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Old 06-29-2018, 03:02 PM   #201 (permalink)
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The Battle of Epping Forest
One of two tracks that push almost the twelve-minute mark, I've spoken before and at length about my dislike for this track. To me, it's the complete antithesis of Genesis, not what you'd expect from them, but unexpected in a bad not a good way. “Harold the Barrel” may have been them stepping out of the box a little on Nursery Cryme, but this is them kicking down the walls. It's clumsy, it's silly and it just seems totally inappropriate. The fictional account of an actual gang war, it tries to be funny but fails miserably, and the accents and voices used for the characters seem forced and stale. I won't go on: if you really want to read more of my ranting about this then check the full review in my journal. Here I'll just say, hands down, one of the worst Genesis songs ever written in my opinion.
Maybe the first time I'll 100% vehemently disagree with you.
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Old 06-29-2018, 03:29 PM   #202 (permalink)
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Maybe the first time I'll 100% vehemently disagree with you.
I've been there and done that with Abacab. Now finally someone feels my pain.
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Old 06-29-2018, 04:45 PM   #203 (permalink)
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Maybe the first time I'll 100% vehemently disagree with you.
Fair enough. It is in my opinion after all. I just bloody hate the thing. Agree to disagree.
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Old 06-29-2018, 04:48 PM   #204 (permalink)
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I've been there and done that with Abacab. Now finally someone feels my pain.
Dodo/Lurker alone erases any warts. Minky wins.
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Old 06-29-2018, 05:47 PM   #205 (permalink)
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Dodo/Lurker alone erases any warts. Minky wins.

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Old 07-02-2018, 05:22 PM   #206 (permalink)
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The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway (1974)
I think it's fair to say that the idea of the concept album, while it may not be confined to the genre, and while it may indeed have originated in albums far removed from prog rock, such as Sinatra's In The Wee Small Hours and something I believe by Duke Ellington (?), found its greatest expression and its ultimate fame in progressive rock. Name any concept album you like – The Wall, 2112 (okay, okay! Only the first side but still), Close to the Edge, Misplaced Childhood – and they all fall within the prog rock sphere. Yes, there are those outside of that, such as The Who's Tommy, but by and large, if it's a concept album it's likely to be a prog album. And the grandaddy of them all, pretty much, was this double album monster from Genesis, which finally saw Peter Gabriel take almost total control of Genesis so as to properly realise his vision. Perhaps ironically, this was also the last album he made with the band.

It's gone down in music history as everything from a masterpiece to a flawed concept, an overblown, overlong album stuffed with filler and not much real music, a story that's hard, almost impossible to follow and more difficult to interpret, and of course, a vehicle for Gabriel's ego, though I think this last is unfair, as the man never came across to me as someone with notions of himself. What he was, and is, however, is a consummate storyteller, and he obviously wanted to tell this story. I've never quite understood the idea, but when I was reviewing all of Genesis's discography I read a lot about this album and it seems to be the general consensus that, though there are really only two characters in the plot – Rael and his brother John – both are in fact aspects of the same person. This is borne out when at the end Rael saves John from drowning, looks at him and sees his own face, and it then seems they merge into the one identity.

Remember, too, that this was originally released back when you had to buy the whole album (no selecting tracks off itunes, and why would you anyway, with a concept album?) and they cost enough, so this was surely squarely aimed at the fans, not trying to get new people into Genesis. This was for those who knew Gabriel, knew what he was about, had probably stuck with him and the band from the beginning, and must have had some idea what to expect. Even so, it's one freaky ride from beginning to end, and when it's over the overriding feeling is “Huh?”
Spoiler for ”The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway”:

The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway
Rippling piano from Banks opens the whole thing, as we're introduced to the main character, Rael. It's been speculated that Rael is an anagram of real, so there's that, but why a lamb? Why Broadway? Well, I guess the latter because they're then able to reference the Drifters' “On Broadway” at the end. As for a lamb? Well, I have my own theories. Firstly, a lamb can represent peace, so maybe Rael is shown the lamb to tell him that away from the noisy, busy streets of New York – and his own churning, confused mind – he can find peace if he follows the lamb. Second, the lamb has been seen as the emblem of Jesus, so maybe there's some religious imagery going on there. A lamb can also represent a sacrifice, so perhaps Gabriel is saying that Rael is being asked to make a sacrifice, in order to gain peace. He must, literally, face himself and find out who he is before he can, presumably, find peace.

