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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Genesis

We Can’t Dance

Review by Gary Hill

There are certain albums by Genesis that I just think of as pop music, rather than prog. This is certainly one of them. The truth is, though, there is still quite a bit of progressive rock on the set. Additionally, the pop music is often pretty darned good. In other words, every Genesis album is worth having and this certainly has some great music on it. It should be mentioned that I reviewed a few of these songs on a compilation previously. For the sake of consistency, those reviews have been copied or adapted for use here.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2014  Volume 5 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
No Son of Mine

Here’s an example of how a more modern pop sound can be combined with proggy elements to create a song that works really well. This is moody and powerful and I’ve always liked it a lot.

Jesus He Knows Me
A faster paced pop rocker, this is not terrible, but it’s also not very substantial. Still, there are some cool moments.
Driving the Last Spike
As this starts off, it feels a lot like Mike and the Mechanics. The first half of this song is in a mellow, balladic motif that does fit with that band’s sound. The vocals are the part of the track that really makes it special. They power it out later into a smoking hot progressive rock jam from there, though. That more rocking section lands this more in the prog direction. They do bring it back to that Mike and the Mechanics sound later, though. The rocking segment returns after. This is definitely no pop song, running over ten minutes in length. Some of the later sections have a real classic Genesis feeling to them with their triumphant power.
I Can't Dance
While not overly annoying in terms of pop music, this is quite far from progressive rock. It’s a bit entertaining, but also kind of weird and not really all that strong. The chorus is catchy, though.
Never a Time

This balladic number might as well be a Phil Collins solo tune. It doesn’t really feel like Genesis, but rather like the soulful balladic side of Collins’ solo catalog.

Dreaming While You Sleep
This is definitely one of the highlights of the disc. It’s got a powerful musical arrangement that grows. It’s over seven minutes, long, making it substantial. It’s quite proggy. The lyrics tell the tale of someone living with the guilt of a hit and run accident that put someone in a coma. It’s a very powerful piece of music.
Tell Me Why
This might not be the most typical Genesis sound, but it’s a prog piece in my mind. It’s also a powerful piece. It has a great musical arrangement, and the vocals really bring it home. The lyrics are poignant, as well. It’s just a great tune.
Living Forever
Another that does a good job of combining the more pop oriented side of Genesis with the proggier elements, this is a cool tune. It has some sections that really feel like classic Genesis, while overall it’s more in keeping with the later period. I really like the extended instrumental section on this a lot.
Hold On My Heart
There’s a bit of a Genesis sound on this, but overall it’s really got a lot of that too pop oriented Phil Collins solo sound. I’d have to chalk this one up as a “skip it” song.
Way of the World
Although this isn’t particularly proggy, it’s not overly pop music oriented, either. It’s a good tune with a message. It’s just not a standout either in terms of the good or bad end of the spectrum.
Since I Lost You
Another that feels like a Phil Collins solo song, this is a poignant ballad.
Fading Lights
Here we have another of the more proggy pieces of the set. At over ten minutes in length, it’s also one of the more extensive ones. As it starts, it feels a lot like something from Duke. The vocals come in over the top of a mellow backdrop. It grows as a ballad, in a pretty straight forward line until after the three minute mark when it fires out into an intensified instrumental progression to continue. They take it through a number of shifts and changes as the instrumental movement spans about five minutes. It gives way to a reprise of the earlier section.
 
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