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Old 07-14-2012, 05:02 AM   #1411 (permalink)
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Hmm. Few gaps in the worm's memory … what day is it? Last time this invertebrate eats mushrooms without checking what they really are! WHAT day is it? Woops! Better get the show on the road, as it were... Wait, does anyone else see that huge, dark, weird-looking.... Never mind...
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Old 07-14-2012, 05:56 AM   #1412 (permalink)
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(Sorry guys, these reviews are long and both combined just edge over the allowed maximum wordage, so I have to split this into two parts, although it's usually all in the one entry. I'd rather do that than shorten the articles, so bear with me okay?)

Now this is a very hard one to write. I'm a huge Genesis fan, have been since I first got into music: my first three bands were ELO, Genesis and Supertramp, and though my tastes have widened and varied, these three remain my first loves, as it were. So to pick my favourite Genesis album, well, that's going to be tough. The one I hate --- or like least --- that's not hard at all, as you'll see when you read down. But I could have featured in the “Love” side anything from the hard-edged proto-prog of the Gabriel-led early seventies era --- albums like “Trespass” and “Nursery cryme” --- to the more commercial, radio-friendly “prog-pop” Genesis put out under Collins' leadership, including “Duke” and “And then there were three”.

But if a gun were to be put to my head and I had to choose just one favourite album, well it's still darn hard and I'd probably get my head blown off while still deliberating. But since I'm somewhat attached to this ugly head, I'm going to take a deep breath and go for this one.



Wind and wuthering --- Genesis --- 1976 (Charisma)



For me, this album has it all. Long, epic prog masterpieces, sumptuous ballads and gorgeous and provocative instrumentals; Banks at his best and Steve Hackett still with them, his swansong before departing the band for a solo career. Collins had only taken the helm that year with the previous “A trick of the tail”, which was the second album released by Genesis in 1976 and the first without longtime member and founder Peter Gabriel, and was settling well into his role. Phil Collins was actually the first vocalist I heard with Genesis, as my original introduction to them was via the double-live “Seconds out”, with him on vocals, as related in the very first entry in this journal, almost a year ago now. So unlike others I had no real knowledge of the much different voice of Peter Gabriel, and was without their dislike for “the new guy”.

This is not to say that I prefer Collins, or that I undervalue the massive contribution Gabriel made to the band, but like the Fish vs Hogarth debate in Marillion over a decade later, I find I don't like one or the other: I like both, and each brings his own special set of skills and his own touch to the particular period he is associated with. Gabriel does great on songs like “Visions of angels”, “Watcher of the skies” and “The musical box”, but I actually prefer Collins' vocal on “Supper's ready”, which was originally a Gabriel vehicle. Possibly the fact that two of my favourite Genesis albums turn out to be this and “A trick of the tail” could say something, but then I love “The lamb lies down on Broadway” and “Trespass”, as well as “Foxtrot” and “Nursery cryme”, though funnily perhaps I don't agree with the conclusion come to by the readers of “Classic Rock presents Prog” recently, when they voted their favourite Genesis album of all time to be “Selling England by the pound”. So what does that say?

Well, the debate can go on and on, but for myself I'm happy to say that I appreciate both singers, in both their periods, and don't prefer one over the other. This though was one of the first studio Genesis albums I heard. I recall that for my birthday (don't ask me what age I was, though I was in school still so probably 15 or 16) I asked for “A trick of the tail” and “Discovery” as well as “Paris” by Supertramp as presents. My brother already had this album, so I had no need to buy it when I could just borrow, tape and listen to it. But it made a massive impression on me, almost as much as “A trick of the tail” did.

It's an album I hardly need to listen to in order to be able to review it, I know it so well, but sometimes when listening for review purposes I've discovered things on other albums which I hadn't previously noticed, so I'm spinning it as I write. It opens on “Eleventh earl of Mar”, and it's obvious from the off that it's a keyboard-centric album, with as I mentioned somewhere else, possibly on someone else's journal, some of Tony Banks' very best work. This is probably borne out as he has cited it as one of his favourite albums. It's a heavy, synthy opening which quickly morphs into a bouncy, uptempo number with Phil Collins' vocals somehow fitting the material perfectly. Great Hammond organ work in particular from Tony, and some excellent guitar work from Steve Hackett.

