For what is our final album column of 2019, we're turning back the clock to an artist we covered right at the start of the year in Genesis and their eponymous 1983 record.
As bands go, Genesis underwent a marked transition from elaborate prog-rock soundscapes to a more pop-oriented sound, designed to be fit for the masses. As time went on, Genesis became a more accessible band and this 1983 classic marks the band bridging the gap between the two. For every Second Home By The Sea, there's a That's All to change the mood.
Mama gets the ball rolling, with a haunting drum machine loop setting the tone for a rather sinister song. Phil Collins' evil laugh throughout the song, as well as his cold vocal, is what makes this song a standout right from the start; with all the little intricacies from Tony Banks, the overarching synth sounds help to create a dark landscape. The following That's All couldn't be any more different and contrasting. It's much lighter than its predecessor, with a more pop-oriented sound, featuring some minimalist drums from Collins and a great little guitar solo courtesy of Mike Rutherford to round the song out rather nicely.
Home By The Sea sounds rather like a song that could be found on any of Phil Collins' solo efforts and that's no bad thing. Despite its catchy instrumentation, it's a real Genesis classic, especially given its lyrical subjects. The song surrounds a burglar who forcibly enters a home only to find that it's haunted. It's a nice mix of prog and pop, with Tony Banks' work on keyboards brilliantly providing the progressive element. It goes together with the following Second Home By The Sea, which means the entire suite totals around twelve minutes. Second Home By The Sea is mostly instrumental, with some harsh drums combining with Mike Rutherford's great guitar to create a proper soundscape that fits in perfectly with the ambience of both songs. It's a brilliant exhibition of what the band can do even without lyrics.
The fantastically satirical Illegal Alien arrives next, taking on a more pop-y sound once again, with Collins putting on a mock accent to play the part of an immigrant wishing to move from Mexico to the United States. It's clearly a cry for help to the listener, as Collins, in the shoes of the speaker, talks of all the struggles he goes through to move countries; his sister is even "willing to oblige" in illicit activity to help out - the man's clearly desperate. Whilst it's a song that gets a lot of stick, when considered as a satirical piece that sides with those moving from one country to another, it's actually rather clever, and also a damn good song at that. Taking It All Too Hard continues this more commercial sound, opting for a downbeat and emotional-sounding vocal to bring out the best in Collins' voice. There's some nice work from the band here, such as the echoed piano and light acoustic guitar that combine fantastically to make this one of the album's standouts.
Just A Job To Do opts for a more funk-rock type sound, with a groovy song overall making this an absolutely brilliant inclusion. This different sound to the rest of the album makes Just A Job To Do stands out wonderfully against other parts of both this album and Genesis' back catalogue. It's a different musical direction for the band and works rather well. Silver Rainbow follows on with a deep-sounding electric piano that sets the tone for most of the song. The small elements of percussion contained within the backing contrast the thumping drums nicely and make this one of the most complete songs on the album.
Our final song on this nine track masterpiece is It's Gonna Get Better. With its synth-driven backing, you might feel you're in for something a little sinister, but the song couldn't be further from that. It's a groovy number, featuring a higher Collins vocal, and that fusion of prog and pop again; amongst the commercial sounding verse structures are some rather progressive interludes over the song's five minute duration.
Genesis really is one of the best albums from the band of the same name. That mix of progressive magic combined with more commercial and art-rock influences make for an album full of standouts. This different musical direction would open Genesis up to the masses cement them as one of rock's greatest ever bands.
If you want to pick up a copy, I’ll leave an Amazon link here: https://amzn.to/3f4RkCT
Or, if you’d prefer, here’s a Spotify link:
More musical magnificence to come next week!
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