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Genesis

Indirectly Responsible for 'Sussudio'

Introduction
From Genesis to Revelation
          Trespass 
Nursery Cryme
Foxtrot
Selling England By The Pound
Genesis Live
The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway
A Trick of the Tail
Wind and Wuthering
Seconds Out
...and then there were three
Duke
Abacab
Three Sides Live
Genesis
Invisible Touch
We Can't Dance
Live - The Way We Walk: The Shorts
Live - The Way We Walk: The Longs
Calling All Stations

The Lineup Card 1967-2002

Peter Gabriel (vocals) until 1975

Mike Rutherford (bass, guitar) also of Mike + The Mechanics

Tony Banks (keyboards)

Phil Collins (drums, vocals after 1975) 1969-1996

Steve Hackett (guitar) 1969-1977

also of GTR

John Silver (drums) 1968-9

Anthony Phillips (lead guitar) until 1969

Chris Stewart (drums)

John Mayhew (drums) until 1969

Ray Wilson (vocals) 1998

People usually approach Genesis via indirect means, kind of like eating at a Waffle House. No one goes out intending to buy a bunch of Genesis albums as a sort of 'first band', just like no one intends to go and sit down to a greasy laminated menu covered in adjectives like 'smothered, covered, and blathered' to the strains of Patsy Cline's 'Walking After Midnight' on the ancient jukebox, it just happens. You sooner or later find yourself initiated into the Land Of Confusion, and either start buying the 80's-era Phil Collins-led synth pop megahits or the obtusely proggy Peter Gabriel-era 70's material and you become hooked. You go and hunt down From Genesis To Revelation. You post a zillion entries on George Starostin's Music Babble about whether Foxtrot or Selling England By the Pound is the absolute tippy top of Western Civilization encased in a thin slab of plastic. You grudgingly admit that Tony Banks is an 'inspired' songwriter. You listen to Calling All Stations in hiding, shunning the outside world and slowly receding from reality as we know it. You actually go to a Phil Collins solo concert and enjoy it, and...and....as a final step down into the rabbit hole...rent Buster.

See, because, for the most part, no one likes 80's Genesis and no one listens to 70's Genesis (and don't even mention 90's Genesis) unless they've signed on as a fan. It's either too uncool (Invisible Touch and the ba-dwoink noise on 'We Can't Dance' are good examples of 80s-ness gone mad) or just too obscure (have you ever heard a Gabriel-era Genesis song on the radio? I sure as shit never have!) for anyone but initiates. And you know what? This dichotomy is precisely what makes this band interesting. The fact that they started off as a super-arty performance-art rock/classical fusion act and ended up as a top 40 hit machine while retaining three of their core performers is a pretty interesting feat. And truly, I respect most of these guys as performers and songwriters to the highest degree. Now, I'm not giving critical blowjobs to either Tony Banks on synths or Mike Rutherford on bass and guitars, both of whom are decent, if often somewhat overmatched players. Banks in particular tends to overrate himself and sadly substitutes hubris for good taste and/or ability. He's Keith Emerson without the jaw-dropping flash, but every bit of the arrogance, and unfortunately is responsible for most of the bands miscues. Rutherford often seems like a sideman, though he plucks a mean bass when pushed. Now the rest of the guys are frigging cool. Phil Collins may get a lot of (well deserved, in my opinion) harsh shit for his 80's work, but his drumming is an excellent cross between Bill Bruford shred and John Bonham sheer balls. And though he lacks a lot of the memorable moments of both those guys (no 'When The Levee Breaks' from this guy, although the second part of 'In The Air Tonight' comes close), he's extremely consistent and rarely overplays. For more Phil Collins skin mastery, see his jazz rock side-project Brand X. Yeah, his vocal exploits of the late 70's and 80'd are a lot less satisfying than Gabriel, and he pushed Genesis pretty damn hard towards Top 40 soft rock respectability in his time, but he did keep the band alive and decent for fifteen years, only to have his efforts pooped on by Ray Wilson (and Banks, and Rutherford).

Because I want this to be another paragraph, Steve Hackett has got to be one of the more interesting guitarists in the prog movement. Yeah, he don't do blues, yeah he can play those fluid, million-notes-per lines like Fripp and Howe, but he adds something else...his solos aren't flashy. Wha? Jay-sus! This is progressive rock, right? The form of the 15 minute, 15 chord solo guitar suite, featuring dulcimer, balalaika, drunken Eskimo, and popsicle sticks? But Hackett doesn't care about all that...he'd much rather you say 'boy, the lyricism of that line really took my breath away...I think I'll join an Eastern religion and attempt to recreate that feeling through prayer and meditation' than 'that solo ripped, man! I'm off to smoke a bowl!', and just has no tolerance for posing, of which even Mr. Professional Robert Fripp is occasionally guilty. I seriously respect the guy, and there's even a debate as to whether he invented the two-hand tap (think Eddie Van) or Angus Young did. I dunno about that, but I'm glad I was exposed to him and now I want to buy all of his $15 used solo LPs on the racks at my local record pusher.

And finally Peter Gabriel. He of the masterful smoky voice, fairy tale nightmare lyrics, and pointy stage outfits, was the soul of Genesis. If it weren't for his decidedly odd interpretation of what it is to be a lead singer of a fruity Seventies prog band, this band wouldn't have been worth the trouble whatsoever. Now I wouldn't say I'm the hugest fan of his solo works, but I can't imagine liking Genesis without the nightmarish hallucinations of Lamb Lies Down On Broadway, the acid fairy tales of Nursery Cryme, and the pointy fox's head he used to wear on stage. I mean, Phil Collins did better filling Mr. Genesis' shoes than anyone had any right to foresee, but there is only one man who defined this band, and that's Gabriel. Oh, I guess Collins defined the 80's version of this beast, but that's a different number altogether, isn't it?

Anyway, for some reviews of a band I'm not sure I love or not, I'm not sure I understand or not, but I sure feel like I should respect the hell out of, read on Oh Dearest Reader of mine. And thank you for holding on while I take zillions of years between updates because my life is a delightful disaster right now. But at least I'm happy and getting regular kisses from my daughter again!

Cole
Any Short Comments?: actually, I've heard "The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway" on the radio. the local 'classic rock' station has it in their playlist..or at least it used to. I don't know, I haven't willingly listened to the radio in months.

 


From Genesis To Revelation - Decca 1969

Do you have a mom who keeps a scrapbook, or, hell, a drawerful (like mine) of all the silly, snotty, ultra-embarrassing and sophomoric work you used to do back in elementary school? Jesus, I do. Reminds you of all the exuberance you used to have, all the energy and uncynical And so does Genesis, except Genesis calls their doting mother Decca and their childish rants From Genesis to Revelation, which no doubt hit the shelves about two years too late to be considered 'important' (you know, like those other embarrassingly dated and pretentious but lovable late 60's huffy puffies like Little Games or Ogden's Nut Gone Flake or all those Herb Alpert records I keep seeing in the dollar racks). But embarrassing or not, these guys were young, missing half their later band, and this album is far from horrible. Silly over-serious kpop songs that sound like outtakes from the soundtrack to some late 60's tear-jerker flick like Love Story or Behind The Green Door, sure, but far from bad. I mean, these guys sniff out a good melody like a dog in a convent full of nuns on rag day, and their decision to keep everything under control and refrain from too much psychedelicism renders most of these songs much more listenable than some contemporary Jefferson Airplane albums I could name.

Songs. There are actually a bunch, seventeen on my version in fact, ranging in quality from scoffingly angst-ridden but still pretty acoustic 'Am I Very Wrong' to the creepingly draggy Tom Jones rocker 'In Limbo'. Really. Oh God, for those of you that view this band as Prog Uberlords, the poppiness of a lot of these songs is going to be hard to overlook in your mind. I didn't mention Herb Alpert earlier for no reason. Think Monkees the day after losing their television contract, meeting up with Burt Bacharach for some lines and some Pepsi and deciding to lay down some bummer tracks. Think Simon and Garfunkel's Bookends, with fewer old people and more piano. Think this album is way too long. Think you'll listen to it a few times just to give the goddess of Days Past a few sympathy fucks and then lose it deep in the recesses of your CD rack. Think I need a Pepsi myself. This is way too much of the same sounding stuff, and once you get over the shock of Genesis sounding like mid-60's Moody Blues, you'll be like me and wish they'd prog it up already.

Capn's Final Word: Is this 'art rock' as opposed to 'prog rock'? Or is it 'dumb British 60's mainstream pop' as opposed to 'hard rocking groundbreaking big noise'? Whatever it is, it's too long.

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Trespass - MCA 1970.

Trespass is Genesis' moving ever closer to the big ol' wonkin' heads they'd turn into on Nursery Cryme, singing about Giant Hogweeds and other such things that sure wouldn't help your little kiddie get to sleep. But instead Genesis strangely straddles the lines between their out-of-date art rock of From Genesis and their insistent urge to play longer, louder, and flashier! But hey, there's only one 'Knife' to go around, and so the other five tracks on here can be described as confused, overblown, underdeveloped, and lacking in solid idea oatmeal. It's as if they decided that by playing more complicated interstitial material, therefore their overserious crescendos and minor chords would enter our brains with such irresistible force that we would no longer resist the power of the Genesis and join the good cult and fall in line and give away flowers at the airport and chant silly love songs to our equally blitzed-out hippie prog fan. It's my opinion that a lot of progressive rock is just as cock-rocky as anything that your Robert Plant or David Cover-version ever put out, but since they dress everything up in these classical music clothes, we're automatically supposed to think that these boys are sensitive and are actually just fellow travellers of Frodo and Gandalf across the wood and over the hills, when actually they've just found a new way to charm their way into girls pants and boys pocketbooks (Yes!!!! King Crimson!!! There's more sexism on Islands than on most Uriah Heep albums!). Or at least this may have been true back in 1970. But anyway, and this here is my point....Genesis seem verrrry detached from any sort of cocky rock. They're sort of proto-emo instead. Oh, I'm sure they liked a dip into the honey as much as any ol' Freddie Mercury, but in their music they actually believed this stuff. You think the Moody Blues cared about 'growing old' and 'the lost chord' and all that other crap they sung about? Not after the bong smoke cleared out of the bedspread they didn't. But I personally wouldn't be surprised if Banks and Rutherford and Gabriel still felt a bit queasy about Hogweeds even today. If nothing else, they make progressive rock sound sincere, as strange as that sounds.

