By Raymond Ward, Chicago Crusader
A LIFE IN MUSIC:
“Some would say I’ve lived a charmed life. I’ve done what I wanted for most of it, and got paid well for doing something I’d have done for nothing. Playing the drums. During that time I’ve played with most of my heroes, most have become close friends. Over these 4 CD’s you’ll find a mere smattering of those moments. I thank the artists for letting me put this CD together, no easy task!”
So says Phil Collins regarding his new musical release “Plays Well With Others.”
He has been a member of one of Britain’s most significant rock bands and one of the world’s biggest male solo stars, but Phil Collins was always eager to collaborate with an eclectic range of artists. Spanning drums, vocals, production, songwriting, and more Phil Collins’ many talents have been employed by some of his biggest musical heroes including: Tony Bennett, Paul McCartney, Quincy Jones, Lil’ Kim, Brian Eno and Eric Clapton.
Now, Phil Collins has compiled a 59-track collection of his collaborative highlights in the shape of “PLAYS WELL WITH OTHERS.” The compilation will be released as a 4-CD boxed set and as a digital download on September 28. The following week, Collins will begin his “Not Dead Yet, Live! tour on October 5, his first major North American tour in 12 years.
It’s a boxed set about the byways of a career that stretches from the ersatz psychedelia of Flaming Youth through the legendary 70s recordings with Brand X, Brian Eno, Robert Fripp and John Cale and into the superstar era of the 80s, when Collins became the go-to-man for legends in need of a fresh lease on life. It extends into the years when he had the status to do whatever he wanted. Form a big band with Quincy Jones conducting and Tony Bennett singing? Why the hell not!
The title comes from a joke gift that happened to contain a profound truth. Chester Thompson, the man who became Genesis’s day-to-day drummer once Collins had become the front man, arranged to have a special birthday present made for him. It wasn’t a hugely expensive gift – just a t-shirt. On the front, Thompson had a slogan printed to reflect his bandmate’s willingness to take his drums along to pretty much any session, his pleasure in working as a producer to help musicians he respected make records they wanted, “Plays well with others.”
Collins started branching out in the mid-70s to delve into parts of his musical taste that didn’t fit with Genesis’s sound. The band’s producer John Anthony recognized Collins as a musician with the appetite and ability to adapt to different musical environments. “He was producing all kinds of records and he would use me because he loves good drumming,” remembers Collins. “We used to go into Trident Studios at midnight just for the fun of playing, and go home at six or seven in the morning. I enjoyed the possibility of just playing and occasionally being paid for it, and occasionally not. It wasn’t for money, it was just for the hell of playing.”