10/10

Spoiler for ”Fly on a Windshield/Broadway Melody of 1974”:

Fly on a Windshield/Broadway Melody of 1974
A more relaxed piece after the hectic excitement of the intro, it explodes into life just after the first minute, Collins' piston-like percussion carrying the track as Rael stands suspended in disbelief, not sure what's going on. A lot of Hollywood icons mentioned here – Groucho Marx, Lenny Bruce etc. Good use of different vocal techniques here, almost as if there were two singers.

8/10
Spoiler for ”Cuckoo Coccoon”:

Cuckoo Coccoon
Underground, Rael awakes in some sort of coccoon, unaware how he got there or what it means. Nice guitar intro and lovely use of the flute here, giving the song a whimsical, upbeat and almost innocent feel which the next track will totally shatter.

7/10
Spoiler for ”In the Cage”:

In the Cage
One of the more famous songs off the album, the sense of impotence and rising panic in this track is almost palpable, as Rael looks around and sees that the coccoon has become a cage from which he can't escape. Here we are introduced to his brother, John, who sees him but runs off rather than help him. Gabriel is at his best here, raging and terrified both at the same time, and the music literally swirls and eddies at the hands of Tony Banks, creating a very effective illusion of being spun around and around, so that by the time it's over you actually feel quite dizzy and disoriented. Rutherford's bass at the opening of this really adds to the overall feel, sounding like Rael's heartbeat as he realises he is trapped. But it is the organ and keyboard that really makes the song, in concert with Gabriel's frenzied vocals.

10/10
Spoiler for ”The Grand Parade of Lifeless Packaging”:

The Grand Parade of Lifeless Packaging
Freed from the cage suddenly, Rael finds himself in a sort of factory where people are being packaged for shipping. There's a marching, militaristic kind of rhythm to this, which fits in well with the idea of an assembly line. Here Rael discovers his own brother again, as the vocals rise and pound out the chant, almost seeming to hammer him down.

10/10
Spoiler for ”Back in NYC”:

Back in NYC
The first real time the album rocks out, as Rael recalls his time with his gang in New York City, there's a sort of new-wave feel to the keyboards here, and Gabriel's voice is raw and ragged as he perhaps yearns for the simplicity of the streets of his hometown. Also nice phased vocals in the bridge. Things get mighty weird from here.

7/10
Spoiler for ”Hairless Heart”:

Hairless Heart
A total instrumental, as some of the tracks here will be. Very nice, and supposed to represent Rael's heart being shaved. Why? Dunno: maybe it's a kind of cleansing or catharsis of some sort. Nice tune though and slows down the pace after the frantic and rocky previous track.

9/10
Spoiler for ”Counting Out Time”:

Counting Out Time
Back to a boppy, rocky beat as Rael prepares for his first sexual encounter, though things do not go as expected. A fun little song, but it's kind of silly really. Not one of my favourites, I have to say. Lots of clever little sexual images, but slightly tacky I feel personally.

5/10
Spoiler for ”Carpet Crawlers”:

Carpet Crawlers
A beautiful ballad which sees Rael in a room where people crawl along the floor, unable to escape through the door which is at the top of stairs they can't climb. Driven by dreamy synth and rippling guitar lines, it's definitely one of the standouts of the album, with the softest vocals yet from Gabriel, almost recalling his work on “Stagnation” from Trespass.

