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Genesis - Abacab CD (album) cover

ABACAB

Genesis

 

Symphonic Prog

2.56 | 865 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

The T
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Genesis' fans tend to divide the band's discography in four periods: one, the Gabriel-era, going from the first album up to THE LAMB(...); then the second era, the "Gabriel-less era with Hackett", which would only include two albums: A TRICK OF THE TAIL and WIND AND WUTHERING; then a brief third era comes next, the "No Gabriel, No Hackett, but still prog" era, including AND THEN THERE WERE THREE and DUKE; finally, the Pop-era, starting on ABACAB and going all the way down to CALLING INTO STATIONS. Now, this last era could also be known as the "crap era", because of the dislike and contempt most Genesis' fans have for it. As I said, ABACAB was the record that arguably started this era. So what do I think of this polemical, generally ignored -by the prog community, not by the mainstream music world- album?

I think the album has an uglier fame that it deserves. The truth is, it's not a GREAT album, not even a VERY GOOD one. One can even say it's not even GOOD. But that's if we only hear it from a hardcore-prog point of view. Yes, the music is not too "proggish", BUT... it's not really BAD music, it's just not as complex or interesting as previous releases by Genesis, but is not an atrocious effort by any means. I know that if wer are reviewing an album in a PROG-WEBSITE, our perspective should be always related to the prog-music genre (whatever that includes); but I have to give my opinion first from a purely PERSONAL point of view, and even if weak at times (VERY weak actually), ABACAB ultimately works for me, at least to some degree and in certain songs.

Almost completely gone are the complex structures, the soaring solos, the odd time signatures from Genesis' music on this album. But the thing is, those started to fade away as early as on AND THEN..., so it was just logical for the band's sound to develop into this simpler, more radio-friendly style. The main difference lies on the SONGWRITING: even though those "prog-elements" were reduced in ATTWT and DUKE, the song-writing was still top-notch and we got a lot of compelling songs, great choruses, tension-release structures, and most of all, beautiful melodies; in ABACAB we are less lucky: most songs are just A-B-A-B-C-A-B (curiously, that structure-map resembles the album's name), and the melodic work is just miles away from the quality of earlier works. But we still have a couple of almost-shining moments, and more than a couple of musical bits that still sound like the monumental band Genesis used to be.

Abacab (7.5/10), an entertaining, enjoyable yet not brilliant song. I don't like the chorus that much, but it works for the song as a whole. The keyboard work is really nothing to write home about, just like the guitar work. The bridge is actually somewhat noisy (for Genesis I mean), but even with these minor complains, "Abacab" ends up being a good ride. The final part is my favorite, with the synth going over the main rhythm.

No Reply At All (7/10), some fans may kill me if they read this, but I actually kind of like this little poppy tune. I think the brass sounds a little bit cheesy, the keyboard lines are somewhat annoying... but then, they are NOT. All the elements in the song kinda... WORK. Yes, from a purely prog perspective, the track is poor, but if you want melodic, good music for listening when you are driving or doing some other activity which doesn't require a great level of concentration in the sounds, this one does the job.

Me And Sarah Jane (6.5/10), this one sounds like a lesser track from Duke; that means, it TRIES to sound proggier, but ultimately it FAILS. It kind of gets boring halfway down, and I don't know if it's just me, but Phil's voice sounds a little bit weird in this song. Forgettable, but not rejectable.

Keep It Dark (6/10), the same riff over and over again against a forward-moving bass line makes this song too repetitive once you heard it a couple of times. But it's not bad.

Dodo / Lurker (7.5/10), probably as "hard" as Genesis ever rocked, this song for sure inspired Trent Gardner to write some of Magellan's tunes. The keyboards give this aong a powerful aura. I don't like the chorus that much, it kind of breaks the continuity and the groove the song was showing before, but it doesn't tear it to pieces. Almost a very good song, and without a doubt the proggiest in ABACAB.

Who Dunnit? (3/10), as contrast, this one is the crappiest of the lot, and until I heard Genesis next album after this one (GENESIS), the track I regarded as the worst ever from this band. The rhythm is repetitive and annoying, the "melody" just... well, it doesn't exist; and don't get me started on Collins' singing and lyrics: the vocal work drives me mad, the lyrics are just a DISASTER. But I never knew what the next album would give me, so I can't rate this song lower than 3.

Man On The Corner (7.5/10), pure pop bliss (after the last song, any sounds like a blessing from the sky). It may be pop, I agree, but hey, it's good pop! High sense of style, great sining by Phil (can't believe is the same singer that performed in the previous "song"). Discardable as prog-track (progginess: 2/10), but very enjoyable as just MUSIC. Great melody, something I was starting to miss in this album.

Like It Or Not (5.5/10), I kind of dislike triple-meter songs, and with this one I make no exception... it's boring, and Collins' singing gets on my nerves, again. Twice in an album, that was just new for me (again, I haven't heard GENESIS up till then).

Another Record (5/10), after a slow start, the song actually changes moods! An intro! That's new for this album... Sadly, the music is not that brilliant; the chorus "round and round and round" part just makes me ill...Not good, not good.

So, in the end, if we dissect the album and analyze song by song, the results won't be that encouraging: we have more than a couple of misses. But taken as a whole ABACAB is not an unpleasant journey, and if the listener's expectations are not set too high, it's possible to enjoy the trip and even end up with a smiley face.

Even if it doesn't ad up in the math, I give this album 3 stars: it's slightly better than collectors/fans only, as many casual fans will enjoy it, but slightly worse than Good/not essential...Actually, it's just that, NOT ESSENTIAL.

Make it a 2.5 Stars.

Recommended for: Genesis fans; easy prog-rock fans with a taste for poppier prog; fans of rock/pop music in general.

Not recommended for: prog-only fans; hardcore Genesis fans; and mostly, hardcore- Genesis-fans that may use my recommendation as an excuse to buy the album...

...you will try to find me and kick my **s

The T | 3/5 |

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