Musically, like I said, we're pointlessly complicating things that don't need to be complicated, like 'Visions of Angels', which starts out very tasteful and pretty, with lots of classical-sounding piano and organ, but then the instruments start ruminating around on sequences that sound more posturing than romantic, and I'm lost. I mean, do we have to hear organ noodling all the time during the verses? Can't we just enjoy the beauty of the chords without all that scribbling about? Oh, there's an instrumental bridge section that makes it allright again for me, and then there's a return to the neato soft-rock introduction, but can you imagine that most of these songs don't get saved this way? I mean we're in a total lack of pretty (or otherwise) melody on 'White Mountain' or 'Looking For Someone', and despite a very delicate introduction to 'Stagnation', at nearly 9 minutes, the song does. We drone through guitar noodles. Limp through synth sighs. Listen as Banks stimulates his pitch shifter knob a bit overmuch. Strain not to yawn. Wonder when the song started. Try to remember the names of the fools on here playing drums and guitar in such unimaginitive ways. Wish it was time for the 'Knife'. Groove to the upbeat part. Get drunk. Fall in love with some chick across the room. Get rejected. Fall in to a deep despondent state. Grow old and bitter whilst owning unhealthy legions of housecats. And still the song goes on. Bleah.

I mean, yeah, the 'Knife' is that good. It's the only piece on the album (even on the first two, and possibly three albums) that really strikes me as being completely inspired Genesis work. After a pretty but slight tune that more or less acts as an introduction ('Dusk', featuring some pretty Gabriel singing and lots of chiming acoustics and plucking bells), 'The Knife' introduces itself with a bouncy keyboard tone Tony Banks no doubt wishes were a bit more heavy metal. This is the only song on the album that approaches rocking (actually rocks pretty hard in places), features anything approaching a memorable beat, features a distorted guitar and some cool soloing, gives Gabriel a chance to fall into his characterizations...hell, it's the only song on here that has any mean gasoline in it's tailbone at all. But I was listening to this on the way home from work at extremely loud volume, and while it jazzed me upside-out, I sorta wished that incessant organ figure would have been given more of a break at times....it goes into it's slower middle section at just the right time, indeed. But even though I have that reservation, and lots of reservations about the other songs on this record, everyone needs to hear how 'The Knife' blasts off from Gabriel's flute solo at the behest of Rutherford's bass and the sound bite 'okay men...off with their heads!'. It's infectious. And as such deserves a B grade...but just be forewarned: I don't like any of the other songs on the record enough to want to listen to them. But I like the 'Knife' enough to want to listen to it a lot.

The band needs lots of tightening up in the editing, arranging, and songwriting, and for sure a new drummer. Probably a new keyboardist too, but we can't get 'em all now can we? Or I never would've stopped having sex with my female classmates in high school. I will take Hackett's upgrade on the string section though. We'll see how they do with all the parts in place. If only they'd attempted to write everything with the same juice as the 'Knife' on this and Nursery Cryme. The followup is, without a doubt, an improvement in overall quality, but they'd still fail to inject the same sort of amyl nitrate into their songs as they conjured up on the last song on here.

Capn's Final Word: The Knife rules rules rules. The rest drools drools drools, droogs. Listenable, but no trip to the post office for stamps. And what's with that cheap-shit packaging?

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Nursery Cryme - Atco 1971

Oh, the dental work is all over this 1971 album (quite inferior to quite a few other 1971 works, I might add...this ain't no Fra-gi-lay or Who's Next, or even A Question of Balance, and if you're making year-best lists this isn't even close to placing), and improvements and added shininess are just a-glinting and a-squawking away, but I really miss out on the songs here. The opening ditty 'Musical Box' no doubt was intended to be the manifesto for the record, introducing the fractured fairy tale concept of Cryme. Or at least that's what I hear it's supposed to be...I hear one verse about Old King Cole on here, but looking at the lyric sheet just leaves me scratching my ass, out of sheer bewilderment and boredom. I guess I just don't have too much patience for Gabriel's concepts until they start sounding like they're taking place in 1974 and not 1874, and not in some deep dark Freudian recesses of his brain, populated by socio-sexual Lolitas like that little harlot on the cover. The whole idea gives me the creeps...you? I much prefer his street thugs and New York maggots on Lamb, but I'm sorta anti-classicism anyway. No English Lit major for me, no way. 'Her Box' builds up a good head of smoke at the end, but I'm still not quite moved to rocking by the thing. I guess that's the major problem behind Nursery Cryme - unlike Trespass, which hardly seemed like anyone was trying outside 'The Knife', there's plenty of good ideas on this record, but they're just not strung together coherently. For example...the end of 'Box', with Gabriel screaming out 'touch me! touch me! touch me!' over a blazing solo by new member Hackett, and the opening Mellotron section of 'Fountain Of Salmacis' are true highlights for me. But then 'Fountain' begins to wander into sleepy space, loses it's beat, and loses my attention span as I gaze over to my television set and see Christina Applegate as Kelly Bundy circa 1992. A short guitar solo grabs me back, and I'm just as quickly lost by the learning-disabled synth solo it globs into.

'The Return Of The Giant Hogweed' is about the only track that seems successful all the way through. Sort of a distillation of 'The Knife', this is a retelling of the story of Day Of The Triffids, as far as I can gather, and Genesis gathers up as much messy heavy riffage as they can get their grubby Prep School hands on. It falls quite short on the rock meter, but the sheer complication of it all is infatuating. And...and this is a big fat 'and'.....I never once get bored by the thing, no matter how many time signatures they flirt with. Yeah, the lyrics make my skin itch like bad Lortab, and a few of the solos make me similarly nauseous, but the track is a winner. Gabriel never sounded better than spitting out the word 'pho-to-syn-the-saizssseee!!!' Oh, they had to follow this up with the bad Pink Floyd Ummagumma rip called 'Seven Stones', and then the disco failure 'Hold The Barrel' (shades of Yes? Almost sounds like Damon Albarn fronting ABBA with Chris Squire guesting on bass if you ask me.)

I mean, are they close with this record? Not too much closer than before, I'm afraid, and the final effect on me is one of confusion and displeasure. I guess I just need all of them, Gabriel and band included, to return to Earth just a little bit. I'm happy they found their lineup and wanted to make good use of the newfound talent they found (besides Collins, who is damn near inaudible throughout), but they need editing and a better, more comprehensible concept. And no more creepy pictures of prepubescent girls playing murderous croquet on the cover. Dammit.

Capn's Final Word: Still a boring mess, but with a fresh new pine scent.

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Dave     Your Rating: A
Any Short Comments?: While other critics feel "Selling England by the Pound" is Genesis' best effort, I feel it is "Nursery Cryme."  This album is just more powerful overall and I believe it showcases the talents of all the individual band members more than any of their other releases (except for Tony Banks, who shines most on "Selling England").
 


Foxtrot - Atco 1972.

I was all set to give this a lower grade, something in the 'I'm disappointed' B-range, until I listened to it about four consecutive days in a row, when I realised that I was almost totally floored by about every song on the record, and was almost not bored to tears by the 20+ minute 'Supper's Ready', which is sort of like an Abbey Road side B for prog rock. Oh, sure, this is one whole song and Abbey Road was like, you know, 16 or something, and 'Supper's Ready' is almost 100% incomprehensible, and Abbey Road is only completely incomprehensible up until that 'and in the end...' part, but musically it contains more ideas than the whole of the Carly Simon, Jackson Browne, and Bread catalogs combined. And sounds absolutely like none of those in any sort of way other than, yes, it too creates sound waves that emit from your speaker and are somehow transferred into brain signals by your inner ear. And may have the same effect, because for all their hard, slaving work they must've put into 'Supper's Ready', I still end up getting bored despite all the ideas flapping by my head at a zillion miles per hour. I dig the Hackett solo that sounds like Jorma Kaukonen, I like about half the lyrics the best out of any I've heard from Gabriel and all, especially the 'hey babe' chorus, which sure beats 'Close To The Edge' in my book. But still, it's 22 minutes of progressive rock, ranging all over the map in quality, having nearly nothing to do with itself (at least as far as I can tell. Who knows...maybe it's the Bible compressed into 20 verses, but what I hear is a bunch of sections that were obviously written at different times and in different notebooks. I guess I didn't do my 'Supper's Ready' research all that well.), and when it's all over I feel lots of relief that I made it through the whole thing and didn't turn it off. I guess it really is too interesting for that, and what other better sort of praise can you hoist upon a song that long?

As for the rest of Foxtrot, I'm impressed by how they've exorcised the dullities of Nursery Cryme, and left everything else behind that is either extremely beautiful and not very memorable, like 'Can-Utility and the Coastliners', featuring some of my favorite Gabriel vocal melodies ever over pleasant but ultimately pointless chord sequences (besides the fact that , whatever a 'can-utility' is, I wouldn't know one if it ran up and shoved steaming mangoes up my arsechamber. I do like the urgently pushing coda section, though.) or extremely memorable and charmingly unwieldy, like the prog clinic 'Wat-Cher-Of-Tha-Skies', and the truly odd 'Get 'Em Out By Friday', which starts out with Gabriel bemoaning the fact that he's being evicted from his apartment, then goes into a seriously demented fantasy sequence where people are being engineered to be half-sized so they can fit double numbers into the same square footage. Eeeks. These guys sure could let their imaginations run away with them, couldn't they? Fantastically well-crafted song, with complicated sections that somehow seem to mix moving lyrics about their landlord's new digs, and instrumental sections that almost don't bore until Banks gets his turn and fails to turn in anything other than organ chords. I guess he feels he did enough hard work on the intro to 'Time Table' to put much more effort into anything else. This one yet another winning Gabriel performance to leave it burned into my brain, but if Phil had sung it, I'm sure I wouldn't like it very much at all. And 'Horizon's' is like Hackett's response to Steve Howe's 'The Clap', or one of Tony Iommi's acoustic solos: very pretty, and an effective intro to the 350 pound transvestite meter maid which is 'Supper's Ready', but not much of substance in and of itself.

Foxtrot has flaws, and I almost feel like I've overrated it, but for progheads out there, those five of you who don't know it already that is, absolutely need this record. It certainly improves over Cryme, in all ways. Your average fan, like me, probably faces an uphill battle on a muddy road full of hungry boll weevils, but may find some real treasures in all them solos and tricky time signatures. And a big hand for Collins, who finally gets heard on a Genesis record.

Capn's Final Word: Both an album that's guilty of all of prog's major crimes and one that still transcends each one of them. Still don't move me all that much, though.

Capn's Note: I found out after a little research that 'Supper's Ready' is supposed to be about the Christian Apocalypse, but that doesn't help it make any more sense for me. Oh, and I'm not using any of it's multiple part titles (e.g. 'Apocalypse In 9/8') here because I don't know what they are. I have this on MP3 and they're not listed there. If this helps you find God, good for you. I still think Gabriel is mostly fucking with us, and looking for a good excuse to use all of his stage masks.

