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Genesis - Genesis CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

2.78 | 1186 ratings

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4 stars "Let us relive our lives in what we tell you"

Looking over many of the scathing reviews by our fine den of distinguished progressive music sages, it was John Mellotron Storm's review that resonated with me. So I'm going to briefly wax nostalgic as well. As with John this largely loathed collection by Genesis zaps me instantly back to the fall of 1983, wandering the institutional hallways of the brick fortress where they tried to fill my head with academic tripe. For the most part it was social survival, clock watching, D and D, and trying to balance days of great fun with hours of frightening anxieties. The security of home life was quickly giving way to a world I didn't really want to enter and one that I find more appalling every day. But back then there were many cute girls, few of them interested in my social circle naturally, and yet so much laughter. Despite our social fears, despite being bullied before "bullying" was a thing, we had the last laugh in terms of our friendships and our time. We caught the very tail end of the world when it was still pretty cool and made the most of it.

Anyway, as mentioned by the Doctor, unless you were in a coma that fall you were hearing "That's All" on the radio. The album never much appealed to me at the time as I was mostly into hard rock then. It's been decades since I've heard the album with any regularity and I find now it is a joy to hear again. While we ridiculed it then, though not to the level of being a parking-lot album, I now love the strong pop melodies throughout and find them nicely shaded with Genesis art rock window dressing. I think it is one of the stronger 80s releases to come from the 70s prog biggies. Consistent, colorful, and with some standout tracks. Side one is really good and side two is good enough, my personal fave being the beautifully detailed "Home by the Sea" duo. Listen to the moving lyrics about the end of life, the urgency to pass on something, reflection. Obviously the dated percussion can ruffle "prog" feathers but I enjoy this as much as than anything they did post "Wind and Wuthering". "Mama" kills as well with great atmospherics by Tony and a biting guitar solo which fades much too soon.

I think what made this release is that they were writing as a group again rather than coming in with finished songs. This approach in this case led to an album that overall feels "fresh" while achieving the new kind of success they were chasing. Every song is engaging and pleasing despite the fact we are all required to take a pledge to hate 80s Genesis while activating membership at PA. There's a sense of optimism in the Shapes album and it feels like an earnest effort. The cover art is perfect for the album as well, attention to detail throughout. It's easy to be cynical about 80s Genesis but this album goes down much easier all these years later, an easy listen, quality pop craftsmanship, and for me stoking hazy memories of suburban kids in a Mr. S's history class. I can judge pop albums pretty easily by how I feel when I contemplate playing them--some I know will bore me to tears, some I get excited to hear again. This one falls into the latter camp. It's not quite 4 stars straight up but its better than 3, and like John I feel compelled to round up on this one.

Finnforest | 4/5 |


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