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Genesis - Calling All Stations CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

2.46 | 1156 ratings

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Prog Dog
3 stars I had fun reviewing this album. It's one of the few remaining puzzle pieces of the Genesis discography that I had never heard and was hardly aware of til recently.

It's their last studio album and featured a new lead singer due to the fact that Phil Collins left the band, and before that Peter Gabriel also had embarked on a successful solo career.

I was surprised how '80s' it sounded being release late in the 90s. Perhaps too early to be retro-80s for America at least where it barely charted and sold poorly. However it did a 'solid decent' in Europe with a tour and some charting success. It was not a success compared to earlier Genesis blockbusters and therein lay its demise in the minds of Rutherford and Banks perhaps. If they'd stuck it out and committed to at least a 3 album run I'm sure there would could have built on the more modest success, because Calling All Stations 'aint that bad of an album. It showed much promise: people would eventually have warmed up to the new singer Ray Wilson's voice which is quite good really.

However it has to be said Wilson's voice, great as it is, initially didn't fit the Genesis 'brand'. They had 2 singers who have super-unique vocal timbres and could have chosen someone with an equally out-of-the-ordinary sound. Wilson has a more 'standard' or universal-sounding voice. A few more albums as a unit and they could have ironed that out but Rutherford and Banks chose to quit instead, which is a shame. Wilson says he didn't get to have much input into the songs either.

So let's get to the album which is quite long with 11 songs clocking in at over an hour- some are stronger tracks (like the title track and the 8 minute There must be some other way are some of my faves) and some are weaker tracks (like Ship Wrecked, Not About Us with its boring acoustic guitar intro and committee-written feel). Repeat listens do improve this album. One word that has always applied to Genesis is 'epic', and not just the prog pieces. Pop rock was turned into epic pop prog-tinged rock by bands like Genesis, Saga, Asia and Yes in the 80s. Calling All Stations should have been more consistent in its' epicness- that would be an easy standard to weigh which tracks should be tossed or re-tooled.

I did find myself wondering 'what ever happened to Rutherford's epic bass playing?' on this album. He used to be one of the best- right up there with Chris Squire- in the 70s. Now he just bumps along on all the root notes with very little adventurousness. Oh well....

Another thing I noticed while listening to this album I that I was reminded of a band I've been discovering recently called Pattern-Seeking Animals - and also Spock's Beard- whose drummer, Nick D'Virgilio is all over this album (along with Nir Zidkyahu).

On tracks like The Divding Line Phil Collins' ghost hangs in the air with the production choices featuring the big drum sounds he carved out with producer Hugh Padgham in the 80s. Kind of part of the whole Genesis brand as well.

So yes, there's more 80s than 90s here, and basically zero 70s Genesis feels. If you were an 80s Genesis fan, and you are open to a new singer, you might be surprised and should enjoy this album with repeat listens. It's not garbage! It holds together and keeps it interesting melodically (the occasional boring bits zoom by quickly). It's nicely produced overall and I believe is a 'decent solid' effort by Rutherford/Banks plus the 'new guy'. They should have tried at least one more album together. I like it.

Prog Dog | 3/5 |


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