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Genesis Live - Atco 1973.

Having to invoke my Live Album Rule #316.53b, which reads as follows: If everything about a live release is good-to-great, including performance, energy, setlist, sound quality, popcorn, boobs on the drunk chicks riding their boyfriends' shoulders, stage costumes, pointy stage hats, good drugs backstage, and sheepdogs. But with all of that cool stuff, if a band only plays exactly what's on the record, like Genesis does on this here Live sausage, I just can't give a record higher than a B plus. And they don't exactly hit all the bases at 100% - the sound is substandard, the band could be tighter, no sheepdogs, and the faggots are sitting down. I mean, the only non-classical artists I think should be sitting down, besides pianists and drummers, are the ones over the age of 70 years old or possibly someone in a wheelchair. I saw B.B. King the other year and he sat down about half the time. Fine. He's old and fat and dammit, plays 200 shows a year. He deserves to have a rest awhile. Robert Fripp? A poseur sissy. But even though they haven't just convinced me that they just hit a massive third-tier home run with this release on the Fundamentals of Live Albums, because they play 'Get 'Em Out By Friday' and 'Hogweed', and 'Watcher Of The Skies' (not in that order) and 'The Knife' with such reckless precision that my jaw drops in teeth-clenching thought-provoking stupor. I mean, could just anyone play these songs on stage with huge headpieces on their heads? Not a chance. Hackett's solos are exactly as written on the CD. The keyboard parts are doubled just exactly like they are on the record by the guitar and/or bass. Phil Collins is much more audible throughout. I smile a bunch. But don't buy it unless you seriously want to prove it to yourself that these guys can actually play their stuff onstage. I mean, it's not like they overdub that much in the studio.

Capn's Final Word: No convincing reason to prefer this over just staying with the studio albums, but still impressive.

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Selling England By The Pound - Atco 1973.

Overrated. Either that, or I'm just not as much of a real prog lover as most of the WRC. I mean, just about everyone on the 'net ranks this album as either A) Just about exactly perfect just as it is, or B) Perfect, but not rated as such because the person feels that would be 'subjective'. Well, I certainly find flaws in this record, and not small ones either, but I still find room to love it just as much as Foxtrot, if not as much as Broadway. Yeah, yeah, I'm one of those weirdos who finds that this album in fact does contain wasted notes, dull passages ('like the second half of 'Moonlit Knight', gawd...it just tweedles on forever, and you can't even hear Hackett's great solo at the very end), and more incomprehensible Gabriel stories that leave me feeling confused and wasted, like 'I Know What I Like (In Your Wardrobe)'...a transvestite gardener who keeps sharpening his lawn mower blade? I was just fine with this hook explosion until I read the lyric sheet, and now I just feel gross. And it's not like I have anything against cross-dressers necessarily. It's just how lyrics like these pop out of Gabriel's mouth, it's sorta slimy now that I know what they are about. I guess I just like the way Broadway makes my skin crawl better....it feels like it was really intended to do so, while this album is just sunnily demented, like a little dewdrop of paranoid schizophrenia in your morning latte. And is probably all the more disturbing for just that sunny disposition.

For another knock against the 'invincible'  of , I keep hearing about how this is 'Steve Hackett's Genesis Record', and while I admit that there are some fantastic solos on here, not to mention 'Firth Of Fifth' and 'Dancing With The Moonlit Knight', I just don't hear how this is so. I will admit that this is a much better band mix than previous, and Banks makes a good stab at not sticking out too badly. He doesn't even screw up his lyrics (on 'Firth of Fifth') all that badly, I mean, they're just MOR prog irresponsibilities about sheep and waterfalls, but in comparison to the Cheerful Insanity Of Mr. Gabriel, we're not even in the same league. I mean, I can ignore lyrics like Banks' (and after Peter leaves after Broadway, I will), but I can't avoid Gabriel's...good or bad, they do provoke some reaction out of me with their uniqueness. 'Firth Of Fifth' is probably the most 'classical' of all the big prog epics on this record, and the synths, while simplistic, are at least pleasantly gripping, which is better than the average for Mr. Banks. And after way too long of this synthing around, finally we get to hear Steve Hackett make his guitar cry out with one of the most moving passages ever in a progressive song. I mean, that guitar is weeping and sighing gently...he's not soloing, he's playing. And that makes quite a lot of difference to me. I like soloing too, but this is special sauce on the steak of life for me.

Now, I'm gonna bash the second side of this album almost mercilessly, but until that time comes, let me heap some pretty heavy praise on the craft and effort that went into the record as a whole. This is by far, despite my Hackett objections, the best 'band' mix on any Gabriel-era Genesis album. The group seems to be playing along like some 10-armed monster, and Colins is really coming into his own on the drum kit. While on Foxtrot he was finally audible and later on Broadway he singularly blows through the scenery, here he's just right. Even Banks does a very nice job of keeping his synth tones pretty, his playing style less 'plinky' and more legato than usual (a major criticism of Banks's playing is his tendency to clip all of his notes, even when he isn't playing anything interesting, thus making something sound cheap and blocky when it could be smooth and beautiful. But he's fine and dandy across the board on England). In short, Genesis has finally found clear production and has worked the wrinkles out of their arrangements...now, if they'd written some better songs on side B....

There's two large fries on side B, 'The Battle Of Epping Forest', and 'The Cinema Show', and you know what? I don't like either one. 'Epping Forest' is about a gangland turf war, but for a huge prog epic running over 10 minutes, it sure could've used a) a more interesting story line/point b) much less pointless ensemble playing that generates neither heat nor awe, c) a whole lot more varying parts. Now, I can understand how someone might listen to the first part of this record and somehow begin to think that this is the best prog album ever, but 'Forest' just completely throws me up on the table and pours cat litter on me, and I am both bored and annoyed by the time it finally winds its dynamically flat way around to the end again. Now some bands have filler tunes. I hold this up as filler in tunes. 'After The Ordeal' is the only interesting part of the song, and it's not even a formal district of the Wood, its an epilogue. But at least it's melodically active and features very nice piano playing (lose the synths, Tony!!!), while dammit, 'Forest' just thinks it can get by on goofy Britishness in the words alone. And 'The Cinema Show' is a pretty dumb blonde of a tune, and not only never seems to gather up my attention, it just never even gives me anything to listen to. I mean, this is prog rock? Wherefore is it so confoundedly free of heat and power? They seem content to play these arpeggios for minutes on end, and an arpeggio sounds fine for a little while, but too much more and I'm reminded of the harp player we hired at my wedding. I wanted to shoot her before the night was over. This is very close to how I felt about her, too. And Gabriel 'na-na's' Crosby, Stills, and Nash's 'Our House' in that part, too. Oh, it gets a little more proggy at the ending faster section, but I'm sitll never moved off my barstool to investigate this girl further...I'm just not interested, other than letting her sit there and make slightly pathetic flirty eyes at me for awhile, that's all. I mean, some people think this is their favorite album ever....are they mad? Or are they just lacking in personality juice? Maybe just have never heard Run DMC's Raising Hell or Marvin Gaye's What's Goin On yet. Or probably ever will. This music....gawd....it's dorky. Side B of this record is rock music for people who are too good for rock music.

Oh, I suppose this should be a B, too, considering how much I actually enjoy the record. I mean, I don't enjoy even 'Dancing With The Moonlit Knight' all that much. 'Firth Of Fifth' is cool and is one of the band's most tasteful prog-classical songs, and 'I Know What I Like' has the pop power of the state of Nebraska covered in tinfoil and placed on God's Own Range Oven (and surprise! Is the only Gabriel-era tune on Genesis' latest hits compilation), and Collins' 'More Fool Me' never heard anyone's dog, but the rest of this album forces me to place my tongue in between my lips and blow, thus spraying spittle all over my keyboard and making my wife look at me with one eyebrow cocked above the other. And I hate that.

Capn's Final Word: Like smoking banana peels, I honestly do NOT understand what all of the fuss is about. Pleasant enough, and certainly no ripoff, but I was moved more by Steel Magnolias. This album is pretty, but not great.

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Peter Ross     Your Rating: C+
Any Short Comments?: YES.  That is exactly the same opinion I have about this album--pretty, but not great.  After reading McFerrin and Starostin's reviews of this album, I was expecting to be blown away, but almost EVERY SINGLE SONG (except "The Battle Of Epping Forest" and "More Fool Me") slipped right past me with little or no memorable melodies to attract my attention.  Great review.

 

Ben  ben@wkdoors.com   Your Rating: B+
Any Short Comments?: Dude, you are right on the money with your review.  This album is good, but its not the absolute masterpiece that other reviewers claim.  My biggest problem with the album is The Battle of Epping Forest.  That song does nothing for me, and its really frigging long.  When Peter Gabriel starts doing his gay character voices it really rubs me the wrong way.  That shit was tolerable in Supper's Ready, but enough already.

One point I will disagree with you on is Cinema Show. From the amazing guitar work in the beginning to the intense drum and keyboard powered climax, this song delivers. Granted I don't have a clue what the hell Gabriel means when he sings "As a man like the sea I raged, as a woman, like the earth I a gave, But there is in fact more earth than sea" when a moment earlier he was singing about a couple going on a date, but it all just sounds amazing nonetheless. 

The shorter songs seem like throwaway filler to me, while the Moonlit Knight and Firth are both absolute top shelf.  So there you have it, many moments of brilliance, but too many stinkers in the mix prevent this from being a complete triumph.


 Rick Atbert     Your Rating: A+
Any Short Comments?: Well, such it goes with all prog, I guess.  The only really universally accepted 'good' prog albums are, what...In the Court of the Crimson King, Red, and Fragile?  Besides Larks' Tongues in Aspic this is my favorite prog album...like all Genesis albums, it really took me a while to get into it.  The first five or six listens I didn't really get into it.  But you start to notice little things you like...first, it's the "Dancing With the Moonlit Knight" solo, second, it's the "Cinema Show" keyboard part, soon it's the middle section of "The Battle of Epping Forest" and you realize that "More Fool Me" is actually a very pretty song.  After which you'll really start to enjoy it.

 


The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway - Atco 1974.