10/10
Spoiler for ”The Chamber of 32 Doors”:

The Chamber of 32 Doors
Powerful, mournful music finds Rael at the top of the stairs and now looking at identical doors, and unsure which one to go through. The sense of desperation here is really well done, as Rael goes through door after door, only to find himself back where he started. Talk about a metaphor for not knowing which path to take in life!
8/10
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Old 07-02-2018, 05:26 PM   #207 (permalink)
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Spoiler for ”Lilywhite Lilith”:

Lilywhite Lilith
Driven on sharp angry guitar from Rutherford, this introduces the brief character of Lilith, a blind woman who is nevertheless able to guide Rael by her superior sense of smell, telling her which of the doors leads to freedom. She leaves him in a waiting room...

8/10
Spoiler for ”The Waiting Room”:

The Waiting Room
As close as Genesis ever came to expressionist art, with weird sounds, odd chords and screams, all evoking a sense of anticipation and fear as Rael waits to see whose waiting room he is in.

6/10
Spoiler for ”Anyway”:

Anyway
Nice little piano-driven song, but it's never impressed me that much really. Good vocal from Gabriel with some death-influenced lyrics as the Grim Reaper approaches.
5/10
Spoiler for Here Comes the Supernatural Anaesthetist”:

Here Comes the Supernatural Anaesthetist
Turns out it's Death, and here he comes, on a sort of whimsical little tune, nice stop/start guitar with a tune that would later surface in an altered form on 1980's Duke.

6/10
Spoiler for ”The Lamia”:

The Lamia
One of the other standouts, and another ballad, but a bitter one, as Rael is seduced by beautiful creatures with the bodies of serpents but the heads of women, and finds himself cursed. Tony Bank's gentle piano lays down the atmosphere for this song, and it's his softly sighing synths that paint the backdrop for its epilogue.

10/10
Spoiler for ”Silent Sorrow in Empty Boats”:

Silent Sorrow in Empty Boats
A haunting dirge to mourn the loss of Rael's serpentine lovers, who died as soon as they had drawn his blood. A beautiful instrumental on which Banks makes his synth sound like the distant horns of ships at sea. Gorgeous choral vocals too add to the almost heavenly lament for the passing of things.
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Old 07-02-2018, 05:30 PM   #208 (permalink)
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10/10
Spoiler for ”The Colony of Slippermen”:

The Colony of Slippermen
Having been seduced by the Lamia, Rael finds that both he and John, whom he meets on the other side of the lake, have been changed, metamorphosed, warped into what Gabriel calls slippermen, ugly, weird things “with lips that slide across each chin” and whose “skin is covered in slimy lumps.” Rael is told he will have to live here for the rest of his days, as everyone else he meets in the colony has undergone the same transformation.

The track is broken into three sections: "Arrival", where, obviously, Rael arrives and is introduced to the slippermen, and reunited with his brother. This is a bouncy, breezy piece which lopes along nicely on Bank's jumping keyboard lines and features more phased vocals from Gabriel, perhaps to emulate the weird, slippery nature of the creatures Rael finds himself among, finds himself one of. The second part, “A Visit to the Doktor”, has Rael and John visting “Doktor Dyper, reformed sniper, he'll whip off your windscreen wiper”, to remove his penis, which is now apparently diseased after the touch of the Lamia. This is a faster, more urgent piece, driven by Hackett and Rutherford and leads into the third and final section, “The Raven”, where an annoying black bird swoops down and robs Rael's “pouch”, in which his removed “love apparatus” has been placed, and flies off with it. John again legs it, refusing to help him. Great bouncy keyboards from Banks here.
8/10
Spoiler for ”Ravine”:

Ravine
Another short instrumental. More a bridge between the last track and the next than anything else really.
4/10
Spoiler for ”The Light Dies Down on Broadway”:

The Light Dies Down on Broadway
Pretty much a reprise of the opener and title track, where Rael is given a chance to get home if he leaves John, who has fallen into the river and needs his help. Even though John let him down every time Rael needed him, the idea of leaving his brother behind is anathema to Rael and he turns back, away from the closing window on the upper world, abandoning his only chance to get home, and in making that sacrifice for the sake of his brother, wins salvation.

