TotW 10/13/2018 - 10/19/2018: GENESIS - Duchess

    • Official Post

    What do you think about "Duchess"? 21

    1. 15 points - outstanding! (8) 38%
    2. 14 points - very good (6) 29%
    3. 13 points - very good - (3) 14%
    4. 11 points - good (2) 10%
    5. 12 points - good + (1) 5%
    6. 10 points - good - (1) 5%
    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%

    GENESIS - Duchess

    Year: 1980

    Album: Duke [album review]

    Working title: unknown

    Credits: Banks, Collins, Rutherford

    Lyrics: Yes

    Length: 6:37

    Musicians: Tony Banks, Phil Collins, Mike Rutherford

    Played Live: 1981, 1982

    mp3 downloads: iTunes

    Cover versions: none

    Notes: Duchess marks the time drum computers started to feature in Genesis jam sessions. With this song the band also returned to working together on song ideas. The lyrics foretell much of what would happen later in the band's history. When Tony Banks spoke about the third verse of this song in a TV special in the late 1990s he had some trouble keeping his voice even. Many thought the end of the band had come by that time. Duchess was written at the beginning of their commercial period - and stated right away that these times cannot stay forever...

    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!

  • An album full of many great tracks and Duchess is one of the best.


    BTW, I think this is where Tony & Mike earn their "backing vocals" credit on DUKE.

    “When the waitress asked if I wanted my pizza cut into four or eight slices, I said, ‘Four. I don’t think I can eat eight.’” -- Yogi Berra

  • Great track, one of the best on the album, interesting intro and nice link out to Guide Vocal, another great one.


    Putting the old-fashioned Staffordshire plate in the dishwasher!

  • I don't usually bother with ratings but this is a no-brainer for me, full marks for a song that is comfortably in my top 5. I don't think there is a Genesis song like it. The soundscape-style intro leads into a track layered with textures that have never sat together in a Genesis song before or since and give it an overall feel that is very special. It also has something I like very much in music, what you might call the 'implied drone' - there is what seems or feels to be a continuous bass tone which may not actually be there, but everything else comes together to at least give the impression it's there.

    In my view, this is a song that should be referenced and spoken of in the way people speak of key songs by other acts - Born To Run, Gimme Shelter, Baba O'Reilly, etc. I'm not sure there is a single Genesis track that gets that sort of consideration by music commentators beyond the fanbase, with the possible exception of Supper's Ready, which I think is far less deserving of it than Duchess.

    But then, as I've said in other threads, the band can be a bit contradictory about their own work in some ways. They have cited this as one of the tracks they're most proud of, yet they dropped it after just two tours. Of course, they could be very unsentimental about their material in that way, when it came to tours. Plus, I personally don't think the live versions came anywhere near the original, though they were perfectly good renditions and probably as good as they could get - the production on the original is so singular, I don't suppose they could recreate it on stage.

    That said, my first experience of hearing it live had a big impression on me. It was my first ever Genesis gig, London March 1980 and just before Duke was released so it was all new to me. I'll never forget being mesmerised by the intro, with the band bathed in ethereal green light. As far as I'm aware it was also my first experience of hearing a drum machine. It was a standout moment of the gig for me, so even before playing the album I had an attachment to the song.

    Regarding the backing vocals issue, am I right in remembering Banks singing through a vocoder on this on stage, and is it also him in those voice-like 'stabs' in the latter part of the original?

    Abandon all reason

  • 14 for me. One of Tony's best and quite uncharacteristic of him I might add. Simple and powerful at the same time. Love the 3SL version, Phil is simply magnificent on it.

  • I'm only giving it 10. Great chorus but the verses I'm not so sure about. Unfortunately it's hard to separate it from the video, which is not one of their better efforts.

  • Interesting, we know it's a Banks, or at primarily one do we?

    We actually do. He has said it on more than an occasion. Now, given how most of the music was generated on Duke, in a collaborative way, I cannot discard some input from the others but it is mainly his baby

  • I find the video a bit weird & it has put me off the song to some extent. I am probably being unfair. It's certainly unlike anything else they did in terms of lyrics. And once that chorus gets stuck in your head it's very hard to get it out.

    I've got absolutely no memory of the video! But your comment that it's weird intrigues me so I'm going to have to remind myself of it. I always wanted Genesis to be a little weirder than they were.

    Your original comment threw me off, as I've never heard of anyone being put off a song to any degree by the video. That's definitely a new one on me. It must have somehow really wormed its way into your mind to have become so inseparable from the song itself. Interesting...

    Abandon all reason

  • I may have overstated the case somewhat.

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  • Am i the only one who was never really interested in a Genesis video? I don't even think I can remember a good one and I really never cared. There we many things that made Genesis appealing to me, their videos though were not on the list.

  • There are a lot of great videos by the band. I'm sorry; I have taken this off track. I now say that I was overstating it to say that my opinion of a song was so tied to my opinion of the video.

    • Official Post

    13 points. As part of the the Duke suite, it works very well and it's also a good track on its own. Note the first use of the Roland drum machine here.

    Sad they didn't do this track much live after the early eighties

  • There are a lot of great videos by the band. I'm sorry; I have taken this off track. I now say that I was overstating it to say that my opinion of a song was so tied to my opinion of the video.

    Fair enough, no problem.

    I agree with Fabrizio in that this wasn't a band with which I eagerly awaited the next video. In fact, just generally, I've never been too fussed about any band's videos. If a good one comes along it's a bonus. Of the Genesis ones I can remember, there aren't any I especially put up there among the greats. I had a look at this one to remind myself of it, and even then I was hard-pressed to remember even having seen it before. Why they all had to be in hats and raincoats, I can't imagine. The main thing that occurred to me during it was wondering which theatre they filmed it in and realising it was the Liverpool Empire, where they filmed documentary footage during the Duke tour. The other thing that stuck in my mind was how badly-fitting Banks's hat is. It looks like it's perched right on top there and about to slide off at any moment. Presumably not a problem on account of his characteristic limited movement.

    Abandon all reason

  • I personally don't think the live versions came anywhere near the original

    I always thought the THREE SIDES LIVE version was really inferior. Phil ruins it by changing words ("all the children cried") and by how he sings some parts ("and the sleep, and the o-o-o-odds"). And it's just not the same without the multiple voices on the chorus.

    “When the waitress asked if I wanted my pizza cut into four or eight slices, I said, ‘Four. I don’t think I can eat eight.’” -- Yogi Berra