Beats the ever-loving holy Howard Hessman out of The Wall for double-disc progresso soup rock operas, that's for sure. It's also my favorite Genesis record, hands down, bloated double length and all, horrible fourth side and all, incomprehensible story line and all...this is Genesis for banging your head. It's power prog, yet somehow doesn't feature Hackett in almost any fashion. They probably just left the guy behind at the Dairy Queen while he was finishing his Flurry and went off to the studio to work on this one alone. But boy, I actually like the 'angry synth/overdriven bass/entirely too loud drums' instrumental mix on this album. Screw Steve Hackett, and screw guitar solos. If Genesis had rocked this hard all along, I'd probably feel differently, but the true grit of Lamb makes a believer out of me that Hackett was probably too cerebral for what this band was trying to do on this record. Not that it had much bearing on what happened later on Trick Of The Tail, which sounds like a return to England-era formalism. But for one time in their careers, Gabriel and company decide to return to the guts of 'The Knife', and aren't afraid to make music that kicks ass. I mean, I love this record....it's so out of their usual gentlemanly character.

But forget most of the second disc exists.

Thinking more deeply about the reasons why this album kicks all sorts of ass for me, I guess it all comes back to Peter Gabriel, who plays the album in the guise of Rael, a Manhattan Puerto Rican graffiti artist (why Puerto Rican? Why not Icelandic?), who, as far as I can tell, angers the great spirits of The Big Apple, sniff too much paint soluent, has myriads of ever-more-disturbing hallucinations, meets such Genesisisms as Hairless Hearts and Carpet Crawlers, and finally totally gets lost in the THC-damaged short attention span of Peter Gabriel, who loses all narrative thread about song #8 and finishes the album just relating what seems like a never-ending series of his bad dreams. There are songs I can make heads and hamhocks of, like 'Counting Out Time', which is about young Rael reading a sex manual and trying to remember where all the 'hot zones' are to an impossibly boingy, poppy background. And 'Fly On A Windshield', probably my favorite track on the double, which gives you a visual of a gathering cloud blowing dust onto Rael's skin, which then hardens into a shell, which encases him, and he waits for the windshield on the freeway.....BOOOOM!!! Mellotron and Phil Collins battle it out for turf in a war that's much more interesting than 'The Battle Of Epping Forest'....and the song just whoooshes along, yeah, like a fly trapped on a windshield.

But forget most of the second disc exists.

Lots of this double record is, like usual, very confusing and nearly impossible to understand, though some fine souls have spent untold hours attempting to put together a 'story' behind this album, even though Gabriel actually did it first in his own liner notes/libretto, thus making these people seem awfully idiotic to me. Goddamn it, this stuff is meant to be creepy imagery, that's all. Peter cut his hair, dropped most of his 'stage characters' that he'd relied upon for much of his career (you know, the masks and stuff), and spent most of his time in a ratty t-shirt as Rael. Gabriel was obviously having a hard time coming to grips with the newfound popularity of his band, was ready to jump ship, and was expressing his inner Iggy Pop when he spat out the lyrics to 'Back In NYC', one of the other most flattening songs on the first half of the album. George Starostin called it 'ugly', no doubt because we hear the words 'full of shit' (of course, George's lyrical puritanism has fallen by the wayside now that he regularly uses words like 'motherfucker' in his reviews...shit, I try not to do that too much. Never know when there might be kids wandering around in here. I don't need some irate mama writing me and wondering why I described Jewel's vaginal secretions as being 'sweet sweet' back in my AC/DC reviews)(like honey butter)).

But forget most of the second disc exists.

More about the record and less about bodily fluids, eh? I really love this one, have I told you that? We get a preview of early 80's Genesis on 'The Carpet Crawlers', even with lots of Phil Collins on vocals, and the song may be simple, but it's dramatic and full of nice shades of grey. This is a very black and white album...they had the right idea with the cover art on this one. And like the photographs, we never know quite what scene we're going to be placed in next. The England-isms of 'Chamber of 32 Doors', the smashing hard rock of 'Lillywhite Lillith', noise collage of 'The Waiting Room' which is, of course, where my attention finally begins to wane on this record....no, they don't sustain it to the end, and it certainly does get mighty rough at the end of the second record. Please be forewarned....all of my words of praise end here, and from here on we have some of the worst stretches of Genesis music ever.

And so I almost never listen to it, though even upon revisitation, my opinion is that Genecyst mostly just ran out of melodic ideas to fit in with whatever was left of 'the story' in Gabriel's mind by now, which I think consisted mostly of obscure literary references. Instead of writing 'songs' they end up indulging their very worst of tendencies, from endless soloing on mangled synth tones, to ambient stretches (ugh!) and jokey prog rock Hindenburgs waiting for the antenna to rupture the skin of their pretentions. I have no idea where the 'Supernatural Anesthetist' comes from, or where he might be going or sticking that stethoscope, but for some reason he's given equal time on this record, during one of the worst stretches of soloing to come from the original band. Hackett turns in a truly awful guitar solo with a corny guitar tone. And it's not like much of the rest of the stuff to finish off the album helps. After some Eno-raping Mellotron overload, we get hilariously Emerson, Lake, and Palmer-ish progressive cliches, more airy sound pallets for minutes on end, more stupid keyboard solos, and an anti-climactic ending tune called 'It'. Oh, Lord, why couldn't they have finished this with 'Lillywhite Lillith'? And did Peter absolutely have to leave on such a bad stretch of music? Aww, hell. Now the good part really is gone for good. Bye, Pete.

Lamb has about 2/3rds of its running time mashed clean with, as I see it, the best this band had to offer. I grind my teeth and bash my brains and wiggle my ass 10 times more to this first part of this album than any of the rest of the band's output, including Invisible Touch. But then it all falls apart in one long, bad stretch of unintentionally funny bad music at the end of the record. A grand failure, I guess you might say, but in my opinion it shows that this band really never did have it together enough to flesh out two whole discs with good songs...not every band can, you know. So for the Gabriel lovers, it's a series of progressively stranger solo albums before finding him turn abruptly to FM radio respectability, where he enjoys his newfound freedom by taking 10 years to simply rerecord So again. And the rest of the group soldiered on behind Collins, keeping the prog fires burning for a few years longer....

Capn's Final Word: Ahhhh....so this is where Radiohead stole most of OK Computer's musical ideas from. Gabriel's exit starts of graceful, and gets grumpy at the end. I listen to the first disc religiously.

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A Trick Of The Tail - Atco 1975

Peter Gabriel's loss to the strange world of New Wave Yuppie Prog (if there's a better description for Gabriel's solo career, I'd like to hear it. Not that I'm damning the guy at all...in fact, I like his solo stuff quite a bit. But it sure ain't much like Genesis.) could've affected the band a lot more than it did. But at least for the first year or so Genesis soldiered on, cruising at a respectable altitude on the fumes of '73-4. Things did change, not the least based around the fact that Hackett plays even less than he did on Broadway, and is now about as audible as the man sweeping up the bathroom next door to the studio, but I'll say more about that later. Also, in case you're not aware, Phil Collins, very oddly not the first, second, or even 200th choice for the lead singer's seat, takes over on vocals. And although he sorta sounds akin to Gabriel at times, he lacks all the subtlety, most of the theatricality, and even more of the engaging smokiness of the departing icon. Since I'm less of a 'vocals guy' than a 'music guy', and Collins spends most of his time buried pretty far down in the mix here to do too much damage to the band's reputation, I figure all is well. Although, none of the rest of them could write a phrase next to him, either, though to their credit they turn in some of their best efforts ever on Tail, and that's no abacab. Still, for losing their founding member, main songwriter, and focal point, for Genesis to sustain this level of quality for even one album is simply astounding and a big reason why I never really say I hate any of these guys, no matter how bad things got in the late 80's.

Now, I will say that Tail is probably Genesis' most modest album in some time. A single record with no real themes (supposedly some dichotomy between reality and fantasy makes a thematic appearance right after the second commercial break and station identification, but all I hear from this is 'usual Genesis lyrics', good or bad as that may be), a proggy loud song followed by a soft song followed by a rocking loud song followed by another soft song followed by an annoying fast song followed by a pretty slow song followed by a short poppy song followed by a recap of the first seven songs that qualifies as a waste of tape. Now, with this kind of lineup you know what's comin' up on the menu next, you never get caught completely off guard, all the prog fans are happy as little oysters at a swinger's party because they've got 'Dance On A Volcano' to confuse and prick the hell out of them and a long mellotron and synth solo on ''Entangled' to float off to long hair heaven on, while I get 'Squonk' and 'Ripples' to shoot good ol' beauty rockin' up into my forehead skin. I mean, for a tale about a little creature that cries himself out of existence, 'Squonk' sure acquits itself as hard rock. What was with prog bands finally choosing 1975 as the year they'd decide to forget all the pretentions and just rock it out? (I guess Genesis rocked pretty well on Lamb, but don't distract me...) First Red, then Relayer, now 'Squonk'. Okay, it doesn't rock that hard, and rather resembles Genesis' 80-86 synth rock hits, but it still ranks as one of my favorite songs ever of theirs, and definitely of the post-Gabriel era. The little fanfare synth figure is just so cheesy, and the verse is Miami Vice enough, and the drum beat is just heavy metal enough that I'm slam bang selling my soul in love with this song. Collins sounds great. Better watch out you better watch out. Ooh, I also love Rutherford's 'Ripples', which I guess enacts the guy's formula...oddly constructed verse and heaven-reaching chorus. Ahh...it's just gorgeous and fascinating, something which Banks' endless 'Mad Man Moon' is not.

Tail is the first Geto Boyz record I actually feel I can take bite-sized pieces out of. I'm not overloaded by underdeveloped ideas, like the early albums, or bogged down in too much sludge, like England, and not forcibly taken to class and given an AP exam like on Broadway. My mind is at ease on this trip called Trick...maybe just a bit too at ease when I compare it to the carpet crawling nightmare scapes I inhabited on the last album, but then again accessibility is the first step towards taking over the world via record sales, and that, my friends and meter readers, is exactly what G Mark II is planning to do. Oh, I feel a bit cheated by 'Los Endos' and all of the songs drag out a bit long for my underwear, and Banks is still growing into a huge intergalactic ego being capable of destroying worlds using nothing more than his comb filter, and Hackett may as well never have left his barstool, but I'm still very happy with this record as a whole. This band is still at the top of their professionalism game, and by making an album that sounds both interesting and, far outside of all expectations, exciting, I feel like giving them gold stars and extra Tang at recess.

Capn's Final Word: Genesis without Gabriel makes a Genesis album that doesn't need Gabriel to be successful. I want my own pet Squonk.

