For fans of the retired Phil Collins, Paul D’Adamo’s Tell Me Something might be the closest you’ll get to new music. Most of his former solo band is reassembled, and six of the album’s 10 songs were recorded by Collins and Genesis between 1976-85.
We find guitarist/bassist Daryl Stuermer and drummer Chester Thompson, both touring members of Genesis, as well as producer Brad Cole, who worked with Collins as a keyboardist since 1989. Luis Conte, Amy Keys, Arnold McCuller and Gerald Alright (a former member of the Phil Collins Big Band) also appear.
Still, D’Adamo smartly avoids the cob-webbed tribute-album trap: He not only includes a handful of non-Genesis-related items, but also selects deep cuts (rather than more familiar fare) and then reimagines — sometimes even completely reconstructs — the cover material.
For instance, “Long Long Way to Go,” a stripped-bare, darkly contemplative moment from Collins’ 1985 solo project No Jacket Required, is transformed into a full-band anthem. “Please Don’t Ask, the heart-rending divorce-themed tune originally found on Genesis’ 1980 effort Duke, is given an even more radical makeover. D’Adamo gives the track an urbane, lightly swinging sophistication, very much in the style of Herbie Hancock’s reworkings of Joni Mitchell’s music from a few years ago.
“Doesn’t Anybody Stay Together Anymore,” another song originally found on No Jacket, moves from a lilting island cadence toward a boisterous smooth-jazz groove. D’Adamo doesn’t dismantle “Like it or Not,” a Mike Rutherford-composed song from Genesis’ 1981 album Abacab, but there’s still such a visceral sense of anger to his performance that it feels brand new. The closing “Guide Vocal,” also from Duke, is presented as a nervy, weirdly transfixing acappella piece.
The unquestioned high point, however, is D’Adamo’s take on “Entangled,” the Steve Hackett-Tony Banks composition from Genesis’ 1976 album Trick of the Tail. That’s no small feat, considering the track was originally one of Collins’ most delicately emotional early vocal performances, and a showcase for the blending of Hackett’s classically tinged 12-string with Banks’ pastoral Mellotron. D’Adamo adds bass and drums, giving what was once a quietly impactful folk number this new propulsion, and then — in an inspirational moment — Stuermer’s jazz-inflected asides give way to a note-for-note recreation of Banks’ solo, but this time on saxophone.
As for the originals, they inevitably suffer in comparison to these all-but-forgotten legacy items from the Genesis canon. Still, I loved D’Adamo’s sleek and intelligent title track, which could found a home on Donald Fagen’s Nightfly.