Genesis – Abacab

Genesis - AbacabI’ve been meaning to review this album for two or three years now, and it’s such an odd beast to get a grip on. This is Genesis in flux, and yet Genesis finding its feet. Several years after losing Peter Gabriel to a solo career, the remaining trio of founding members soldiered on, and yet sometimes you’d think they were clinging to the past. Abacab is an album full of good songs, but it’s also an album with something of a serious identity crisis.

The title track – edited down to little over half of its original running time – received healthy radio airplay at the time of the album’s release, but along with songs like “Me And Sarah Jane”, “Keep It Dark” and “Who Dunnit?”, “Abacab” represents the majority of this album’s personality. Phil Collins, Tony Banks and Mike Rutherford seemed to be trying to hang onto the prog-rock sound of the Gabriel era, with meandering song structures (“Sarah Jane” in particular can’t seem to latch onto any one particular melody, trying out several melodic lines and discarding them in turn – it’s almost like early Split Enz). This isn’t necessarily a bad thing – I quite like “Abacab” and “Keep It Dark”, and they demonstrate that, when he used to try to emulate Gabriel’s throat-thrasing vocal style, there used to be a raw power to Phil Collins’ voice which his latter-day career has carefully buried.

It’s in songs like “Man On The Corner” and especially “No Reply At All” that one finds hints of the future Genesis sound. The latter in particular is bouncy, with some Motown-style brass work and a lighthearted lyric. “Man On The Corner” is again somewhat brooding and dark, with just a hint again of the Peter Gabriel influence, but it’s indicative of my favorite era of Genesis – songs better suited to Collins’ vocal range and style, but falling somewhere between the Gabriel-era Genesis sound and Collins’ later self-styled reinvention of himself as a soft-pop balladeer. It may not be the original sound mandated in the Gabriel/Hackett era, but it was the best possible style for the Collins-led Genesis.

3 out of 4Abacab, in retrospect, is a bit of a mixed bag – but, being a bit of a transitional piece (despite having been preceded by two other albums with the Banks/Collins/Rutherford lineup), it was bound to be. They were really starting to get it here.

Order this CD

  1. Abacab (7:02)
  2. No Reply At All (4:41)
  3. Me And Sarah Jane (6:00)
  4. Keep It Dark (4:34)
  5. Dodo / Lurker (7:30)
  6. Who Dunnit? (3:22)
  7. Man On The Corner (4:27)
  8. Like It Or Not (4:58)
  9. Another Record (4:30)

Released by: Atlantic
Release date: 1981
Total running time: 47:04

Genesis – The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway

Genesis - The Lamb Lies Down On BroadwayPeter Gabriel’s last outing with Genesis is something I’ve heard since I was kid, barely able to comprehend the bizarre quasi-mythological story being told in the songs. Now I’m an equally perplexed adult, still barely able to “get” The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway, despite the nice new remastered CD edition which has the complete original libretto and lyrics. And yeah, this is one rock opera which demands a thorough reading of its rhyming, sometimes humorous libretto.

Lamb is ostensibly the story of a Puerto Rican-born street kid named Rael, lurking in the streets of the Big Apple and announcing his name to the world with his can of spray paint. A series of misadventures leads him to an underworld beneath the streets of Manhattan, which in turn becomes a bizarre mixture of seemingly-familiar mythological archetypes and far-fetched ideas from Gabriel’s own imagination.

In short, this makes OVO look tame by comparison.

3 out of 4I like Gabriel’s way with words and the music here, particularly “Carpet Crawlers” and “The Chamber Of 32 Doors”. On their own, several of the songs stand up well. I really only get baffled trying to take in the larger canvas of Lamb‘s surreal storyline – but hey, if the music hits you in the right mood, this double-album is way ahead of its time. And even at its most cryptic, I find Gabriel-era Genesis far more stimulating and thought-provoking than, say, Invisible Touch-era Genesis.