Halfway through it slows down with an acoustic guitar bridge played by Hackett, very pastoral and with a gentle vocal from Collins, spacey keyboards keeping an ethereal backdrop until the song pulses back into life for the finale, with pretty thunderous drumming from our man Phil, the song finishing as it began on loud, expressive Hammond. The longest track by a long way, “One for the vine” is next, loosely based on the experiences of a messiah-like figure, obvious comparisons to Christ come up. It starts on a squeaky keyboard intro which then slides into a rather beautiful piano piece by Tony Banks as the song rolls along gently, Collins introducing the “hero”, who has deserted the messiah he was following, as the man leads his people into battle. Straying off ”The path prepared for him/ Onto a wilderness of ice” he finds himself in a faraway place. Completely against his intentions he is mistaken by the people living here for that which he has just rejected, a saviour, and he ends up leading these people into another horrible battle.

As fervour catches in him, he declares he will save these people and the song gets faster and more frenetic, with powerful keys and heavy drumming, until he realises he is becoming that which he left behind, the messiah he lost faith in and escaped. He retreats to a lonely place to meditate, this being conveyed by another beautiful piano piece from Banks, with attendant synth. This then turns into a fast, uptempo, almost frantic showcase for Collins on the drumkit as the song pounds back into life, great bass work from Mike Rutherford and much more uptempo piano and keys from Tony, some sharp guitar from Hackett. Realising he can't let “his people” down, the man returns to take his place at the head of their army, and we move into another slow synth and piano piece similar to the one that opened the song. As it comes to a close, one of his followers strays off the path, and disappears, and the “saviour” sees this, realising that the whole thing is about to repeat itself; in fact, it's left open as to whether this is the “original” saviour he had been following, going “back” to “his” world, or whether it's a vision of himself. A powerful and epic song, it ends strongly and has become one of Genesis' standards. The piano line it ends on is the one it began on, as everything --- story, song, music --- come full circle.

“One for the vine” is a Tony Banks composition, and it's really one of his masterpieces. Against that, Mike Rutherford's gentle ballad “Your own special way” is a little mundane, but it's nice, with of course plenty of guitar, restrained and relaxed, soft keyboard lines and a gentle vocal from Collins. Not surprisingly, it was released as a single, and did well, especially in the USA, in some ways I guess introducing the band to America for the first time. It's followed by “Wot gorilla?”, one of the few instrumentals Genesis recorded in their almost thirty-year career. It's a fast, cheerful uptempo piece driven by wailing keyboards and some fine drumming by Collins. In ways, it kind of foreshadows elements of the melodies that would be prevalent on “Duke”, which would not be released for another four years.

The somewhat irreverent, fun theme continues then in another Tony Banks composition, the wonderful “All in a mouse's night”, which tells of the adventures of a mouse as he searches the house for cheese, gets chased by a cat and is saved by fate. The song is more or less broken into three parts, the first called “The lovers' story” concerns two people making love and disturbed by a mouse. Almost out the door of the bedroom, the mouse is discovered by the wife/girlfriend who screams and exorts her husband/boyfriend to get rid of it. As the door is opened the mouse escapes and has the run of the house. The music is sort of fast-waltzy, mostly keyboard based as Collins moves into the second part of the song, “The mouse's story”, where the mouse is accosted by a cat, who tries to kill him but knocks a vase down on his head, and so the mouse escapes. Left to explain this to his compatriots, the cat invents a story of a ten-foot mouse ”With teeth and claws to match!” in “The cat's story”, so as not to let it be known he was outsmarted by a mouse. The final part, the cat's story, is led by heavy Hammond organ, with a great outro on keys and guitar. Great song, and great fun.

But the fun ends there, as “Blood on the rooftops” is an acoustic led ballad decrying the loss of identity and self to the goggle box, with such shows as “The Streets of San Francisco” namechecked, as the singer, an old man tells his young visitor it was ”Better in my day/ When we got bored/ We'd have a world war/ Happy but poor” and declares that he finds ”Arabs and jews/ Too much for me”. There's a lovely acoustic guitar opening by Steve Hackett, to rival his star turn in “Horizons” on “Foxtrot” in 1972, and a gorgeous little piece on autoharp. The song gets heavier about halfway in, as the old man's frustration boils over and he snaps ”The rain at Lord's stopped play/ Seems Helen of Troy/ Has found a new face again.”

Two instrumentals then, well, one really but broken into two parts, reference the second part of the album's title, taken from the Emily Bronte classics. “Unquiet slumbers for the sleepers...” is the first part, carried on whistling keys and light guitar with almost no percussion, just a few drumrolls following the tune and ushering in the second part “... In that quiet earth”, much more uptempo and again quite “Duke”-ish, with heavier guitar and mellotron, Collins' drums coming much more to the fore now, with what sounds like some backwards masking on some of the synth parts. It breaks into a heavier, rock-almost-reggae beat as it enters the last minute, Hackett and Rutherford breaking out the electric guitars and going at it, Banks keeping the main melody going on the keys. It speeds up just at the end, and segues directly into the closer.

