Saturday, October 16, 2010


Now folks seem to either hate or love Phil Collins. I’m in that latter group and really don’t care what his detractors or the NY Times say. I like his style (liked Genesis too) and think that this new album is really fun! For all you war babies and boomers this is a nostalgic trip back to Motown soul with a Phil Collins twist. Collin’s recent interview with Scott Simon on NPR underscored the love and care that went into this album (the Funk Brothers) and that alone got my attention.

Phil Collins pulled this one off with the same spirit that Michael McDonald did with his Motowns & Soulspeak contributions and to a lesser degree the raspy throated Rod Stewart did with his very popular nostalgic offerings. Whether this is true R&B/Soul is up for legitimate debate. I think it a 21st century interpretation by Collins and a sincere expression of his love for and tribute to Motown.

Initiated R&B and Soul aficionados are in for a real treat if you keep an open mind and want to get a new look back to when music had understandable lyrics in a classic Motown musical style. Maybe, just maybe this will prompt the continued resurgence and renewed appreciation for the songs and style that made today’s music possible – in a whole new generation. With the current state of today’s musical offerings, I wonder out loud if that’s all good. We would offer that some of what is classified as music today is something else and that includes Rap and Hip Hop. I would opt to return to the music that makes sense to me.

Now, this post isn’t intended to bash or define any style or genre, just up Collins for this splendid and sincere effort and just when he has met his humanity – as he said, “stuff happens “. Where Collins only dabbled before, he now plunges in head first and maybe that’s the point.

Now no doubt all you have to do is pull up any one of a number of the original hits on this album including Papa Was a Rolling Stone -the Temptations version, Stevie Wonder’s Blame It On The Sun & Never Dreamed You'd Leave in Summer, Curtis Mayfield and The Impressions’ Talking About My Baby, In My Lonely Room by Martha Reeves and the Vandellas, or the Four Tops and their super iconic Standing in the Shadows of Love (and many more) and listen to them in their original pristine form. If you are so motivated then Collins would also have accomplished his goal to up the Motown flag.

What I think Collins has done, though, is spice the music further with his style, soul and versatile voice. Though he never intended to reinvent or redo – he did it his way – with an old approach and new perspectives becoming part of the history of this great genre. Collins continues the resurrection of the spirit of Motown and all that was right and good with that sound for a new generation and those of us in our maturity – and then some.

Those of you with long memories may recall Going Back, the bittersweet and melancholy song by Carole King & Gerry Goffin, sung by Dusty Springfield in 1966 and then by The Byrds on their now iconic 1968 album The Notorious Byrd Brothers. It was and is a great song squarely in the 60’s tradition. Let there be no doubt that Collins sang this song in tribute to Springfield. Listening to Collins singing Going Back was a poignant experience for this writer.

Not only was this a superb version but Collins vocals are an improvement over the original Springfield version. In this labor of love Collins has probably performed the most herculean task in the public interest by reminding us that going back to where it all began -maybe just maybe - is the perfect prescription to help us understand who we are and the space we now occupy. Loss of innocence aside, it doesn’t hurt to occasionally stay a while (don’t dwell too long) and ponder what were surely kinder and gentler times…


I think I’m going back
To the things I learned so well in my youth
I think I’m returning to
All those the days when I was young enough to know the truth

Now there are no games to only pass the time
No more electric trains, no more trees to climb
Thinking young and growing older is no sin
And I can play the game of life to win

I can recall a time
When I wasn’t ashamed to reach out to a friend
Now I think I’ve got
A lot more than just my toys to lend

Now there’s much to do than watch my sailboat glide
And every day can be my magic carpet ride
A little bit of freedom is all we lack

So catch me if you can, I’m going back
A little bit of courage is all we lack

So catch me if you can, I‘m going back
Going back


Ned Buxton

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