TotW 6/13/2022 - 6/19/2022: GENESIS - Mama

  • Your rating for "Mama" by GENESIS 22

    1. 15 points - outstanding (11) 50%
    2. 14 points - very good (3) 14%
    3. 13 points - very good - (3) 14%
    4. 11 points - good (3) 14%
    5. 10 points - good - (2) 9%
    6. 12 points - good + (0) 0%
    7. 09 points - satisfactory + (0) 0%
    8. 08 points - satisfactory (0) 0%
    9. 07 points - satisfactory - (0) 0%
    10. 06 points - sufficient + (0) 0%
    11. 05 points - sufficient (0) 0%
    12. 04 points - sufficient - (0) 0%
    13. 03 points - poor + (0) 0%
    14. 02 points - poor (0) 0%
    15. 01 points - poor - (0) 0%
    16. 00 points - abysmal (0) 0%

    We invite you to share interesting facts and tidbits about this track. Let's look at the track in the context of the band's / the artist's history, at the music, the songwriting and all other aspects that are relevant for this track. Please do stick to the discussion of the track above. Comparisons to other tracks are okay, but remember that the other track you may be keen to talk about has or will have its own Track Of The Week thread. If you spot a mistake or if you can close a gap in the fact sheet above please feel free to contact martinus or Christian about it; we will gladly add and improve!


    GENESIS - Mama
    Year: 1983
    Album: Genesis
    Working title: Mama
    Credits: Banks, Collins, Rutherford
    Lyrics: Yes
    Length: 6:47
    Musicians: Phil Collins, Tony Banks, Mike Rutherford
    Played Live: 1983, 1984, 1986, 1987, 1990, 1992, 1998, 2007, 2021, 2022
    Cover versions: plenty



    Notes: You can write a lot about Mama, but you can't really grasp the song. It's controversial, minimalist in structure. Cynics say it would be nothing without Collins' laugh. The sound, the atmosphere, the whipping drums, Collins' voice at its best - Mama became an extraordinary world hit.

    cheers

    Christian


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  • I think it's a masterpiece. The way they evoke dread by slowly building an ominous atmosphere, layering on elements until the bottom falls out and all that's left to accompany Phil's creepy howl is the sparse drum track. Heart stopping. And then the ferocity with which the music builds back up matches the emotion Phil so well conveys. It's all just perfect, a real testament to their ability and the fact that they were at or close to the peak of their powers at the time.

  • Love it for all the reasons stated by thewatcher. To me, vocally and musically, Mama does bear some resemblance to some of Phil’s early solo stuff—In the Air Tonight, I Don’t Care Anymore, Thru these Walls. At the same time, Tony’s keyboard sound is pure Genesis all the way.

  • A modern era classic in my view, what Genesis could and imo should have sounded like in the 80s. Fresh, new but still Genesis through and through. Arguably Phil' best vocal performance, impressive range and expression. Tony holds finally back a bit and still shines and Mike's drums machine pattern is pure genius. I gave it 14 for the sole reason that I reserve 15 to stuff like Cinema Show, Musical Box and Supper's Ready but amazing song.

  • I still remember sitting around with friends with the vinyl single and putting it on for the first time. We all thought "What the...?" after getting into Genesis with the likes of Firth of Fifth. But as we listened to it repeatedly, we all began to appreciate it more.


    I love how it builds atmosphere, with the drum machine pattern and the low pedal note. Then Tony comes in with the eerie lead line and Mike adds a few sinister guitar notes. Then Tony's pulsing chords start to fade in. All a perfect set-up for perhaps Phil's scariest vocal performance. Yes the laugh is cool. And the walloping drums in the second half complete the picture.


    This would be the peak in many a band's catalogue. For Genesis, it was one of many.

  • the walloping drums in the second half complete the picturehen the drums kicked in

    When the drums kicked in, I remember thinking for a moment that perhaps Phil was milking it a bit with that sound but ultimately it just fits perfectly.

  • Probably my favourite from the trio for sure.


    It's a tough one, but listing to it in 2022, it still sounds so raw & fresh, especially that live version.

  • I always loved that song but the strange laughter irritated me at first. Then I got used to it and took it as one of the quirkinesses Genesis used to come up with. I never made the connection to The Message though I knew that song and I always liked it too.

  • Good song, unusual for Genesis but too simple as chords.


    It's similar but don't reach In The Air Tonight. :/

    Carpet Crawlers has an incredibly simple chords progression, I'd say it's a fantastic song anyway. As for the similarity with ITAT, personally I don't hear it. Mama is built around and upon a quite ominous drums machine pattern, ITAT, again very simple chords, is literally based on said chords on keyboards and the melodic line of the guide vocals. Yes, Phil's drum kicks in at a certain point and that sound is unmistakable but the drum fill on ITAT alone is enough to make it different from Mama.

  • Being Genesis and not long after they left the Progressive roots of the past. I find Mama to be an OK track, nothing outstanding but just Good in my rating. I would still prefer their progressive music any day over the commercial poppier songs that transformed this great band.

  • Carpet Crawlers has an incredibly simple chords progression, I'd say it's a fantastic song anyway. As for the similarity with ITAT, personally I don't hear it. Mama is built around and upon a quite ominous drums machine pattern, ITAT, again very simple chords, is literally based on said chords on keyboards and the melodic line of the guide vocals. Yes, Phil's drum kicks in at a certain point and that sound is unmistakable but the drum fill on ITAT alone is enough to make it different from Mama.

    Mama and ITAT for me are similars because writing over a base of the drum machine. :/

  • I agree with Fabrizio . I get that the songs have similar aesthetics, but Mama has a lot more going on to my ears, a lot more layers. It really is its own little world. I thought the video, though simple, depicted the vibe on this world reasonably well.

  • Ditto on everyone’s thoughts above.


    One extra thing I noticed from the 2007 boxset remix is how Mike really rocks on the bass on this song, especially near the end of the song. On the albums after “Duke”, he tends to play more traditional rhythm-oriented bass than how he played earlier in his career. However, he lets it rip on “Mama”. If you have a surround system, this is the song where the subwoofer gets a real workout.

    Stepping out the back way, hoping nobody sees...

  • Being Genesis and not long after they left the Progressive roots of the past. I find Mama to be an OK track, nothing outstanding but just Good in my rating. I would still prefer their progressive music any day over the commercial poppier songs that transformed this great band.

    I'm definitely amongst those who prefer their output from 1970 to 1980, I'm also amongst those who believed they had to change. I think with Mama they did so successfully. I can't possibly have the same connection I have with some of their tracks of the 5 or 4 man era but it is still a fantastic song, after this they went too far as far as I'm concerned.

  • One of their all time classics - and it was a monster during the recent tour. 14 from me ...

    I really have to disagree with that, I'm glad you enjoyed it of course but that's a power song for a vocalist, take the power away and there's little left. Just my opinion but that was painful to hear. If we praise Phil's vocal performance on it , we then have to be coherent in assessing how he sings it.

    Edited 2 times, last by Fabrizio ().

  • The drums machine pattern literally drives Mama, it's purely decorative and ornamental on ITAT. You literally cannot hum Mama without having that drums pattern and sound on the back of your mind. It's entirely possible you find them similar but I would suggest the drums machine is nor the nexus between them.