A staple at just about every Genesis concert, “Afterglow” is a great finale to a great album. A slow, measured ballad carried on a jangly guitar line and ending on a droning keyboard melody, it's a powerful vehicle for Collins' voice, with great choral vocals which I believe are made on a Moog synth. It ends on a long instrumental part on the Moog which fades out the track, and closes the album.

They definitely don't make them like this any more! “Wind and wuthering” is important to the Genesis canon for many reasons, some already mentioned. It was the last album to feature Steve Hackett, and the one on which Phil Collins really came of age as a vocalist and frontman. It gave them their first minor US hit single, and it features more instrumentals than any other Genesis album before or since. It also features one of their longest tracks; at ten minutes long it's only beaten by a handful of other tracks down the years, (other than the seminal "Supper's ready", of course) and it's only the second album to feature solo compositions from the band, with three songs written by Tony and one by Mike: by this I mean the one person wrote both lyric and music. Mike did write other songs on the album but only the lyric; he collaborated with Steve and Tony on the music.

This was one of the albums which, along with “Seconds out” and “A trick of the tail”, started off my love affair with Genesis, and so it's definitely worthy of the slot here. It was also the only other place I ever heard the word wuthering, outside of the novel. It has two messiahs for the price of one, a song about TV and a mouse being chased by a cat! What more could you ask for, really?

TRACKLISTING

1. Eleventh earl of Mar
2. One for the vine
3. Your own special way
4. Wot gorilla?
5. All in a mouse's night
6. Blood on the rooftops
7. Unquiet slumbers for the sleepers...
8. … in that quiet earth
9. Afterglow
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Old 07-14-2012, 08:58 AM   #1413 (permalink)
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Abacab --- Genesis --- 1981 (Charisma)

Ah yes, the album that almost did for me with Genesis! After the sublime “Duke”, this was one hell of a bitter pill to swallow, and it's got Phil Collins' muddy handprints all over it. A huge shift of direction for Genesis, you can pinpoint this as the moment they stopped being a progressive rock --- or even a rock --- band, and succumbed entirely to pop and bland songs. I'm afraid that even thirty-one years later I still have very little good to say about it. I hated it when it came out, and I only bought it because I'm a huge Genesis fan, but it grated on me. I played it through a few times, but never felt the urge to do so for pleasure; I just wanted to see if it got any better than the title track and lead single. It really doesn't.

Well, that's not quite fair. There are a few good tracks on it. Well, no, not really. Let's say there are a few that are not as bad as the general low quality of music on the album, but there are probably about two songs I would listen to again, if I had to. Although the decision to change their style so radically was, according to Mike Rutherford, a group one, you can't help but feel that Phil had a huge input into what they eventually released: so much of “Abacab” is similar to the sort of pop pap he peddled, and continues to peddle, on his solo albums.

It opens with the title track, and this was for me where it all began to go wrong. Okay, it has its prog moments, but generally this is driven by a very pop melody: it's fast, it's stripped-down, it's commercial. It's not the Genesis I had grown up with and loved. This was all right for the charts, but I don't want a full album of this! Sadly, I got my wish, but sort of would have preferred not to have. Far from all being songs like the title, much of the tracks on “Abacab” are far worse, many so bad in fact that they make the opener sound great, and that can't be bad. I mean, the song doesn't even make any sense! ”When you wake in the morning/ Wake and find you're covered in cellophane/ There's a hole in there somewhere...” What?

People say that “Duke” showcased a new Genesis, a move away from the longer, progressive compositions of their previous years, but I don't agree: I still think that was a great prog rock album, and while it may have yielded some of their bigger hit singles, I would not have ever considered it a pop album. After all, “And then there were three” gave them their biggest hit ever, “Follow you follow me”, and no-one would accuse them of being pop on that album! But this is definitely pop. “No reply at all” is a pure pop tune, which cosies up rather unsettlingly to Collins' “I missed again”. The addition of the horn section from Earth, Wind and Fire just, for me, pulls Genesis further off their usual course and takes them into territory which would be successfully trod by their frontman for the next few years, but which never suited his band.

