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DUKE

Genesis

 

Symphonic Prog

3.49 | 945 ratings

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Atavachron
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Rutherford, Banks and Collins' 1980 release is a gorgeous one from a band that had never been able to stand still musically. Whether one liked that newness is, I suspect, more a matter of taste than art. In the case of these three, a penchant for a more defined musical design - leaner but sonically larger than previous work - had always been evolving since they began playing music together. And though Phil Collins' lyrics are typically ambiguous and vaguely symbolic (underlying story? general associations? open to interpretation?-- does anyone really care?), he'd matured as a singer and turns in a very strong performance. What we got was a record with wide appeal that showed what could be done with both pop and prog. As usual, this band was at the forefront of new ideas and technologies and this time was no different, they were just older and increasingly more interested in getting to the point. There are several cuts that will not appeal to 70s Genesis fans, there is no doubt, and Collins' broken-hearted, bubblegum tapioca pudding moans could induce late stage diabetes. But on the whole Duke is not only generally better and far more developed than their next, but also outdoes previous And Then There Were Three for continuity, studio sound and mixing. Which is to say, it's a good record. Real good.

'Behind the Lines' defines the new sound well, the guys sounding bigger and badder than ever but on contemporary terms. The Collins preoccupation with Jackson 5-style Motownism is unavoidable and the band seems happy to oblige, and his personal fascination with childhood pervades the lyrics. 'Duchess' is better, abruptly opens into a grand march after a timid start and chronicles a performer's fate, touching 'Guide Vocal', and though 'Man of Our Times' is a perfectly fine tune, contains increasingly obtuse lyrics that make us scream for Peter Gabriel's abstract nonsense which was at worst interesting. Obsessive young romance of hit 'Misunderstanding' was a highway-driving favorite, grim ecological visions in 'Heathaze', and utterly fantastic Flashdance-era spectacle for 'Turn it on Again'. Is that Travolta shaking his ass in Staying Alive? No! It was just the new Genesis record in 1980. Relax, and keep moving. 'Alone Tonight' will stay alone if I can help it as will 'Cul-de-Sac'. Finally some of the old magic for Duke's 'Travels' and 'End', Banks pulling out the tricks with a marvelous timbre on keys and bass pedals, the joy this band has playing together pouring through with some killer bits.

This, their tenth in the studio, is probably also the tenth Genesis album one should acquire. But far from being undesirable, Duke is a terrific pop record filled with highly entertaining music by some of the finest players of any realm in the world .

Atavachron | 3/5 |

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