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Going Back (2010)
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For his first studio album in eight years, Phil Collins revisits the classic Motown hits that so influenced him, and calls in three of the surviving Funk Brothers who played on the originals -- guitarists Eddie Willis and Ray Monette, and bassist Bob Babbitt -- to help him get that vintage Motown sound. -- Rovi, All Music Guide
This deluxe edition of Going Back includes an exclusive bonus DVD featuring a 30 minute DVD interview with Phil Collins.
1. Girl (Why You Wanna Make Me Blue)
2. (Love Is Like A) Heatwave
3. Uptight (Everything's Alright)
4. Some Of Your Lovin'
5. In My Lonely Room
6. Take Me In Your Arms (Rock Me For A Little While)
7. Blame It On The Sun
8. Papa Was A Rolling Stone
9. Never Dreamed You'd Leave In Summer
10. Standing In The Shadows Of Love
11. Do I Love You
12. Jimmy Mack
13. Something About You
14. Love Is Here And Now You're Gone
15. Loving You Is Sweeter Than Ever
16. Going To A Go-Go
17. Talkin About My Baby
18. Going Back
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Having listened to Phil Collins take on the work on these classics of Motown I would remind the new or discerning listeners that Motown Chartbusters Vol 3 remains available on Amazon for under four quid where this transcendent music can be heard in its glory, as vibrant today as it was in the Sixties. If you don't own the originals seek them out and get the most sublime pop music of the 20th century to rank with the Beatles. Finally while I am not overly fond of Brian Wilson's recent covers album of Gershwin songs to his credit he tries something different, alternatively Robert Plant presents a model for older artists to aspire to with his brilliant choice of music for "Band of Joy". At one time Collins produced an album with his jazz fusion group Brand X called "Unorthodox Behaviour" which actually rivalled Weather Report in its brilliance (more please) in contrast "Going back" stands as an exercise in treading water by a very likeable bloke.
True, he rarely breathes new life into these songs. It would be a lie to say he transforms into a full-on song stylist. The core audience for these tunes, however, is not looking for that, and the rich, well-informed voice he uses to navigate the record is still a damn fine pleasure to hear. His enthusiasm and vivacity cover the album like wallpaper.
The song selections are also excellent. "Take Me in Your Arms (Rock Me for a Little While)" (The Doobie Brothers) rolls and tumbles with excitable energy, and the slightly overlong but well-arranged "Papa Was a Rolling Stone" (The Temptations) has a fine-honed, frothy disco-like flavor that throws an interesting curveball to the proceedings.
He can't fail with the likes of the swashbuckling, boundlessly frenetic "(Love Is Like a) Heatwave" (Martha and the Vandellas) and the timeless "Uptight (Everything's Alright)" (Stevie Wonder). This is pop music as it should be - a great singer with great songs to sing.
Of course, new material would be welcome from Collins, who has not released a record since 2002's uneven but enjoyable "Testify," so in light of that "Going Back" may seem like a disappointment in theory. We all know that it takes only slight thought and little effort for someone like Collins to enter a recording studio and whip-up a CD that sounds more like karaoke than covers.
However, that is not the case here. Collins may not re-stylize these songs or cover new ground with them, but he displays passion and dedication to the project through every track. This is not just a vanity project.
The only major flaw in the record's execution is that 29 songs are on the deluxe version. 29! There is the standard 18-track CD and the 25-track deluxe version which includes an audio rip of 4 more additional songs on the accompanying bonus DVD.
The project would have surely had more focus had Collins chosen to slim down the track listing or possibly released the albums in two volumes. Since there are so many songs there is no thematic focus, giving the album sudden dramatic changes in mood, shifting between melancholy tunes like Stevie Wonder's "Never Dreamed You'd Leave in Summer" and more boisterous material like "Standing In the Shadows of Love" (Four Tops) in slightly jarring fashion.
It certainly would have been a much more noteworthy project had Collins chosen fewer songs and taken the time to rearrange, reinterpret, restyle - in short, try something new - with them.
"Going Back" will dissapoint fans who want new material, but it is a well-wrought, slickly produced, ear-pleasing collection of tunes. It may not be particularly remarkable, but it is certainly welcoming to hear Collins' honeyed voice again.
It is sad to see this happen to artists like Phil Collins. However, to be fair, his career has been on the decline for some time. I can only imagine his people telling him that noone wants his original music anymore but there is always a market for folks his age returning to the music of their childhood.
So Phil has joined James Taylor, Rod Stewart et al for what I would call their "off to the retirement home album". Good luck, Phil - we'll miss you.