Phil Collins

Phil Collins Biography

This isn't a comeback in any traditional sense. But, for his millions of fans worldwide, it is bound to be viewed as a hugely welcome, long-awaited return to a territory few artists understand better or have mastered with greater success. Phil Collins has been pursuing other avenues of late, both with his acclaimed Big Band project and as the Oscar, Golden Globe, and Grammy Award-winning writer of music for Disney's Tarzan. But now, with his new Atlantic solo album, "TESTIFY" - his first in six years - he places himself firmly within the realm of grown-up pop once again. And, indisputably, he is sounding better than ever. If you’re in the market for flawless compositions, combined with lyrics suffused with adult emotions, then look no further. Phil is - and always has been - your man.

There was a time, of course, when Phil was ubiquitous and inescapable - one of the dominant musical presences across the entire planet. Such validation was wonderful, in many ways. And while top-charting songs like "In The Air Tonight," "Against All Odds," and "Another Day In Paradise" ably represented the more serious side of Phil’s work, such smashes as "Sussudio," "You Can’t Hurry Love," and "Two Hearts" helped establish a sunny, upbeat, and light-hearted public persona - one that proved hard to dilute. As a result, he came to feel that some of his listeners only wanted a certain kind of Phil ("the cheeky chappie one," as he puts it), which was ultimately frustrating. Not even titling his 1989 album "...BUT SERIOUSLY" quite did the trick. "The thing is that I don’t like pretending to be something I’m not," he says. An ever-cheeky, perma-grinning Phil? "It’s just not me, I’m afraid, and not all the time anyway."

During the 1990s, Phil began effecting change. For a start, he gradually scaled down the parallel acting career that had begun in 1964 when, aged 14, he played the Artful Dodger in a West End production of Oliver!, and which peaked in 1988 with his lead performance in the hit British film Buster, followed by the underrated Australian film Frauds. Instead, he concentrated on developing and extending his musical range. His 1993 album, "BOTH SIDES," was perhaps the ultimate one-man effort, with Collins not only writing, singing, and producing all the tracks, but also playing all the instruments. It remains one of his personal favorites. Three years later, not so surprisingly, he announced his decision to leave the rock band Genesis after a 26-year association, and to concentrate fully on solo work. His achievements since then speak for themselves.

But what with big band recording and touring, not to mention blockbuster soundtrack-writing, it’s been quite some time since we’ve been treated to a "proper" Phil Collins solo album. His last studio venture, 1996’s "DANCE INTO THE LIGHT," was less intimate and reflective than previous recordings, with more of a group dynamic. As such, it reflected the specific point he had reached on what was and continues to be quite some personal and musical journey. Emotionally speaking, he has left one marriage and family situation and has embarked upon another. In purely geographic terms, he has left Britain for Switzerland, where he now lives happily with wife Orianne and baby son Nicholas. In musical terms, though, it now seems that the road has led back home.

"The reason I’m doing music at all is down to three things - Motown, The Beatles, and the Stax/Atlantic records," he reflects. "I remember how meticulously I tried to recreate the feeling of those records. But also, I remember [e.g. "You Can't Hurry Love"] what a noose my success at that became. It was like, "We just want happy from Phil, or nice ballads. We don’t want serious stuff - we can go to Elvis Costello or someone else for that."

"Now, I love my old hits, and any one of my shows would be flatter without their inclusion, but you get to a point where you want to shout - ‘I can do more than just this, you know!’’’ No wonder, then, that he changed tack so dramatically. The big band stuff gave him the buzz of working live with such peers and, yes, fans as Quincy Jones and Tony Bennett, and of challenging purist perceptions by his sheer mastery of this new discipline. It’s an area he feels sure he will return to at some point in the future.

Meanwhile, his film scoring work continues to play a major role in his musical life. Collins could hardly have made a more auspicious debut than with Tarzan: it resulted not only in that clutch of statuettes, but also a huge hit single with "You’ll Be In My Heart." He is following up that triumph with work on two other, yet-to-be-seen animated projects for Disney - Tarzan 2, and Brother Bear. There is also the possibility that he will be helping to bring Tarzan to the stage as a Lion King-style show. "If you’d have said to me ten years ago, 'You know, you ought to think about a musical!’, I’d have told you, 'Listen, I was in Oliver! years ago. Been there, done that, don’t need to do it again.’ But then you do something like Tarzan, which is story-telling cinema, and it no longer seems like such a strange idea. Now, if anybody is going to do Tarzan music, I want it to be me. It’s become my baby."

All of which brings us back to the present. Phil admits that he was initially reluctant to begin work on a new solo project, and for one very good reason: "For the past quarter century, a pattern had been established - make a record and then commit the next two years of your life to performing it live around the world. Well, I don’t want to do that any more. I have a wife, a new son, and I want to spend time at home with them and to be there for all my kids, not drag them from continent to continent in my wake."

Music-making is in his blood, however. So Phil submitted to the inevitable and allowed the songs that now comprise "TESTIFY" to come forth. And, as you’ll hear, they’re songs that could have been written by no one else. Defined by Collins’s signature voice and unmistakable musical imprint, the album is the sound of a man newly comfortable with himself, and with the world he has shaped around him. "You can try to court approval by making an album self-consciously influenced by this or that fashion - God knows, artists older than me have done it! But, to me, it’s just a case of mutton dressing up as lamb. If you aren’t fully at ease yourself, your fans won’t like it, no one is convinced... So, I ended up doing exactly what I wanted."

Happily, that means that Phil is now in a position to give his vast audience exactly what they have been wanting, too, and for quite a long time - another classic Phil Collins album. And once again, he has turned personal and intimate moments into a real-life soundtrack for countless lives. All the songs but one were penned by Phil, the sole cover being his version of Billy Nicholls’s "Can’t Stop Loving You" (originally recorded by Leo Sayer in 1978). Written in Switzerland and America, the album is highlighted by such tracks as "Don’t Get Me Started," "Testify," "Driving Me

Crazy," and "The Least You Can Do" (co-written by guitarist Daryl Stuermer). Recorded in Europe and the U.S.A., "TESTIFY" was produced by Rob Cavallo, who

collaborated with Phil on Tarzan, and has also earned acclaim for his work with the likes of Green Day, Goo Goo Dolls, and Alanis Morissette.

The career of Phil Collins is one which, by any measure, stands among the most prolific, creative, and impressive in the history of modern music. It is a career which really has been many careers - drummer, singer, composer, producer - from art rock beginnings to huge pop stardom, from big band leader to soundtrack master. It has been an exceptional musical life spanning over three decades, some 100 million solo albums sold (250 million if you count his work with Genesis), seven Grammy Awards, and an enviable string of hits.

But, above all, it has been a career driven by the sheer joy of making music. In June of this year, he served as "house drummer" for the spectacular Queen’s Jubilee concert at Buckingham Palace - where he backed everyone from Ozzy Osbourne to longtime mate Eric Clapton. Asked about taking on such a task, Phil said, with typical understatement, "Behind the drums is where I live, although I do like to visit other places." Needless to say, these visits have led Phil from one achievement to another. And "TESTIFY" is the latest remarkable testament to that fact. scott huang

Phil Collins Bio from Discogs

British rock / pop musician, songwriter and actor, born 30 January 1951 in Chiswick, London, England, UK. Inducted into Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2003.

Best known as a member of Genesis, whom he joined in 1970 as a drummer, then becoming the lead vocalist in 1975 after the departure of Peter Gabriel.

He began a solo career in 1981, while remaining a member of Genesis.


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