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Genesis - Calling All Stations CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

2.49 | 1014 ratings

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The T
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars This album is nowhere near half as bad as I expected it to be. Actually, at times it can be a very entertaining record. The biggest problem here lies not with the music, but with our conceptions due to a band name.

When one takes 3 members out of a 5-men formation, it will be quite difficult for the end results to be satisfactory, especially when what has been removed is pure talent. So, under that light, it's quite obvious that this album bears the GENESIS name only because the two founding members of that band decided against using a different, unknown and hence less commercial band name. Musically, this has little relation with what Banks and Rutherford achieved in conjunction with Gabriel, Hackett, and Collins.

This is not symphonic prog. Probably this is not progressive rock at all (even though songs tend to be longer than the average rock track, and even though there's a strong feeling of atmosphere in most of them), but just good old rock, maybe art rock in a way. So, the biggest error a person can make is coming into this disc trying to find the new "Supper's Ready" or another "A Trick of the Tail." Anybody who buys this album with those expectations in mind will be really, really disappointed.

But for those of us who weren't expecting old GENESIS and who discovered this record long after the band's career was over, it's quite a surprise to find a very enjoyable album. Yes, it's simple, it's not symphonic, but at times it's good, good rock.

Obviously, the musicianship is never even close to what was found in earlier records. Not because of lack of actual ability (I'm pretty sure Banks and Rutherford were even more technically proficient in 1997 than in the previous two decades), but because the music is absolutely far less demanding than in all the preceding albums, and also because some great talent was not there anymore. Banks' keys and Rutherford's bass are OK, simple and effective, never virtuosic. The drummers (both of them) are as accomplished as Phil Collins, yet the music of course doesn't demand much of them, especially when compared with, say, "Robbery Assault and Battery".

The vocals and guitars are the real victims here. Let's not bring Gabriel into the equation as he was history long before this album was released. But compared with Collins, Ray Wilson just has no magic to his voice. Maybe he's actually a better singer than Collins, but his style doesn't fit the music perfectly all the time. And in the guitar front, even though Rutherford as a guitarist never reached the peaks he reached as a bassist, in earlier albums he had to do more. Here the demands imposed on him are minimal (again, bringing Hackett into the conversation would be useless).

The music, as said before, is rock, light rock, maybe art rock. At times it takes the character of hard rock, at times it's radio-friendly rock. It has a little bit of ASIA, a little bit of AOR bands, a lot of 80's flavor (even though the album dates from well into the 90's), and for those who haven't heard old classics but are knowledgeable on new bands, a good comparison would be 4-men Spock's Beard, all the way down to D'Virgilio vocals who have some relation to Wilson's (curiously, D'Virgilio plays drums in 4 tracks on this record).

The best song is, without a doubt, the title track. Atmospheric, melancholic, it has a good melody and is memorable. Other good tracks are "The Dividing Line" (the most progressive and hard of the lot) and "There must be some other way". Most of the rest of the tracks are average in quality, enjoyable if forgettable. Maybe the worst is the most famous one, "Congo", especially for its atrocious lyrics.

In the end, an enjoyable disc that suffers because of the name of the "band" that released it. Really, this isn't GENESIS. This is another band, which plays decent rock music, and that happens to share with that legendary outfit the same keyboardist and bassist. I give it 2.5 stars, and as always, the round-up brings us up to 3.

The T | 3/5 |


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