Top Artists – Phil Collins

Genesis – Seconds Out

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  • This is an excellent set of songs and a surprisingly good recording
  • After suffering through so much bad Genesis sound over the years — their pressings are all over the map — it was a real treat to hear the better copies of this one let these classic songs really come to life
  • “Indeed, part of the beauty of this album is the sheer flexibility of the band during this period — in addition to superb vocals by Collins throughout, the drumming by Chester Thompson is at least a match for Collins’ best playing.”
  • If you’re a Genesis fan, this title from 1977 is surely a Must Own.
  • The complete list of titles from 1977 that we’ve reviewed to date can be found here

This live album from 1977 has some of the best Genesis sound we’ve heard. Their studio recordings are often a bit flat and dull, so it’s really a treat to hear those songs with this kind of big, open, dynamic sound! Phil Collins handles the lead vocals here, but he does a great job even on the Peter Gabriel material.

This vintage British Charisma pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records can barely BEGIN to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it sure isn’t showing signs of coming back. If you love hearing INTO a recording, actually being able to “see” the performers, and feeling as if you are sitting in the studio with the band, this is the record for you. It’s what vintage all analog recordings are known for — this sound. (more…)

Phil Collins – Hello, I Must Be Going!

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  • As Good As It Gets Triple Plus (A+++) sound from start to finish for Collins’ second studio album – exceptionally quiet vinyl too 
  • This is the last of the albums Phil recorded in analog, and of course the sound is big and rich – you will not believe all the space and ambience on this copy
  • Includes Phil’s killer version of the Supremes’ classic, “You Can’t Hurry Love”
  • 4 stars: “… the album is still a winning follow-up that shows Collins to be in full control of songwriting and production. It may be a shade less impressive than Face Value, but that was a hard act to follow. 

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.). (more…)

Phil Collins – Face Value

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  • 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…)

Genesis – Abacab

  • Excellent sound throughout with both sides of this vintage UK pressing earning solid Double Plus (A++) grades or better
  • Forget the thin sounding domestic pressings – these British sides are rich, full-bodied and spacious with real bottom end weight
  • 4 1/2 stars: “Abacab was where this new incarnation of the band came into its own. Working with producer Hugh Padgham, the group escalated the innovations of Duke, increasing the pop hooks, working them seamlessly into the artiest rock here… as bright, bold, and jagged as the modernist artwork on the cover.”

Hugh Padgham gets some of the biggest, punchiest, most powerful sound on record that we know of. He likes tons of bass just like we do. We also love the big drums and meaty guitars he was able to bring to XTC’s English Settlement. On the better pressings it is a Demo Disc for both instruments.

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Letter of the Week – “I quickly sold all those [audiophile] copies and began building a real world class collection of Hot Stamper level records.

One of our good customers had this to say about some Hot Stampers he purchased recently:

Hey Tom, 

I want to thank you once again.

Quite a few years ago now I contacted you and talked about this concept called “Hot Stampers.” It ended up both saving me a lot of misdirection and foolishly trying to rebuild my vinyl collection with new vinyl re-releases often called “audiophile” and “half-speed” issues.

After a few confirmations of what you said I quickly sold all those copies and began building a real world class collection of vinyl “original” Hot Stamper level records. A good number came from your business and I also made a hobby of trying to do what you do in finding “Hot Stampers.” Fortunately Philadelphia has a reasonable number of used record stores but unfortunately, as you well know, this is a rigorous and costly endeavor, but it can be rewarding at times and at other times requires that I rely on you.

So today I’m snowed in here and I fired up the rig and decided to do some small scale shootouts and find the true great copies from my already culled collection. Put on several Hall and Oates and focused on “She’s Gone”. One was just clearly dynamic, clear and present. Then I put on several Dire Straits “Love Over Gold” and ended up with 3 killer copies (such a good LP). I then put on about 5 copies of Phil Collins “Face Value” with “If Leaving Me is Hard”. What a great love song, and narrowed it to 2.

Yes my rig is really awesome for close up intimate listening at any level. It is something I have worked on for decades to become resolving, dynamic, harmonic, dimensional transparent, and involving. I can listen loud and close without distortion. When I suddenly find that “Hot Stamper” Phil Collins is in the room where I hear his voice articulate and rich with background singers just as good and the band perfectly balanced to his vocal.

And it is then I think of your contribution to all of this and want to tell you. So that is what I am doing. I know what three stars means. I can’t afford many of them as I would assume some wealthy customers can but I really appreciate them and their unfortunate rarity and I appreciate all the work you have done to make this possible.

Ed

 

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

More of the Music of Phil Collins

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.

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