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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Genesis

Wind and Wuthering

Review by Gary Hill

The second album from Genesis after Peter Gabriel left the fold, this one is rather maligned by a lot of prog fans. That's a shame because this one is really very good. While there are signs of the types of sounds the band would later take up for their repertoire, this disc is all progressive rock. It still holds up very well today and serves as a great listen beginning to end. There really are no weak tracks here, and there is enough variety from song to song (and in fact within songs) to keep it from ever getting old. If you haven't checked this one out, do yourself a favor. If you like any Genesis, you will like this. It's up there with the best of their catalog. If, on the other hand, you used to really enjoy it but haven't listened in a while, take the opportunity to get reacquainted with an old friend.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2006 Volume 2 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Eleventh Earl of Mar
From the opening keyboards, this one is dramatic and potent. Eventually these waves of sound modulate into a more atmospheric, but extremely powerful sheet of sound that carries the cut into the song proper, a bouncing prog jam that is all vintage Genesis. While there are some elements here that make me think of the follow up disc, And Then There Were Three, this one seems to be sort a link between the two sounds. Tony Banks provides some excellent keyboard textures here and Phil Collins shines both on the drums and the vocals. I'd put this one up alongside anything from A Lamb Lies Down or other of the later Gabriel era discs. Steve Hackett's guitar sound on this one is definitely killer. The mellower ballad like segment mid song calls to mind a lot of the similar passages in the very early material from the group's catalog. It is quiet beautiful and evocative. And the build up coming out of there is purely spectacular. The keyboard-dominated segment that takes the song to its conclusion is also classic Genesis.
One For The Vine
At an even ten minutes, this one is the longest cut on the CD. It starts with a very mellow segment that really makes me think of the Gabriel era of the group. The powerful movement upwards from there is very inspiring and satisfying. This cut is exceptionally lush and emotional. This one stays fairly true to its main themes throughout the first two or three minutes, just reworking those themes in differing ways, quieter and louder. Then it shifts into a new segment, at first tentatively as a chorus. Then it drops to a piano solo. Collins' voice comes over the top of this keyboard element in one of the most sedate portions of the disc. Eventually they begin to work back up from there. Then a short reprise of the intro gives way to a bouncing jam that seems a bit like "Harold The Barrel" and like songs from the earliest days of the group. This jam is exceptionally strong. They run through this instrumental excursion for a time, then jump into another verse that gives way to a new instrumental segment. Then it returns to the opening theme and resolves out into one of the most powerful verses of the track. This movement in my opinion is just a potent and emotion packed as any of the best of Gabriel era Genesis. After this works through they fire out into another fury of instrumental sound. This is another jam that is so classic Genesis that it could have come from any of the early periods of the group. It moves out into another piano solo section that ends the piece.
Your Own Special Way
OK, yes, this is a pretty love song. The thing is, it's still a prog ballad, and it's one of the best love songs written in the genre. This is pretty and uplifting. The chorus is just plain beautiful. Yes it does show some signs of the more pop oriented music that the band would later do, but honestly, taken by itself, this one is great.
Wot Gorilla?
Chimes start this, and then eventually give way to a fast paced percussion fill. Then the band launch into a fast paced jam that is quite entertaining. This short (3:20) instrumental is used as a showcase to give Banks plenty of room to create some killer synthesizer soloing.
All In A Mouse's Night
Starting on keys, this one bursts up into a triumphant sounding prog rock excursion. It runs through a verse like this, then drops back to a very sedate segment for the next vocals. It doesn't stay there for long, though, instead jumping up the more powerful section to carry forward. The cut uses these two formats in alternations as its motif. This is another definite winner and Steve Hackett gets a chance to show off a bit with his guitar in the later portions.
Blood On The Rooftops
If Hackett got to show off his rock chops on the last one; here he starts the track off with beautiful acoustic classical guitar. The first minute or so is his solo show. Then Collins enters with balladic vocals. After the verse keys come in to accentuate with waves of atmospheric sounds. They work through the next verse in this manner. After an instrumental passage they pump this up to a very passionate and powerful mode to carry through for the next vocals. They drop it back down to the mellower to move onward. After a verse like this, Hackett's guitar leads the way through another sedate musical passage, then they crank it up to the most energetic section of the cut. The vocals here are exceptionally evocative. They pull it back towards the mellow styles to take it to its conclusion. Make no mistake; this is a classic Genesis song with all the elements of drama and emotion in place. This, like most of the rest of the disc, will stand proudly alongside the rest of the catalog.
The next segment is a two part instrumental that is contained as one track (at least on my copy of the CD).
Unquiet Slumbers For The Sleepers...
This is a pretty, but a bit strange mellow instrumental. I could swear I hear theremin, but don't see it credited. This serves as part one of the instrumental jam continued in the next one.
...In That Quiet Earth
From the last cut this bursts into a fairly typical, but still quite tasty faster paced, more rocking Genesis jam. They throw in a few riffs that even seem to call to mind (progression wise, not arrangement) A Farewell To Kings era Rush. They twist this into a killer jam later that seems to me to be the inspiration for a lot of neo-prog. This is oh so tasty. The song has plenty of quirky changes and instrumental virtuosity to please even the most jaded prog rocker. It runs straight into the next track.
Afterglow
Coming out of the last one, this evocative and powerful song seems to share a lot of its composition with "Your Own Special Way." You can say what you want, but in my opinion Genesis just doesn't get more powerful than this, and never did. The lyrics, arrangement and performance all work to create a soul-stirring ballad that is so strong it defies words. I can't imagine a better way to end this CD.
 
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