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Genesis - Duke CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

3.50 | 1495 ratings

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4 stars If you have a vinyl copy of Duke, you will notice that it's mastered a little bit quieter than most records. I would bet that the reason for this was that they had made a longer album with songs that they felt should be in a very specific order without the interruptions that would have resulted in making it a double album. This is especially evident on Side One, one of their best sides ever. Opening with the super-charged energy of "Behind the Lines", (which soon turns into a soul song) they are immediately more confident as a three-piece, and Phil Collins has leaped forward as a fully adept frontman. Notice the newly added rock edge to his voice. The guitar solo in this song is one of my favorites from Mike Rutherford, showing much individual peronality and just the right choice of notes. Segueing into "Duchess", we're treated with an instrumental intro that is almost more hypnotic and entrancing in it's spaceyness than the end of "Dancing With the Moonlit Knight." The thick ambience of the keyboards continues into the song portion, definitely bringing a new sound to the plate. The following "Guide Vocal", while having very mysterious lyrics that I'm sure probably have a specific meaning, is very pretty, and again Phil Collins had not ever sounded exactly like this yet singing, and in some ways, this same combination of angst and romantic expression would not be found on record again after this. "Man Of Our Times" follows the new more aggressive sound with pounding drums and very electric sounding guitars and keyboards playing some interesting moving lines and chord changes, not to mention intelligent lyrics about possibly the news media's over-confidence in knowledge and information and things of that nature. The oft- maligned "Misunderstanding" is a bit unexpected, and some criticize it for being too commercial, but in my opinion, there is good pop and bad pop, and I've always thought that Genesis does this type of thing well, especially here! The arrangement if full, the confident lead guitar lines add a good amount of rock to it's poppiness, and the vocal harmonies are magnificent. I really like the Tony Banks song that follows, too, "Heathaze", seemingly about a struggle between natural reality and the manufactured world our society has created. Another very expressive vocal performance from Phil Collins, and another song that's placed in just the right spot. Beginning Side Two, "Turn It On Again" is more complex than it sounds, with it's mixed meter chord changes over an unchanging straight drum beat. These chord changes, like the ones in "Behind the Lines" are very original and some of the most creative writing Genesis has done. I never feel as strongly about Side Two as I do about Side One, though: while the next three songs, "Alone Tonight", "Cul-De-Sac", and "Please Don't Ask" are all three very good songs, coupled with the next track's somewhat directionless extended intro (it's no "Unquiet Slumbers..."), they seem to drag the momentum of the album down a little being placed one after the other like that, and I think the otherwise amazing instrumental excursion "Duke's Travel's/Duke's End" would have been able to bring more of the complete, dramatic finish that it seems to be aiming for and that the album needs if the aforementioned three song sequence had been interspersed with at least one song of a higher rock caliber. Still, the album is very satisfying, and the great multi-layered textural climax leading into "Duke's End" combined with the rest of the songs is able to give the album a unique feel of majestic, decayed elegance.
7headedchicken | 4/5 |


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