London, May 2016: Phil Collins’ entire back catalogue of eight solo albums was recently remastered at Abbey Road studios and is being re-released by Warner Music digitally, on CD and on special half-speed-mastered vinyl throughout 2016, with the digital and CD versions featuring previously unreleased demos and live versions. The entire project has been curated by Collins himself.
Long-time Collins collaborator, Grammy-nominated Genesis producer and soundman Nick Davis oversaw the nine-month remastering project with Abbey Road Mastering engineer Miles Showell. “Miles and Abbey Road were a great combination for this project as their attention to detail is second to none. I know I can trust Miles to do excellent work and the technical excellence of Abbey Road Studios means I trust the files are in good hands,” comments Davis. “The albums were a delight to work on as there is so much great material on them, a depth of music that goes far beyond the mainstream singles. Miles was my first choice for this remastering as I love his half-speed vinyl cutting.”
“It’s been a interesting series of remasters,” comments Showell from his mastering room at Abbey Road. “There were a lot of technical changes happening over the period from 1980 to 2010 when these albums were first recorded. You see that in how the albums were recorded — it was Face Value, of course, that really took drums to the next level and kicked off the big 80s fashion for drum sounds with gated reverb on them, like on ‘In The Air Tonight’ — and it’s also reflected in the media the masters are stored on.”
The tapes for Face Value and Hello, I Must Be Going were the only two analogue album masters in Phil’s back catalogue. The rest, with the exception of Collins’ 2010 covers album Going Back, which was a higher-resolution digital master, were recorded to Sony digital tapes at the CD standard sampling rate of 16-bit, 44.1kHz. Paradoxically, this meant that the tapes recorded more recently were sometimes more troublesome to remaster than the oldest two albums in the series. “Those old digital tapes can be very problematic on playback,” explains Showell. “If the machines have crunched the tape at some stage in the past, and there are dropouts, if they’re bad enough that the error correction on the machine can’t reconstitute the bit stream, there's nothing you can do to retrieve the audio information.”
Because of these challenges, the first thing Showell did was to record high-resolution versions of the albums on the SADiE 6 workstation in his studio at Abbey Road, so he could work on the albums without having to keep playing the potentially problematic master tapes. The two analogue-mastered albums were mastered to 24-bit, 96kHz files via Abbey Road's externally word-clocked Benchmark Audio converters, and the later digital album masters were upsampled to 96kHz.
2016 Abbey Road Phil Collins Remasters
• Face Value (1981)
• Hello, I Must Be Going! (1982)
• No Jacket Required (1985)
• ...But Seriously (1989)
• Both Sides (1993)
• Dance into the Light (1996)
• Testify (2002)
• Going Back (2010)
More information on the release dates for these reissues can be found at www.philcollins.co.uk. For more about mastering at Abbey Road and the studio’s on-line mastering service, see www.abbeyroad.com/online-mastering. For more specific information about Miles Showell’s work for the studio, see www.abbeyroad.com/engineer/miles-showell.