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

  • 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.

    Yes! That "all the children cried" thing always bugged me. A disproportionate reaction I'm sure, but there it is. I also agree that the multi-tracked voices add so much to the original, as does the overall production. It has an almost other-worldly feel to it that they couldn't hope to recreate on stage, and of course, they didn't. Maybe that was one reason they dropped it quite quickly.

    Abandon all reason

  • 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.

    I don't agree of course but I do believe Tony and Mike could have backed Phil with the chorus a bit more. Apparently they couldn't be bothered and Phil carried it on his shoulders, or throat alone. Superbly imo.

  • I don't agree of course but I do believe Tony and Mike could have backed Phil with the chorus a bit more. Apparently they couldn't be bothered and Phil carried it on his shoulders, or throat alone.

    Although TB did his vocoder line during the chorus, though I suppose more as part of the musical texture than as an extra 'voice'. But it's been reported they couldn't be bothered, has it?! Blimey. That said, they weren't strong backing vocalists so probably wouldn't have been able to give it the extra depth it needed. PC did his best with having to sing it unaccompanied by other voices, but my main issue with the live version is what I've already said above rather than his vocal specifically. We've agreed before that his vocals on 3SL generally reflect how well his live singing had developed by that point - I know Seconds Out is revered by many but I prefer 3SL, the vocals being one of the main reasons.


    The 3SL Duchess fades a bit brutally, I think it segued into The Lamb on that tour so I assume they needed to edit that off.

    Abandon all reason

  • But it's been reported they couldn't be bothered, has it?! Blimey. That said, they weren't strong backing vocalists so probably wouldn't have been able to give it the extra depth it needed. PC did his best with having to sing it unaccompanied by other voices, but my main issue with the live version is what I've already said above rather than his vocal specifically. We've agreed before that his vocals on 3SL generally reflect how well his live singing had developed by that point - I know Seconds Out is revered by many but I prefer 3SL, the vocals being one of the main reasons.


    The 3SL Duchess fades a bit brutally, I think it segued into The Lamb on that tour so I assume they needed to edit that off.

    No, it hasn't been reported or to my knowledge, it hasn't in this particular case. Sorry, if I misled anyone. I just noticed that the better Phil sang live, the less they seemed to care to contribute to the backing vocals. I agree they weren't really strong singers but they had experience and even sang on their records so, at least in some songs, they probably could have done better. Duchess in particular, doesn't seem to be all that difficult after all, it's really about adding extra layers of voices, no tricky harmonies involved, I am sure we all hummed along that chorus sometimes. Phil was feeling extremely confident on 3SL, rightly so imo and I guess that confidence led him to some improvisations and mannerisms which rubbed some fans the wrong way. I was fortunate enough to see them live during that period and he was on fire, they all were actually but he really stood out. My preference towards either SO or 3SL varies according to my mood. SO is in my mind much more intimate and ethereal, much more winter time. 3SL is more powerful and energetic, summertime. As for Phil's singing, it's quite OK on SO, Peter's material suffers a bit, whereas he is absolutely world class on 3SL and he delivers in the cage like a boss.


  • Yes! That "all the children cried" thing always bugged me. A disproportionate reaction I'm sure, but there it is.

    I am so glad you said that because I was actually thinking the same:-) I noticed it of course but it didn't really affect me. Artists do sometimes slightly change the lyrics live, personally, not a big deal, particularly considering how minor the people/children variation is. It remains somewhat ''messianic'', doesn't it?

  • Artists do sometimes slightly change the lyrics live, personally, not a big deal, particularly considering how minor the people/children variation is. It remains somewhat ''messianic'', doesn't it?

    Yeah that's why I said what I did - it's just one of those things we all have that irritates you a bit even if you don't really know why, which is so in this case. Of course singers play around with the exact words, in general I like that, even if in this case it bugged me for some reason.


    I meant to say, thanks for the note about this being largely a Banks song, which I hadn't known and will now have to add into my Who Wrote What thread.


    On the original, the sequence after the final "...we waited for" when the song breaks down and phases back into the drum-machine instrumental, is for me a really wonderful little segment. The way it happens is perfect, you hear the various layers coming away, the textures fade leaving the piano, then into the melancholy Guide Vocal which is a nice little piece anyway but sounds so good flowing on from the opening double-salvo of BTL and Duchess. Is it their only other sub-2 minute song other than Absent Friends?

