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Mike Rutherford - Smallcreep's Day CD (album) cover


Mike Rutherford


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3.70 | 174 ratings

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Cygnus X-2
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Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Mike Rutherford's first and ultimately best solo album (he would release one more and then start Mike & the Mechanics) was proof enough that he was a driving force behind Genesis' progressive sound and this album shows that he still had some left in him and that he would use his ideas to create an album with some strong more commercially oriented pieces and a sprawling 24 minute epic. The first thing that you'll notice is that Anthony Phillips is on this album, and not on the guitar like he was in Genesis. On this album he is strictly a keyboardist and he does a fantastic job on the keys creating lush textures on the synthesizers as well as ambitious solo sections. The rest of the band is pretty solid as well, with Simon Phillips on the drums and Noel McCalla on vocals (his voice is pretty disctinctive and solid as well). If you're interested in the solo careers of Genesis members then this will definitely be something to look out for, as it gives even some of Steve Hackett's career a run for it's money progressively.

The first side of the album is comprised of more commercially oriented pieces yet they still have a distinctive and progressive flare (the instrumentation certainly has some progressive overtones to it). The first of these songs is Moonshine. Droning synthesizers and punchy guitars are what to expect from the song. Mike Rutherford utilizes a lot of guitars on this album, and it's very evident from the get go on this piece. Pretty solid and punchy opener. Time and Time Again is a piano based ballad that has some passionate voals from McCalla. Phillip's organ sounds give off a Tony Banks vibe and the majestic mellotron work also makes it an enjoyable piece to say the least. Rutherford's guitar solo at the end also gives shades of the style he would unveil in the three man tenure of Genesis (he also hits a serious Hackett vibe as well). Romani begins with anxious synthesizers and hits an ambient electronic atmosphere (reminds me a bit of a Klaus Schulze or Brian Eno piece only more concise and with vocals and guitars). Although it's a bit samey and sounds similar to the previous pieces it's a pretty cool piece. Every Road is an acoustic ballad that reminds me a bit of Entangled during the chorus in terms of the progression, although the bass is really dynamic and the piano is very melodic (and the synthesizer solo towards the end also brings up more thoughts of Entangled). Overnight Job is the last of the regular pieces before the epic Smallcreep's Day. It's a guitar driven piece with some solid drumming from Simon Phillips as well as a great vocal performance from McCalla (and Rutherford's solo is also pretty killer as well).

Smallcreep's Day is the second side epic that shows Rutherford still had some aces hidden up his sleeve. It has all the ingredients of a superb epic, a soft intro that let's the keyboards explore a motif before turning into a more rocking section. On the album, it's indexed into different tracks to make it seem more like a medley than one concise piece. Between the Tick & Tock begins with a synthesizer melody that reminds me a bit of Pigs (Three Different Ones) from Pink Floyd's Animals and some expansive and anxious synthesizers exploring a very open atmosphere before hitting the second part, Working In Line. Working In Line has a magnificent 12 string guitar motif as well as some majestic synthesizer leads on top. Rutherford's first of many solos begins here, and he shows a melodic and precise performance offering a majestic and uplifting solo before entering the next section (he's a great guitarist actually). After Hours is next and it essentially is a short synthesizer based interlude that changes the atmosphere to that of the first part of the song again. Cats and Rats follows next with a walking synthesizer line and some precision rhythmic work from Simon Phillips and Mike Rutherford. Ant Phillip's first keyboard solo is also pretty comprehensive and expansive as well. Smallcreep Alone is another synthesizer based interlude in the vein of After Hours and once again offers another dynamic to the overall feel of the piece. Out into the Daylight has some great drumming from Simon Phillips as well as some more expansive synthesizers from Ant and Rutherford offers a great performance on bass and guitar (although the drumming is the real draw of this part of the piece, it goes far and beyond any other performance on this album). It goes into the finale of the song and the album At the End of the Day. It ends the album on a majestic and uplifting note, hitting many different emotions (mainly because of the expressive and tasteful vocal performance from McCalla. The keyboard solo at the end is also stunning and ends it in the same way that Afterglow ended Wind & Wuthering (along with the epic fadeout). It's a fitting ending to this great second side epic.

In the end, Smallcreep's Day is one of the better solo albums from a Genesis member and it's one of the better albums from 1980 that I've heard. You could still hear classic Genesis in Mike Rutherford's first solo album, maybe it was the Ant Phillips influence or maybe they were ideas that weren't accepted during the A Trick of the Tail- And Then There Were Three times, but whatever it is, this album is fantastic and I highly recommend it to someone wanting some fantastic music that features some infamous musicians at a time when it looked as if their progressive edge was being lost in mediocrity. 4/5.

Cygnus X-2 | 4/5 |


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