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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Genesis

Duke (SACD and DVD set)

Review by Greg Olma

A lot of people were crying “sell out” when Genesis released …And Then There Were Three. Although they basically shifted their sound away from progressive and moved it more in a commercial pop sound, they still kept some of the elements to keep a few prog fans happy (but not many). In my opinion, Duke was the last album that still retained any prog moments and those were few. Most of the record sounds like a hybrid of commercial pop but with technical playing giving it that prog sound. At the time, I was disappointed in the release because I was really into progressive music like Yes and Rush and I saw this as Genesis abandoning their core fans in their quest for hit singles. I was right but that doesn’t mean that there weren’t any quality tunes here. In fact, in hindsight, this is a pretty damn good album. I guess by judging this against their later releases, this one rates much better.

I have to say that I am getting a little tired of buying remastered CDs or reissues with one or two bonus tracks but when the package is as good as this, then I don’t mind. Rhino have done it again (they put out the Yes remasters) with this set from Genesis. Not only do you get the album but you get a bonus DVD that has the whole album again as DVD audio along with extra video footage. A lot of care went into the bonus material to make sure it coincided with the appropriate timeframe. With remasters this good, I can’t wait for the next batch of Genesis releases.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2007 Volume 4 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Behind the Lines
The opening track here is still very proggy but with a little pop vocals thrown over it. Keyboards play a big part (nothing new for Genesis) in the track. There is a guitar solo in there but it is almost an afterthought. Also the production on this and the whole record is very clean and almost clinical.
Duchess
“Behind The Lines” fades into this tune that starts off with a drum beat that is almost like a heart beat. It takes the cut about 2 and ½ minutes before the band finally kicks into this mellow yet still prog song. It ends just like it started but the intro and outro make the song a little longer than it needs to be.
Guide Vocal
This track sounds like later day Phil Collins material that he did for Disney. It’s just piano/keyboards with his vocals over it and it has that storybook sound that he became famous for. Luckily it is not even 2 minutes long.
Man of Our Times
Here is another keyboard heavy piece that takes the prog/pop hybrid a step further than “Behind The Lines.” It has more of the Phil Collins solo material sound; something you would have heard on Face Value. Compared to latter day Genesis, this is actually a good tune.
Misunderstanding
This, I believe, was the first single and I can see why Genesis fans around the world cried “sell out.” It has an almost 50’s sound with more heartfelt lyrics. I really don’t think this cut fits the rest of the album.
Heathaze
The beginning sounds similar to earlier Genesis material (Gabriel-era) but as the song builds; it becomes more of a latter day Genesis tune. I don’t know what it is but I didn’t like this cut back in the 80’s but now, I think it is one of the better tracks here.
Turn it On Again
I always liked this single off the album. It is commercial pop written all over it but it still carries the Genesis stamp on it. It rocks harder than “Misunderstanding” and is one of the more upbeat moments on the record.
Alone Tonight
Wow, you can really hear guitar on the start of this tune but then the keyboards kick in and the guitar fades into the background. I don’t know if power ballads were around in 1980 but this is basically the same structure.
Cul-De-Sac
The keyboards at the beginning have an “awards show” sound like for the Oscars. This is more progressive with less of that pop sound in it. It is one of the few tunes here that doesn’t really go anywhere. Even the tracks I don’t really like seem to not be as invisible as this.
Please Don't Ask
This is Phil Collins solo hit single material all the way. I’m surprised that he didn’t save this for Face Value because it could have charted. It is basically a piano ballad but has keyboards wash over it to give it a full sound.
Please Don't Ask
They satisfy all the prog-rock fans, but Genesis wait until the end of the record to give them their fix. For 6 minutes, the guys rock out in a prog style that if the whole record were like this, many old Genesis fans would have been happy with. After the 6 minutes, we finally get vocals but the song doesn’t wimp out. It still continues to rock out. This is my favorite track here, but then again, I really like prog music more than pop.
Duke's End
The end of the record consists of the same melody lines and structure as “Behind The Lines” so basically it ends where it started. I love it when bands do this because it kind of brings it all full circle and ties things together.
Bonus DVD
As I said earlier, you get the whole record as DVD audio which is good but the visuals are what I find more enjoyable. The video portion is broken up into 4 parts. The first part contains the 3 videos that were released from Duke. They were “Duchess,” “Misunderstanding,” and “Turn It On Again.” Those have been released on other products but it is nice to have them here as part of the complete package. The second part is roughly a 20 minute interview with the band members about the recording of the album and what was going in their lives at the time. My favorite section is the following part where we get the London 1980 show at the Lyceum. There was a bootleg of this floating around, but it is so nice to finally have a clean copy. I just wish it was the full show. As presented here it is only 7 songs and not quite a hour long. To finish off this package completely, part four is a scan of the tourbook from 1980. As a collector of memorabilia, I was glad they added this in so I know what to look for and make sure that the item is complete.
 
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