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Review by Brad Green:
Itís no great surprise to see Phil Collins end up doing the Disney gig. He hasnít exactly forged a reputation as an archetypal dangerous rocker. The most enduring image of his career is of a little guy behind a large drum kit, his balding noggin easily mistaken for an umpteenth tom. Of course he made up for a lack of glitz with a good dose of talent and truck loads of pop sensibility.

Collins has always had a knack for the kind of hooks that make record company bean counters and top-40 radio programmers salivate like hungry grizzlies. They worked for him as an adult contemporary artist and heís hardly had to tweak his style to be an instant success writing for Disney. His first offering for animation was the Tarzan soundtrack, a huge success that even netted an Oscar for Best Song, and this effort could well follow suit. 

The album is mainly comprised of the same sorts of power ballads that Collins has always been famous for, and benefits from not condescending to the kiddies. Even lyrically Collinsí hits have always revolved around simple sentiments, and the little homilies of empathy and outlook offered here arenít going to stop this being a big seller to a broad demographic.

Consistency is another Collins strength, and while there isnít much innovation here, there are at least four solidly crafted songs. They arenít classics, but theyíre all well above average and produced, arranged and enhanced with all the expected panache. Variety is added to the mix via guest vocals by Tina Turner, The Blind Boys Of Alabama and the most ambitious track, Transformation, sung in the Inuit language by the 20-member Bulgarian Womenís Choir.

As he did with the Tarzan soundtrack, Collins reprises a number of the songs with different orchestrations, although his trademark drum breaks are basically ubiquitous. He also makes his first foray into instrumental scoring in collaboration with Mark Mancina, who also worked on Tarzan and previously won acclaim for production and arrangement work on some of the Elton John mega-hits for the Lion King. 

My understanding is that in the context of a Disney outing the titular beasts of this story are presented with an element of ferocity, but Collinsí music here reminds me far more of your traditional animated bear. Itís big, itís powerful and itís actually very friendly. 

Published March 18, 2004

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TITLE: Brother Bear
ID: 337592
Walt Disney
SONGS: Phil Collins
SCORE: Mark Mancina; Phil Collins

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