Judge Patrick Naugle can feel it coming in the air tonight.
Rock and roll never dies. It just starts singing the standards.
Phil Collins—a one time master of rock in bands like Genesis, who slowly became a master of lite FM rock in his solo career—is getting old school on his new album Going Back. This June 2010 concert (filmed in New York City's famed Roseland Ballroom) features Collins as he recreates that old rock and roll vibe with covers of such classic tunes as Martha and the Vandella's "Dancing in the Street," Marvin Gaye's "Ain't that Peculiar," and the Temptations' "Ain't Too Proud to Beg" (among others). The complete set list is as follows:
• Intro: Signed, Sealed, Delivered
That's right, I said "yuck." Those are the exact feelings I have about Phil Collins: Going Back, which features Collins playing some of the most beloved pop songs of all time. Maybe slaughtering instead of playing is a better term. As I watched this concert I realized that I am biased. I love so many of these songs that it's almost impossible to listen to another artist cover them. Many are so memorably iconic ("My Girl," "Too Many Fish in the Sea," "Can't Hurry Love") that it seems almost sacrilegious to remake them. And while I've enjoyed Phil Collins music—he may make somewhat bland rock, but he does so with skill, verve, and some great hooks—he is just the wrong person to cover these tunes. Collins history as a drummer in the band Genesis and then his solo work have afforded him the luxury of doing whatever he pleases. Due to health issues, he almost retired around 2000 and "Going Back" was his first album in over eight years. Sadly, I think he should have waited a bit longer until he had some of his own original material to produce.
I came into this concert with an open mind. I did. I swear…I really, really did. I got kind of excited thinking this would be a fun listen as I got some work done. Oh my good Lord in heaven was I wrong. At every turn, this is torture for the ears. Aside from that fact that poor Mr. Collins appears to have aged about 50 years in the last decade, these songs are just a slog to get through. To be fair, there isn't anything technically wrong . The instruments are all tight and solid, the band working overtime on each and every song. What IS wrong is Collins and his voice—it simply doesn't work with this material. "Papa Was a Rolling Stone" is not a song that was made for Collins's voice level, and because of that he comes off as a sort of one note karaoke singer. It's kind of like watching Kenny G cover The Rolling Stones—no matter what you try, it just ain't gonna work.
I'm sure there are Phil Collins fans out there who will just love this disc. To them I say, "God bless you and have at it." Music is a very subjective art form; one man's Divo is another man's Bach. And today, my friends, one man's Phil Collins is my personal Tiny Tim.
"Something Happened on the Way to Heaven" indeed.
The picture quality on this 1.78:1 widescreen 1080p transfer is excellent. The image is sharp and lets you feel as if you're sitting in the front row (even if you really, really don't want to be there). Colors are evenly saturated and black levels are solid. The sound mix comes in three forms: Dolby TrueHD, DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio, and LPCM 2.0 Stereo. The TrueHD and DTS-HD tracks are both bombastic and cleanly mastered. For those who actually want to sit through this music, all of your surround speakers will get a heavy workout.
The bonus features include some rehearsal footage with commentary by the singer, plus an interview with Mr. Collins discussing his album and the aforementioned concert.
Phil Collins is guilty of being a second rate Phil Spector.
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