Calling All Stations. That divisive album from 1997. A dark post-script to a glittering career.
I remember well the dull thud of its arrival and how, only halfway through the first song, I was thinking "How would Phil sing this track?". Long before the album was over, I was feeling less than thrilled. As the final track faded out, I thought "I've just paid over ten quid for a coaster".
Nevertheless, I went to see them on the subsequent tour. This was Genesis, after all, and I wasn't so fickle as to just dessert them after all these years. Sadly, the show that I saw (at Manchester's MEN arena) did little to change my mind that, for Genesis, it was all over bar the shouting. As with the album, Nir Z came out on top. I thought then - as I still do - that he was a top notch drummer with a sparse and dynamic style. But if Ray was limited as a singer on the album, then as a front-man he was truly woeful, shuffling aimlessly from one side of the stage to the other, constantly running his hand through his greasy locks and telling dull stories in-between songs.
Well, that was a long time ago and, to quote one classic Genesis lyric, "time is a healer". Having recently got hold of the 2007 remix I have been pretty much turned around on my original negativity. Now, as I haven't revisited the original mix since my recent purchase, I can't say for definite if my change of heart has anything to do with the new version or if I've simply changed my mind after two decades of listening to the album (on average, I'd say I've listened to Calling All Stations once every year since 1997). The reason for my newfound love, though, is purely academic. It's more important to me that I now rank the album a lot higher than I ever did before, finding it to be a perfectly natural progression from the previous records.
Of course, Ray is still a lesser singer when compared to Phil and Peter. He has a limited range and has little in the way of soul and emotion in his vocals. But there are moments where he's singing at the limit of his range (as on the title track and the B-side Run Out Of Time) that are really quite appealing. And while Tony and Mike's arrangements are notable for the lack of swing that Phil brought to the music, their multi-layered musical tapestries contain many delights that were hidden away on the original mix. The 2007 mix also seems to breathe a little bit more - the version from 1997 felt claustrophobic and airless.
Does anyone else feel the love for this album? Are there fans here who have loved it from the start?