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Genesis - Wind & Wuthering CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

4.10 | 1836 ratings

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RIO/Avant/Zeuhl Team
4 stars I think many will agree with me about this probably being Genesis' last truly good album - as in the case of "A Trick of the Tail", not really a masterpiece (not to mention somewhat less consistent), but containing nevertheless some true gems from a band that was on the verge of musical disaster (at least as far as us Prog Elitists are concerned.)

"Wind and Wuthering" is an autumnal album, imbued with a feeling of melancholy and decline right from the stunningly beautiful cover art, which reflects the title quite perfectly. This would be the last studio album recorded by Steve Hackett with the band, his loss being the key to the almost abrupt change in musical direction introduced by 1978's "And Then There Were Three". As a matter of fact, W&W features one of Hackett's finest hours as an acoustic player in the utterly beautiful opening of "Blood on the Rooftops".

As it is the case of most Genesis albums, W&W can be indicted of being patchy in the overall quality of the songs, which veer from the brilliant double opening act of "Eleventh Earl of Mar" and "One for the Vine" to the slushy, utterly disposable pop ballad "Your Own Special Way" - a song that makes "More Fool Me" sound like "Firth of Fifth" - with everything in between. Just like "Selling England by the Pound", this album has the distinctive feature of containing two instrumental tracks. Two-part suite "Unquiet Slumbers for the Sleepers.."/"..In That Quiet Earth" (another contender for best Genesis instrumental) showcases Hackett's considerable talents in an almost poignant way, reminding the listener of how important his contribution to the band's sound could be, and how his departure was much more of a catastrophe than Gabriel's. In comparison to such commanding presence, the other track, "Wot Gorilla?", feels somewhat nondescript, though it is undeniably pleasant and adequately performed.

Of the other songs, "All of a Mouse's Night" is a witty little number with a slightly cartoonish feel - no great musical shakes, but a welcome bit of light relief on an album that can sound rather earnest at times; while the slow, majestic ballad "Afterglow" sounds definitely better live than in this somewhat understated version. However, though it has many devotees, I have to admit to having never been able to appreciate it fully.

That leaves us with the album's real highlights. Opener "Eleventh Earl of Mar" is powerful and dramatic, with thunderous drumming and keyboards throughout; while the poignantly beautiful, "quiet-before- the-storm" middle section is splendidly supported by Hackett's lilting, wistful 12-string guitar. Follower "One for the Vine", a weird tale of a sort of messianic figure, starts out in a mellow, almost romantic mood that is brusquely interrupted by a wildly jarring synth interlude (what a friend of mine used to call "the dance of cans".), only to slow down again at the end. This song is undisputedly one of Tony Banks' finest moments, displaying all his prowess as both a songwriter and a keyboardist. Then, the above-mentioned "Blood of the Rooftops", besides Hackett's lovely, melancholy acoustic strains, can boast of some of the best lyrics ever written by any band member (including Gabriel), masterfully sung by an inspired Collins.

In a way, the standout tracks on this album are even better than those on AToT, so that it easily deserves the same rating in spite of the letdown that is "Your Own Special Way". This was the swan song of Genesis as we know them, that uniquely, quintessentially English band that formed the inspiration for thousands of musicians all the world over. You can almost feel the sadness in the music - and this makes this record all the more valuable. Flawed perhaps, but still highly recommended.

Raff | 4/5 |


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