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Genesis - Duke CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

3.50 | 1494 ratings

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4 stars "Duke" is the 10th full-length studio album by UK pop/rock/progressive rock act Genesis. The album was released through Charisma Records (UK)/Atlantic Records (US) in March 1980. It's the second album working as the trio of Tony Banks (keyboards, 12-string guitar, background vocals), Phil Collins (drums, percussion, lead & backing vocals, drum machine), and Mike Rutherford (guitars, bass guitar, bass pedals, background vocal). Genesis had been inactive as a band since finishing the tour supporting "...And Then There Were Three... (1978)", as Collins had asked for time off to try and save his marriage with Andrea Bertorelli, and Banks and Rutherford both worked on solo albums ("A Curious Feeling (1979)" and "Smallcreep's Day (1980)"). When Collins attempt to save his marriage failed, he did some work with Peter Gabriel and Robert Fripp, and an album with Brand X, before teaming up with Banks and Rutherford to write material for "Duke".

"Duke" is sort of a concept album and then again not really. The tracks "Behind The Lines", "Duchess", "Guide Vocal", "Turn It On Again", "Duke's Travels", and "Duke's End" were in their original form part of one 30 minutes long track that told a story of a fictional character called "Albert", and on the first part of the tour supporting the album, they were actually played like that. The band decided against recording them as one long track on "Duke" though and mixed them with tracks written individually by each band member (each member brought two tracks with them). Knowing the story about the tracklist, it's actually quite obvious when listening to the album, that half of the album was written as a concept (although the tracks are spread out), and half were written as individual tracks. It's hard to know if the album had worked better with the concept piece puzzled together into one long track, and the individual tracks placed after (or before), but as it is "Duke" works fine and flows nicely.

Stylistically the music on "Duke" is quite different to the music on the predecessor. Although "...And Then There Were Three... (1978)" was in many respects a transition album, which began to show signs of more accessible songwriting, it's still overall a progressive rock album. The scale tips a bit more towards commercial pop/rock on "Duke" although it certainly also has it's progressive moments. Tracks like "Misunderstanding", "Alone Tonight", and "Please Don't Ask", are very accessible in nature, but one should not be tricked into thinking this is simple radio pop/rock by the catchy nature of the tracks, because listening a bit more closely the songwriting is actually quite clever and rather sophisticated for that type of music. In the more progressive end of the scale you have tracks like "Behind the Lines", "Turn It On Again" (featuring quite interesting rhythmic patterns), "Duke's Travels", and "Duke's End". But tracks like "Duchess", "Man of Our Times", and "Heathaze", are also quite interesting in that regard.

I mentioned rhythm above, and as usual Phil Collins has produced a diverse rhythmic output, which is a great treat throughout the album. The use of drum machine (Roland CR-78) on "Duchess" is very tasteful and atmosphere enhancing too. Vocally it's like he comes into his own on "Duke". Collins vocal performances on the three preceeding albums were great too, but he is really burning through on this album. Both Banks and Rutherford deserve mentions too for their great instrumental work (and backing vocals), and especially the tasteful and very intricate keyboard work of the former is high class.

"Duke" is the last David Hentschel produced Genesis album (he had produced all Genesis albums since "A Trick of the Tail (1976)"), and he does a great job here. "Duke" is a very well sounding album, who successfully sounds contemporary for 1980, but still retains a relatively organic 70s touch. Upon conclusion "Duke" may not have been what the most conservative fans of the band's 70s material wanted, but it is a natural successor to "...And Then There Were Three... (1978)", and it was the band's most commercially successful album up until then. A 4.5 star (90%) rating is deserved.

UMUR | 4/5 |


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