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Both Sides 2CD

Phil Collins - Both Sides (Deluxe 2CD)

New version: Both Sides, remastered and with bonus tracks


Please note that this review covers the re-release of the Both Sides album. We also have a full review of the album itself (click here).


Artwork

The album comes, as with the Face Value remaster, in a three-part digiak and a folded sheet with information. The original artwork has been replaced completely with new art and the old album cover is not used anywhere. The new cover is a highlight, though.


The Remaster

To cut a long story short, there is no remaster. Whatever has been done with the album, there is no measurable improvement and no audible reworking. The average levels of the remaster and the original are nearly identical. The original master tapes could have been digitalized with stronger dynamics. There is, of course, the question of whether it makes sense to remaster an album that was produced intentionally in a very minimalistic and not-high-end level. It must be doubted, however, that this album could not be improved at all.


The bonus tracks

Both Sides CoverThe carefully chosen bonustracks for Both Sides beg the question why it was exactly these tracks that were chosen. Let us, however, look at the tracks first:


Take Me With You

This was the B-side of the We Wait And We Wonder single. A catchy song, and rather up-tempo for Both Sides.


Both Sides Of The Story (live)

This version was recorded at Wembley Arena, London, on December 13, 1994. The audio is simply awful, with hardly any stereo effects audible. This is all the more annoying because there are excellent radio recordings from this tour, e.g. from Manchester and Japan. In this version there are clanging sound and the music becomes a sort of sound porridge. Very disappointing.


Can’t Turn Back The Years (live)

Can’t Turn Back The Years sounds less bad, or dare we say, better. Why the version from the Both Sides tour was preferred to a version of the 1997 tour (with additional acoustic guitar) remains a mystery. This recording is most likely to date from December 13, 1994.


Survivors (live)

This song was played live only on the Both Sides tour. Many fans enjoy the live version for its strong drumming. The sound could be better. Much diligence in choosing the song is not in evidence. Another song from the Wembley Arena show on Dec 13, 1994.


Everyday (live)

Just when we praised the Manchester show recording for its quality a recording comes along that flatly belies this praise. The worst thing about this version is also the probable reason for the awful quality: This has apparently been ripped straight from a YouTube video – without any changes at all. There is a bootleg version of the very same concert in circulation that is infinitely much better than that Youtube thing.


We Wait And We Wonder (live)

This is most likely from Tel Aviv, 2005. Phil played the song again on his Farewell tour in 2005. Unlike the Both Sides tour version this has no loud noise and police sirens in the beginning. The version sounds quite good, though it could be improved.


Can’t Find My Way (demo)

A striking illustration for how little the structures and the feeling of the demos changed in the final versions. No explanation is given as to why Phil chose this song.


I’ve Been Trying

Phil Collins recorded this Curtis Mayfield cover around the time of Both Sides for the album A Tribute To Curtis Mayfield. The song is already available on the compilation Love Songs: A Compilation Of Old And New.


Both Sides Of The Story (unplugged 1994)

This version was the B-side for the No Matter Who single. The MTV Unplugged show still awaits its release. If you rip the CD this track has the additional information „Unplugged Paris 1993“, though it definitely is the 1994 London version. In the liner notes Phil states „just me and the piano“, which may indicate that he may not have wanted the Unplugged version on the album but the version he played in 1993 on Ray Cokes‘ show MTV Most Wanted. (click here). Things do not quite add up here.


Hero (demo)

David Crosby released the original version on his Thousand Roads albums, and Phil sings backing vocals on it. His own demo version has a full set of lyrics. The song has come out on CD as the B-side of We Wait And We Wonder.


Our evaluation of the bonus material

The foremost question is why exactly these songs have been picked. Both Sides has a number of B-sides that were not chosen, e.g. For A Friend, which many fans consider the best B-side from that era and a great Collins song. It was written a bit later than the album. Then there are two interesting instrumental, Rad Dudeski and Don’t Call Me Ashley, both of which have been played live occasionally (with the Big Band and unplugged). A couple of demo versions have also been released before. The early version of Both Sides Of The Story (aka Both Sides Of The Demo) with the alternate lyrics by David Crosby could have been interesting. Stevie’s Blues (There’s A Place For Us demo) and an Everyday demo have also been released on singles. There is, however, another song that would have been far more exciting: Deep Water Down appeared in the archives of the Phil Collins Fanclub and it would have merited a release.


The choice of live versions is always debatable. It is a good thing that we finally get official live versions of Both Sides Of The Story, Survivors and Everyday. Why these terrible versions were used is beyond us. The 1994 Hannover or the 1994 Manchester shows would have been superior choices and there are for sure a lot of other shows which were recorded properly. The selection, research and reworking of the live tracks must be described as rather careless. No fan wants a polished, glossy product, but neither does he want something this awful ripped from a sodding Youtube clip. We Wait And We Wonder sounds fine, this is from the 2005 Farewell tour, and from the Tel Aviv show, which was shown on TV. The Unplugged version of Both Sides Of The Story is lovely, though obviously the MTV Most Wanted version was also a strong contender. It would have been a fine addition, too (click here for a YouTube Clip).

Other live tracks that were not included:

The Way You Look Tonight, Helpless Heart, Get Ready, Can't Find My Way, I've Forgotten Everything, My Girl, Kocking On Heaven's Door, Amazing Grace

Phil’s liner notes have a number of flaws. It says, for example that Leland Sklar added his fine bass sounds when, in fact, it was Nathan East.

All in all, there is obviously no clear concept in the choice of songs, and the quality of the live tracks is, for most of them, completely unacceptable.


To sum it all up

There is no remaster – what has been done, remains unclear. There is no improvement in the audio. This does not do any harm to the album, but a new release should have been treated better. What invites the strongest criticism is the choice of bonus tracks. Even if we accept the idea that the bonus CD contains just a selection of tracks, they must not be lumped together in such an careless way and dump such terrible audio quality on the fans. Playtime for the bonus CD is around an hour, so there would have been space for another 20 minutes.
Apart from the fine artwork there is not really anything positive to sum up for this release. For an album that Phil Collins has repeatedly described as his favourite such a heartless re-release is very bitter.


by Christian Gerhardts, with support from Tom Morgenstern as regards content
English by Martin Klinkhardt

order:
Both Sides (Remaster 2016) 2CD: amazon | JPC
Both Sides (Remaster 2016) 2LP: amazon | JPC
Take A Look At Me Now Vinyl-Boxset: amazon.com | amazon-uk | amazon-fr
Take A Look At Me Now CD-Boxset: amazon.com | amazon-uk | amazon-fr

Links:
Take A Look At Me Now - The Campaign (overview)

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