Annoyingly for Phil Collins, his debut solo single, In The Air Tonight, peaked at #2 in the UK charts in February 1981 (32 years ago as I write!), and was kept off the top spot by John Lennon with Woman. At least he wasn't kept off the top spot by Joe Dolce's Shaddap Your Face, which was exactly what happened to Ultravox in the same month!
When Collins performed his song on Top Of The Pops, a can of paint could be seen on his piano. This was to highlight the fact that his ex-wife, Andrea Bertorelli, had had an affair with a decorator, and the lyrics in the song refer to the affair; "I was there and I saw what you did, saw it with my own two eyes".
In The Air Tonight was actually written in 1979 when Collins divorced his wife. It featured on his debut solo album, Face Value, which went on to achieve 5 x Platinum sales in the UK.
No review of this song can be complete without mentioning that drum sequence, known as the "magic break". Much of the track features not an awful lot happening under Collin's vocals, but it's a real case of less is more and this gives the song an incredible ambience. The quietness of the first three minutes make that drum part sound even more powerful, and I'm going to use the old cliche that it makes the hair at the back of your neck stand on end, because it truly does.
The track also featured in a very memorable 2007 advert for Cadbury's Dairy Milk, where a gorilla (not a real one, obviously) played that drum part.
This upbeat song was originally a #3 hit in the UK for The Supremes in 1966. This cover which featured on the Phil Collins album "Hello, I Must be Going", faired even better, reaching #2 for two weeks in the UK singles charts from 15th January 1983. It was also a #1 in Ireland and Holland.
Interestingly, this was also the first track on the very first Now That's What I Call Music album which was also released in 1983. Mr Collins had no less than 14 Top 20 hits during the 80's.
I know it's a cliche to say this, but they really don't make 'em like this any more. There is no official video available, but I have included this wonderful performance by Phil Collins at Live Aid in 1985 - these were his mullet days! Released in early 1984, the soundtrack to the movie of the same name reached #2 here in the UK and also topped the Billboard Hot 100 in the U.S.