10/10
Spoiler for ”Riding the Scree”:

Riding the Scree
As Rael dives in to help his brother, the music is expectedly fast and frenetic, mostly again driven by Banks' squealing keyboards. Pretty much half of it is instrumental, and the first time I heard it I thought there would be no vocals at all. I was wrong.
7/10
Spoiler for ”In the Rapids”:

In the Rapids
A slow one as things begin to come to some sort of resolution. Rael reaches John, drags him to the shore, tries to revive him, but looking at his face sees it change into ... his own! Music is mostly on twelve-string, reminds me of mid-seventies Rush. Not quite a ballad but very powerful, very emotional, very stirring.
8/10
Spoiler for ”It”:

It
The album comes to a close with a rocker which re-interprets the Stones' “It's Only Rock and Roll (But I Like It)” with some pretty damn weird lyrical fare. Probably does little if anything to offer any kind of explanation, in fact it sounds like Gabriel winking slyly: “If you think it's pretentious, you've been taken for a ride.” And what a ride.
10/10

Album Rating: 10/10
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Old 07-14-2018, 07:28 PM   #209 (permalink)
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A Trick of the Tail (1976)
With the shock departure of founding member, creative driving force, lyricist and of course frontman Peter Gabriel in 1975, doubt hung over the future of Genesis. The band members, unsure how to continue but wishing to keep the band going, considered briefly becoming an instrumental band. But as much of the attraction of Genesis is in their deep and intricate lyrics, this didn't seem like such a good idea. Eventually, after auditioning hundreds of potential vocalists, it was Phil Collins who took the role, and he would guide the band up to almost their last album, as the twentieth century came to a close. Far from short of ideas, Genesis in fact produced not one but two albums this year, and they still stand (for me anyway) as some of their finest work. Much of this must be attributed to the decision of Steve Hackett to remain, and indeed it's his influence (and lack of it, when he departed in 1977) that tends to make these albums the last proper progressive rock ones the band would write, as they would slowly but inexorably change to a shorter, more commercial and in the end poppier format.

It's the first – I think only – Genesis album to have as its cover sketched depictions of all the songs, from weird, hooded things climbing a mountain through to an old crone, the satyr-like figure from the title track, the robber and the Squonk. If you look, they're all there. Very interesting cover, and all done in a kind of almost Victorian style against a faded yellow background which further drives home the idea of this being from an earlier time, and kind of nods back to the cover of Nursery Cryme after the comparatively modern cover of The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway. It's also the first cover created for the band by Hipgnosis, the first of three they would work on.


Dance on a Volcano
Kicking the album off with a bang, there's a short instrumental introduction before we get to hear how Collins performs in his new role. Of course, we've heard him twice before taking lead vocals, but this is different. This time, it's a whole album. I have to say, he's pretty competent, even sounding a little like his predecessor at times. The song anthropomorphises the mountain, or volcano if you will, setting it (her) in the role of adversary to the climber - “Dirty old mountain all covered in smoke/She can turn you to stone” - and warns of the dangers inherent in the climb - “On your left, on your right, crosses are green, crosses are blue/ Your friends didn't make it through.” It's quite a doomy, apocalyptic sound Genesis weave as the backdrop to this improbable climb, and it ends with an almost dervish-like dance as Banks' keyboards go into overdrive.

8/10

Entangled
After the frenetic assault on the mountain, things quiet down on the back of Hackett's gorgeous and relaxed twelve-strings, with a soft, lullaby-like tale of some sort of medical experiments, presumably carried out while the patient is asleep - “Sleep, won't you allow yourself fall?/ Nothing can hurt you at all/ With your consent we can experiment further still.” It's just a sublime track, with lush synth from Banks closing it out on a long instrumental. But then the tempo kicks up again for the next track.

