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Genesis

Abacab

Review by Gary Hill

For fans of Genesis the sounds they put out in the eighties could be considered anti-Genesis. Certainly they turned their backs on the progressive rock leanings and focused more on pop music. I even remember an interview with Phil Collins where he said that Genesis had never been progressive rock but rather they had always just put several pop songs together to produce a longer piece of music. I also remember that comment enraging me and caused me to swear off of Genesis. That lasted a while, but eventually I gave in.

Well, this album was perhaps the final showing for the progressive rock stylings while foreshadowing the things to come. The bulk of this is proggy and very much in keeping with the post Gabriel albums to this point. For my money “No Reply At All” is the one song you need to skip over. If you program your player to miss that track this is a great disc.


This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2009  Volume 1 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Abacab

This is one of the proggier songs on the disc. It’s hard rocking and a good tune (hit or not). This feels like it could have been a leftover from the Duke sessions. I really like the “C” part of this composition. For those who never heard the story, “abacab” refers to a song writing principle. You do section “a,” followed by section “b,” and then repeat “a,” and then do a section “c,” --- you get the idea. Of course, somehow it seems to me that they add a “d” into this (the percussive section that gives way to some killer keyboard textures, although I remember them saying that was the song structure of this. Perhaps they were referring to the single version, which I believe skipped this extended instrumental outro segment.

No Reply at All
Raise your fingers in the shape of the cross to chase away this demon. This is essentially a Phil Collins solo song. It’s soulful and bouncy. It’s a catchy tune, but this isn’t Genesis – no matter who says it is. At least it’s not up the quality or standards of Genesis. And I like Phil Collins’ solo work – just not as Genesis. 
Me and Sarah Jane
Now, this is a different story. Sure it feels like it could have fit onto Face Value from Collins – at least at first. The first stripped down section isn’t that different from something like “In the Air Tonight.” They bring in the pure Genesis sounds when they fill out the arrangement, though. This is perhaps an understated track, but it’s packed with some killer musical textures and emotion. There are a lot of intriguing changes here and I particularly like the almost symphonic segment late in the piece.
Keep It Dark
This is a harder edged jam. It’s another that almost feels like it could have made it onto Duke. There’s a bit of a pop edge to this, but piled onto a more purely progressive rock oriented composition. I like this, but somehow the music on it feels a little silly to me. I do love the keyboard textures on it quite a bit. 
Dodo/Lurker
The jam that leads this off is classic Genesis. They move out into a more percussion meets keyboards driven section to lay the backdrop for the vocals. While the second part of this track is almost funky, it’s still very much Genesis. In fact, I can hear some of Peter Gabriel’s theatrical approach on the vocals. When they power out into the soaring keyboard section it’s awesome and then we get some more great jamming before moving back to the song proper. We get a short Zappa-like spoken word segment later in the track heralding the “Lurker” section. After it says “and this is what it said to me,” we get a keyboard solo. If that isn’t Zappa-like, I don’t know what is. They work through this segment for a time, then. 
Who Dunnit?
I love the cockney sound on the vocals. This is quirky and theatrical. It may be stripped down and a bit weird with the main focus on the rhythmic structures, but this is still quite a cool piece of music. 
Man on the Corner
Sure this is rather pop-like. It’s close to something from Collins’ Face Value album. I still like this a lot and would say that it’s not that far removed from some of the more classic Genesis material. It’s a good tune. 
Like It or Not
This will certainly feel more like Genesis to the fans of the post Gabriel releases to this point. It’s a balladic number with some trademark Genesis bombast built into the arrangement. It’s essentially a balladic verse paired with a more rocking anthemic styled chorus. 
Another Record
On the one hand this is a pretty straightforward and soulful rocker. The thing is, if you really listen to the song construction it’s sort of a vastly different version of “Abacab.” They bring a bluesy twist to this but it has some of the same musical progression – there are definite bits of that song in this. This is OK, but other than the bookending function because of this similarity I’d have closed with something stronger. If there’s a second “skipper,” this would be it.
 
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