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Take A Look At Me Now
Like most long-term fans, I was made up to see that Phil was releasing his back catalogue in re-mastered form with the aid of Nick Davis. I'd always been quite proud of the fact that Phil had held off for so long when every band and their dog had re-issued their albums (in the case of some artists, more than once). The Take A Look At Me Now campaign seemed legitimate enough and, of course, there was the added temptation of a disc's worth of extra tracks.

Never one to pass up a limited edition box set, I plumped for the release that featured both Face Value and Both Sides.

Now, I see that some have criticised the liner notes for being a cut-and-paste job but I think Phil's done this for those people who may only buy one CD. Fair enough and he does leave room to talk about the respective album and its songs. As for the notes themselves, they are typically self-effacing and that's a quality I've always liked about the man.

Next up, then, is the music. Neither album sounded bad to begin with - perhaps one of the reasons why it's taken so long for him to invest in a project like this - so the improvements to the sound are largely subtle. They do sound better but not as overtly as the Genesis albums that Nick worked on. All in all, I would say that any fan of Phil's work would do well by these re-releases.

If only I could be as complimentary about the bonus material. Now, I only have these two albums to go off - I'll be getting the rest of them at some point because, Testify aside, I love them all - but it's quite clear that Phil's renowned quality control did not extend beyond picking the songs to be included on the second disc. Whoever was responsible for sourcing the material should be shot. Why? Because it's quite clear that these are, for the most part, MP3s (I'm not sure about And So To F and The Roof Is Leaking). When you consider that some of this stuff is available in torrent form on the online trading sites and other tunes are available as B-sides then there is no excuse for this.

I hope that this has been rectified for the rest of the releases but I have my doubts. I would like to think that when Phil becomes aware of this - because I find it hard to believe he knew that this had happened - this stuff can somehow be re-released to us in a higher quality. In the meantime, at least the albums themselves sound stellar. Just look at the bonus disc as being a bunch of extras that you might listen to once but, in this quality, never again.

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