Phil Collins is keeping his catalog largely intact for his just-launched Take A Look At Me Now album reissue series. But he’s making some drastic alterations to one of the titles.
Collins tells Billboard that Going Back, his 2010 R&B — mostly Motown — covers album will come out shorter and with a revised sequence, which he thinks is all for the better. “It’s going to be edited down to, like, 11, 12, maybe 15 songs instead of the 25 that was on the original album,” Collins explains. “There was just too much music.”
As for the winnowing process, Collins says he chose his favorite songs. “The reason there’s so much on the original album is every song we did I just loved, I loved the original songs and I loved what we’ve done with my replicas of those songs,” he says. “So we put everything on, but I think maybe it was too much. I think for a number of reasons that album was missed.”
Going Back, which features members of Motown’s venerable Funk Brothers studio band, was Collins’ last solo album and his first in eight years. It came in an 18-track standard edition and a 25-track ultimate edition, debuting at No. 1 on the U.K. charts and in the Top 15 in 16 other countries. It peaked at No. 34 on the Billboard 200, the lowest position of any of his solo albums in the U.S.
Collins also plans to put the title track, a Carole King–Gerry Goffin song first recorded by Gordie and then Dusty Springfield, as the opening cut on the reissues. “My version of ‘Going Back’ was lovely, so we’re going to put that at the top of the album rather than at the end,” he says.
“These are the things you do, the chance you take advantage of when you’re reissuing something. Everything else on the other albums I left along. Obviously there are things you could have another go at, maybe rewriting this lyric or singing that song again, but then where do you stop? So really they’ve just been brushed up and polished.”
A release date or revised track list for Going Back hasn’t yet been finalized, according to Rhino Records. Collins released the first two titles in the series, 1981’s Face Value and 1993’s Both Sides, on Jan. 29. The second batch, 1982’s Hello, I Must Be Going! and 1996’s Dance Into the Light come out Feb. 26. The other surprise for fans is new album cover photographs for the series — nearly identical replicas of the original covers save for Collins’ current face in place of the initial images.
“I wanted to bring something new to (the packages), so we came up with the idea of the second CD and then I had the idea to re-shoot all the album covers,” Collins explains. “It kind of brought it into this period now that we’re living in, and these songs were personal to me then and they’re still personal to me now. I had a great team. I had a great photographer and a great computer guy. We had three people there that were just working on the lighting and the look, and we managed to replicate all the covers beautifully.”
Going Back, however, will have an entirely new cover from the original image of a 12-year-old Collins, as will the new front of 1986’s Diamond-certified No Jacket Required.
“That was difficult because it’s the whole face and you see what’s different about the hairline, you know?” Collins says. “So that isn’t a double-take cover like the others. You can see it’s a new one.”