s Hello, I Must Be Going! and 1996’s Dance Into the Light. Each album will feature a new cover on which Collins recreates the original cover with stunning attention to detail.
Phil Collins has spent the past decade living largely out of the limelight, but he recently told Rolling Stone he plans on returning to music. “I’m no longer officially retired,” he said. “The horse is out of the stable and I’m raring to go. My kids are now 10 and 14 and they want to see what their dad does.”