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Genesis - Duke CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

3.50 | 1494 ratings

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5 stars I really can't understand why so few people like this album. In my opinion, the greatest post-Gabriel album for Genesis without a doubt (and possibly my all-time favourite 80s album). After here, Genesis descended into mainstream territory with the less-impressive "Abacab", which hovered in limbo between pop and prog, followed by the self-titled album "Genesis", marking a new beginning really for the ethos in Genesis. Whilst "Duke" does retreat more to the mainstream side of what's to come for future Genesis, it's impossible not to see all of these progressive flavours embedded in this work. Analysing the chord progressions, the odd time signatures, and the whole atmosphere of "Duke", everything is there. You can also listen to this album very intently, picking out all of the little fiddly bits and harmonies underneath the many textures of it, or just turn it up in your car, head-banging to the majestic riffs.

I'm a big fan of the synths on here, and this is probably my favourite Tony Banks album for Genesis. As I've already said, the atmosphere is very full and symphonic throughout, and the keyboards play a big part in layering and structuring the base of the album, as well as managing to surface every now and then with a beautiful melody (especially on "Behind The Lines" and "Duke's Travels"). Mike Rutherford's guitar playing is a little below par after expecting the standard Steve Hackett brought to Genesis, and I think he misses a few tricks on here. The melodies he plays slot into the album very well, and have such a great tone, but there should have been a little more material in the sections he played in. Phil Collins is possibly at one of his peaks on this album - keeping a very strong beat but managing to do nice little fills in the right places and keeping the progressive elements of Genesis (a classic example being "Turn It On Again").

"Behind The Lines" acts more as an overture of what's to come in here. Very keyboard-driven with a symphonic atmosphere as I've already explained, and really powers the album. A great opener and spells out exactly how the album's going to be: lots of synths and layering, but also sensitive emotional climaxes and resolves with some great melodies/harmonies, but most importantly just a bit of fun. "Duchess" uses some nice effects, and shows off Collins' more experimental, electronic percussion techniques. Still a very gentle song, but somehow carries on the power of the previous track. After quite a lengthy intro, the lyrics kick in and you're back into it. You really get lost in the music and the atmosphere.

"Guide Vocal" subtly alters the feel of the album up to this point, and much shorter than the last 2 songs. Once again, some great keyboards, melodies, and lyrics. You feel some sort of sympathy to the lyrics, but you can't really understand why to be honest. Suddenly, the more clashy "Man Of Our Times". I think the double-tracked keyboards was perhaps a mistake here - too blatant and extrovert compared to the sensitive "Guide Vocal". Otherwise, another great track with probably the best chorus on the whole album. So brilliant, when it comes in after each verse. Tony Banks again layers all of the keyboards splendidly. Very dramatic harmonies and drumming from Collins too.

"Misunderstanding" goes into more of a laid back American rock feel in a way (I think in an interview, they compared it to "Rocky Mountain Way" by Joe Walsh). I think the atmosphere fades away a bit here - they needed to compensate for the slower tempo really. Listening back to it, it's probably Rutherford's guitar. Needs to be double-tracked or with a heavy more noticeable bass line. The lyrics are very typical pop - waiting for a woman who didn't show up. I can only think that they were listening to "Fool In The Rain" on Led Zeppelin's 1979 album (a year before this was released), and wanted to put a different feel to it. All in all, a great single but could potentially be a little better in places.

"Heathaze" acts a great piece to bring down the mood after 2 more high octane songs. A very underrated track in my opinion. The chord progressions in particular are just excellent, and has a great structure. Every slots together very well on here, and once again a very sensitive song with great melodies, lyrics, atmosphere, etc., etc. The keyboards again should be more recognised, and the guitars are quite good on here too! My favourite part is as the little synth interlude gradually changes key, and powers into "The trees and I are shaken by". One of the highlights on the album for me. Goes into the following track very well:

"Turn It On Again" is something most of you will have heard of if you were privileged to be born in the 60s :P (I wasn't by the way). Famous for having a radio-unfriendly 13/8 time signature in the verses, but a very radio-friendly feel and lyrics due to the rise of MTV that year ("All I need is a TV show"). The main problem for me is the intro. I think it should have faded in with those quavers instead of interrupting the mood with the fluffed guitar note, and should have crept in through "Heathaze". The chorus also has a great rhythm, and more feel-good lyrics, plus Tony Banks' keyboards - some of the best on the album. You can't help but restarting this track over and over the first time you hear it!

"Alone Tonight" is probably the worst overall track on "Duke", something missing as it does seem to have all of the great things on the previous songs. The lyrics probably contribute to this, which are quite shallow to interpretation and don't really keep much interest. Also a bit too sweet maybe, after such a pumping, beat-driven song as "Turn It On Again". Then again, it could be Collins' percussion, does seem a little below par in the verses, but the chorus is classic Phil really. Anyway, "Cul-De-Sac" follows, another underrated gem like "Heathaze" with intriguing lyrics and odd rhythms plus excellent lyrics. The timpani (?) roll about half a minute through really puts you back into the more thrilling feel of the classic "Duke" songs. Once again, more excellent melodies and synths, plus a nice little bass line and splashing percussion to stop you from suffocating under the heavy layers. The lyrics are probably some of the best on the album as well, and the tones that Banks and Rutherford get out of their instruments are just epic. Great little hooks too, so much to say about it.

"Please Don't Ask" is another ballad like "Alone Tonight" (probably in the wrong place again too). Had a bit more potential, but Collins' vocals are the right mixture between gentle and harsh, but his percussion could be better in places. On the other hand, the guitar is brilliant and should be more featured like this on the rest of the album. The lyrics are very emotional again but quite inconsistent, being weak in places (plus the backing "A-ha-ha" is just a bit too much pop for me). Still a great track, and a nice contrast to the next.

"Duke's Travels" is one of Genesis' lengthy epics really. Sums up "Duke" very well, and Banks' playing is just gorgeous, especially those galloping melodies just after Collins enters (also some amazing percussion playing) - really works for a travelling song, and a highlight on the album. The guitar however isn't droning enough, and the strums are too obvious, so the atmosphere goes a bit (in the first couple of minutes of the song). You get some reprises from earlier on, but mainly it is new material. The whole thing is really a Tony Banks-oreintated piece, and it's so great to see him shine on this album - he really did deserve more credit. The guitar playing before the "Guide Vocal" reprise is so sublime with the smooth rolling chords Banks plays.

Just a masterpiece really, but the one criticism is the last 10 seconds with the "Dance Of The Puppets"-type keyboards. I can see what they were trying to do, going into a more dynamic entrance for "Duke's End", but it goes too mellow. "Duke's End" is a brilliant way to end as well, basically shining "Behind The Lines" in a whole new light and finishing on a definite high note.

A(+) - An overlooked masterpiece by Genesis. "Duke" is built up on a solid structure with all sorts of more experimental and forward-looking techniques since "And Then There Were Three". Just as prog rock should be!

Behind The Lines: ***** Duches: ***** Guide Vocal: ***** Man Of Our Times: ***** Misunderstanding: **** Heathaze: ***** Turn It On Again: ***** Alone Tonight: **** Cul-De-Sac: ***** Please Don't Ask: **** Duke's Travels: ***** Duke's End: *****

Xonty | 5/5 |


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