I grew up in the '80s to Phil Collins' brand of Adult Contemporary before Adult Contemporary was Adult Contemporary. Back then, his music still had a place on Top 40 radio. Today? Not so much. Not without a (ft. B.o.B. or ft. Drake) billing at least. Imagine that.
Going Back is Collins' first studio album in over eight years and despite rumours of his retirement as a result of losing hearing in his right ear and dislocating vertebrae in his neck, I am thrilled to hear new music from the legend himself once again. Even if it is just a Motown covers album. And upon initial listen, it appears as though Collins has lost a notch or two in that amazing upper-register, but the soulful resonance is still there on this collection of 18 covers. The disc pick-ups where he teased us with on successful singles like Two Hearts and The Supremes cover You Can't Hurry Love.
Even though the Motown Re-birth brought on by Amy Winehouse's success a few years ago has long passed, it doesn't appear that Collins is out to prove anything really here. What he does is recreate an authentically '60s-sounding album, instead of reinventing anything. Collins' voice soars simply on classics like Martha & The Vandellas' Heatwave and Jimmy Mack, The Temptations' Papa Was a Rolling Stone and Girl (Why You Wanna Make Me Blue), Smokey Robinson & The Marvels' Going to a Go-Go and the title track made famous by Dusty Springfield. Comfort music. And in all of this, everything goes back full circle to what an incredibly versatile and timeless artist he is truly.
Admittedly a tad self-indulgent at 18 tracks, Collins is wise with his selections here in not choosing all familiar material to keep Going Back interesting. Welcome back, Phil. I love you. Phil Collins' Going Back from Warner Music is now in stores. Grade: A-