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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Genesis

Genesis

Review by Greg Olma

Say what you will, Genesis would not have grown to the heights they achieved if Peter Gabriel was fronting them.  I’m not saying that I hate Gabriel because I tend to like that version of Genesis better but the more I revisit the Collins-era, the more I like it.  Let’s face it, hits songs get you the money and the ability to play to huge crowds.  If it were not for the hits, Genesis would have stayed at the same level as Yes (not that it’s a bad thing).  Having said that, this self titled release does have elements of prog in it.  There is fair amount less than pervious years and it seems that with each release, they had less room for the prog material.  They had to make room for the hits and this record was full of them.  Some of them were good while a track like “Illegal Alien” (in my humble opinion) sent the older fans screaming foul.  That is, if there were any older fans around by this time.  I think this album has aged pretty well in that the songs are not as bad as you might have thought.  We were all so disappointed when Genesis shed their progressive style that we did not give the material a chance.  The record has an ‘80’s sound and that can’t be helped but the material stands up pretty well.  This release is a good one to revisit because there is some good quality material on there.  Aside from the one track, the rest of the record is quite good.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2010  Volume 1 at lulu.com/strangesound.
Track by Track Review
Mama
The record starts off in very dramatic fashion.  It builds slowly with first drums, then keyboards and guitars until finally half way through it reaches its apex.  This was the opening track of the record along with the opening song in their show on the tour.
That’s All

Genesis wrote hit singles way back with “Follow You, Follow Me” so this is a good hit for them also.  It has hooks throughout and although the prog purists hate this version of Genesis, all the elements of the band are there.  If this came out on one of their earlier records, older fans would have accepted it a little more.  All and all, it is a catchy piece of pop that fit the time perfectly.

Home By The Sea

We get a hint of prog on this tune but there is plenty of “hit” in it also.  There is a great driving rhythm that makes this a tune that would work best while driving along the coast with the top down. This tune is heavily keyboard oriented with many parts to give it the appearance of being a progressive piece.  It fades into the next track that I think is more prog and a continuation of this cut.

Second Home By The Sea

This is the kind of tune that gives a big nod to their prog fans.  It is a mostly instrumental that has that same sound that Rush had in the 80’s.  Collins continues the tread from the previous track with the same lyrical theme.  There is a bit of a soundtrack feel to the song but in a good way.  The sound is very full with keyboard washes abound.  Collins also incorporates synthesized drums into the tune which give it that 80’s Rush comparison.  Not much credit is given to Mike Rutherford but he puts in a great guitar solo towards the end.  This along with the previous tune are the real gems here.

Illegal Alien

I don’t know if it is the song or the video (really, this is the chicken or the egg question) that made me hate this track but I can’t stand this one. Listening to this years later, my thoughts have not changed except that there is some pretty good musicianship throughout.   The chorus is really catchy; too bad it sucks.  But then again, what do I know, it was a pretty big hit for the band.

Taking It All To Hard

Genesis with Collins wrote ballad tunes and this is the one for this record.  It’s actually not that bad.  In the context of the album, it fits well and gives the record a little bit of variety.  I remember not liking this tune at first but it grows on you.  Of all the slower tracks this band has given us over the years, this is one of the better ones.

Just A Job To Do

The band kick it up into high gear for this fast track (as fast as these guys get).  It has a really infectious shuffle about it.  There is a nice bridge added which breaks up the tune nicely.

Silver Rainbow

We get another nod to the prog fans with this track.  There are elements that remind me of the Duke record.  If you listen closely, there is a lot going on in this cut.  “Home By The Sea” gets more play (they even pulled it out for the reunion shows in 2007) but this is one of those great deep cuts that many people might not have heard.  The chorus has the keyboards pushed a little high in the mix but other than that, it is a great tune.

It’s Gonna Get Better

I don’t know why but this tune always reminds me a little of Steely Dan.  It is a slower number that has a little bit of “ballad” in it but it has more going on than your typical sappy love song.  It fades book-ending the record nicely. 

 
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