Going Back:
Live At Roseland Ballroom, NYC

Phil Collins

I guess I’ve got to give up waiting for Genesis to reform with Peter Gabriel, and contend with Phil Collins singing Motown standards. On the Going Back: Live At Roseland Ballroom, NYC DVD, the Genesis drummer, vocalist and hit-maker runs through 26 classics with an 18-piece band, including original Motown “Funk Brothers” bassist Bob Babbitt, guitarists Eddie Willis and Ray Monette, Genesis band mates Chester Thompson and Daryl Stuermer, plus backing vocalists, horns and others to deliver some crisp, clean covers.

Most of the DVD is simply Collins doing his best at white soul. At times, his voice fares rather well, as on the slower tunes like the sweet-without-being-saccharine “Never Dreamed You’d Leave In Summer” and the artful, almost Genesis-sounding “Going Back.” Most of the material is pedestrian, middle-of-the-road — not bad, but not great, though the band and Collins outfit themselves solidly through “Ain’t That Peculiar,” “Too Many Fish In The Sea” and “Nowhere To Run.” Collins does indeed point out Babbitt’s bass part on “Tears Of A Clown,” introduces his musicians, and generally pays a respectful homage to songs he sang in his childhood. On the downside, he has no business playing “Papa Was A Rolling Stone.”

Visually, Going Back: Live At Roseland Ballroom, NYC doesn’t pull any punches. Extras include behind-the-scenes footage and an interview with Collins. But it’s the performance that really counts. The band and singers behind Collins are all capable and adept at playing these songs. And with Collins no longer drumming, the man has earned the right to do just about anything he wants. Unfortunately, his voice doesn't fully lend itself to many of these covers, maybe as only a one-off curiosity like “You Can’t Hurry Love.” Biased as this reviewer is toward the singer’s more progressive leanings, it’s difficult to gauge an accurate reading on Collins even attempting to recreate the sounds of Motown. To wit, it probably means chances of a Brand X reunion are definitely off the books.

~ Ralph Greco, Jr.

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