Order this CD

    Disc one

  1. The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway (4:52)
  2. Fly On A Windshield (4:22)
  3. Broadway Melody Of 1974 (0:33)
  4. Cuckoo Cocoon (2:11)
  5. In The Cage (8:13)
  6. The Grand Parade Of Lifeless Packaging (2:47)
  7. Back In N.Y.C. (5:43)
  8. Hairless Heart (2:13)
  9. Counting Out Time (3:40)
  10. Carpet Crawlers (5:17)
  11. The Chamber Of 32 Doors (5:14)
    Disc two

  1. Lilywhite Lilith (2:44)
  2. The Waiting Room (5:24)
  3. Anyway (3:07)
  4. Here Comes The Supernatural Anaesthetist (2:58)
  5. The Lamia (6:56)
  6. Silent Sorrow In Empty Boats (3:06)
  7. The Colony Of Slippermen (8:16)
  8. Ravine (2:04)
  9. The Light Dies Down On Broadway (3:32)
  10. Riding The Scree (3:55)
  11. In The Rapids (2:28)
  12. it. (4:15)

Released by: Atlantic
Release date: 1974
Disc one total running time: 45:28
Disc two total running time: 48:41

Genesis – Turn It On Again: The Hits

Genesis - Turn It On Again: The HitsAt last – at long last – a Genesis greatest hits collection. This puppy is long overdue. While some bands are defined by their album tracks which don’t become singles, namely ELO and Alan Parsons, post-Peter-Gabriel Genesis has never been such a band, at least not for me. It seemed as though they knew which ones would be the singles, poured all their efforts into those songs, and limped through the rest. This album finally collects all of the hit singles into one collection, with the glorious addition of a 1999 re-recording of “The Carpet Crawlers”, complete with Gabriel and Steve Hackett. Though it has shifted stylistically into the Phil Collins-era sound, the song is marvelously done, and Gabriel and Collins actually sound good harmonizing. (I expected Phil to be favored in the mix, and perhaps to even take over half the song, but fortunately this didn’t happen.) As you’ll see from the track listing, just about any single you’re looking for since the late 70’s is on Turn It On Again, including “Congo”, a decent 1997 tune featuring a new 4 out of 4vocalist who was to have been Collins’ replacement. One almost wishes Gabriel and Hackett might consider reuniting with their former bandmates for some more material, just to see what it would sound like, but as it is, “Carpet Crawlers 1999” will tide me over until Gabriel gets around to releasing his next solo album. Good stuff!

Order this CD

  1. Turn It On Again (3:48)
  2. Invisible Touch (3:26)
  3. Mama (5:18)
  4. Land of Confusion (4:45)
  5. I Can’t Dance (3:59)
  6. Follow You, Follow Me (3:58)
  7. Hold On My Heart (4:37)
  8. Abacab (4:12)
  9. I Know What I Like (In Your Wardrobe) (4:04)
  10. No Son Of Mine (5:44)
  11. Tonight, Tonight, Tonight (4:28)
  12. In Too Deep (4:58)
  13. Congo (4:02)
  14. Jesus He Knows Me (4:16)
  15. That’s All (4:24)
  16. Misunderstanding (3:11)
  17. Throwing It All Away (3:49)
  18. The Carpet Crawlers 1999 (5:38)

Released by: Atlantic
Release date: 1999
Total running time: 78:56

Genesis – Invisible Touch

Genesis - Invisible TouchThis album is one of my guiltiest pleasures in my entire music section. Part of me cringes at how far Genesis fell from its progressive roots to this penultimate studio album – well, penultimate so far, anyway – which consisted largely of typical mid-’80s rock/pop numbers and the crooning ballads with which Phil Collins was becoming more associated at the time. And for that harsh assessment, I’m reluctantly forced to admit that I like the ballad “In Too Deep”. There are actually a few hints of the band’s more progressive 3 out of 4roots, such as the instrumental “The Brazilian”, but longer track times don’t always equate to art rock…sometimes, as in the case of “Tonight Tonight Tonight”, they’re just flat boring.

  1. Invisible Touch (3:26)
  2. Tonight, Tonight, Tonight (8:49)
  3. Land of Confusion (4:45)
  4. Order this CD In Too Deep (4:59)
  5. Anything She Does (4:06)
  6. Domino (10:42)
  7. Throwing It All Away (4:41)
  8. The Brazilian (4:49)

Released by: Atlantic
Release date: 1986
Total running time: 45:45