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Seconds Out - Atlantic 1977

Still Genesis, still live in the wake of Peter Frampton and the fumes of Yes, and unless you feel like Phil Collins should never have taken over for Peter Gabriel (and if you liked Trick of the Tail at all, and I can't imagine why you wouldn't have, didn't that dispel most of your short-term reservations of having Long John Baldy at the microphone? Would you rather have had Genesis just split up and Phil start his solo career that much earlier? I sure wouldn't.) you'll probably find quite a few things to enjoy on this one. I sho 'nuff do, Mister Rogers, that and a bucket of fried chicken wings. I submit 'Squonk' as the perfect album opener, 'Firth Of Fifth' being really cool and pretty, 'Supper's Ready' in all its length (actually adds a minute, by Gawd), more Hackett playing than we've heard in aeons, which is still less than on about a minute of any other prog band's double live albums. There's either this dude who played with Zappa on drums, or BiILL BRUFORD! Hell yeah, Keifer Sutherland! The only guy who could out-drum Phil himself, leaving him to go and sing his little high-register heart out. You know, I could go off and spend three paragraphs ticking off each and every place where he doesn't sing things exactly as they were on the solo albums, but I'm going to be forgiving as all hell and try to earn some oral lovin' from my wife due to my sensitivity. The only time on the album where the vocals really don't pass as mustard is on 'Robbery, Assault, and Battery', sung in 100% cockney nerve-shredding put-on. But since Col sung it the first time anyway, I guess it's his prerogative to make things as annoying as he damn well wants to. Oh, 'Afterglow' still eats the butt-pirate's vas deferens, 'Cinema Show' still chomp's the butch's strap-on, and 'Los Endos' still as useless as a eunuch's scrotum. Ah well. An hour and a half of Genesis live music, sure not as fiery as Live, but still prime meat from the expensive end of the butcher's display case. And still nothing more than what you've already heard.

Capn's Final Word:  A continuation of Live and nearly as good. Hear Phil try his hardest, if only you can make him out over all the bitching of the Genesis purists. 

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Wind And Wuthering - Atco 1977..

Serious problems begin to sweat through the walls of our Favorite Fairies. No doubt under quite a bit of label pressure to release and album before they were particularly well ready to leave their Jamaican beach homes to do so, Tony Banks takes the reins on a Genesis album in a stronger way than he ever had before, and it's not like Mr. Synth had been necessarily modest before, not since FGTR anyway. But the reason why he finds it necessary to so dominate proceedings with a synth sound so calculated to drive us bonkers, at such a loud volume, playing such extremely simple, two-note non-melodies, for the entire length of this bulky package, makes me wonder if he was attempting to actually destroy the Genesis audience. How long has it been since Genesis has done something extremely stupid? The first half of Trespass? Maybe the final side of Lamb? Whenever it was, it's really been some time since one of their records has simply stunk as badly as what this one attempts to do. Worse than a five rouble whore at a Kamchatka naval bar. Worse than a Three Rivers Stadium restroom on nickel beer night. Worse than this guy I used to know who had a gland problem and a gut the size of Kentucky.

No, really, I started this album up and the first song 'The Eleventh Earl Of Mar' reminds me exactly of 'Carouselambra' on Led Zeppelin's In Through The Out Door. Same overbearing synth playing two notes over and over again, same half-disco dance rhythm underwear. I mean, disco? Ikes. And during the 'heavy rocking' part (is that a bridge? a chorus? Oh who gives a flying banana anus...), Mike Rutherford's bass sounds just like Larry Graham's on Sly and the Family Stone's 'Dance To The Music', all in all a much better song than this one. But even this one features some hefty rhythm work, while the comatose 'One For The Vine' just has Steve Hackett pricking little holes in your earlobes with his nagging guitar figure. This is what he's reduced to? He at least had a few cool solos on Trick, and here he's just given about four notes? I bet the guy didn't even fight the contraction of his role to something akin to 'six-string window washing'. Then again, there's absolutely no guarantees that Mike Rutherford isn't taking Hackett's duties anyway. Not that there's anything truly indicative of Mr. Hack on this album outside of the acoustic intro to '

Oh my God, you won't even believe the rest of the album unless I tell you. It's a prog hater's worst nightmare, the horrific gale-through-catgut sound Mr. Banks wrangles out of his synthesizers on songs like the instrumental terrorist 'Wot Gorilla?' (I think they mean Phil Collins's stupid bushy beard) or the prog-lite 'All In A Mouse's Night' or 'In That Quiet Earth' which populate and pollute the reaches and stretches of this record. Imagine a busy Rush-esque rhythm section (probably the best thing about this album I can pin down...both Collins and Rutherford are rocking, fast, and professional all the way through this fat bastard) with this generic, flat guitar solo over the top ('cmon Steve....you're fighting for your job here!), with aggrivated strangling courtesy of these 300 pound, 6000 watt synths that keep bowling their way over the top of all the music. I guess on the cooler numbers, like the small hit 'Your Own Special Way', or the simplistic ballad 'Afterglow' (which later became a concert favorite for reasons known only to Phil Collins and a 67 year old grandmother living in Newcastle-upon-Tyne who likes to knit socks.), where the synths are at least tolerable, if not necessary. Everywhere else, it's as if a three year old scribbled with Burnt Umber crayolas (by far my LEAST favorite crayola crayon color) all over someone's grey bathroom wall. The wall itself may have been respectable and dull, but at least it wasn't harming anyone. But these synth obscenities that Banks has hoisted upon us are just too much.

Ooh....should I go on? Songwriting is definitely down. Hooks are gone. Rock is flushed in favor of Adult Contemporary of the most banal, dreary sort, probably in some search of 'atmosphere' that's to be brought to mind by the windblown cover art. What's more, since they can't seem to actually jettison their progressive tendencies yet, everything pretty (which is damned simplistic anyway) is needlessly fucked up, mixed in with childish and silly interludes like the jumble in the middle of 'Vine' that just make little sense to me in the context of the song. Or songs just go on about their two notes, bore us for a lifetime, then fade off. Foo. Even the damn record cover is bad! I mean, if there were more of the cool disco cheese like 'Mar', I could at least award this some smile points. But I do feel like the drum and bass work make it worth something.

Capn's Final Word: Phoo. Steve Hackett made this record? This is exactly how you were afraid they were going to sound after Gabriel left, but they tricked you with Trick. It all comes to a soupy, artificially cursed end here.

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Gleb gls@sonic.net  Your Rating: A
Any Short Comments?: Captain,

I think that this album deserves at least an A. Granted, I may be partial as a fan of early Genesis, but I do believe that this particular album stands out as a great example of a whole that's more than the sum of its parts. To me, the album carries important and deeply meaningful symbols that transcend the music, the vocals, the lyrics, the arrangement etc.

What are some of these deep symbols?

"One for the Vine" - Russia and its martyrdom.

"Blood on the Rooftops", England. Like many educated Russians, I'm an Anglophil of sorts, and the beloved exquisite decadence of the Old World is what this song conveys to me.

"11th Earl of Mar", England (OK, this is really Scotland, but as an American I don't care :)) Once I was flying San Francisco to Kiev, via London. I was on a transfer bus between Heathrow and Gatwick, it was September and I was thinking that this green along the motorway, this dull emerald shade of green, can only be found in England. It's of the shire. "Out on the road in the direction of Perth..."

Regards,
Gleb

PS. I'm a Russian-turned-American and find it intriguing that you've lived in Russia for a while and (one may assume) know the rock-n-roll context and tastes of Eastern Europe as well as of the English speaking world. I'm curious (perhaps material for an FAQ?) whether Russian rock has found its way into your vast collection. If so, have you thought of reviewing any of it?

PPS. Give Trespass an A or an A-, won't you?

 


...and then there were three - Atlantic 1978

The loss of Steve Hackett before the recording of this album (and alluded to in the oh so droll album title...it's as if they were advertising the fact that everyone kept quitting. Heh, self-deprecating humor is stupid. I'm glad I don't use any of it on THIS lame site of mine) didn't make a damn bit of difference. Hell, the man didn't have an important role in the last three studio albums anyway, and the band had pretty much forgotten him to the corner, and that damn deck of solitaire cards was getting mighty frayed by 1977. He probably recorded his backwards guitar solos and shit in about 15 minutes, then went off and smoked fags and played with girls and other suck rock star stuff for the next 6 months, while Banks perfected the filling-rattling screech on the thirty-third bar of 'Wot Gorilla?' on his synthesizer. But still, how do you expect a band to go on after having lost 40 percent of its lineup, and probably 75% of it's talent? Collins and co. were willing to give it the ol' art school try, meaning rushing a disappointing album out so the fans didn't lose interest. Conversely, the fans actually bought it, made the aberrantly catchy 'Follow You Follow Me' a huge hit, and the new Genesis was borne out of this steaming pool of rhino vomit trying to pass itself off as the next progressive release from the formerly good guys.

This album is a continuation of the transitional phase inducted by Wind Between My Ears, but in an altogether less annoying and more simply dull fashion. If you were to ask yourself if you would rather date Rosanne or Sissy Spacek, what would you say? The lesser of two evils, no doubt. Well, I'd go with Spacek...boring, plain, possibly good natured, and never going to embarrass you out loud there at the Wendy's. Roseanne I'm not so sure I could last five minutes with, which is pretty much like Wind...it tries something but fails so outrageously that I'm left trying to escape out of the bathroom window to finish the horror. I actually took several listens to Wind (and this album too, of course), but in probably hundreds of different sessions. It was hard for me to get through all at once....I guess this album isn't so much different now that I think about it, but I do at least listen to the whole thing in one sitting without going 'bark!' like a little puppy dog. Do I remember anything but 'Follow You, Follow Me' once it's over? Not at all. ATTW3 just wants to play itself out and get itself over with without harming anyone, but it just does it in the most plain-Vanilla, no-melody way possible. When Phil says 'so the days they turn into years, and still no tomorrow appears' after like a zillion creeping verses of 'Undertow' lilt by, I'm willing to empathize.

I guess the secret behind all this boredom is that Genesis hadn't yet figured out that they weren't progressive anymore, because that would alienate more fans, and I'm sure they couldn't afford to lose too many more of those. They keep creeping ever so slowly towards the 80's synth-pop sound we're familiar with, but continue to dress the songs up in unhappy un-melodies and spray Hook-B-Gone all over them, because if these songs had hooks, no one would confuse them with anything other than pop any longer. Other than the damned length and horrible (and by horrible I mean bad) lyrics like 'they say snow's a good year, filled with the love of all who lie so deep' on the song titled 'Snowbound' about a snowman...isn't this what killed prog, just this right here? Fuck. And that ain't all, folks. Maybe it's just that I've avoided Genesis lyric sheets like the plague since Gabriel left, and I've just now poked my head down the shithole, but this stuff is awful. Do I need Banks lecturing me about growing old and getting useless? Hell no. I've got the Moody Blues doing that with taste and wit, I don't need some second-rate English organ player telling me I'm wasting my time. Rutherford does a little better, preferring to give us little country-western tunes with easily ignorable and boring stories.

