Phil Collins and I do have something in common. For our whole lives we have loved soul music, although there is a considerable generation gap between Collins and I, we have both grown up with the style and as such, Motown is a big part of our lives.
When he announced an album of Motown hits, I squirmed a little. No, I squirmed a lot. In 2005 and 2006, Australian boy band Human Nature enjoyed huge success taking these powerful soulful classics and turning them into unlistenable watered down tripe that you feed your grandmother’s ears for Christmas and the thought of another artist attempting to carbon copy these timeless tracks ground my gears. Unlike Human Nature, however, Collins had one ace up his sleeve when he went into the studio. He had the help of The Funk Brothers – Motown’s legendary house band.
But why? What the fuck is Phil Collins doing this for? How would U2 fans feel if U2 released a greatest hits album with Phil Collins fronting the remaining trio instead of Bono? How would AC/DC fans feel if they released a best of with Phil Collins singing away while Angus Young belts out his riffs at 11? How would INXS fans feel if they released an album with some reality TV hopeful? Oh wait… scratch that last one. The point is, it doesn’t matter how good this album is, it is limited by its inherent creative mediocrity.
Admittedly some tracks are pretty good carbon copies of the original. The Temptations’ classic ‘Papa Was A Rolling Stone’ (featuring Phil Collins on lead and harmony vocals) is about as good as an identical cover could be, but by this album’s very nature it lacks the spontaneity that made the original tracks so amazing and timeless. This is especially evident in Martha and the Vandellas’ ‘Jimmy Mack’ and ‘Heat Wave’ which are lacking the punch Martha Reeves gave them in in 1967 and 1963 respectively – the all important punch that made them hits.
Don’t get me wrong. If I were Phil Collins, I’d jump at any chance to play with The Funk Brothers, especially if it were going to give me a healthy paycheque at the end of the day, but that doesn’t make this album worthwhile, relevant or in any way a significant moment in the history of music.
Phil Collins, Rod Stewart, Human Nature, anyone on some reality TV competition and anyone else who has tastelessly hacked away at the legacies of these artists by rehashing their creativity and palming it off as your own in a desperate attempt to resell the same songs to the same people (trust me, the youth that will be introduced to Motown via this album will be countable on one hand), can you please, for the love of god, just go away now?
The one star review is 5 stars for the Funk Brothers performance (of which Phil Collins plays drums and deserves credit), minus 4 stars for the concept.
Girl (Why You Wanna Make Me Blue?)
(Love Is Like A) Heatwave
Uptight (Everything’s Alright)
Some Of Your Lovin’
In My Lonely Room
Take Me In Your Arms (Rock Me A Little While)
Blame It On The Sun
Papa Was A Rolling Stone
Never Dreamed You’d Leave In Summer
Standing In The Shadows Of Love
Do I Love You
Something About You
Love Is Here And Now You’re Gone
Loving You Is Sweeter Than Ever
Going To A Go-Go
Talking About My Baby