Mike Collins began his music recording career in 1981 as a songwriter-producer at EMI Records and Chappell Music publishers where he achieved early chart success with leading Brit-Funk band Light of the World. “Ride The Love Train” by Light of the World, co-produced and co-written by Mike Collins, sold 40,000 copies and reached No. 40 in the UK charts in November 1981.
In 1983, in partnership with keyboard-player Keith O’Connell, Mike produced a classic dance music instrumental called “Rude Movements” by Sun Palace. Licensed to Passion records, this initially sold around 10,000 copies on vinyl and was released in several countries around the world. 5,000 copies were re-pressed by Passion in 1998 and exported to Japan.
As part of a vibrant songwriters workshop in the mid-80’s, led by legendary producer Gus Dudgeon at Dick James Music publishers, Mike co-wrote with a range of established writers and artists including Scott English, Steve Jerome, Juliet Roberts and others – and worked as a producer and studio musician with these and other bands and artists for various labels. For example, “The Old Rugged Cross” featuring Juliet Roberts with the London Community Gospel Choir, co-arranged and co-produced by Mike Collins, was released on Bluebird Records in 1984.
Several years of TV work, producing recordings mostly for visiting US pop, soul and R & B artists in the 1980’s, put Mike in the producer’s chair with Sly Fox, Cameo, Shannon, Jermaine Stewart, Joyce Sims and similar acts.
A busy year in 1987 as in-house Senior Recording Engineer & Music Technology Specialist at the Yamaha R & D Studio in London W1 brought opportunities to work with producers George Martin and Gus Dudgeon, rock musician Keith Emerson, jazzman Courtney Pine and composers Hans Zimmer and George Benjamin.
This led to top-flight session work from the late 80’s onwards as a studio musician and MIDI programmer working on singles for The Style Council, Zeke Manyeka, Junior Reid, Patsy Kensit, The Chimes, Dave Angel/Eurythmics, Jeremy Healy, Feargal Sharkey and others.
As soon as the new generation of digital audio recording and editing tools became available, Mike was an early adopter, working on the Shamen’s hit “Boss Drum” album in 1992, for example, using Cubase Audio and an early version of Pro Tools in preparation for their world tour.
Around this time, an invitation to work with film composer Ryuichi Sakamoto as his MIDI programmer and technology guru led to screen and soundtrack album credits as a Mac Computer & Music Technology Consultant on “The Little Buddha” and “Wuthering Heights”, and to work with other film composers – most notably with David Arnold on his first major film score for “The Young Americans”, which included the hit single “Play Dead” by Bjork/David Arnold.
Since the early 1990’s, Mike has often been commissioned to write, record, play on or produce music for TV and radio ads, music for films and TV programmes, and music for multimedia projects. Clients have included Channel 4 and ITV, Apple Computers and Canon Cameras, among others, and a CD of co-composed original ’Loops for Multimedia’ was released by RE Media in the UK and the US.
The 1990’s was a busy and varied time for Mike, working on all kinds of musical projects. He was commissioned by Virgin Records to write string arrangements for REM producer Mitch Easter who was working on an album for UK ‘indie’ band ‘Moose’. This was followed by specialist MIDI programming and Pro Tools editing on the music for the opening titles by US3 for the film “Get Shorty”. Then a recommendation by songwriter Pete Brown led to a commission to write and record music for the opening titles of a Taylor Hackford-directed film, Greenwich Mean Time. Technical consultancy for an unusual album for Sony Classical, ‘Majoun’ by film composer Richard Horowitz and Iranian-American vocalist Sussan Deyhim allowed insight into the working methods of this extremely talented and unusual creative partnership.
In 1998, a chance meeting with leading UK jazz guitarist Jim Mullen led to a move into the jazz world, with Mike producing an album of solo jazz guitar, “Thumbnail Sketches”, for this award-winning soloist. This project led to a long-standing, ongoing relationship, with Mike working on many original compositions and arrangements with Jim and other top UK jazz and studio musicians.
Since the year 2000, a move back to music production, Pro Tools engineering, and song co-writing has led to work on several albums covering genres ranging from pop (Phil Harding’s “The Story of Beginners” album) and rock (the self-titled Catcha album) to folk/pop (Caro’s “The 4th Way”album) and Afro-beat (Ayetoro’s “Omo Obokun” album).
In 2008, a re-creation of a song called Kindness (originally recorded by New York bluesman Guy Davis) for a Deutsche Bank promotional video featuring vocalist Noel McCalla from Manfred Mann’s touring band, provided an opportunity to work with five gospel singers on vocal harmonies. On this project, Mike worked with producer John McKenzie as Pro Tools engineer and studio musician, playing tenor banjo and Martin acoustic guitar parts on the recording. Another notable recording that year featured Mike playing pedal harp on a track called “Sun Arise” for Brendon ‘Octave’ Harding featuring vocalist Temps.
