Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Phil Collins 10: Testify

Maybe the Tarzan money was enough to convince a label to keep financing Phil Collins albums. That’s the only reason we can think of to justify the existence of Testify, given the times. Once again he built the album up from his own demos, using session guys to fill in the guitars and bass.
“Wake Up Call” is catchy, but “Come With Me” has a hook based on Brahms’ Lullaby—not the mood you want for the second track. The title track is a late-‘80s throwback with an altogether unconvincing lyric, not helped by the gospel chorus. The retro sound returns on “Don’t Get Me Started”, another in a line of ill-advised social commentary statements. “Swing Low” is also fairly generic, though it does refer to a warning of “something coming in the air tonight”, but somehow the ordinariness of “It’s Not Too Late” actually works.
A familiar drum machine drives most of “This Love This Heart”, which also uses its dynamics to rise out of the mire, but “Driving Me Crazy” is an apt title for a track loaded on caffeinated synths. Longtime collaborator Daryl Steurmer finally turns up on “The Least You Can Do”, but so do some Uilleann pipes for some reason. “Can’t Stop Loving You” is a modern remake of an old Leo Sayer hit, and is easily mistaken for a Collins original. “Thru My Eyes” is fairly harmless, with its canned horns and such, and “You Touch My Heart” could almost be another lullaby, but it’s got nice harmonies right out of “True Colors”.
Truth be told, any of the songs on Testify could be a hit for someone else, certainly someone just concerned with having hits. Apparently many of the songs were inspired by his new bride and their child, which is fine, but a whole album full of tunes like these is just too much. (This was the most recent album of original songs, as opposed to covers, to be expanded in his 2016 reissue campaign, and the Additional Testimony bonus disc (heh) offered a grab bag of B-sides, live versions, and demos.)

Phil Collins Testify (2002)—2
2016 “Take A Look At Me Now” edition: same as 2002, plus 10 extra tracks

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