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Phil Collins Can't Turn Back The Years

Like Face Value before it, Both Sides could be characterized as a "divorce album," but marriage wasn't the only thing Phil Collins was leaving behind in 1993. He was two years removed from We Can't Dance, the 1991 album that turned out to be his last with Genesis, so at a personal and professional crossroads, Collins holed up in his home studio to write and record the songs that became Both Sides. Apart from the relatively chipper "We're Sons of Our Fathers" and "We Wait and We Wonder," a percolating number that feels like a retort to Peter Gabriel's Us, Both Sides is moody without being menacing; it never slides into the stark, skeletal territory that gave "In the Air Tonight" a sense of unease. Rather, Collins turns inward, reveling in a hushed melancholy that conveys heartbreak and loss while skirting the edge of desperation. Song titles tell the tale: there are "Both Sides of the Story," but you "Can't Turn Back the Years," and "Can't Find My Way" and you wind up as "Survivors." By abandoning his thirst for big pop hooks and swapping introspection for art rock, he winds up with an album that is quietly compelling: it lacks the big hits but it feels complete as an album.

Phil Collins Can't Turn Back The Years

He has not nearly finished, though. After all, he wanted to do some acting. He records a couple of songs, two of which become mega-hits, for a film called Buster in which he also plays the lead role. This does not fetch him another Oscar, though. By coincidence he begins to produce the albums for other artists, which means he spends a lot of time working with Eric Clapton and later on also with Robert Plant and Frida from Abba. Genesis also got ready to take another swing at the charts, but it turned into a kind of Invisible Touch. As things get hectic Phil decides that No Jacket is Required anymore and proves a trendsetter once more. For Live Aid he even flies backwards through time from Philadelphia to London in order to play London before the Philly gig - a real world record! More hits come together, and while he is on tour with Genesis again (they call it the Mama tour because it is dedicated to their mothers) he even manages, against all odds, to write another world-wide hit. Genesis record another album. The last song on it is called It's Gonna Get Better. Fans are excited.

Collins has wrestled with back problems in recent years which have limited his ability to play drums. In his recent solo performances, Collins sings from a chair for most of his set, while his son Nicholas plays drums.

"I prefer to concentrate on the positives, and say what a fine collection of songwriters they were, [not just] collectively, but individually as well," Hackett said of his former bandmates. "I can't really be anymore positive than that. I know we'd all love to turn the clock back."

Clive : "So Abarat is going to be an amazing book. And I say that not just as its creator but as somebody who has stood by and watched HarperCollins do... actually Joanna Cotler which is a subsidiary of HarperCollins, do something exceptional with this book. It's not just a question of what I have given in the way of text and illustrations, it's also a question of what they've chosen to do with the book - they've put it on the best possible paper, they've bound it in the best possible way, and everything about this book is gorgeous. Harper have always done well by me. Jane Johnson is an extraordinary editor, incredibly supportive. In his day, Eddie Bell was there allowing me to do just about anything I chose - he was a sweetheart. I have been blessed by the presence of both Jane and Eddie and I now add to that list Joanna Cotler. I think when you see the ARC you will get a taste - even though it's a softback and it's not on the final paper - you will still get a taste of how elaborate the structure is. It's going to be a book like no book you've ever seen before. I made a list of things at the very beginning of this process, not at the beginning of painting, but at the beginning of the book, or books, a list of the things that were really important influences: Terry Gilliam books, you know, Time Bandits; Fantasia; the Cirque du Soleil; Ray Harryhausen movies; A Midsummer Night's Dream. Things which I felt would in some way, sometimes obliquely, sometimes not so obliquely, play into what I was creating. And I think the joy for me, when I got the book, was I could see where all those were - I could see, I could smell Wizard of Oz around the book and Cirque Du Soleil and Fantasia. The book has this kind of over-brimming thing going on in it like Fantasia has. Fantasia is like watching a bunch of imagination catch fire and because I've been working for such a long time on Abarat some of the paintings are now five years old, I've been creating this slowly and been putting a certain kind of off-beat side of my nature into these pictures."

Clive : "That's completely right, and that's another process entirely and one that, particularly because it's Disney, that I have much less control over than I would have under other circumstances - the Disney vision is very particular and they're going to take this and run with it and I don't know if even they know where that race is going to end. I know that they want to take the first two books as the subject of the first movie and I think that makes sense because there are certain narrative arcs which actually complete themselves within the first two books so there's a sense of some narrative satisfaction to be had - you know, a couple of minor villains die. You got to have a sense of 'Hey, we've got rid of a few of these guys, got to throw some of these guys to the lions'. So I think they're right to take the first two books, because I want this movie to be - you know what Peter Jackson did with the Lord Of The Rings, if it could be that, or even a part of that, then that would be fantastic... "But I'm sort of not thinking about that a lot and one of the things I am actually doing is making a much clearer demarcation in my head about what I can do in book form and what I can do in movie form. Partly because I've got stung so badly and it hurts when you care deeply about something and it doesn't turn out the way you want it and I want Damnation Game to have the feel and the smell of the book but I'm not going to break my heart if it doesn't - the book's still there, no-body's taking the book away and I've got to take care of my feelings. You two actually remarked to me in a note about being concerned about some of the stuff that came out at the end of Doug's book and it was very sweet of you to observe that and no question that as I come up to 50 where I put my care and love and devotion - I can't spread it too thinly, because if I do I'm not going to satisfy anybody. I want to make the third book of the Art the best book I can make it, I want to make the second Galilee book the best book I can make it, I want to make the next 3 Abarat books the best books I can make them plus a bunch of books I haven't even talked about! And I'm saying well, I'm 50 now. So now I have to kind of pace myself a little." 041b061a72


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