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Genesis - Wind & Wuthering CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

4.10 | 1837 ratings

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4 stars A Melancholy End to Genesis, Part 3

Save the drummers before Phil Collins, every member exit from prog titans Genesis marked an enormous transition for the band. First Ant Phillips, then Peter Gabriel, and after this album Steve Hackett would leave a very different band in their wake. Wind and Wuthering is a sad album in many ways, from the cover to the musical tone to Hackett's role in the music. Despite the mood, there are some simply stunning moments on this album. Most fans of classic prog already own the work, but for those just venturing past the classics, this one definitely deserves a place.

The album is marked by Tony Banks taking the reins of the group in earnest, and indeed he often cites W&W as his favorite album. Perennial live staple "Afterglow" was a piece that evolved almost completely spontaneously in his head. His keys are in the forefront more than perhaps any other album, and much of his work is dazzling. Of special mention is "One for the Vine" which is often counted among the best Genesis songs of all time regardless of era. This is essentially completely a Banks-penned piece, bringing together a number of previously penned parts into an epic about religious devotion, war, and loss. (Unlike Gabriel he forgot to add in the love and sex to liven it up.)

At the same time, Steve Hackett also attempted to contribute his own material to the album. Collins reportedly did not like the material, which was more aggressive prog, rather than the more pop stylings the other members were leaning toward and would pursue after his departure. Ironically, Collins uses the excuse to this day he simply didn't want individually penned songs, preferring works composed as a band. (This didn't curtail the aforementioned "Afterglow" or "One for the Vine.") This conflict led to Hackett's departure and the end of Genesis as many loved them. A trilogy of Hackett songs ("Blood on the Rooftops" and the excellent instrumental pieces "Unquiet Slumbers" and "In that quiet earth") were placed on side 2, and he leaves the band on a decided high note.

Collins vocals have not improved much from TotT here, though they are quite good on the more ballad-like numbers (Again "Afterglow" is an obvious example). At this point in his career, he simply had not developed as many vocal tools as the music needed, and the first two medieval epics sound like they were written for Peter Gabriel. However, I wonder more how the album would have sounded if Collins had possessed the menace he would later use on songs like "Mama" or "Home by the Sea." In any case, while his vocals (on some songs) are the weakest part of the album, his drumming is at its best. Coming off the first Brand X album, his fills are incendiary, his grooves tight, and in an era when some of the best drumming of all time was being laid down, he stood alongside the best of the best. (See "Wot Gorilla?")

Of special mention is Michael Rutherford's "Your Own Special Way." Much maligned, this was perhaps the first true Genesis single in the style that was to make the threesome a gazillion dollars. The main problem with the song is the extremely pedantic chorus lyrics which are unfortunately repeated too often. Had the level of sophistication and taste improved on the lyric writing, this could have been a classic. Rutherford's 12-string intro is gorgeous and complex, involving tuning the usual unison strings to different notes to achieve a unique tonality. The rhythms still retain some complexity, and many of the melodies (besides the main theme) are quite compelling. And yet, the central focal point is so weak that many claim the song doesn't belong on the album at all.

Despite its flaws, Wind and Wuthering certainly deserves its place among the Genesis classics. Again, some of the instrumental work here is the best the band recorded. Essential for Genesis fans, excellent addition for any prog fan.

Negoba | 4/5 |


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