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Genesis - Duke CD (album) cover

DUKE

Genesis

 

Symphonic Prog

3.48 | 986 ratings

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daveconn
Prog Reviewer
4 stars Once known solely as the authors of sublime album sides, GENESIS was steadily earning a reputation as a reliable singles act. "Misunderstanding" was as succinct a pop song as the band had yet managed; coupled with the relative success of "Turn It On Again" and "Duchess", it appeared that GENESIS had found a way to package their appeal into smaller packets. No doubt some fans resented the band's newfound appeal (implying a sell out) while others delighted in hearing their idols on regular radio rotation (citing that the singles from "Duke" were still scads better than most of the Top 20 fare).

On close examination, however, "Duke" is no less ambitious than their last album, the difference being a clarity of attack that better suits a trio running on all engines. In fact you could make the argument that "Duke" helped set the stage for the neo-progressive movement; a song like "Heathaze" would have felt equally at home on MARILLION's albums. Whether "Duke" represents a different chapter is a matter of taste; some listeners draw the line at "Lamb", "Wuthering", their last album or this one. Some of us don't even draw the line at all.

If "Duke" isn't an improvement over the old band, it's still the ideal setting to hear the songs of BANKS, COLLINS and RUTHEFORD. "Cul-de-Sac", which would have been rendered by some ill-suited singer in BANKS' band du jour instead becomes a great song in the hands of GENESIS. And would you want to hear Mike RUTHEFORD warble "Man of Our Times" or "Alone Tonight?" Or have Phil wilt over the piano for the entirety of "Please Don't Ask?" No, you wouldn't. And that's where "Duke" succeeds, by providing the best vehicle for three very talented musicians/songwriters. "Duke" is a feat of musical engineering: a smaller plane built from the ruin of a larger one, boasting better maneuverability and remarkable gas mileage.

Note that the album might function on a conceptual level; plenty of mind-candy moments and a clearly defined beginning and ending to the album would suggest the presence of some unifying theme, but I'll leave that to the individual listener.

daveconn | 4/5 |

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