From 2009 onwards, Mike has been recording original songs and covers of classic material with various singers including Noel McCalla and Jocelyn Brown, Vivienne McKone and David Philips. Cover versions of Albert King’s “Crosscut Saw” and Stevie Wonder’s “Visions” featuring Noel McCalla were released on iTunes in November 2011. A cover version of The Doors “Light My FIre”, produced by Mike Collins and featuring David Philips, was released in November 2011, followed by two co-written songs, “She’s So Entertaining” and “Try”, in January 2012. “Everything is Gonna Be Alright”, a remix production by Mike Collins for Vivienne McKone was released on iTunes in April 2012.
In 2010, Mike formed a ‘live’ performance duo with French singer Aurora Colson and performed at venues around London from October 2010 until October 2011. Three 6-track EPs and ten singles were released on iTunes between October 2011 and April 2012.
Two collaborative albums featuring Mike Collins & Jim Mullen, “Blues, Jazz & Beyond” and “Pop, Rock & Gospel”, were released in December 2011 and February 2012, respectively, via Rude Note Records on iTunes.
In April 2012, Mike formed a new creative partnership with Mauritian singer Rouhangeze Baichoo, writing and recording original songs and ‘covers’ of classic songs.
From July 2012 until March 2013, Mike worked on two albums with David ‘DaPaul’ Philips: recording and mixing tracks for David’s soul-jazz album ‘Soulful Spirit’; and producing an album of pop-soul songs from Mike’s catalogue featuring David’s vocals and keyboards. ‘Soulful Spirit’ is now available on iTunes and from other popular digital outlets, and on CD from CD Baby – click here to audition or purchase a copy.
Between April 2013 and March 2014, Mike took a year out from music production to write two new books about Pro Tools 11 and all the latest audio plug-ins and virtual instruments – getting ‘up-to-speed’ with all the latest features along the way. During this period, Mike’s project studio was upgraded to the latest Pro Tools HDX hardware. The studio equipment was serviced and repaired as necessary, equipment racks upgraded, and the rooms re-organised – ready for new projects.
Projects for 2014 included a new collaboration with Breeze McKreith, working on acoustic versions of Breeze’s new songs; working on an experimental recording with steel pan-player Daniel Louis; completing a new song with Vivienne McKone; and starting a new project writing and recording with vocalist Linda Muriel. A major recording project in October/November involved recording vocalists PP Arnold and Madeline Bell on about 20 songs for Pat’s forthcoming ‘live’ performances on a P & O cruise. A collaboration with two Argentinian musicians, Carlos Quilici and Javier Fioramonti, led to a fine recording in November of a “Tango for Patricia” – written by my late father, Louis Collins.
From the summer of 2014 through until the summer of 2015 I worked on an album titled “The Funky Boys” featuring various vocalists including Phil Ramocon and Linda Muriel – an ongoing project to which I will return in 2017. In June 2015, I started working on an exciting new project with Senegalese Griot musician Issa Mbaye, co-writing and producing the album and playing lots of guitars, and some bass, percussion, backing vocals, pedal harp and piano-accordion. By the end of December 2015 we finished 12 tracks for the album, provisionally titled “Griot Soul”, which we now hope to complete and release in 2017 when Issa returns from Senegal.
I kept busy for the first half of 2016 by rescuing many of my old recordings from the 1980’s – transferring these into Pro Tools from stereo cassettes, Portastudio 4-track cassettes, and 1/4″ reel-to-reel tapes. I edited, occasionally overdubbed, then remixed or re-mastered the best of these, finding long-forgotten songs and instrumentals along the way!
Timing was good here, because Jeremy Newall and Peter Adarkwah of BBE Records came to see me in July, looking to reissue my SunPalace recordings, and they ended up licensing 16 of these 80’s recordings, which were subsequently released on November 18, 2016 as a double vinyl album with 10 tracks, a CD with 13 tracks, and as digital downloads with all 16 tracks. Around the same time, Nicole Mckenzie licensed 5 more of my 80’s instrumental tracks to release on her newly-established Music Inspires Change label. This was subsequently released on vinyl on February 1st, 2017 and my first ‘live’ gig with a re-formed SunPalace group took place at The Total Refreshment Centre in Stoke Newington, London, on February 16th!
2017 exploded with musical projects: more songwriting with “DaPaul” Philips and Vivienne McKone; lots of recording and songwriting with Issa Mbaye for our Griot Soul project; tracking and mixing sessions as a recording engineer for various clients; a very enjoyable session playing pedal harp on several tracks for Jaelee Small’s forthcoming EP; and lots of work developing more SunPalace tracks with a view to releasing a second album and doing showcase gigs with a ‘live’ band! Onwards and upwards!
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