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Genesis - Wind & Wuthering CD (album) cover

WIND & WUTHERING

Genesis

 

Symphonic Prog

4.10 | 1838 ratings

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rfill1
4 stars It makes all the sense to me that this is my very first review, since this was the first record I ever bought! Originally, I was searching for "Selling England by The Pound" at a local record store, to no avail. Nevertheless, I decided to take this album home and boy, I was in for a treat!

"Wind & Wuthering" opens with "Eleventh Earl of Mar", an eloquent piece of well-written music that begins with a sudden and powerful burst of energy as Banks' keyboard layers set a somewhat grandiose and mysterious drone, soon joined by Hackett's siren-like guitar. Soon the drums pick up and the song becomes an uptempo rocker (and does it rock!). The dynamic and tightness is just incredible! Afterwards, around the 4 minute mark, there's a slow section, very atmospheric and pleasant but always building up tension, until it snaps and we have a reprise of the fast-paced part of the song. In the end, the keyboards drone that starts the song is mirrored, bringing "Eleventh Earl of Mar" into a brilliant finish. (4/5)

After all this exaltation, there comes a more contemplative number, the 10 minute-long epic "One for the Vine". This one starts rather quiet, with a recurrent riff played by Hackett introducing a somewhat nostalgic piano-led melody, courtesy of Mr. Banks. I'd like to attribute a special mention to Collins' singing, which I think is really heartfelt and touching. He sings about a man who stranded from his army for not believing in the ideals of war, only to find himself many years later leading himself a war. The lyrics are also quite cyclical, but let's get on with the music. So, after some singing over Banks' melody, the song undergoes a slow atmospheric section, with piano and flute. Then there's another play of Hackett's recurring theme, followed from what I believe is one of the most brilliantly composed pieces of music in the entire Genesis catalog: the rhythm and dynamic of the song make a sudden U-turn, starting with rhythmic and highly syncopated assorted percussion and featuring a fast and elusive piano in between, vaudeville-like. It builds up in intensity, until it explodes in a galloping-style drumming, accompanied by a memorable keyboard solo/riff. Then, out of a sudden, the music stops and Collins sings a short falsetto line accompanied solely by piano. Then, again, power erupts, this time featuring a keyboard line with somewhat tragic connotations. Again, we are presented with Hackett's riff, followed by a reprise of the first part of the song (remember Bank's piano-led melody?). The finale is also emotionally powerful, featuring a guitar and synthesizer crescendo l "The Musical Box" before it all collapses under its own grandiosity, leaving a lone piano reprising the main theme from the vaudeville section. Absolutely EPIC! (5/5)

The third track, Rutherford's "Your Own Special Way", shows the band in a more commercial outfit. It's essentially a love song following a fairly common structure (albeit 6 minutes long) in pop music. Nevertheless it's worth checking out, as it ads to the romantic feel of the album. (2/5)

"Wot Gorilla" closes the first side. It's a short keyboard-led instrumental packed with powerful melodic lines, in the logical mood of "Eleventh Earl of Mar". (3/5)

The second side opens with a Banks composition, the 7-minute "All in a mouse's Night". This track features so many layers of organ that sometimes Collins' voice is close to imperceptive. At least the organ sounds good, ironically borrowing an epic mood to the song. Why the irony? "All in a mouse's Night" is the heir of such tunes as "The Return of the Giant Hogweed", "Get 'em out by Friday" or "The battle of Epping Forest". Although not so campy, because Collins has a more "serious" comedic approach than Peter Gabriel, it's quite entertaining, recounting the adventures of a mouse around a house, both in the perspective of a human couple, a cat and the mouse itself! Musically, the main interest is the guitar-organ interplay in the coda, really one of the highlights of the album. (4/5)

A true classic follows: "Blood on the Rooftops". It starts with a long and magnificent acoustic guitar solo by Steve Hackett, with a special emphasis in dynamics. In contrast with the rest of the songs on this album, in which the keyboards are the main focus, this is a guitar-driven piece. Besides the acoustic guitar, Rutherford's highly melodic bass playing is also on the forefront, accompanied by clarinet. The overall feeling is very romantic and it's often regarded as one of the best songs in Genesis' catalog. (5/5)

Lastly, there are 3 songs which play in sequence in the album, with no pause between them and flowing one into the other. I like to consider these three pieces as a kind of suite, so I'm presenting them as such: "Unquiet slumbers for the Sleepers.../ ...in that quiet Earth/ Afterglow". "Unquiet Slumbers..." is a short instrumental piece with slow pace and serene atmosphere. There are no drums here, only acoustic guitars providing the base melody and Bank's most gentle keyboard textures superimposing a line reminiscent to "O Fortuna", although in a slower pace and in a calmer mood. Then the drums come in and we're "...in that quiet Earth", probably the heaviest piece of music in "Wind & Wuthering". The textures, the rhythms, the keyboard solos, the sudden stops, all make this an incredibly powerful tension builder. Then, at last, the pressure is released and "Afterglow" is underway. It's basically a simple verse-chorus song about going back home again. It presents a peaceful Have-yourself-a-merry-little-Christmas kind of melody, ending with layers of mellotron and a choir (probably the band members themselves) slowing fading out. (4/5)

Overall, it's a very romantic-album that ends the golden age of Genesis on a high note. Though not in the same pedestal as "Foxtrot", "Nursery Cryme" or "SEBTP", I consider it a better achievement than "Trick of a Tail" and "The Lamb...".

rfill1 | 4/5 |

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