NPR logo

Phil Collins: 'Going Back' To Motown

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/130218531/130287391" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
Phil Collins: 'Going Back' To Motown

Phil Collins: 'Going Back' To Motown

Phil Collins: 'Going Back' To Motown

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/130218531/130287391" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

Phil Collins' latest album, Going Back, covers his favorite soul and Motown classics. Neale Haynes hide caption

toggle caption Neale Haynes

Phil Collins' latest album, Going Back, covers his favorite soul and Motown classics.

Neale Haynes

Over the past 40 years, legendary singer and drummer Phil Collins has sold more than 150 million records. He's also won Grammys, Golden Globes, an Oscar and the Johnny Mercer Award for songwriting, and he still shows no signs of slowing down. Going Back, his latest album, covers Collins' favorite soul and Motown classics.

One such classic is Martha Reeves and the Vandellas' "Heat Wave." He says the song encapsulates the entire Motown sound for him.

"It's just got that optimistic [sound], and you can feel the sun coming out," he says.

Collins' versions stay true to the original arrangements and instrumentation. He says he never lost track of the fact that he was trying to emulate these songs rather than change or update them.

"The most important thing to me was actually getting them to sound authentic," Collins says. "I didn't really want to mess with the arrangements. I didn't really want to mess with the kind of instrumentation. For me, I just wanted to see if it was possible to re-create a feeling that I had when I first heard these records."

Re-creating the Motown sound proved a challenge for Collins and his band; they tried various microphones and tambourines to replicate the aesthetic. Health issues also slowed the making of the album, although Collins says that recent hand, elbow and neck surgery has affected his daily life more than his ability to play music. The lightness of the Motown drummers suited his current strengths, and Collins was able to play the drum parts in Going Back, albeit with a little help.

"It's the strength and dexterity of the hand that is my problem," he says. "So when I played the drums on the record, I had to tape the stick to my left hand because I'm left-handed. The right hand was OK, but the left hand had to have the tape."

Related NPR Stories

We no longer support commenting on NPR.org stories, but you can find us every day on Facebook, Twitter, email, and many other platforms. Learn more or contact us.