I'm also quite disappointed in the fact that Genesis decided to run out of Dodge the only thing that Wind ever had going for it, and that was the 100-proof rhythm section work that somehow Phil the Phat and Mike the Mack managed to wring out of their instruments. Possibly it's because Banks is not trying to drown them out all of the time, but they're all muted here, rarely (if ever) building up much steam. I guess it's just a bit more of the whole beigist pale that pollutes the record.

Jeez, so you sit through this overlong and under-edited jalopy, thinking that things will never end, and then Genesis pulls one of their little sleight-of-hands on you. 'Follow You, Follow Me', as far as I know their first major radio hit, floats on into the room and proceeds to charm us with it's low-key hook and creative chorus. I mean, this is completely new clothing for the old emperor, and after seeing what Genesis can't do any longer, it sure is nice to hear what they can. And I'm charmed...after god knows how long of being bored, I'm charmed. Now if I can just get them to do that for a whole album.

Capn's Final Word: Defines 'transitional album'....the prog Genesis was killed spectacularly by Wind, and the new one hasn't yet been born, leaving us with next to nothing. A dull, inoffensive record. 'Follow' is one great pop song, tho.

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Duke - Atlantic 1980

Big return to making decent albums by tha Big G, and, for the first time ever, they pull off a 100%, dyed-in-the-bull Pop album with a capital *pop!*. It seems we'd all gotten a bit tired of progressive rock by the 1980s (especially me, at four years old, wearing a skinny tie and bowing down to my Elvis Costello poster just like in Fast Times In The Western Civilization Of The Valley Girl.), and Genesis had been going through the motions since like 1976 anyway, so wasn't it about time for Collins and the folks to start just playing a bunch of short, overdramatic top 40 Adult Contemporary songs with easily defined melodies and ranges and domains, rather than all this mayonnaise they'd been tossing out the studio window for so many years? No Hackett or Gabriel is there to tell them not to, they'd already tested the waters with 'Follow You Follow Me' and saw that the time was right to make the plunge, piss off the few remaining early-70's fans for good, and leave progressive rock behind in a cloud of dust and denim.

Buuuuttttttt, it doesn't quite work that simply when you have a tough zit like Tony and Mike in the band, and while Duke has plenty of these cute little pop songs ('Misunderstanding' and 'Turn It On Again' were huge hits announced by Mr. Casey Kasem in between bouts of obscenities about little dogs dying), it's also got a concept (huh?) a bunch of instrumental music at the end, and a few songs that just walk all over that 3-4 minute radio-friendly running time. I guess you can remove the music from the prog but you can't remove the prog from the music, or some other litterbox philosophizing like that.

The biggest problem I have with Duke is that besides the two stupid-but-effective hits, the rest just bore bore bores me. If it's pop music, dammit, give me a hook. They spent all this time learning how to strip all the rock from their sound, but there's all this dramatic seriousness, no doubt about that ass-enhanced fucker on the album cover and his stupid life I care nothing about. Why is it that I never, and I mean never care one goody goody dumfuck about any concept album's concept, unless maybe we're talking about Pink Floyd's Animals or the Beach Boys' Shut Down? Just give me little stories in the songs, not describe the fact that Duke gets some girl, acts like a total dipshit for forty minutes, then somehow eats the big burrito in the track called 'Duke's End'. I sure am glad I don't have to put up with any more concepts from this band. From here on out they were strictly ballroom, and 100% committed to placing their albums as high on the charts as possible, and concepts just confuse or piss people off, thus preventing the transaction. Dammit. I'm not reviewing more fucking prog for awhile. For everything cool this genre has brought us, from the first disc of Lamb to Red to Fragile and Relayer, there's all this late 70's crud that I get just so weary of. I don't know of too many people who won't look at this album as 'the one with 'Turn It On Again' on it, and rightly they should. It's the best song on the album, a dancey, halfass socially-conscious pop rock song with this killer chorus 'turn it on turn it on again', and this perfect 'I...I...IIIIIIII!!!!!!' hook that ABBA needed to grab first. Oh, I love it. 'Misunderstanding' is just a bad rewrite of Zeppelin's 'Fool In The Rain' (which I guess is fair, since Zeppelin copied Wind and Wuthering's 'Eleventh Earl of Mar' for 'Carouselambra' on the same record) without the funk or the humor.

Ahhh, but the album doesn't ever piss me off unless I think too much about it, which I'm sure wasn't the intention.  The intention is to groove to Phil's drums, be bowled over by the triumphant (and fairly listenable) synths, ignore the lack of sense and underserving of melody, and just get on with itself. Collins oversings and overplays and overcompensates, but the album is pretty much a listenable B minus. Improve the memorability and hookiness and you've got a more solid grade, but right now I'm just baffled why Collins is sounding like he's singing the most important music of his career about a fat guy in a green suit.

Capn's Final Word: They commit themselves to the pop, but fail to follow through. A need exists to get rid of prog thinking once and for all...they've still got irritating vestiges of former self-importance hanging around.

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Abacab - Atlantic 1981

Hey now! I can enjoy this record...Genesis are now a dance pop band, complete with 'Heart Of Glass'-Blondie fake drums and lots of 'grooves', that, sho 'nuff....actually groove! What's to stop me from liking this hooky crap other than the fact that I feel like the dorkiest kid in the 7th grade typing class when I listen to it? Dammit, put it on in the relative anonymity of my car and I love the shit outta this shit. Oh, I mean, it's not like my life was changed by it or anything, but these guys have just about perfected the mix between seriousness and stupid musical fun that can be squeezed out and distilled down into a brown, sticky syrup of joy and pressed into a CD and played on only the highest quality $750 early-80's CD player. Cheese, yes, but these guys were frigging on the cutting edge again! This was 1981 and they'd discovered that synthesizers could sound cool, instead of just techy or noisy. Banks discovers this angry, full, chorused Gary Numan synth patch and uses it in this twitchy, aggressive way against Phil Collins' reformed John Bonham-isms. There's some live drumming, doncha know!

The thing that makes this album work so damned well is that they let the grooves speak for themselves. Phil lays down this clockwork over which Tony constructs a very complicated, repetitive funk that never sacrifices itself for the sake of some goddamned concept or for self-indulgent soloing. They're happy to serve the One, as the post P-Funkers they must be. Really, the whole thing never seems to be much of a stretch away from the Talking Heads, other than the heads weren't quite so much into synthesizers yet in 1981, and were still a few years away from their big-Bernie Worrell band (you know, Stop Making Sense tour and all that), and Phil isn't ironic and deadpan like David Byrne, but Genesis and the 'Heads seem to be inhabiting a very similar plane in the universe. Must be the strong prog connections that the Heads had after they hooked up with Brian Eno. I dunno, maybe I've spent too much time on this tangent and should've just said 'They sound like a heavier Talking Heads, so if you like them, you'll dig this record too.' but I'm too stupid for that.

Oh, sometimes Genesis gets a bit stupid too. Banks has acquitted himself quite well of former embarrassments (take Wind and Wuthering for the main state's evidence) and I actually feel like trusting his judgment on Abacab, but he goes a bit too far on 'Dodo - Lurker' with his hilariously orgasmic wanking on some really wonky tones. I much prefer the post-industrialism of 'Who Dunnit', a real paranoid fucker of a song unlike much I've heard outside of Devo. Fantastic stuff, but I wouldn't necessarily go running for the lyric sheet. The last time I did that (...and then there were three), I coughed up a lung in embarrassment. I'd rather just live with my illusions and assume that these lyrics are probably pretty dumb. I can't understand any of them anyway, not with Phil clipping them out like he's Thomas Dolby or something. My favorite song on the record is the techno-thriller opener 'Abacab' (the title being a play on either the song architecture or chord sequence of an average pop song, take your pick), based around this tragic, distorted riff, which allows the band to stretch out a bit and jam at the end, but instead of soloing they simply work around in the groove, and the effect is honestly affecting. My booty was up on the mantle twitching away like a 3-box jello mold, I can tell you. Great dance music....accessible, challenging, hard, rocking. Genesis, for the first time maybe ever, was really on the cutting edge again, and I'm proud of the guys, They really swallowed their pride, buckled their bloated Seventies butts down, and put together some excellent stuff on this album. Yeah, an album about as Eighties as a Rubik's Cube covered in Fruit Roll-Ups, but still important.

At least until the final three songs or so, anyway. 'Man On The Corner' we'd soon recognize as the Quintessential Phil Collins Solo Ballad, a beast we'd soon learn to hide from until his vocal histrionics ceased and he returned to singing like he wasn't expounding some crucial opinions about the world and your place in it. Why did he always lose all sense of subtlety the minute the song got a little on the quiet side? I guess its just The Curse Of Collins. 'Like It Or Not' is similarly limp and self-important, I don't have too much regard for the horny hit 'No Reply At All', though I admit its as hooky as a Massachusetts cod boat, and 'Another Record' really seems like the filler it is. Good drum work, but when there's songs like the title track and 'Me And Sarah Jane' revolutionizing modern music making on the same record in such an infectious way, I need a bit more. Not like any of these songs are bad, though, and that's to be proud of. This whole album is. Lovers of synth rock and New Wave need to own it. Doubters of 80's Genesis need this as required listening. It's very good.

Capn's Final Word: A fine hoopty-do by a bunch of guys I figured to be washed up after Duke, but this is such enjoyable and high-quality work I just do not care about the 80's-ness of it all. A good album is a good album no matter if it has fake drums and plastic production or not.

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Michael Stokes     Your Rating: B
Any Short Comments?: This may be Collins best Genesis album but its still worse than every Gabriel era one except for "From Genesis to Revelation". When Gene Clark left the Byrds they definately lost something. Same for Gabriel.

 


Three Sides Live - Atlantic 1982.

Now if Live was good but useless, and Seconds Out was at least interesting and useless, Three Sides Live is not only useless, it's badly titled too. Now, this is the part where I always get confused. My version of this double live set has four sides of live stuff, but is called Three Sides Live instead of Four Sides Live, which I guess can be explained by having three members of the band left, no matter how pretentious that actually is. But see, there's still that guy Chester Thompson playing the drums like on Seconds Out, and there's this spare guitar/bass guy for when Mike needs to do one or the other. So, jeez. The fourth side is actually archive live stuff dating back all the way to the Wind and Wuthering tour, and it sucks, but it's got some Steve Hackett on one track. That means he gets royalties, doesn't it? One of the few real good points about this album, I'm sure. And to add insult to injury, I own the American vinyl copy of this record, still titled Three Sides Live, but this one actually only has three live sides, and a fourth side of dumb outtakes you don't need. Now, I haven't had my record player hooked up in like 2 years, so I sure can't remember dick about those studio songs, so I guess I'm reviewing the European version, which was the only one ever released on CD. Yeah, it was a bit honky for them not to combine all of the tracks from the two versions on the live reissue, but I'm not too gakked off. Like that matters at all.

