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Genesis - Live - The Way We Walk Volume One - The Shorts CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

2.13 | 361 ratings

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3 stars The contrast between what the entity known as Genesis had turned into in the 80s compared to what they'd been in the 70s is unparalleled not only in the annals of progressive rock but in modern music history in general. The abject nonconformist, take-it-or-leave-it attitude that permeated their albums from "Trespass" to "The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway" left when charismatic front man Peter Gabriel departed the fold to pursue his own muse up Solsbury Hill. While the band straddled the wobbly fence between prog and pop for several years, the lure of Top 40 hit singles and clever MTV videos finally pulled them over into the less-challenging latter category. It's easy to accuse them of selling out but it's also hard to imagine Phil Collins wearing a red dress and a fox's head onstage, for that matter. Something had to change. I think slowly but surely they became more inclined to follow the easy money trail than to take adventurous detours and risk rejection. Perhaps they had no choice. But the radio-friendly songs that populate this live album are about as far from the innovative genius of cuts like "Supper's Ready" and "Firth of Fifth" as the North Pole is from its Southern counterpart. Still, this is what the majority of the new fans they'd harvested by the time they embarked upon their '87 and '92 tours had showed up to hear and Genesis dutifully delivered their decidedly un-prog creations into their ears sans even a smidgen of guilt. Now, had I sat through this CD when it was released in January 1993 I would've become clinically depressed by the time it was over. However, the passing of almost a quarter of a century has lent me a modicum of perspective and I was able to at least admire the members' impeccable professionalism and musical prowess for their own sakes.

They start off with "Land of Confusion" and I was pleased to hear their in-concert version wasn't as jarring as the studio one that still bugs the crap out of me and makes my teeth rattle. The tune also never fails to summon into my consciousness unwelcome images of the macabre rubber puppets they featured in the over-aired video that I can go the rest of my days without seeing again. On the plus side, though, Collins' voice is strong and confident and, sadly for civilization, the caustic lyrics are still politically relevant. "No Son of Mine" is next and it benefits from being a decent number included on the surprisingly worthwhile "We Can't Dance" album they were in the midst of promoting on this junket. Chester Thompson's fat snare and powerful drumming is gnarly and, once again, the words carry a timeless message that continues to resonate today. "Jesus He Knows Me" follows and, as a Christian, I've always wholly approved of this song's biting sarcasm that reflected the disgusting, dollar-grubbing TV evangelism that characterized that era. Phil's cartoonish plea for donations from the crowd at the end is a hoot, too. I kinda dreaded sitting through "Throwing It All Away" but Collins' Freddy Mercury-styled call-and-answer scatting during the before and after segments kept their live rendition from falling into a too-maudlin rut. The number actually has a nice, "punchy" feel. At this juncture I was thinking I'd misjudged the whole endeavor but the rest of the album proved to be all too predictable.

"I Can't Dance" is an odd duck from the get go (in a bad way) and it doesn't show any improvement here. It just doesn't take me anywhere I wanna go. I suppose the fancy lighting and visuals helped. "Mama" has never been one of my favorites because it was the highlighted track from what I consider their worst album, the infernally lame "Genesis" LP from '83. To me it showcases a complete lack of imagination in their songwriting acumen and a willingness to settle for less on the part of Phil, Mike and Tony. The tune is extremely repetitious and uneventful. In addition, Collins' forced cackle does nothing for me whatsoever. "Hold On My Heart" has a very hotel lounge-ish aura that emphasizes the number's sappy romantic theme but, like so many of their love songs, it's downright boring to the extreme. I'm certain it thrilled no end the youngsters who came to hear Phil croon, though. "That's All" is next and it's one of the offerings from the aforementioned nadir-of-their-catalogue LP that signified their intent to leave progressive rock and my loyalty to their cause behind, choking in the dust of their limos. The pointless guitar noodling in the late going is patronizingly trite and, thus, unforgivingly offensive. "In Too Deep" follows and it's yet another slow-dance-high-school-prom-anthem that only serves to make me drowsy because they play it note-for- note. On "Tonight, Tonight, Tonight" the electronic Latin percussion does manage to pick the mood up from basement level but it's another specimen of pedestrian arena rock at best. From there they segue right into the incredibly vapid "Invisible Touch," their blatantly commercial ditty that has embarrassingly inane lyrics to match. The audience eats it up like free candy but it only reminds me of how low they were willing to go to keep the gravy train rolling.

This CD rose to the #3 spot on the UK charts but in the US it stalled at #35. Nonetheless, they sold out every venue on their world-wide supporting tours, averaging a staggering 56,000 in attendance at every stop. They probably set themselves up for life but at what cost? Once an avid fanatic, by the time this came out I'd lost all interest in what they were doing. Nowadays if I want to revisit what they sounded like in person when they were still pushing the progressive envelope and knocking down walls I'll reach for "Seconds Out" or, even better, any of the amazing live recordings contained in their outstanding 4-disc "Archives" collection when Peter was still out in front. This one's strictly for the "Greatest Hits" bunch. It's passable but it sure ain't prog. 2.5 stars.

Chicapah | 3/5 |


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