    Abandon all reason

  • Yeah that's why I said what I did - it's just one of those things we all have that irritates you a bit even if you don't really know why, which is so in this case. Of course singers play around with the exact words, in general I like that, even if in this case it bugged me for some reason.


    I meant to say, thanks for the note about this being largely a Banks song, which I hadn't known and will now have to add into my Who Wrote What thread.


    On the original, the sequence after the final "...we waited for" when the song breaks down and phases back into the drum-machine instrumental, is for me a really wonderful little segment. The way it happens is perfect, you hear the various layers coming away, the textures fade leaving the piano, then into the melancholy Guide Vocal which is a nice little piece anyway but sounds so good flowing on from the opening double-salvo of BTL and Duchess. Is it their only other sub-2 minute song other than Absent Friends?

    It can't be helped I guess, sometimes we just find some little things annoying and we can't put our finger on it.

    Tony has always been very proud of Duchess not only because it' s a good one but also because it is really one off for him, really drifting away from familiar paths and structures of the songs he is generally known for. As for the lyrics, there were some unfounded speculations they were about Peter but I guess they were just BS. Duchess has also its fair share of detractors, fans who find the chorus in general pretty unspectacular compared to other Tony's songs, I obviously disagree.

    The segment you are referring to is imo a thing of beauty but I guess I already counted with it getting a bit ''lost in translation'' live.

    I cannot think of any other Genesis sub-2 minutes songs. Aisle of Plenty perhaps? If you consider it a stand alone song and it is in fact under 2 minutes?

  • As for the lyrics, there were some unfounded speculations they were about Peter but I guess they were just BS.


    I cannot think of any other Genesis sub-2 minutes songs. Aisle of Plenty perhaps? If you consider it a stand alone song and it is in fact under 2 minutes?

    Gaah, of course Aisle of Plenty, I forgot that one. It's listed as a track in its own right so it counts, no question.


    I'd agree the PG thing is total nonsense. I do like the lines "Too much thinking about the future/And what the people might want". This is tenuous, I completely acknowledge, but it somehow preludes their own near-future path, as something to not do. Indeed it's already flagged in the song as a mistake made by the protagonist.

    Abandon all reason

  • It is one of my favourite Genesis tracks. It always evokes emotions, that I cannot clearly describe, but which are absolutely positive. I feel similar about You Might Recall, although both tracks aren't really comparable.

    First we learned to walk on water.

    Then we tried something harder.

    - Red Seven -

  • I'd agree the PG thing is total nonsense. I do like the lines "Too much thinking about the future/And what the people might want". This is tenuous, I completely acknowledge, but it somehow preludes their own near-future path, as something to not do. Indeed it's already flagged in the song as a mistake made by the protagonist.

    Not so tenuous, I think the lyrics are every artist's familiar territory and dilemma, particularly when they enjoy a long career, spanning over different decades, it gets sooner or later to a point when you have to sit down and really think hard about the next steps. There had already been hints of that on ATTW3 and I guess with a new decade looming and new bands emerging it was incumbent upon them too, to think about the future and what people might want. Truly a great song, no question.

  • I just noticed that the better Phil sang live, the less they seemed to care to contribute to the backing vocals.

    I'm sure that's true up to a point, but notice this:


    SECONDS OUT: A few songs have backing vocals by Tony & Mike.

    THREE SIDES LIVE: There are hardly any backing vocals at all. (I think only "Abacab" has any.)

    THE WAY WE WALK: Several songs have backing vocals by Tony & Mike (& Daryl).


    I guess Tony & Mike got a little more confident with backing vocals after singing on their own solo albums?

    Monsieur Neddy wears spectacles in bed, that he may see dreams more clearly.

    -- "Dream Gerrard," Traffic

  • Fair point. I would need to review the songs, I for instance I don't count those on Abacab as backing vocals, they are integral to the vocals, only the lead singer doesn't sing them but yes, you have a point there. Did they ever play Entangled live with the three-part vocal harmony?

  • Duchess has always been a favourite for the reasons people above have mentioned. The atmospheric multilayered sections magical and an interesting contrast to the fairly straightforward verse and chorus sections, which tell a poignant story. I like both the studio and live versions and don't care about Phil changing the lyrics a bit.


    To address some other points, Entangled live has 3 parts. Other songs that they played in the 3-man era that had a fair bit of back-up vocals include Carpet Crawlers, I Know What I Like, Illegal Alien, and Driving the Last Spike.