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Genesis - Abacab CD (album) cover

ABACAB

Genesis

 

Symphonic Prog

2.55 | 896 ratings

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daveconn
Prog Reviewer
4 stars If you want to cry "sell out" here I won't stop you. Of course GENESIS' commercial reinvention didn't happen overnight, it had been coming ever since Peter GABRIEL's departure, creeping in under the cloak of "Your Own Special Way" and "Ripples" at first, then poking its head out on "Follow You, Follow Me" and finding the light pleasant. The trio showed some discomfort moving in prog's ample mantle on . "And Then There Were Three", opting to shed the showy garments on "Duke" at times for a sleeker, tighter sound.

Following Phil's success with "Face Value", however, the band realized they could take off the prog helmets and breathe the freshly minted air of the '80s. (I know, most prog bands suffocated in the late '70s trying the same thing, but this was after all GENESIS.) The opening "Abacab" marks a clean departure from the past: noisy and relentless synthesizers from Tony BANKS create an unscalable wall of sound, barbed by Phil COLLINS' spiked rhythms and Mike RUTHEFORD's intractable bass. What it all means is anybody's guess, but the urgency speaks for itself. The same epic scale returns on "Dodo/Lurker", not coincidentally the other "long" song on "Abacab" and one that would have felt at home on . "And Then There Were Three".

Elsewhere, shades of "Cul-de-Sac" reappear on the wonderful "Me And Sarah Jane" (yet another gem from BANKS), "Behind The Lines" serves as a template for "No Reply At All", and RUTHEFORD's "Like It Or Not" echoes earlier works like "Alone Tonight". But viewing "Abacab" as an upstart "Duke" misses the point; where "Duke" was gauzy and languid, "Abacab" is wide awake. The rhythms feature crisp, left-of-center beats that draw from jazz, the keyboards trade their old magic and mystery for Orwellian overtones, RUTHEFORD's intoxicating sounds instead become musical punctuation marks. And nothing in GENESIS' past was streamlined like "Man on the Corner" or "Another Record". As good as "Abacab" is, I'd be remiss in not mentioning that "Keep It Dark" and "Who Dunnit?" sound gimmicky and could be considered unbecoming a band of GENESIS' stature.

I'm not a huge fan of "Abacab", though I recognize that for many this is a milestone (newcomers I presume). For those of us still nursing the old dream, this record represents a slight speed bump that may occasion sideward glances for The Police (whose debut album played similar games with color cover variations).

daveconn | 4/5 |

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