Tuesday, October 4, 2022

Phil Collins 11: Brother Bear

Then again, maybe Testify was indeed a sop given to Phil Collins solely to ensure he’d write another soundtrack to a Disney film about anthropomorphic animals designed to terrify children. Brother Bear doesn’t seem to have endured at all like Tarzan has, but it’s clear Phil put in a lot of effort.

Once again Mark Mancina assisted with the score, and his contributions are heard on the latter half of the album, along with further songs repeated in different arrangements. The songs are about what one has come to expect from Phil, and could easily have been parsed out to individual albums, except that they were written to order. “Look Through My Eyes” wants to be this album’s “You’ll Be In My Heart” but isn’t. Tina Turner is given the lead vocal on “Great Spirits” for some reason; Phil’s version would be a bonus track on certain retail editions of the album. “Welcome” is pure Disney, first in a Phil-sung version, and later led by Oren Waters of the Waters family with the Blind Boys of Alabama (fresh from Peter Gabriel sessions). “No Way Out” (another phrase used for a recent Gabriel song) also appears twice, first with something of a ‘90s Genesis vibe, but the cheery-sounding chorus does not match the sentiment in the lyrics at all. The second version is more direct to the plot, slower, and more anguished, both in delivery and reception. “Welcome” is sung first in Inuit by the Bulgarian Women’s Choir (!) and later by Phil with a completely different vibe. “On My Way” is more typical, and should pop up in any number of department store commercials.

As before, we haven’t seen this movie, don’t plan to, and will try to avoid it just because traumatized cartoon animals make us sad. Nor have we seen the sequel, which roped in Melissa Etheridge for its soundtrack. Brother Bear is therefore reserved for Collins completists and Disney fetishists.

Brother Bear: An Original Walt Disney Records Soundtrack (2003)—

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