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  • When singer, songwriter Phil Collins first played his song “In The Air Tonight,” Atlantic Records chieftain Ahmet Ertegun, had some suggestions that ultimately gave birth to a drum line heard throughout the 1980s.

    Truth be told, it even holds up today and has been captured on Eagle Rock Entertainment’s double DVD set, Phil Collins Live At Montreux 2004.

    The double DVD is just sumptuous, containing all of the singer’s signature material, as well as some of his more evocative songs, such as “Dance Into The Light,” “Two Hearts” and my personal favorites, “I Missed Again” and “Against All Odds.”

    Collins’ performance of his song “Another Day In Paradise” (from 1989) is delivered brilliantly; the original version of the song featured David Crosby, of all people, on vocals.

    But the story behind his iconic song is a classic. “Ahmet came down to the final mix in New York. The drums didn’t come in until the end, but Ahmet didn’t know that at this point, because on the demo the drums hadn’t come in at all,” says Collins.

    “It was only drum machine all the way. And he was saying, ‘Where’s the down beat, where’s the backbeat?’ I said, ‘The drums come in, in a minute.’

    “‘Yeah, you know that, and I know that, but the kids don’t know that; you’ve got to put the drums on earlier,'” said Collins recounting the late music master’s advice.

    “So we added some drums to the mix and put it out as a single,” the former drummer and vocalist for British progressive rock group Genesis said.

    The so-called drum crash was added three-quarters of the way into the song, and set the template for drummers for the rest of the ’80s.

    Say what you will about Collins, but his music was the music of the ‘80s. From the very first time “Air” hit the airwaves, it was a tremendous composition, written about the dissolution of the singer’s first marriage.

    The track even aired on the debut of TV’s soon-to-be-iconic “Miami Vice.”

    Collins first gained recognition through his work with the jazz group Brand X. His work with the legendary band Genesis was just outstanding as well and, when original singer Peter Gabriel left the band, Collins stepped up and, amazingly, even sounded like Gabriel.

    This set is spot-on excellent, featuring a band that includes bassist Leland Sklar, guitarist Daryl Stuermer and drummer Chester Thompson, who first rose to prominence as a member of the group Weather Report.

    Thompson is just superb and, believe or not, Collins matches him beat-for-beat when the two perform together. Just an excellent set.

    Double Dealing on the Charity Circuit

    What NY-based publicist was hired for a charity event next month in Long Island, at a much reduced fee and then summarily fired three weeks later, after he had already delivered some sturdy ink for the event? He tells us he was even lied to about a down-payment that was supposed to have been wire-transferred into his account. Legal proceedings are pending. Sad.

    Names in the News

    Joel Diamond, Rebecca Holden, Mark Bego, Raspin, Beth Wernick, Adrian Niles, Peter Abraham, Tom & Lisa Cuddy, Patrick McMullen, Marion Curtis, James Edstrom, Chris Gilman, Karissa Hearn, Marcus Linail, Steve Walter, Paul Resta, Keith Girard, Tom Silverman, Chip.