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#ThrowbackThursday: “Against All Odds (Take A Look A Me Now)” By Phil Collins

Phil Collins “Against All Odds (Take A Look At Me Now)” Atlantic Records

By Craig Clizbe 

2016 has been a big year for many fans of British superstar Phil Collins. The multiple Grammy Award and Academy Award winning singer/songwriter/producer and Warner Music Group’s (Collins’ label, Atlantic’s Parent Company) retro catalogue distributor, Rhino Records spent the year working on his massively popular “Take A Look At Me Now” Re-Issue Campaign. This campaign, which began in January celebrated Collins’ incomparable career that boasts of over 100 million albums sold worldwide, with the re-releases of deluxe re-mastered editions of his eight Atlantic Records’ solo albums. This retrospective event began with the re-release of his first solo album Face Value from 1981 and his fifth solo album, Both Sides from 1993. These were then quickly followed by the re-releases of 1982’s Hello, I Must Be Going and 1996’s Dance Into The Light in February, and then 1985’s No Jacket Required and 2002’s Testify came in April. Finally re-releases of 1989’s ….But Seriously and 2010’s Going Back (Dubbed The Essential Going Back) came in June.




Entirely compiled by Collins himself, his idea for the “Take A Look At Me Now” concept was to examine how his songs have evolved over time, with the majority of the additional content throughout the series focused on live versions of the tracks.

This process was meant to then create a musical discussion, by contrasting the original studio versions of the material with later performances. The series demonstrates how Collins’ songs take on a life of their own once they’re “freed from the confines of the studio.”

As if that wasn’t enough, the deluxe versions of the albums released in the series were also completed with carefully selected demos and b-sides. Collins commented on this process in a statement provided to us by Rhino Records.

“I’ve always been quite proud of my demos and have often made them available as b-sides, but with a few exceptions, I have avoided including those on these collections,” says Collins. “Instead, I’ve focused on how nicely the songs developed when played on stage, rather than showing how they originated.”

With that said we could see that Phil Collins is having a great time looking back at his life and career. This is even more evident with the upcoming October 25th release of his first ever memoir, Not Dead Yet; The Memoir. The book promises to explore the story of how this longtime Genesis drummer/singer/songwriter transformed into a superstar both as a bandleader and solo Pop icon. It does this while also diving into his personal life. It discusses his “three failed marriages, his alcoholism and his ill health issues.



Not Dead Yet will have a have an unofficial companion soundtrack, The Singles, which is available worldwide tomorrow. (October 14, 2016) The 3-CD Deluxe Edition helps conclude the “Take A Look At Me Now” Campaign as it compiles All of Phil’s 45 His Hit Singles for the first time in one collection. It includes seven #1s and seven top 10 hits.

Phil Collins "The Singles" Phil Collins ltd/Rhino Records/Atlantic Records

Phil Collins “The Singles” Phil Collins ltd/Rhino Records/Atlantic Records

Therefore as Phil Collins asks us to “Take A Look”, I thought I would use this #TBT as an opportunity to tell the story behind the song that inspired the campaign, “Against All Odds (Take A Look At Me Now).”

The track is undeniably one of the definitive compositions of Collins’ career, but you won’t find it on any of his original eight solo albums. It was released as the title track to the 1984 Jeff Bridges and Rachel Ward romantic thriller Against All Odds, from Columbia Pictures. The director of the film, Taylor Hackford, (An Officer A Gentleman, Devil’s Advocate, Proof Of Life, Ray,) specifically sought out Phil Collins to contribute to the film’s music. This happened after Collins’ American record label, Atlantic Records signed on to release the soundtrack. Phil was one of many names Hackford was given access to. After seeing his name on a list, Taylor was off and running!

To make Phil’s involvement official, Hackford had to fly to Chicago in 1983 while Collins was on tour with his band Genesis. At that time Collins was in a unique position as a musician. He had been successful in replacing Peter Gabriel as the lead vocalist of Genesis in 1976. However in the 1980s things changed dramatically for Collins and the other members of the band.

He continued his duties as lead singer for Genesis, but since the 1981 release of his debut solo album, Face Value, Collins began to become more and more in demand as a solo performer while simultaneously working with the band. Therefore booking him for the soundtrack was no easy task. Genesis was touring supporting their twelfth album, (1983’s Genesis) and Phil Collins was also coming off of his second solo album (1982’s Hello, I Must Be Going) But Hackford was able to convince Phil to jump on board after showing him a rough cut of the film in his hotel room that night after a concert.

The song that eventually became “Against All Odds (Take A Look At Me Now)” was originally titled “How Can You Just Sit There”, and came from the recording sessions for Face Value. In fact a demo version of the track was later included in the 2016 Re-Matsered Re-release of Face Value. The tune was taken and redesigned with some lyrical content changed to reflect events in the film. As Taylor Hackford oversaw this process, it still remained one of Phil Collins’ most personal offerings as a solo artist.

In a 2007 Chicago public radio show This American Life “Break Up”, it was revealed that Phil was inspired to write the song shortly after the breakup between him and his first wife. In the interview he says that the divorce transformed him from “being a musician into also being a lyricist.” That personal contribution helped “Against All Odds (Take A Look At Me Now)” stand out among other artists on the soundtrack like Big Country, Stevie Nicks, and Phil’s Genesis band mates, past and present, Peter Gabriel and Mike Rutherford. The film Against All Odds was released in March of 1984, and is still fondly remembered because of Phil’s theme song. In fact Allmusic’s Heather Phares claimed that the movie is best remembered primarily for the inclusion of Collins’ “classic theme song”.

This makes sense because at the time It helped Phil’s solo career skyrocket, becoming bigger than the film itself. It peaked at #2 on the UK Pop Charts, and became Phil’s first American #1 hit. He also received critical acclaim, becoming the first member of Genesis to win a Grammy Award for Best Pop Vocal Performance Male, as well receiving his first Golden Globe and Academy Award nominations all throughout the year of 1985.

Phil’s status as a Pop superstar was then solidified, making him hotter than ever. From that point on, he would continue to have massive success as a solo artist, eventually even allowing him to take Genesis to new heights with the band’s highest selling album the following year, 1986’s Invincible Touch.

The impact of the song’s legacy would eventually go beyond Phil Collins himself. Mariah Carey later recorded the song twice in a short time period. A solo version was included on her seventh studio album, Rainbow in 1999, and released as a single in June of 2000. She then would help give the single a promotional boost when she recorded a duet version with the British boy band, Westlife in September of 2000. That version was included on Westlife’s second album, Coast To Coast,

So as Phil Collins continues to say “Take A Look At Me Now” with re-mastered albums, and memoirs, we give you the song that was a turning point for him both personally and professionally, “Against All Odds (Take A Look At Me Now)” enjoy!

Phil Collins 

“Against All Odds (Take A Look At Me Now)”

From Against All Odds Soundtrack

Atlantic Records

Against All Odds (1984 Trailer)
Columbia Pictures

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