Genesis (1983)

The band’s twelfth studio album was perhaps their best of their post-prog period. Simply titled, Genesis, it was a supercharged delight.  Did it outsell all other Genesis albums? No. Did it score higher on the charts than any other of their albums? No.  Did it have more singles than other Genesis albums? No. So, what made it so special?

By their fourth album, Genesis were on their game.  Their albums were solid from start to finish.  Every song had value or originality.  Genesis was their tightest album since Selling England By the Pound.  According to session interviews, Genesis came together and built every song on the album from the ground up.  Instead of bringing songs or song ideas to the sessions, the ideas developed from the sessions.  This was the first album recorded at their own studio.

Photo of GENESIS

Many critics also called this their first pop album, leaving behind the prog-rock style for infectious songs with melodic hooks o’ plenty. Genesis has a very commercial sheen. This might be Genesis’ most fun album.  But it also got the group some of the most mixed reviews for any their albums.  The album was produced by the group with assistance from engineer Hugh Padgham, who had served as an engineer on their list album Abacab, and who had worked with Phil Collins on his solo projects.

Genesis is less dark and dense than Abacab, my least favorite Genesis album. Interestingly, “Mama”, the first song on the album sounds like a leftover from Abacab.  It has an ominous sound, distorted and scratchy, more like a Peter Gabriel concoction.  It has a drum machine and various processed instruments as well as Collins’ lead vocal. You probably think, here comes Abacab Part II, but after this song the tone of the album changes.

Genesis, after Steve Hackett, isn’t a guitar band. It’s a keyboard and rhythm section band that uses the guitar as a supporting instrument in some very functional ways, but don’t expect Yes or The Who. The 1980s was the decade of the keyboard, like the 1970s was the guitar era.  Genesis is a great band at building a dense layer of sound and Genesis is a tremendous example. And amazingly, they could play these songs in the road without losing anything. It is a pop album with prog components.

“That’s All” is a bouncy mid-tempo ballad with many interesting twists.  One of their most popular songs, skillfully played and arranged.  In the spirit of “Misunderstanding” and “Follow You Follow Me.”

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“Home by the Sea” A rousing and haunting song with many keyboard layers built on a thunderous beat. Even when Genesis rocks out, they sound very polished, almost too much.

“Second Home by the Sea” An instrumental link fuse the two songs together.  This is a harsher version of the previous song, the guitar is more in the foreground and the drums are as well.  Tony Banks is all over this song with his haunted house organ and other keyboard fills.  There are vocals only on the last minute or so of the song as it settles into a more relaxed groove.  These two songs together show the instrumental power of Genesis.

“Illegal Alien” A goonish song with a melodic beat, that easy to sing along to, not a classic but fun.

“Taking It All Too Hard” Another mid tempo ballad, that moves from poignant to bright.  This is the Genesis version of the ballad.  Excellently arranged with sweet swells of guitar and keyboards.

“Just a Job to Do” A jaunty R&B vibe powers this song, with lots of 1980s keyboard wizardry and riffing rhythm guitar.  It’s easy to move your head to the beat by Mike Rutherford on bass.

“Silver Rainbow” One of my favorite Genesis songs.  It starts like a tugboat, with toots, farts and beeps, and morphs into a battleship of a song.

“It’s Gonna Get Better”  a swelling synthesizer that sounds like it is running backward and then a thunderous beat moves this song along.  A very well-arranged song, as it changes beat and time several times.  Shows the power of the Genesis rhythm section. Banks creates ambient keyboard waves of rising sound that leads to a wonderful fade-out.

 


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