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Phil Collins Looks Back on the ‘In the Air Tonight’ Drum Break: ‘Nobody Had Ever Heard Anything Like That’

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Looking back through his archives for a series of deluxe solo reissues has left Phil Collins in a reflective mood — and better able to appreciate a musical legacy that’s still exerting an impact on younger artists.

Collins talked about his “Take a Look at Me Now” reissue campaign with Digital Trends, saying he decided to put out expanded and remastered editions of his solo records “because people missed stuff” the first time around.

“It’s an opportunity to rediscover these albums, or discover them for the first time,” said Collins. “And also because of the newer, younger artists who list me as an influence, I think of the young kids who go, ‘Well, okay, who is this guy?’”

The campaign, which is scheduled to continue on Feb. 26 with new editions of 1982’s Hello, I Must Be Going! and 1996’s Dance Into the Light, started on Jan. 29 with the reissues of 1993’s Both Sides and Collins’ first solo effort, 1981’s Face Value. That album’s landmark single, “In the Air Tonight,” contains one of rock’s most famous drum breaks — a moment Collins discussed with Digital Trends.

“When we had Eric Clapton and some of his guys come up to the studio, we played ‘In the Air Tonight’ for them. When the drums came in, everybody said, ‘F—ING HELL! What the f— is that?’ Nobody had ever heard anything like that. Frankly, drums were never that loud. But it was my album, and it worked,” argued Collins. “We were playing with psychological things. The audience is there going along with you, and then suddenly you knock them on the head with this thing: Bvoom-bvoom!

The rest of the interview is well worth checking out — as is Collins’ recent chat with the Guardian, in which he cools rumors of his pending unretirement while saying he’s working on an upcoming memoir and leaving the door open for new music.

“It seemed that the only way I could stop this was to stop and start again. I stopped. I’m yet to start again,” said Collins. “It’s got so complicated, because I’m known for this and known for that, but really I’m quite a simple guy, just trying to do it right.”

See Phil Collins and Other Rockers in the Top 100 Albums of the ’80s

Next: Top 10 Phil Collins Genesis Songs

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