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Genesis - Duke CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

3.51 | 1671 ratings

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5 stars A fresh start can create a whole new set of fortunes for a band. Phil Collins marriage has run its course and he arrives in the studio with the ambitious 30 minute Duke suite which he splits into two main sections with the interconnecting piece 'Turn It On Again' in the middle and a reprise at the end. Banks and Rutherford add a couple of songs of their own in keeping with the theme, while Collins himself writes a couple of separate songs about marriage and divorce which is in keeping with the theme of the album.

The pastoral ideas and macabre fairy stories of the Peter Gabriel/ Steve Hackett era have been replaced by the more identifiable human elements rooted in yearning for love, self-identity, the choices in life we make, rejection and loneliness (the loneliness coming full circle in the journey of Duke).

Behind The Lines introduces the Duke theme which will be reprised at the end of the album. Up tempo it moves at a bright pace until it slows in pace to what appears the sound of a drum machine which moves in synch to Banks electric piano. Then comes the chorus of Duchess which is a pretty little music hall tune as Tony Banks continues his riff on electric piano. Guide Vocal, the first Tony Banks composition, may be only one and a half minutes long, but it perfectly encapsulates the narrative of Duke with its slow piano, minimal chords and restful moog in the background. With Man Of Our Times Rutherford ups the tempo with a tune which sounds a bit like The Beatles with a full on chorus with keyboard and mellotron. Misunderstanding is a song about love and marriage from Phil Collins with pounding piano and chorus singing. Heathaze, I think the most beautiful song coming from the pen of Tony Banks, starts with electric piano and moves at a gentle pace through the lyric poetry of the song.

Side 2 starts off with Turn It On Again with its unusual time signature of 13/8 which Rutherford accidentally discovered strumming his guitar. Alone Again Tonight is a typical Mike Rutherford pop piece featuring a plethora of guitars including 12 string. Cul-De-Sac completes the trio of Tony Banks songs with its more up tempo beat and signature synthesizers.

Please Don't Ask is my favourite Phil Collins number which I fell in love with when I first played the album. A song about separation I can picture Phil on the piano stool playing it because it sounds just like him (though not credited on the album sleeve). The epic journey of Duke concludes with Duke's Travels/ Duke's End, a largely instrumental piece which begins with synthesizers, then goes through a drum roll before progressing through some unusual time signatures and sounding like a mixture of J S Bach and Irish jigging with soaring synthesizers.

Like Pink Floyd's The Divisional Bell, another late entry into their discography, Duke is neither a transitional album nor a pointer of what was to follow for the band. Like The Divisional Bell, Genesis had to survive the turmoil of losing a key band member, then making what I regard was a poor first up effort after Hackett's departure, but then making amends with this album.

The themes in Duke are eternal leaving a lasting legacy for loyal Genesis fans to remember the band on a high, that is I guess if some of these same fans can put aside their prejudices towards Phil Collins and not compare present with past when Steve Hackett and Peter Gabriel were helping to construct their classic 70's albums.

iluvmarillion | 5/5 |


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