Ah I recall the eighties, a time when Phil Collins strode across the firmament like the balding stumpy legged drummer he is. He sang with Genesis when the cooler bloke left, he did that song about the drowning bloke which a monkey drummed on while eating chocolate and he spent the majority of Live Aid stuck on Concorde (Philly no mates?) while Duran Duran shagged Princess Diana *(that last bit might not be true).
After all this however things went a bit quiet, he buggered off to Switzerland, knocked up a local, stopped paying tax and it looked like that might have been the last we heard of him. Especially since he went partially deaf in 2000 and buggered his back up on the last Genesis tour (‘I may never play drums’ again he said, but that’s OK there was always the chocolate eating monkey to stand in for him).
Anyhoo, fast forward to 2010 and Phil has indeed returned, like so many in the hinterland of their careers they turn to the obligatory covers album to raise their profiles and swell their coffers. Craig David did it recently and it was a spectacular fuck up, sadly Phil has wandered down the same path and guess what, this is pretty much another spectacular fuck up.
The title of this CD is ‘Going Back’ and it sees Phil wandering through the songs he claimed shaped his teenage years. It’s a fairly comprehensive set of Soul/Motown material with tracks made famous by the likes of Stevie Wonder , Martha and The Vandellas, Smokey Robinson, Dusty Springfield and The Four Tops. So as you can see he’s in heavyweight territory.
Musically Phil manages to cobble together a competent band. They interpret the songs accurately but there’s something missing. You might recreate the song in its entirety but if you lose it’s heart and fire in the process then surely it becomes something of a pointless exercise. That’s what happens here, tracks like Papa Was A Rolling Stone had a brooding dynamism to them which has been rendered little more than a karaoke style backing track in these new incarnations. It is agonizing to have to write that, that someone could do that to such great songs.
Vocally the injustice continues. There is no way in the world that Collins could ever dream of delivering with the force or impact that the original vocalists could muster. However his efforts throughout are lifeless. He sings with the gumption of a man feebly dying on a stretcher after being run over by a double decker bus. I’ve read shopping lists with more conviction.
Sadly there are no redeeming moments, he simply takes one song after another and bleeds it dry of any of the redeeming qualities it might once have possessed. That in itself is astonishing I mean a good song should still be able to shine even when it is delivered badly (you want examples…‘Heatwave’, ‘Standing In The Shadows Of Love’, ‘Uptight’ all are mercilessly slaughtered by this…this…bastard!).
Needless to say I’m fucking traumatised by this.
Avoid (unless you’re a Daily Mail/Express reader in which case you’ll be in raptures about this already as you sit on your sofa evangelising the past).
* @dianainheaven is worth following on twitter