10/10

Squonk
When I first heard this, thirty-odd years ago and more, I thought Genesis had made up the tale of the Squonk, a little creature who, when cornered or captured, dissolves in a pool of tears. But it's apparently based on a real legend (if that's not an oxymoron). With another hard pounding drum and guitar intro, it's away on a kind of slow marching pace, synth licks from Banks rising and falling through the track, threading the melody like a delicate needle, stitching the tapestry of the song together. Kind of a sad little song, but it certainly became a favourite and it is a good vehicle for Collins' emergent vocal talent. Some really nice Hammond organ in there too.

10/10

Mad Man Moon
Proving he can use wordplay as well as Gabriel could, Tony Banks presents a song about yearning, striving for better, and never being satisfied: the grass is greener, as he literally writes in the lyric. But it's the wordplay that really shines in the lyric: “They're gonna throw you in gaol/ And you know they can't fail/ Cos sand is thicker than blood/ But a prison in sand is a haven in Hell/ Cos a gaol can give you a goal/ And a goal can find you a role on a muddy pitch in Newcastle.” It's mostly another slow song – you'd call it a ballad, I guess – and again there are generous helpings of guitar from Hackett and from Mike Rutherford too, but it speeds up in the midsection in an almost Alan Parsonseque way, then returning to the slower line for the closing section.

10/10

Robbery, Assault and Battery
Never been one of my favourites, though I've come to tolerate it more as the years go on. Expanding on the ideas in 1971's “Harold the Barrel”, where Genesis took a more flippant, less serious look at their subject matter, this song concerns the exploits of a burgular, and has some cutting things to say about the British justice system. “And if they try to hold me for trial/ I'll stay out of jail by paying the bail/ And after I'll go to the Court of Appeal/ Saying you done me wrong.” It bounces along on a very boppy, upbeat rhythm, which is kind of odd as in the lyric a policeman gets shot, but it's certainly treated with a kind of hey-ho here we go kind of attitude. It also may be – though I can't be sure – the first time Genesis use a “swear word” in their lyrics when Collins sings “He's leaving by the roof/ The bastard got away.” Ooooh! Take that, society! Who says we're not rebels? Collins goes full-on Cockney here, which is one of the major reasons why the song gets under my skin.

5/10

Ripples
For me, the centrepiece of the album. A beautiful, lazy, drifting ballad which looks at age and the way time slips away, with particular reference to beauty. “The face that launched a thousand ships/ Is sinking fast: that happens, you know/ The water gets below/ Seems not very long ago/ Lovelier she was than any that I know.” Fun fact: this is one of two times, over two consecutive albums, that Genesis will reference Helen of Troy. No, I know you don't care but I thought I'd mention it anyway. There's only one way to describe the music here, both that of Hackett and Banks, and it's shimmering. Yeah, I could have chosen rippling but I wasn't going to do that, was I? The longest track on the album at just over eight minutes, this in itself is an indication that Genesis were going for somewhat shorter songs structures, although the next album would blow that idea out of the water, no pun intended. There's a truly exquisite instrumental section that carries it through, if I remember, about four minutes and it seems like the song is going to end that way, but then Collins comes back in with a final chorus.

10/10

A Trick of the Tail
Nobody will know what I'm talking about, but sod yaz. The opening of this song, the title track, is exactly the same as “Clare” by Irish singer/songwriter/one-time-pop-star Gilbert O'Sullivan. Yeah. It's the story of an alien, or mythical creature (depicted on the cover as a kind of faun or satyr) who leaves his home country/land/planet (referred to only as “The city of gold”) to go looking for adventure, but ends up being captured and put on display, till he escapes. It's a bouncy, jaunty and very enjoyable melody, with some nice improvisation at the end. Kind of needs some whistling, I feel.

10/10

Los endos
I see this as basically a reprise of both “Dance on a Volcano” and “Squonk”, as it borrows the melody from both, and becomes one of the few Genesis instrumentals. It's a nice way to kind of bookend the album, but it feels more like something tacked on to give the album balance than an actual track. Not bad though.

7/10

Album Rating:10 /10
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Old 07-14-2018, 10:43 PM   #210 (permalink)
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Feelin like it's time for my periodic review of whether or not Genesis sucks. Which 3 records should I check out?
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