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Genesis - Duke CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

3.50 | 1494 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars Tell you what. Just for the sake of not missing an excellent musical experience, pretend for a moment this is an album of music, and not the first nuclear explosion in Armageddon, or the cancer that destroyed Progressive Rock. Take a moment; get your mind clear. Ready?

Oh yes, do one more thing. Rearrange the track listing so that Tracks 1, 2, 3, 7, 11 and 12 are on one side, and the rest on the other. Now you're ready. Go and listen to it. Then front up and tell me this isn't a classic, powerful GENESIS album.

Our new Side 1 is the 'Duke' suite, one powerful epic as it was originally intended, The band shied away from releasing it in this form, fearing - can you, who've heard the anti-COLLINS vitriol, believe this - comparisons to 'Supper's Ready'. Can you tell me that at this point commercial pop was uppermost in the lads' minds?

And this suite is powerful. 'Behind The Lines' is excellent and complex. I've read reviews lamenting COLLINS' solo influence. You want to know how COLLINS would have made this track sound on his own? Go listen to 'Behind The Lines' on COLLINS' solo album, 'Face Value'. That's diluted funk and soul. This is not. 'Duchess' is more reflective, presenting the tragic woman as artist figure. But, ooh, naughty PHIL uses a drum machine for the first time. So what? It's an instrument. Just because in the 80s the sound became ubiquitous doesn't mean it's a bad choice here. 'Guide Vocal' sets us up for the power of the epic's finish. It's fashionable to hate 'Turn It On Again', but one must listen to it in contect. I never heard it played incessantly on the radio, so it remains an excellent progressive track.

Do I really have to tell you how strong 'Duke's Travels/ Duke's End' is? Pounding rhythms, keyboard solos, a soaring guitar solo (Rutherford's best moment with a six-string), the haunting 'Guide Vocal reprise, and the extraordinary moment when they halve the beat - 'You fear what you ... don't understand' - music and vocals underlining the sadness, almost desperateness, of the small private lives under investigation in the suite and the album as a whole.

Yes, we do have 'Misunderstanding.' 'Argh, a pop song!' the trenchant critics cry. Actually, yes, and a very good one too. A little whimsy, and a courageous way for COLLINS to deal with his marriage breakup, along with the poignant 'Please Don't Ask'. I'll accept that singing about love and relationships is not an accepted part of the progressive rock sensibility: normally we get epics based on mythology or other fantasy motifs, and GENESIS have delivered their share of these. And this lessens the musical impact of the 'Duke suite' a little, especially since the suite is distributed amongst these other songs. But... the album's theme is about the little man and woman and their insignificant lives. The love songs make much more sense in this context. And there are other gems yet unmentioned: 'Heathaze' and 'Cul-De- Sac' are excellent examples of GENESIS' work.

Musically the drums really come to the fore on this album; COLLINS' gated drum sound (where the reverb is cut off rather than allowed to decay, giving the sound it's distinctive power) dominates a little too much. The classical GENESIS sound is being reworked; not necessarily better or worse, just different. Just as well GENESIS was blessed with such a great drummer.

A word about the artwork. I find it simply stunning. Again, not typical progressive artwork: no Roger Dean or Hipgnosis here. But the little heads make the point of the album.

The real change in the GENESIS sound comes with their next album. Don't let your loathing of baby- eating PHIL prevent you enjoying this near-masterpiece.

russellk | 4/5 |


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