Like any baby boomer Phil Collins is no stranger to Motown. Arguably, he has a deeper connection than most, having scored a hit with a cover of the Supremes' “You Can’t Hurry Love” back in 1982 and then proving he was adept at writing his own Tamla bounce with 1988’s “Two Hearts,” so devoting a full album to Motown songs is not a huge stretch, but 2010’s Going Back -- his first studio album since 2002’s Testify and only his fourth record since 1990 -- is nevertheless mildly surprising in its fidelity to its source material. Collins hired three of the surviving Funk Brothers as instrumental support and set about replicating a bunch of Motown classics -- 18 in its standard edition, a whopping 25 in its deluxe edition -- in a studio in Switzerland. Replication is not an exaggeration: these are not interpretations but re-creations of the original arrangements and productions, the only difference being Collins’ vocals. He is too in love with the originals to change even tiny inflections but he’s also enjoying the process of making music with some of his idols. For a listener, this can be a shared fun, particularly when Collins explores some of the lesser-known songs, like “Girl (Why You Wanna Make Me Blue),” “Some of Your Lovin’,” “In My Lonely Room” and “Something About You.” Most of Going Back is devoted to the tried and true, though, the hits that remain staples on oldies stations across the globe, and whenever Collins is singing “Heatwave,” “Uptight,” “Papa Was a Rolling Stone,” “Jimmy Mack” or “Going to a Go-Go,” the album inches away from being a labor of love and into pure nostalgia trip, but even then the album is pleasant enough that it’s hard to complain.
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AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine