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Genesis - Duke CD (album) cover

DUKE

Genesis

 

Symphonic Prog

3.49 | 1004 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Brendan
3 stars If someone was to ask my worthless opinion upon the subject of 'What is the worst Genesis Album?' I wouldn't say 'Duke', I would say 'There is no "worst" Genesis album, they are all good! (some people can't be objective, can they?) but that the WEAKEST is Duke'

Although previous albums had lyrics about 'Ten tonne weights above them' and about how it's 'all in a mouses night', and future releases would talk about 'I'm coming down like a monkey' and 'dreaming while you sleep', this album, from beginning to end, with a few rare exceptions, is only about divorce and relationship problems.

But the real killer for me is the production. Song after song Phil Collins' vocals are somewhere in the background with 'ten tonne weight of synths above them". The same problem also occurs on Mike Rutherford's solo release of that same very year, 'SmallCreeps Day' (that's the name of the album, not the number of the year). The worst offender is 'Man of our times', which sounds as though it were recorded with Phil Collins in the bottom of well!

Also, this album is the least innovative of all the Genesis albums. I'm glad they went off onto Robot-pop-prog related after this as it have them something new to do. Although the band is playing tight and well, and in a virtuous manner (as they always do, but quite noticeably here), the ideas all seem recycled from the last three albums, except the more radio friendly songs, and the general more R&B vibe to the music.

It begins with 'Behind the lines' which starts off with some good instrumental music, and has a catchy, prophetic Banksynth riff that is actually more catchy than the rest of the song. It later becomes a kind of R&B, groovy song. The second song is 'Duchess' which looks on paper like a 6-minute prog-epic but is really just a short song song with a two-minute drum intro, drums in the 'World Music' style. Also the synths slowly come in. The only thing I don't really like about this song is that the vocals are a bit obscured in the mix and it isn't particularly interesting, though it has quite a prophetic chorus. This is followed by a brief 'Guide Vocal' and that is followed by the aforementioned 'Man of our times' (ie Phil Collins down the bottom of a well). This song feels more influenced by new wave than by actual prog. The chorus My favourite track from side one, and the one with the best vocals is 'Misunderstanding', a nice R&B number, written by Phil Collins himself 'Misunderstanding' has better production, too, the only song on side one where the vocals are easy to understand, maybe that's what the 'misunderstanding' is "What did Phil just say 'Can of cow rinds'? "No no, you misunderstand, it's "Ham of our minds"... The song Heathaze is a ballad that also suffers from a poor production. I have never really found this song interesting, it never rings a bell with me, nor strikes a chord. But it's not very bad.

At this point the expectations aren't very high, but they turn it around with the ultra-catchy rocker 'Turn it on again', which has a big riff and brilliant playing. The best part about this song, though, is the ultra-catchy hook to the song, with Collins' R&B vocals hitting their stride nicely here. This song really hits the nail on the head! It's followed by 'Alone Tonight' which is not amazing or anything, but has a nice hummable chorus, though a bit similar to 'Man of our times' in melody. This is followed by 'Cul-de-sac' which kind of reminds me of something that would have been on the previous album '..and then there were three' in fact don't the solo albums that came in between feel like a 'bridge' between the two Genesis albums? Anyway Cul-de-sac sounds like a good one but after a while you realise this is kind of a weak version of 'Ballad of Big' (well 'I', in xtra big and bold font, realised that, you just nodded in agreeance when you knew my statement was right). Okay CDC is better than that, one of the more enjoyable, progressive and melodic songs to feature on this album. SOmetimes you just feel like we've heard all this before.The album is rounded out with 'Please don't ask', a great R&B ballad, and some awesome instrumental music in the form of 'Duke's Travels' and 'Duke's End'. I don't know why they split the two songs, it all sounds like one song to me, but it's a testament to Genesis that they need to spilt one-song into two to avoid looking excessive. Remember the first Styx album where they stuck two five minute, totally unrelated songs together with two minutes of talking and branded it 'Movement for the common man'! Genesis can write quality, whole and continuous pieces of music that go for over ten minutes. And on that wonderful note we conclude Duke.

Now for Genesis Duke is a 2.5 star album, but this is Genesis, and so 2.5 for them is at least 3.0 for other people. So I'll give 'Duke' a thumbs-up three stars! Enjoyable, but a few flaws and a few weaker moments.

Brendan | 3/5 |

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