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Invisible Touch: The 2007 Remaster

Collins, Rutherford & Banks

During my last trip out in the GTO, I realized that it’s been months since I actually changed the CDs in the car’s 6-disc changer deck. As if to prove the point, when I cycled through the discs to see what was what, I found half of the catalog was still left over from last October’s road trip to Michigan. I was feeling like some new tunes, so when I got home I ejected everything and went into the house to whip up some new mixes.

I don’t know if this ever happens to you, but when I get started on one of these personal projects, one thing leads to another and then I find myself completely sidetracked and into something else. On this particular day, I was assembling a disc of my favorite latter-day Genesis tracks when I realized I wanted more of the “B-side” stuff from the Invisible Touch album, specifically “Domino,” “The Brazilian” and the full album cut of “Tonight, Tonight, Tonight.” It was also right about this time that I realized the tracks from my old CD of Invisible Touch sounded like garbage compared to the remastered tracks I was pulling off the Turn It On Again: The Hits album.

So that got me wondering, is there a remastered version of Invisible Touch out there? I’d sure like to have it.

Off to the Internet I went, and learned that only just last year, Genesis’ entire catalog from 1976 on was digitally remastered and re-released in dual-format CD & DVD packages. Awesome. But I really just want the songs from Invisible Touch as a start, so I went over to iTunes to buy and download them.

But of course, there was a problem.

I learned that my favorite song from Invisible Touch, “Tonight, Tonight, Tonight,” was supplied only as the 4-minute and 28-second radio edit if you bought the downloadable copy of the album. The only way to get the remastered edition of the song’s full album cut (clocking in at 8:53) was to buy the physical CD on Rhino Records’ label. Since the album cut of “Tonight, Tonight, Tonight” is vastly superior, and perhaps the biggest reason for my wanting the remastered album, I decided to go retail.

Time for the next problem. None of the stores in the area carried the remastered Invisible Touch. I searched Best Buy, Circuit City, FYE, all of the usual dumps where one has to buy music now, before I remembered some sage advice given to me by my music aficionado friend Pooch: Borders bookstores usually have a very respectable catalog of music on hand. Finally, success — Borders had the album in stock. So tonight, I went and picked it up.

And for a blog post ostensibly about the remastered edition of Invisible Touch, it certainly has taken me long enough to actually get to the point where I talk about the album. Oh well.

In short, the remaster is everything I had hoped for. Just like the tracks on Turn It On Again: The Hits, each of the eight songs have been given a new lease on life. They sound strong and full, and are far more richly defined than their counterparts on the old Atlantic label release. The new mixes have also brought the guitar and bass up from the depths of the synthesized mish-mash, and in some cases I find myself actually hearing the guitar for the first time (like during the last two minutes of “The Brazilian”). The percussion pounds with great force when it needs to, with the lower frequencies actually standing out for a change.

And here again is “Tonight, Tonight, Tonight” in all of its nearly-nine minute glory, reminding me again why the radio edit is such a shadow of the album cut’s greatness. The half-length edit seems downright vapid by comparison, as it almost completely fails to capture the haunting mood of the full-length track. Must have something to do with that weird and wonderful bridge. More importantly, my favorite part of the song — between 6:00 and 7:00, where the bass line is at its most ominous, and the percussion starts to get creative — is completely absent from the radio edit. I’ve been listening to the radio cut for too long, apparently, because I’d forgotten how good this song is. (Incidentally, it wasn’t until recently that I learned the song is about scoring a cocaine fix.)

Speaking of “Tonight, Tonight, Tonight,” this is one of the very first songs I remember actually liking as a kid. When I was young, before the age of six, I never paid attention to music at all. Just didn’t care. But in ’86 I gained a taste for several hits of the day, including Pseudo Echo’s cover of “Funky Town,” Billy Joel’s “Modern Woman,” and “Tonight, Tonight, Tonight.” I remember hearing the latter on the radio one night and being mesmerized by it. And does anyone else remember that Michelob beer used it in their ads that year? Apparently they also used Phil Collins’ “In The Air Tonight”; check out this vintage commercial that has a real Miami Vice look going on. (Or is that just an ’80s look?)

So far, I have found only one flaw with the remastered edition of Invisible Touch. Apparently all of the songs were also remixed for 5.1 surround sound, supplied on the accompanying DVD. I think, however, that some of the 5.1 mix made its way into the two-channel stereo mix on the audio CD, perhaps accidentally. In the synth-heavy instrumental track “The Brazilian,” there’s a point where some metallic percussion notes sound for a few bars, and it sounds to me like they’re trying to make the sound pan around you 360 degrees in a clockwise fashion. Except that on the 2.0 audio mix there are no rear speakers, so the percussion drops almost completely out for a few seconds during the pan.

It’s rather jarring, considering I’m a percussion guy, have been listening to those notes for years (on the old Atlantic release) and can hear them in my head every time the song plays. Not hearing them here is like watching a car hit a wall at 80 MPH and not hearing any sound. I can’t imagine that this was done intentionally, but then, I’ve been surprised before. With a little audio post-production tomfoolery, I could likely restore those notes from my original copy of the song, but that’s a bit more ambitious than I care to be right now.

Overall, I’m exceedingly happy with the purchase of the remastered album. Of course, since Invisible Touch is one of my favorite albums of the ’80s, with almost every second of every song committed to memory, if there were more flaws, they would immediately stand out. The fact that none do is a testament to the quality treatment these songs have received. On the whole, this remastering is a job well done. And I haven’t even taken a look at the included DVD yet, with its 5.1 surround mixes of all the tracks and other goodies.

As an aside, I scored a Borders “15% off” coupon for taking a phone survey, so I’m going to use it to buy the remastered re-release of Genesis, the group’s 1983 album — containing such well-known tracks as “That’s All,” “Mama” and…yes, even “Illegal Alien.” (Can you believe the latter was actually a single? Insane.)