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Genesis - Duke CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

3.50 | 1495 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars The first Genesis album since their unusual debut that I cannot listen to in its entirety, 'Duke' marked a distinct change in the band's aesthetic and saw Collins' shift into simpler pop material begin to spread throughout the ranks. The result is a very unbalanced, conceptually absent collection... but since this was only the beginning of the change, there is still a bounty of great pieces by Banks and Rutherford; still different, but powerful enough to raise this album a notch above an average three stars.

The offenders: 'Behind The Lines' (minus the excellent W&W-esque intro), 'Misunderstanding'. and 'Turn It On Again'... despite very tight performances I simply find these unlistenable. Simplistic, repetitive, shallow lyrics, echoes of Motown almost in the vocals... ok for the background of a party, maybe, but this is the sound of a different Genesis, and sadly a less emotional, unadventurous one.

The high points: Tony Banks' personal pieces on this album are simply gold, starting with 'Guide Vocal', a short piece that closes the previous 'Duchess' which is also interesting, featuring some of the most mournful lines ever delivered by Collins. The unclearly motivated speaker tells of a guardian, or a force, or an inspiration, one that is essential but will be destroyed by the inquisitiion of the ignorant, and when it abandons us we shall be left empty to our own devices - 'take what's yours, and be damned'. To achieve this in so minimal and so short a track is quite an accomplishment, a sign of the better side of this album, but also a sad reminder of how Genesis could have continued. Similarly in 'Heathaze' and 'Cul-de-sac', Banks again weaves moments of sadness, change, disillusion, and ultimately even the doom of our kind thanks to shadows of our own devising. The music is laden with his 'Curious Feeling' era pianos and synths, built up to deeply-textured degree, and rolling along like a classical/rock symphony. Rutherford, too, steals the show with related tones - the steel-future, relentless 'Man Of Our Times', and self-explanatory 'Alone Tonight'.

The quality continues in possibly the best Genesis song to come from a purely Collins composition, 'Please Don't Ask'. Lyrically he would go on to cover the same subject numerous times, but never again with the same heartbreaking sensitivity as on this track. As Phil relays the quiet anguish of seeing a lost loved one again, each harmony that builds up is as gentle as the last, so fragile they could shatter at any time, and the key shifts as he realises 'but I miss my boy' are quite evocatively subtle. The band also let loose in power-instrumentals the likes of which were again found in 'Wind And Wuthering', with 'Duke's Travels' and 'Duke's End'. Very impressive musically, the concept itself (if any) is very muddy, and most likely exists more for the anonymous album cover character rather than any topic inherent to the songs.

For me 'Duke' is the beginning of the end for Genesis, but still an essential purchase with strong material patched throughout.

ThulŽatan | 4/5 |


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