Things pick up a little in terms of song quality then for “Me and Sarah Jane”, one standout on an album which has few. Not surprisingly, it's helped achieve this status by being a song solely composed by Tony Banks, without any interference from Phil “I-have-a-solo-career-now” Collins, who seemed to think his direction for the band was the only one. Banks does his best to pull the ship hard-a-port and back towards their progressive roots with an atmospheric, tense and dramatic song which recalls the best of “Duke”, with soft percussion and breathy organ, the typical kind of Genesis lyric we've become used to, and expect, with some very nice understated guitar from Mike Rutherford. It's also one of the longer songs on the album, at six minutes exactly. Even the slightly reggae rhythm doesn't overshadow the power or melody of this song.

There's even a synthy midsection that reminds me of “Eleventh earl of Mar” from the above opus “Wind and wuthering”, and for six minutes you can start to really believe that the first two tracks were just aberrations, that you may have to skip over them next time you spin the album, but that now at last “Abacab” is back on track, and all is well with the world. Unfortunately, that's far from the case, as “Keep it dark” amply demonstrates, with its annoying squeaky synth (oh, Tony! How could you?) and although there's a rocky guitar line held by Rutherford, it's a pretty weak song which tries to tell a song of alien abduction but ends up getting a little lost along the way. It does inject a little of that old Genesis synth and keyboard sound, but when it reaches the chorus, which is disappointingly flat.

Ah, let's be honest: it's not the worst track on the album (that's yet to come!) and I do have a sneaking place in my heart for the two-part “Dodo/Lurker”, which between them make up the longest track on the album at seven and a half minutes. Starting off with powerful synth and guitar, the song soon settles into a decent groove, Banks' keys again a little light and bubbly for my tastes, but not too annoying. Rutherford keeps the hard guitar line he's famous for while Collins sings about, well, the dodo. Actually, the song seems to be about man hunting creatures to extinction for profit. I think. Again, there's a reggae beat to at least the first part of the song, “Dodo”, exacerbated by Collins' infuriating attempts at singing in that vein, but Banks and Collins pull the song back on track, then “Lurker”, the second part, becomes a proper prog-rock monster, Banks' warbling keys working here where before they seemed so out of place, then replaced with heavy synth, sharp guitar from Rutherford holding the line.

But that's it. We're now into the worst track on the album, and the worst Genesis song ever. The truly awful “Whodunnit” sounds like someone trying --- unsuccessfully --- to write their first song. It's really pathetic. Talk about simple. Big blasting drums and sliding bass under Collins' “inspired” lyric --- ”Was it you, or was it me/ Was it he or was it she?” and the equally annoying chorus, if it can be called such, consisting of the words ”We know” repeated, then back to the verse, another chorus and then the drums crash into the ending, the whole thing falling away in a fading drop of pitch-bend as if even it has given up. I really can't say how much I hate this song: at three minutes twenty-three seconds it's exactly three minutes twenty-three seconds too long. Awful, just awful. How could one of my favourite bands have unleased this tripe on us?

It gets a little better, though not that much. “Man on the corner” is a nice little ballad, reprising the opening from “Me and Sarah Jane” and with some really emotional keyboards from Banks, but it owes a lot of its melody structure to the likes of “In the air tonight” and “This must be love”, so I see it as more a Phil Collins solo song than a Genesis one, while “Like it or not”, the only Mike Rutherford solo effort on the album, is another ballad, and indeed another standout, with its lovely drum roll opening, soft synths and Collins' vocal wistful and yearning, a great hook with a lovely fadeout ending. Why couldn't they have written more songs like this? It's almost out of place on this album.

The closer is total filler. If only they'd finished on “Like it or not”, I could possibly have felt a little better about this album, but “Another record”, although it starts off with promising synth and piano melody, turns out to be just totally forgettable, and like much of the album it fades out at the end, and the only really positive thing I can say about it is that it brings this stain on Genesis' long career to an end.

Thankfully, the next album, which they just titled “Genesis”, almost as if they were going back to basics, was far better (wouldn't be hard) and slid back towards the progressive rock they had built their career on, but the pop idea was never going to go away, and there are one or two on that album, which then led to “Invisible touch” and then general decline as Genesis as a prog-rock band. Following the excellent “We can't dance”, the end was in sight, and there really was no way back.

