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Genesis - We Can't Dance  CD (album) cover

WE CAN'T DANCE

Genesis

 

Symphonic Prog

2.65 | 804 ratings

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Cygnus X-2
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars The final Genesis album with Phil Collins at the helm vocally and on the drum kit and also the last true Genesis album to go along with it, We Can't Dance was released 5 years after Invisible Touch was released and in 1991 their brand of pop rock with progressive tendencies was becoming a dying breed of music. At this point in their careers you can see a band tired and running thin on ideas, but they gave it their best and for the most part came out with a pretty solid album that yielded some great progressive pieces as well as a mixed bag of pop songs that range from melodic and full of melancholy to upbeat fast tempo pieces that are rockers at their core. If you're expecting a resurgence in the classic sound of Genesis you'll be sorely disappointed with this effort, but if you more or less like the 80s works from the groups you should like this album as it has all the flare that those albums had but kicks it up a notch.

The album opens with the harrowing mid-length piece No Son of Mine, dealing with child abuse and being disowned. Collins' passionate and heartfelt vocal would make you think that he's disowned by his own father/mother. Solid musicianship also helps this song get the point across with Rutherford taking making more use of the guitar (as he would do more often since the self-titled album). Jesus He Knows Me is a rocking number that in the end is a bit too silly and contrived for my liking. It's an okay track at best, and along with the opener and I Can't Dance was a hit off of the album. Driving the Last Spike is the first song on the album to go over 10 minutes and it's one of the more progressive pieces on the album. The lengthy middle section has some great work from Tony Banks and Mike Rutherford as well as some superb drumming from Collins. It's not the best song on the album but it is a strong piece in the end. I Can't Dance is one of the more blatantly commercial pieces on the album. Rutherford's jagged guitar performance and Collins' emotional vocals come off effectively despite it being a pretty derivative piece overall and offering nothing truly exciting to the table (despite Rutherford's great guitar performance). Never a Time is an AOR drenched pop tune that isn't particularly strong and doesn't really have a biting edge, and it's terribly formulaic at that.

Dreaming While You Sleep is a mid-length piece, reaching a tad over 7 minutes, with Collins electronic percussion swirling with the anxious synthesizers and subtle organ of Banks and the underlying lead guitar of Mike Rutherford. Although the track has no real evolution to it, it's a tasteful rocker that hints at some progressive rock at its core, but it really isn't progressive on the whole. Tell Me Why has some nice guitar work from Rutherford but is rather simplistic in terms of musicianship and predictability. Not a fantastic track, but not too bad overall. That seems to be the trend with the rest of the album until the stellar 10 minute outro Fading Lights, actually. Although it's refreshing to hear a more guitar oriented mix, it's all a bit too by the numbers if you ask me and there's nothing that is really out of the ordinary. Living Forever does feature a pretty nice Banks keyboard solo towards the end, though. Hold on My Heart, though, is probably the worst song on this album with a completely overblown soft rock feel that sounds like something Celine Dion would do (although this album was released before Celine Dion was making music if I'm not mistaken). Expect nothing really interesting or really awful at the same time until you reach the climax and the best piece of the album in Fading Lights. Beginning with percussion remnicent to that of Peter Gabriel's Biko and an atmospheric synthesizer intro, Collins' emotive and convincing vocal performance breaks into a rocking section where Banks gives one of his best keyboard solos in recent memory, matching that of some of the pieces off of And Then There Were Three... Mike Rutherford rounds it all off with an emotive guitar solo that really hits some spots Hackett would have. In the end, it's a perfect epitaph for the last song Collins would sing on the last record he would work with Genesis on (besides the subsquent tour).

In the end, We Can't Dance is a nice blend of Genesis hitting their roots (or at least trying to and coming up close in certain instances) and them trying to emulate the sound that made them superstars. For the most part, the final Phil Collins studio album with Genesis is arguably the best one (post Duke that is). It has flare, it has taste, it has style, it has probably the best post Duke Genesis song available in Fading Lights (although there are 4 or 5 songs that give it a run for its money). I don't think that most people who like the Peter Gabriel Genesis will like this album if they're hoping for something in that vein, as this is completely different from that (although Peter Gabriel wasn't straying too far from the sound this album had in his solo career). I'm in the middle on this album, as there are some great songs mixed in with some truly mediocre pieces, but I think it's an enjoyable listen for the most part. It's good in my opinion, but not essential to an early Genesis fan's collection. 3/5.

Cygnus X-2 | 3/5 |

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