“I’m gonna make you a mixtape. You like Phil Collins?”
“I’ve got two ears and a heart don’t I?”
-Tracy Morgan & Alec Baldwin, 30 Rock
Phil Collins is back! And as you can see by the unsuspecting youth to the right, he’s Going Back to his roots. The Phil Collins hype machine is rolling, there’s an exclusive track on his website, a new album on the way, and next month the legendary singer/drummer will be playing four exclusive shows in New York.
Going Back might not be what you’re expecting. Collins’ isn’t going back to his brooding, post-divorce heyday of the early 80s, nor to his prog-rock, art-pop days with Genesis, he’s going much further back – to 1960s Motown. “It shouldn’t really be a surprise to anyone that I’ve finally made an album of my favourite Motown songs,” explained Collins. “These songs, along with a couple of Dusty Springfield tracks, a Phil Spector/Ronettes tune, and one by the Impressions, make up the tapestry, the backdrop, of my teenage years.” But don’t be expecting cleaner-sounding modern renditions like Collins’ 1982 redux of, “You Can’t Hurry Love”, Going Back‘s agenda is to replicate the raw sound of the original recordings that influenced him.
To help in recreating the spirit and energy of these legendary tracks, Collins called in three men who were there when it was made: Bob Babbitt, Eddie Willis and Ray Monette, of the Funk Brothers, Motown Record’s session musicians. “To be able to have three of the surviving Funk Brothers play on all the tracks was unbelievable,” said Collins. “There was one moment when they were tracking Martha Reeves’ song ‘Heat Wave’ that I experienced a wave of happiness and wonder that this was actually happening to me.”
For many it’s a surprise that this album is happening at all. During his recent reunion tour with Genesis, Collins damaged the vertebrae that allow his hands to function properly, effectively disabling his ability to drum. It was reported that he might not ever be able to play drums again. Collins wasn’t having that. He plays all the drums on Going Back and when he couldn’t hold the drumsticks anymore, he had them taped to his hands so he could keep playing. Basically, he’s a badass.
While there might be many lamenting that this isn’t a real Phil Collins album, it’s important to remember that Collins has never been one to do what was expected of him. For example, his late 90s album and tour featuring only big band renditions of his songs confused audiences, but delighted the performer. Going Back is truly a labor of love for Collins, and it shows. “Too Many Fish in the Sea”, the free track available when you sign up for Collins’ mailing list, is outstanding. The raw vivaciousness present in Collins’ performance hints to one of the most charming and enjoyable soul cover albums of all time.
Going Back is currently listed as having 18 tracks, but Collins reportedly recorded around 30 tracks for the album, all of a refined selection: “the darker songs that I liked, the lesser known ones.” Be sure to snatch up “Too Many Fish in the Sea” while you can, it’s not one of the album tracks. There’s no telling when or where the remaining fifteen or so recordings will surface, but you’re likely to hear all the songs at Collins’ limited performances next month.
“Up Close & Personal: Phil Collins Plays 60’s Motown & Soul” will be four shows at New York’s Roseland Ballroom between June 22nd and 25th and will consist only of songs from the album and the genre. Collins will be joined for the performances by an 18-piece ensemble of musicians and vocalists including The Funk Brothers. Tickets for all four Roseland shows are currently onsale. A concert film of the performance is scheduled to be recorded for a forthcoming DVD.
The album’s UK release is scheduled for September 13th, no other release dates are available.
Going Back Tracklist:
01. Girl (Why You Wanna Make Me Blue)
02. Uptight (Everythings Alright)
03. Blame It On The Sun
04. Never Dreamed Youd Leave In Summer
05. Heat Wave
06. In My Lonely Room
07. Jimmy Mack
08. Standing In The Shadows Of Love
09. Something About You
10. Loving You Is Sweeter Than Ever
11. Papa Was a Rolling Stone
12. Some Of Your Loving
13. Talking About My Baby
14. Do I Love You?
15. Going To a Go-Go
16. Love Is Here
17. Take Me In Your Arms (Rock Me a Little While)
18. Goin’ Back