Phil Collins is finishing strong with a new box set of tracks he recorded with other artists coming next month and his first North American tour in 12 years set to kick off on October 5th at Ft. Lauderdale's BB&T Center. Coming on September 28th is the massive four-disc set, Plays Well With Others, collecting his various sessions and collaborations with such heavyweights as Robert Plant, Paul McCartney and Pete Townshend, Peter Gabriel, Earth, Wind, And Fire's Phillip Bailey, ABBA's Anni-Frid Lyngstad, Quincy Jones, Genesis, Argent, Tony Bennett, Howard Jones, Adam Ant, Bryan Adams, Joe Cocker, the Four Tops, Tears For Fears, the Bee Gees, Annie Lenox, Chaka Khan, George Martin, David Crosby, Eric Clapton, and George Harrison, among many others.
For Collins, working with the former Beatles came early for him — even before he joined Genesis, supplying uncredited percussion to George Harrison's massive 1970 three record set, All Things Must Pass, and then forming a power trio with Paul McCartney and Pete Townshend for the 1986 hidden “Macca” gem, “Angry.” Collins recalled the session to Rolling Stone, saying, “(My producer) Hugh Padgham was engineering that record. I guess Paul wanted to use some different people. I got the call, took my drums down and we did this song, which wasn’t one of his best songs, but Townshend was there playing guitar. That was great because when Pete Townshend smiles as he’s playing, you know you’re doing something right. Wix Wickens, who is now in Paul’s band as a keyboard player, he was at the session too. It was an interesting day. Linda McCartney was still around — she took a photograph. I got a lovely photo album sent to me from her. It was just after Live Aid. I remember that. We did that, and of course the George Harrison thing I documented quite accurately in my book.”
Collins was asked if there were any songs that didn't make the final cut on Plays Well With Others that he felt should have: “The only one that I wanted to put on was a Steve Winwood track, but he was going to do a live album and he just said that he’d rather keep it back.”
When pressed about recording a new album, Collins admitted, “I will have to. Someone said yesterday it’s been 16 years since a new album. I didn’t realize it was that long at all. I do have a little studio in my house. There is myself and my Mrs. and we have an office in the same room, so the busier the office is the less chance I get at going in there. I make notes. I’ve got lyrical ideas. I make notes and I keep them in a place that at some point I’ll get to them.”
Collins, who has been hobbled after back surgery and other maladies, relies on his teenage son Nic told handle the “Phil Collins-esque” drum parts in his live show. He said, “I’m very lucky to have got him playing drums. When he’s playing kit drums, he sounds a lot like me. He’d say he’s got a lot of Chad Smith and John Bonham in him, but he’s also got the attitude that I had. He brings the sound out of the drums. Everyone in the band is constantly surprised. They kind of look back and it sounds like I could be there playing. All that helps me from not having to turn around and say, 'Don’t do that. Do this.' He’s got it all. He gets it.”
When asked if his various surgeries and procedures have helped his ongoing health battles, Collins revealed, “Not particularly, no (laughs). But the health is OK. I’ve got this paralyzed foot. A back operation left me with a paralyzed right foot. I still have a bit of a problem playing drums. But in general, the health is good.”
Phil Collins, who remains seated during the entirety of the recent solo shows, explained how lingering back issues and nerve damage have rendered him unfit to fully anchor the band behind the kit: “Yeah, something happened. Y'know, it was on the (2007) Genesis tour, the reunion tour around the time of the drum duet into 'Los Endos' near the end of the show. The drum duet would get. . . pushing it, pushing it, as we used to — Chester (Thompson) and I; something happened one night and at that point it never came back. And I tried to use heavier sticks, I tried to use bigger cymbals — I just couldn't get any power with this hand. So, it's a little bit of a mystery as to why it happened. But, I mean, I'm 65, I've been playing since I'm five years old, and I just think that I've, y'know. . . I'd like to have the choice. But, y'know, I'm not going to lose sleep about it anymore.”