TRACKLISTING

1. Abacab
2. No reply at all
3. Me and Sarah Jane
4. Keep it dark
5. Dodo/Lurker
6. Whodunnit?
7. Man on the corner
8. Like it or not
9. Another record
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Old 07-15-2012, 07:49 AM   #1414 (permalink)
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Ha! The various mobile phone companies must have been rubbing their hands when this one made the charts! This is the Stereo MCs...
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Old 07-16-2012, 05:01 AM   #1415 (permalink)
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Something of an AOR classic now from the Outfield, this is “Your love”.
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Old 07-16-2012, 05:30 AM   #1416 (permalink)
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Is there anything more embarrassing, more cringe-inducing than someone trumpeting their supposed sexual prowess in public? Sure, everyone --- well, most --- in the music biz thinks they're sexy and attractive in one way or another, but most do not labour the fact. Some, like for instance Madonna, don't need to, letting their innate sexuality speak for itself. Others, like Nick Cave, give off a dark, smouldering sexuality that is more hinted at than pointed to. And still others just ignore it completely. Of course, many artistes trade on their sex appeal, or what they see as such, but none so much as the man they used to call “The Bod”.



Do ya think I'm sexy? (Rod Stewart) 1978


Of course, it's nothing compared to what goes on these days, but back in the late seventies this was seen as something of a risque song, with its tale of two people meeting in a nightclub, not looking for love but for sex. No real romantic intentions in the song, no idea of settling down and raising a family, or even of seeing each other again. It's a one-night stand, a simple shag, casual sex, and that in and of itself made it somewhat controversial when released. Didn't stop it getting to number one though! In fairness, it's a decent disco/pop song with one great Arabic-style keyboard hook and a cool sax solo, but has it stood the test of time?

Written by Rod and his old mate Carmine Appice, the song became a staple at Stewart's shows, and of course the initial meaning was subsumed as Rod used it as a vehicle to parade his sexual ego and strut his stuff on stage. The question became more about --- in fact, exclusively about --- Rod Stewart than the two protagonists in the song, and went from being a song about a fairly seedy assignation in the dark for mutual gratification, to a glorification of Rod's success with the ladies, and a measure of just how sexy he was. The trouble with a song like this is that it only really works when the singer is young, when he is sexy. Back in '78 Rod was 33, so yeah, maybe he could have been considered attractive, powerful, magnetic. Sexy even. But it would be sad to watch him today, at age sixty-seven, struggling up and down the stage and still croaking out the same tired question.

I think there might be a different answer today...
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Old 07-16-2012, 07:38 PM   #1417 (permalink)
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Another legend passes...

Very sad to hear of the death of Jon Lord, keyboard wizard with Deep Purple during their heyday, and later with Whitesnake before branching out on a moderately successful solo career. Jon had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer last year, and today finally and sadly lost his battle. He was 71.

Jon will be missed by all rock fans and lovers of good music. May he rest in peace.
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Old 07-17-2012, 12:06 AM   #1418 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Trollheart View Post


Jon will be missed by all rock fans and lovers of good music. May he rest in peace.
Sad loss, hopefully his music will be remember for a long time to come.
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Actually, I like you a lot, Nea. That's why I treat you like ****. It's the MB way.

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Old 07-17-2012, 04:49 AM   #1419 (permalink)
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Always rather liked this one from TLC, this is “Waterfalls”.
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Old 07-18-2012, 04:49 AM   #1420 (permalink)
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Well, they may be one of the great world financial superpowers, but that doesn't mean we can't slag off Germany's entrants into the Eurovision down the years. Sure, they've won once or twice --- oh, twice, I see: in your face, Angela Merkel! SEVEN times for us Irish, highest in history! --- but like most countries (Ireland included) they've had their share of “das turkeys”. Admittedly, we're going to travel back in time forty years to have a look at one, but rest assured, there are more waiting in the wings. I just fancied a seventies theme...

So here we are, in 1972, when I were but nine years old and wore thick, heavy glasses and had buck teeth (whaddya mean, I still do??) and there weren't much to do of a Saturday evening, t'internet a long way off from being invented, computers far from commonplace in the home and even video recorders a while away on the horizon. Hell, even Sky wasn't on the air! We had four channels, and when your viewing is that restricted, trust me, you'll watch just about anything! So the Eurovision was, at the time, quite an event and actually something to be looked forward to. Yeah, I know.

In fairness, this is not a terrible song, but then, so many of the songs were so mediocre back then who knows, it could have won. As it turns out, it seems this was singer Mary Roos's second stab at the contest, and it came third overall. Not bad. Her previous entry was two years prior and came second, so she must have been pretty well regarded at the time. Not my sort of song , but hey, I'll give it this much: it's upbeat and the orchestra are really getting into it. Looks like she had a reasonable music career too, and she kept entering for the Eurovision, though she never reached any higher than the first two times she made it. Looks like she was still recording up to recently, too.



1972 --- Germany (West Germany, at the time!) --- “Nur die Liebe Läßt uns Leben (Only love lets us live)” by Mary Roos
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