Saturday, 28 August 2010

Take a look at me now

Phil Collins came of age to the sound of American soul music. As a teenager in London, he collected seven-inch singles on the Motown, Stax and Atlantic labels.

And, in later years, as he became one of British pop’s most successful exports and an unlikely hero to America’s R&B community, he retained an affinity with soul, going on to conquer the charts with solo renditions of You Can’t Hurry Love and A Groovy Kind Of Love.

But, earlier this year, when the chance arose to perform his favourite tracks live in New York with an 18-piece band, even Collins almost succumbed to stage fright.

‘Numbers like Dancing In The Street are among the greatest singles ever made, but doing them live was terrifying,’ he admits.

‘I kept forgetting the words. I ended up having to use a little lyric book.’

Chatting in London’s Air Studios, Collins - who has sold 250 million albums and won eight Grammys plus an Oscar - is on a roll as he enthuses about the merits of Motown.

He has reason to feel excited, too. As the drummer and singer in Genesis, he ended 2007’s Turn It On Again tour in discomfort after a chronic spinal ailment left him unable to play drums: he took a break and spent time with his two young sons in Switzerland.

But his love of soul prompted a return to action, and his new solo album - his first in eight years - pays tribute to the songs of his youth.

‘As far as I was concerned, I’d retired,’ says Phil. ‘I just wanted to be with my kids.’

Instead, Collins, 59, found himself in a studio with three members of Motown session band The Funk Brothers - bassist Bob Babbitt and guitarists Eddie Willis and Ray Monette - working on Going Back, which revisits standards such as Martha Reeves’s Heatwave and Stevie Wonder’s Uptight (Everything’s Alright).

Friday, 27 August 2010

"Follow me and I'll follow you"

Philip David Charles "Phil" Collins, LVO (born 30 January 1951) is an English singer-songwriter, drummer, keyboardist and actor best known as a drummer and vocalist for English progressive rock group Genesis and as a solo artist.

Collins sang the lead vocals on several chart hits in the United Kingdom and the United States between 1978 and 1994, either as a solo artist or with Genesis. His singles, often dealing with lost love, ranged from the drum-heavy "In the Air Tonight", to the dance pop of "Sussudio", to the political statements of his most successful song, "Another Day in Paradise". His international popularity transformed Genesis from a progressive rock group to a regular on the pop charts and an early MTV mainstay.

Collins's professional music career began as a drummer, first with obscure rock group Flaming Youth and then more famously with Genesis. In Genesis, Collins originally supplied backing vocals for front man Peter Gabriel, singing lead on only two songs: "For Absent Friends" from 1971's Nursery Cryme album and "More Fool Me" from Selling England by the Pound, which was released in 1973. Following Gabriel's departure in 1975, Collins became the group's lead singer. As the decade closed, Genesis's first international hit, "Follow You, Follow Me", demonstrated a drastic change from the band's early years.

His concurrent solo career, heavily influenced by his personal life, brought both him and Genesis commercial success. According to Atlantic Records, Collins's total worldwide sales as a solo artist, as of 2002, were 150 million. He has won seven Grammy Awards, an Academy Award, and two Golden Globes for his solo work. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of Genesis in 2010.

Collins is one of only three recording artists (along with Paul McCartney and Michael Jackson) who have sold over 100 million albums worldwide both as solo artists and (separately) as principal members of a band. According to Billboard, when his work with Genesis, his work with other artists, as well as his solo career is totalled, Collins has the most top 40 hits on the Billboard charts for the 1980s.