Since Phil Collins' solo writing for the album Duke in 1980 Genesis drummer and vocalist's solo career had been almost inevitable. The album's Please Don't Ask and Misunderstanding were the blueprints to the woeful rock ballads which would dominate his first few albums, fuelled mostly by his evidently very painful separation and divorce from Mrs Collins.
In the Air Tonight (written in 1979) was a rather unusual affair however with a creepy haunting vocal over a creepy haunting drum machine (also used on Duke) and keyboard backing before famously, and appropriately, breaking into a massive crashing drum over half way through, carrying it all along nicely to the end. While it's hard to believe that a line like "If you told me you were drowning, I would not lend a hand" was aimed at his ex wife, it's an altogether powerful affair, certainly his most famous and perhaps his best song to date.
The ensuing debut album Face Value remains one of my 'guilty pleasures' with sloppy ballads like This Must Be Love and If Leaving me is Easy (that divorce again) fitting in nicely with the blues-y The Roof Is Leaking (B side to In the Air), a re-working of Behind the Lines from Duke and even a brave cover of The Beatles' (read John Lennon's..) Tomorrow Never Knows.
Just for a change here's the rare demo version of In the Air ....oh Lord, ...oh lord.
In the Air Tonight on Chart Stats