Jesus Christ, all this fuss over a stupid synth-pop live album that has so little purpose in the world other than to clutter up Genesis-lovers' CD racks, to be taken down and played every once in a blue ball just so some nitwit with a pointy head can analyse all the differences between the live 'Duchess' and the studio one from Duke. Me? I didn't have enough pleasure doing that with Live, and I love that album (I just had to give it a B+ because, shit, they didn't actually need to do anything, did they? Not differently than they did a zillion times in the studio, anyway). Genesis has never learned the power of improvisation in their live performances (most likely not in their compositions, either), and when you're talking about Synth-Era Genesis, you may as well be watching a taped performance anyway. The only person who emotes at all is Phil Collins (big surprise, huh?), who shows how much he's getting into a song by oversinging it and straining his voice. Notice that, from this album on out, he does this a lot. Solo albums, too. Need some extra punch you can't get from the songwriting as it is? Blast the fuck out of your voice until all that's left is a firehose of battle-axe-level subtlety. He mostly sings on pitch, though, so good for him on that.

He certainly hasn't gotten much more comfortable singing Peter Gabriel's old songs, though. The oldies are all packed into the second record (or CD, you heathens) and Genesis treats them like obligations after blasting through 'Dodo'. 'In The Cage' is way too thin without all that guitar bombast of Genesis past, 'It' is interminably long (this is the one with Steve, and the one with the muddy sound), and only 'Watcher Of The Skies' sounds like it receives all the attention it needs. Ah well...they were more comfortable with grumpy keyboard songs and lovey-dovey slumming on 'Afterglow' than this old-school prog stuff from way back when. That, my friends, is why they kept Live in the catalogue (not to mention the Archive I boxed set, which I don't have).

Shit, but the rest of the factors are in place for this piece of dog goo left on my front lawn so the morning paper can land in it every day. The band sounds fine, there aren't any mistakes, the delay on the 'I...I....'s in 'Turn It On Again' is perfectly timed, the drums improve on the original recording quite a measure, and if you don't own Duke and Abacab, there's really no need to if you have this live set. I didn't for quite awhile myself, if I might admit a little bit of weakness about my being. The dance-pop era of Genesis may not be the most artistically dense or snobbishly respected, but these hooks are some durable damned dudes. I still love almost all these songs no matter how many times I hear them.

Capn's Final Word: Either get Abacab and Duke or get this, you don't need both. It doesn't have 'Follow You, Follow Me' on it, either, dumbasses. A highly professional piece of worthless product.

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Genesis - Atlantic 1983

Maybe it's time for a little Genesis career overview, just because I don't have very much to say about this album and I feel like it might be useful to put this all in some sort of historical framework. Genesis really is quite interesting, and many folks can't understand why I'd give this album and Invisible Touch positive reviews (which is what I'm going to do), because of what they represent to people now. It's the deepest, darkest recesses of the Nineteen Eighties, it's the failure of a great, smart, band. It's selling out to the highest and most heinous of degrees. It's a lot of dorky prog fans trying to dance to this music and failing miserably and returning to Gentle Giant or some other form of ultra-white, ultra-obscurist neuro-music. As I see it, though, Genesis was a progressive rock band only from 1970-1977 anyway, and at the extreme ends of that timeframe they were undeniably bad. I mean, by Wind and Wuthering they'd run out of lead singers, were in the process of running off their guitar player, and were definitely running deadly short on new ideas. Every decent new idea they had, bam! was simple and stupid and was a hit and made them a lot of new fans who weren't so damned demanding as these Star Trek freaks who were their former audience. After fumbling about in the dark for a few albums while acquainting themselves with being Top 40, mature pop stars, and rich, they fell into a songwriting groove that began with the gritty new wave-isms of Abacab and continued through Genesis and Touch unabated. Shit! These guys could write rings around their 1978 selves...their illusions of progressive pretention were long gone into the ether of the late 70's, and they weren't only survivors, they were now innovators. Something else for a bunch of baldy old near-has-beens, eh? Just think, if they wouldn't have tried this new pop thing on for size, we'd have another 90's prog reunion ala Anderson, Pukeford, Wakeman, and Hurl waiting for us. I'm glad they were able to actually make something of themselves for a decade.

Now to the album at hand. You've heard large chunks of it unless your head has been in a vault next to those slices of Stalin's brain the Soviets kept lying around for safe keeping, just in case the bread shortages got too bad, when the Miracle of Modern Communist Innovation would clone the man so the people could have something to eat. 'That's All', 'Just A Job To Do', 'Home By The Sea' (which has the chorus 'hoooooome by tha se....hooooooome by tha se', just like that. Aw, c'mon, of course you've heard it.), the slightly insulting and widely unlikable mistake 'Illegal Alien' are all radio staples and have been since we've been eating musical compositions for dinner, and I've even heard that 'Mama' was a hit, but I don't remember that. Barring 'Alien', they're pop masterpieces, all of them. Not to the level of 'Follow You, Follow Me' or 'Abacab', no, but definitely some easy-to-digest moments of simple brilliance for the common 30-year old administrative assistant to enjoy whilst sipping from a thirteenth cup of coffee during the interminable workday. Genesis never decide to stray too far from their accessible pop credo on any of the record. Even the extended dance remix jam that is 'Second Home By The Sea' is just a platform for some 1983 syndisco rather than a method to escape current realities. These synths aren't growling like on Abacab, they're just humming away, hoping you've had a good day at work and wouldn't mind having a few G&T's while you shimmy your blues away on the dancefloor. Music for the masses, indeed. The whole concept is taken way too far on 'Taking It All Too Hard', probably one of Phil's worst ever ballads (It's got those damned TR-727 fake bongo drums on it and lots and lots of oversinging. And plus, the arrangement sounds like Air Supply.), but that's outweighed by 'Just A Job', which rocks pretty good in a Miami Vice way, and actually has some real drum work on it. We end things up with two more pieces of filler, but can you argue with an album that had 5 of it's 9 songs end up being big radio hits? And only one of those is a racist swipe at Mexicans that doesn't sound sensitive enough to be otherwise? A winner, I say, or at least a real solid B grade because of all the rest of the songs suck balls. Just forget those exist...they're all on Side 2 anyway.

Capn's Final Word: Perfecting the plastic, shallow 80's Pop for Adults sound. You too can enjoy the syndrums, oatmeal-spicy synthesizers, and oversinging....oh and those motherFUCKING HOOOKS!

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Invisible Touch - Atlantic 1986

Just slightly more stupid dumb than Genesis, forcing me to flail myself with a dirty bike chain for a half an hour for penance and, more painfully, lower the grade to a B-minus, because I too feel just a little more stupid listening to Phil Collins' new turn to political and 'topical' material, some of it being the best on the album. But also because even the retarded poppy stuff, which in and of itself has no motives, political or otherwise, contain dunderheaded 'ear candy' like the irritating 'ya!' following 'She seems to have...an invisible touch' in the opening title track, and we're having syndrum tracks carry entire songs now, rather than simply serve as gimmicks underneath the chassis. I mean, like in that same song, Tony Banks plays these super simplistic lines over some generic guitar chording, and all the action is provided by the sequencers. Not that that's a problem for me, I mean I became okay with Genesis becoming 'synth automatons plus Phil Collins' since Abacab, but it's just that the level of effort put forth by the actual players is so low now. It doesn't make 'Tonight Tonight Tonight' any less hypnotic that Tony plays the same two note riff over and over again and Rutherford is relegated to making elephant noises with his guitar while Phil attempts to tell of a junkie's lament, something that sounds akin to Hillary Rodham Clinton lecturing us on how to keep a man satisfied for a 30 year marriage. It's just the wrong person for the job. If Phil ever took anything stronger than a hit of acid in his life I'd be shocked at the news. 'Land Of Confusion' (yeah, I'm going in order here, at least until I forget and stop) at least forces Mike Rutherford to earn his paycheck. Not like he plays a solo or anything, but at least he's audible here. Of course the jungle boogie is still the most audible part (you know, the part that is chosen from a menu on the synthesizer) and Phil's insistence that the world is going to hell in a handbasket and the only people to save us are...baby boomers? Not comin' home tonight, are we Phil? What, are you goin' up to Frankenstein's house with a pitchfork or somethin'? Whatever. It's interesting to hear what the boomers thought of themselves before they truly and verily became old Establishment farts like they are now...catchy song, tho.

This is an album made for the movie industry to grab for soundtracks. All of the songs sound ripped from contemporary films starring guys wearing too many white suits and pink undershirts, with girls who never wear anything form fitting because it would make their enormous hairdos look over ridiculous instead of merely foolish. The album takes a wrong turn on the road to Catchy Stupid Rockville and ends up in Phil Collin's Solo Sapville with another set of paint-by-erect members ballads like 'In Too Deep' and 'Throwing It All Away'. 'Throwing' at least hints at soulfulness, but 'Deep' is just fucknose. 'Throwing It All Away' is a theme song to a 1986 lovy-dovy movie starring Kathleen Turner with lots of skin, and 'Deep' is the theme song to a 1986 movie starring Kathleen Hepburn and lots of skin. And what 1986 You see now? 'The Brazilian' is just the best instrumental Soft Cell never made, and at least isn't derivative and artificial enough not to be faintly evocative, which 'Anything She Does' at least is. And what does it evoke? I see a Judd Nelson dancing scene crossed with Phil's subconscious desire to be Huey Lewis. Ugh. And for the kiddies who remember 1976 they throw out a 10+ minute bone of filler, er, I mean 'groundbreaking' longform synth-rock atmosphere which probably has fewer Ideas than a ten-second selection from 'Supper's Ready'. It does have quite a bit of gas at times, as well as some of the only real sounding drums on the entire record, but the story is incomprehensible (I guess they were studying their past work after all!) and the listenability wanes with the more beers I drink. Ah, this is an album based on the power of 3 or 4 singles, not the filler that makes up the rest of the album, especially when most of that filler is compacted into an unreasonably long ego piece.

Capn's Final Word: Quality control is getting a bit lax, and Phil's grip on the reigns is now total and all-exclusive, but at least there's still easily-identifiable hooks to be heard.

