Sound — 7
After giving the album two weeks to really form an impression, I can finally state one: It's lovely, but nothing near excellent. Released in mid-September, the album received significant press, especially in the UK where it debuted at Number 4 and rose to the Number One spot a week later. Though a significant improvement over the early 2000's release of "Testify" (*blehhh*) the album still fails to make a strong impression, at least on this reviewer. Having released "You Can't Hurry Love" to critical and commercial acclaim in 1982, Collins made an interesting career choice to create an all Motown album, containing songs like: "(Love is Like a) Heatwave", "Papa Was a Rolling Stone" and "Girl (Why You Wanna Make Me Blue)". The sound is actually very faithful to the time period, and Phil Collins is able to pull off most, if not all the songs convincingly. However, when it comes to the slower ballads such as "Blame It on the Sun", Collins falters, losing grips on the soulful energy that characterized the Motown scene.
Lyrics — 8
Lyrically, Motown is one of the more simplistic of all musical genres. That however, does not make it any less powerful than "progressive" or "art rock" genres. Its strength lies purely within its simplicity, with much power coming from the vocalist. Collins is not only a drummer; he is a vocalist. A talented one at that. The renditions of the songs are very faithful, and the more upbeat ones are pulled off very well. It's always a treat to hear old-time lyrics, and "Going Back" certainly delights in the concepts that emerge from the peak of Motown. "Each night I pray we'll never part Because the love within my heart Grows stronger from day to day. Best I try, hard I try To reassure and satisfy." - "Loving You is Sweeter Than Ever" Sure, one could view the lyrics as corny. But delivery is vital to make these lyrics sound coherent and meaningful. And Collins does pull it off well.
Overall Impression — 7
Overall, I could live without the album. It still however, is worth a listen or two. He remains faithful to the genre which should at once be applauded. A trip down memory lane will be rewarded during the more upbeat numbers, but perhaps one could skip over the two or three slower songs that seem to miss the mark.