Labels We Love – Virgin

Phil Collins – Face Value

More Phil Collins

  • Phil Collins KILLER solo debut finally returns to the site with outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound on both of this vintage import’s sides
  • The recording quality of this album is still analog and can be excellent, thanks to hugely talented engineer and producer Hugh Padgham (Peter Gabriel, Genesis, The Police, Yes, Emerson, Lake & Palmer, etc.)
  • We’ve tried some of his other albums but nothing we’ve played has struck us as being remotely as well recorded as his debut album from 1981
  • 5 stars: “. . . Collins’ most honest, most compelling work. He went on to become a huge star, with loads more hits, but Face Value stands as his masterpiece and one of the finest moments of the ’80s musical landscape.”

Song after song, Collins’ songwriting and musicianship shine with this breakout record, the first and clearly the best of all his solo albums. The sound on the best copies is VIBRANT, with SUPERB extension on the top, PUNCHY BASS, and excellent texture on the drums and percussion, as well as spacious strings and vocals.

There may be some hope for Hello, I Must Be Going! (1982), but Phil’s third album, 1985’s No Jacket Required, is digital and ridiculously processed sounding. I suppose not many albums from 1985 weren’t, but it’s still an unfortunate development for us audiophile types who might’ve wanted to enjoy these albums but are just not able to get past the bad sound. (more…)

XTC – Nonsuch – Reviewed in 2005

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Two Virgin British Import LPs from 1992.

Playing this album I was strongly reminded of one of my all time favorites: Jellyfish’s Spilt Milk. Since that album came out a year after this one, there’s a very good chance they were influenced by this XTC record.

If you like this one you will probably like that one and vice versa.

Phil Collins / Face Value – Whomp Factor

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Another in our series of Home Audio Exercises with advice on what you should be listening for when critically evaluating your copy (or ours) of the album. 

Until we heard some of the better copies, we were simply not able to appreciate just how important good bass definition and serious weight down low are to the sound of this record. When the bass is wooly or thin, as it is on so many copies — not clear, not deep, not full enough — it throws the rest of the mix off. When the bass is huge and powerful the music itself becomes huge and powerful.

The copies with the big bottom end are the only ones that really make you sit up and take notice of just how good these songs are. (more…)

Phil Collins – Face Value with Hugh Padgham’s Big Drum Sound

There may be some hope for Hello, I Must Be Going! (1982), but Phil’s third album, 1985’s No Jacket Required, sounds digital and ridiculously processed. I suppose not many albums from 1985 weren’t, but it’s still an unfortunate development for us audiophile types who might’ve wanted to enjoy these albums but are just not able to get past the bad sound.

Fortunately, the recording quality of this album is still analog and can be excellent, thanks to hugely talented engineer and producer Hugh Padgham (Peter Gabriel, Genesis, The Police, Yes, Emerson, Lake & Palmer, etc.). On this copy, the sound is nothing short of superb.

Check out Phil’s take on Tomorrow Never Knows for some heavily reverbed vocal effects, complete with a slew of backwards psychedelic sounds. If anybody can play the weirdly syncopated rhythms of TNK, it’s Phil Collins.

Whomp!

Until we heard some of the better copies we were never able to appreciate just how important bass definition and weight are to the sound of this record. When the bass is wooly or thin, as it is on so many copies — not clear, not deep, not full enough — it throws the rest of the mix off. When the bass is huge and powerful the music itself becomes huge and powerful.

The copies with the big bottom end are the only ones that really make you sit up and take notice.

Transparency Is Key

Phil’s lead and harmony vocals are both breathy and present on the best copies, with natural, not hyped-up, texture, and harmonics. This is especially important for the love songs.

The many ballads on the album — This Must Be Love and If Leaving Me Is Easy are two of our favorites — don’t work unless the sound is intimate and immediate.

Only the better pressings have the kind of high-resolution, full-bodied sound that allows both the rockers and the ballads to sound their best.

More Phil Collins

TRACK LISTING

Side One

In The Air Tonight
This Must Be Love
Behind The Lines
The Roof Is Leaking
Droned
Hand In Hand

Side Two

I Missed Again
You Know What I Mean
Thunder and Lightning
I’m Not Moving
If Leaving Me Is Easy
Tomorrow Never Knows
Over The Rainbow

AMG Review

Collins proves himself a passionate singer (and distinctive drummer) with a gift for both deeply felt ballads and snarling rockers. His debut album transformed him from the frontman of Genesis to a solo star who happened to be in Genesis, too. Contains “In the Air Tonight” and “I Missed Again.

XTC / English Settlement – A Sonic Tour de Force

More of the Music of XTC

This is an AMAZINGLY well-recorded album, with huge amounts of open studio space and that Tubey Magical, rich, fat, dense British Rock Sound. That sound isn’t easy to reproduce, but this copy absolutely nails it. Nothing else in our shootout came close to it!

If you have big speakers and the room to play them, this is quite the sonic tour de force. Credit Hugh Padgham, producer and engineer, who’s worked with the likes of Peter Gabriel, Genesis, The Police, Yes and Emerson, Lake and Palmer. Those bands make the kind of music that make good use of Padgham trademark sound: wall-to-wall, deep, layered, smooth, rich and stuffed to the gills. XTC with Padgham’s help have here produced a real steamroller of an album in English Settlement.

The big hit on this album is one that most audiophiles will probably know: Senses Working Overtime. Even over the radio you can hear how dense the production is. Imagine what it sounds like on an original British pressing with Hot Stampers, played on a modern audiophile rig. Simply put, IT ROCKS. (more…)