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We Can't Dance - Atlantic 1991

Less good, and the reason for this can be summed up in two words: Phil Collins' Enormous, Ever-Inflating Ego. Okay, so that was a few more than two, but then again, Phil's ego has caused him to write a few more lyrics than he probably should have, and they're in strong evidence on We Can't Dance. This is finally where Tony and Mike take their places as Phil Collins' sidemen and all connections to Genesis' former glories, even as recent as Genesis, are forgotten. And while this album had it's share of hits, these were minor ones in comparison to those on their past few albums, and Phil Collins backlash had reached full force by 1991. What this all means is that there's endless series of Phil Collins ballads, most of them this new 'socially conscious' preaching thing he started back on Touch. 'No Son Of Mine' is about bashing your kids, 'Jesus He Knows Me', televangelists, umm....you get the idea, and because I listened to this album all the way through twice and don't feel like doing it again soon, I'm not going further. I will say that this album has not one but two 10 minute songs on it ('Driving The Last Spike' and 'Fading Lights'), neither one of them even close to boring yet charming 'Domino' from Touch. This album just goes on and on, gives us these adult-contemporary moves that should fit Michael Boltin better than Genesis, who have been stupid fun as recently as 1986, and who suddenly seem not just old and in poor taste but now just old and dull. Genesis hasn't been dull in a long time. The only song on here I even feel anything for is the title track, a cute pop song about the uncoolness of Genesis I guess, based around a neat guitar riff that resembles something snatched from a Keith Richards solo album (and compressed about 10 decibels). They almost ruin it with this 'ba-DWOINK' noise, but Phil's delivery is deadpan enough to be really cool. Nice song...no major surprise, but a gem among fields of wheat waving under a grey sky of clouds. Maybe a little more 'alive' feeling than parts of Touch, which seemed more programmed than performed, but I'd probably say that's just an increase in the quality of the technology rather than the quality of the performance. The rest is simply insuffereable...slow ballad after ponderous message piece after mid-tempo bore-a-thon. It's endless. Professional and slick, but damned dull.

Capn's Final Word: Nah. Too much repetetive slop, not enough hooks from this freshly elderly sounding Genesis.

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Genesis Live: The Way We Walk, Vol. 1 (The Shorts) - Atlantic 1992

Yet another live album in lieu of a greatest hits package, this set truly has nothing to offer other than replacing We Cunt Dance, Invisible Talent, and Gynecyst by providing all the hits in very listenable live forms, and as such, gets a better grade than Dance, from which it steals 'No Son', 'Jesus', 'Hold On My Heart', and the title track, which I nominate as the best song on the album. The only semi-oddball is 'Mama' from 1983, sort of a half-hit, and sort of quirky in comparison to such rice pudding fluff as 'In Too Deep' and 'Throwing It All Away'. Phil still doesn't get how laughably arrogant the lyrics to 'Land Of Confusion' are, and combines 'Tonight' and 'Invisible Touch' into one song, which is pretty neato, I'd say. The band sure sounds better than that crappy Pink Floyd on their mega-tours, these songs aren't that bad, and like I said, it makes a cool best-of. Other than that, it's about as entertaining as a margarine sandwich.

Capn's Final Word: Why this was needed is beyond explanation. Why Genesis released it is painfully obvious.

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Genesis Live: The Way We Walk, Vol. 2 (The Longs) - Atlantic 1993

Juuuuuuuuuussssttttt slightly more intriguing than The Shorts from the year before, this one supposedly caters to the band's ol' school prog fans (you know, the ones who liked 'Domino' and all the other progressive rock masterpieces from this band's history, as long as that history is 1986) as opposed to the pop fans of the other volume. Of course they manage to absolutely shoot themselves in the foot with the idea, preferring to concentrate on their overlong wank pieces (like 'Domino'!, and that marvelous piece of sedative science 'Driving The Last Spike'. What do you think the average Genesis fan wants to hear in concert? 'Spike' or, say, 'Squonk'? Dude, I love 'Squonk!' It's one of my favorite songs, but it's not even included in the so-called 'Old Medley', fer sure the only piece of necrophilia worth listening to on this entire record. And you know what? The band plays their little snippets of 'I Know What I Like', 'Lamb', 'Dance On A Volcano', and others really really well. It's just boggling that they didn't decide to at least do one of these songs for the live album....when Phil sings 'touch me! touch me! touch me!', I really felt the ol' black magic creep down my spine one very last time. Then they combine 'On Broadway' with 'Lamb Lies Down' and I cringe at the corn, then I drop my jaw when small parts of 'That's All' (why? that's done on the other album! What? Was Phil afraid the audience would get lost and need a place to ground themselves again, remind the yuppies that more Big Hits and Fazed Cookies are on the way, just be cool and wait through all this nostalgia for the few longhairs in the audience? I guess he feels he must....) and 'Illegal Alien' make their way into the discussion before at least we get 'Your Own Special Way' and 'Follow You Follow Me' quotes for 20 seconds each. The effect is jarring, all this jumping around through songs that made this band, then spending untold minutes wading through the mire that is 'Fading Lights' and 'Spike' and, shit, everything else on here other than maybe 'Home By The Sea', which I just realised is about old people. I guess you never can figure, huh? Oh, and Phil jetted after this album was released, preferring to keep all the cookies for his own damn self, and not sharing them with those two other senior citizens in the background any more. Then his career hit the tanks and now they're considering reforming (with Peter Gabriel, just like that 'Carpet Crawlers' single done in the mid 90's for their hit package.  Would'ja believe the shit outta that shit!) and making bunches of money singing those same old songs Phil's been wadding up into a little ball all these years. Should be interesting to watch, I suppose. If there's one thing these guys haven't lost, it's their playing chops...I guess they're proggers to the end! Now, if only they can convince Steve.....

Capn's Final Word: Is one or two chilling reminders of a long-lost glorious past enough to warrant the purchase of a live album with no other saving graces? Depends on your finances I guess.

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Calling All Stations - Atlantic 1998

Raunch-awful badness recorded by Tony 'Nutfungus' Banks and Mike 'Hack Sideman' Rutherford and some loser never-was named Ray Wilson (from the hugely successful Stiltskin, if your measure of huge success being 'no one has ever heard of them and now they've died in a pitiful little puff of footnote smoke') in the wake of Phil Collins' departure from the band. It's with this album that Banks and Co. hopes to cover everything in the history of Genesis, the arty side and the poppy synthy side. What it does is end up doing it all to the reputation of Genesis, as in fucking it over and leaving it in a heap of whimpering, quivering fear, afraid that Ray Wilson and Tony Banks are going to come back and make it undergo another endless batch of this sort of Taiwanese blood torture like Calling All Stations. This is an album that should never have been made. It did nothing for Banks and Rutherford other than make them look like fools, and while Ray Wilson may have momentarily had contact with the highest measure of fame he ever attained in his short, eventless career, he will also be forever remembered as 'the guy who made that relentlessly bad Genesis album filling in for Phil Collins, who may have sucked at times, but was never as immediately, palatably repugnant as this. I mean, We Can't Dance and Wind and Wuthering bugged the crap out of me when they were on my headset, but they never left a stain on my psyche as Stations has. It's veritably painted the walls with it's own bloated waste.

Now, for the things I liked about this album - the production is nice, and some of the tempos are a little more alive than what we had to sit through quietly diddling our fingers on the last few Phil albums. But that's where it stops.

The first thing you'll notice is this generic, distorted 'grunge' guitar piled all over the place. Has Mike Rutherford finally wanted to jump out of his shell and really lay it on down with this grimace-flexing falsie-rock guitar playing? Is this supposed to appeal to the younger demographic, and if so, why did no one from the younger demographic come within the wrong side of the Godsmack display of this record? And all these songs stagger and meander like drunken Longhorn fans after another OU-Texas loss...I can always tell a bad album by two things: One, while never following a tried and true formula that would simply make the proceedings boring, whatever structure the album seems to have just strikes me as being the wrong one. Solos in the wrong place and too long, choruses choppy, crescendos leading nowhere, and tempo changes for the sake of tempo changes. It's not even as if someone just chopped up song structure and randomly reattached it again, (like, you know, Captain Beefheart, maybe)...they planned it this way. They're trying to be commercial and accessible, but they're just failing miserably at it. Each song is jarring, pointless, and has plenty of wasted notes and passages, as if no one ever said to Tony and Mike 'hey, we're cutting that...'. Probably because they didn't. Produced by Mike Rutherford, the record says. That explains that, don't it?

Second way I can tell this is a bad album immediately is every song is about 'rain' or 'change' or whatever else fill-in-the-blank banality you wish to insert here. I mean, this was a band who used to sing about creatures dissolving into tears and flies mashing against windshields....and now 'I've lived each moment to be with you'? arf. At least Phil could be counted on to give us some ten-cent social commentary.

None of these songs rise above 'ignorable', and several of them are outright offensive, like the single 'Congo', which was just desserts for people who were dumb enough to stay to the end of the sci-fi film of the same name. Ray Wilson's voice is nowhere as distinctive as even Phil Collins', and lacks both the previous Genesis singers' soulfulness. He's simply a vocal blaster, and he belies his upbringing in the ultra-nerdy neo-Prog movement by projecting each and everything he sings as being the most important thing that has ever been communicated by modern man. And since we're now lacking Phil's pop sense, none of these songs has a hook worth what's in my baby's diaper right now, and they try to compensate by making the songs longer, and boringer, and more heavy, and slower, and....Jesus!!

Okay, I'm so stopping and going to bed. I was going to review something else tonight but now I'm too tired after dismantling this record. Genesis should have called it a day after Phil's long-delayed and inevitable departure. This is an unfortunate attempt to do something that the two remaining original G-men never were able to do themselves: write decent, memorable music without substantial help from their more talented vocalist. The last time they tried to do it was Wind and Wuthering. Twenty years on, twenty years of growing older and more conservative, and you have Calling All Stations. Please pass this record by.

Capn's Final Word: The final nail in the coffin.

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andrew r  stray_toasters@juno.com     Your Rating: F
Any Short Comments?: How can you give this a D+ when 'Dirty Work' just gets a D?  Normally I wouldn't engage in silly arguments like this but...AN ALBUM WITH 'ONE HIT TO THE BODY' IS WORSE THAN CALLING ALL STATIONS?  Even the worst track on Dirty Work is less sufferable than the best on CAS.  The mid-80's style production is depressing but when a band like Genesis does music that would do Creed justice it's enough to make me cry. 
(Capn: Yeah, this used to have a D+, and I was dead wrong. It's MUCH worse than Dirty Work)


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