Invisible Touch

  • This album was where I came in (reminds me of the quote about The Stones: "I've been a fan for ages...ever since Some Girls") and it remains, hands down, one of their most consistent efforts in my opinion.

    After establishing a musical chemistry and a new direction on Duke, Genesis had practically re-invented themselves for the eighties with a leaner, punchier sound. From album to album they displayed an uncanny knack for having hit singles and yet there was still a likeable quirkiness to their music which ensured they remained a unique musical force. Every band who puts in enough graft should have their moment in the sun and for Genesis Invisible Touch was that time.

    From the unashamed r'n'b pop of the title track, which wears its Prince/Sheila E influence on its proverbial sleeve, to the cerebral meanderings of Domino, Invisible Touch is a solid collection of tunes, five of which became hit singles. The success of the album resulted in a ten month world tour, ending with four nights at London's Wembley Stadium.

    Interestngly enough, Peter Gabriel was also enjoying huge commercial success at the time with So whilst Steve Hackett found the lure of a more commercial sound hard to resist with the short-lived GTR project. And of course Phil Collins had recently had massive success with No Jacket Required while Mike had formed the band Mike And The Mechanics as an outlet for his solo material. High times indeed for the Genesis boys!

  • It or indeed IT is one of the great divisive Genesis albums, the others being Lamb and Abacab. I think it's where many entered their Genesis fandom.

    For me it was a sort of return to them. Duke was huge, the album behind my first Genesis gigs, and I was alone among my proggy friends in admiring their right-angled turn on Abacab. But after liking Mama I then didn't bother with the Shapes album and felt a bit detached from the band, partly as following a huge US tour they then threw in 5 gigs in one English arena to serve as their entire rest of the world shows. So no gigs for me, as a then impoverished student I couldn't even make the schlep over to Birmingham. I then pretty much stopped listening to them.

    So So and Sledgehammer appeared 2 years later followed swiftly by IT and suddenly it seemed both PG and his former bandmates were going full-on radio-friendly. Having gone off in a bit of a huff after Mama I might well have just dismissed IT but the time felt right to give the new album a go. I was having a good spring and summer during my work placement year and I felt buoyed up enough to welcome this bright shiny new Genesis. I had a couple of misgivings, I've never much liked that clattery primary-colours type of 80s production and there was a fair bit of it here, though at least it didn't completely sound like someone rattling a cutlery drawer as so much 80s music does.

    I immediately took to the darker feel of Tonight and the perfect pop of Throwing. An odd thing happened on my first listen, I had somehow genuinely not spotted The Brazilian on the track listing and in my head the album was ending with the TIAA fade-out, to the extent I actually got a start when the Brazilian began (and which ironically does sound a bit like a cutlery drawer). Partly because of this pleasant surprise and partly through its different feel to the rest of the album I came away liking it best.

    It's a sort of all things to all people, all reasons to both like and dislike them kind of album. I do get why people who already didn't much like Genesis came to loathe them at this point. PC was attaining his ubiquitous phase, having huge solo success, appearing on TV a lot and generally being everywhere. Then his band immediately reappear, having multiple hit singles and now they seem to be inescapably everywhere. Meanwhile long-term prog-head fans sink further into despair as the band become more poppy and radio-friendly, though some desperately grabbed hold of the lifebelt of there being a 9-minute song and a 10-minute song that even had separately titled parts 1 and 2, as though progness is measured out in minutes and 'parts'. And some who always distantly perceived Genesis as this difficult prospect - as John Peel once said, "an A-levels band when you struggled enough with O-levels" - thought that actually they quite liked them and oh it's that nice Phil bloke, let's get the album and go to the show.

    For all the above reasons, while it's not a favourite album of mine I do find it a very interesting one. On Duke and then more so Abacab they clearly were moving away from their established sound and this trajectory reached its peak with IT where I reckon they achieved a perfect blend of pop and prog rock.

    Abandon all reason

  • as John Peel once said,

    Yes, John Peel once said a lot of things didn't he? Like calling Genesis and Roxy Music "the most promising bands" of the seventies. Unfortunately, he jumped ship once punk became the "in" thing.

    Nice review, Backdrifter. They certainly were sunny days back in the mid eighties :)

  • A couple of supplementary thoughts. A great friend of mine Sean was a prog devotee and Genesis fan, and grew increasingly dismayed at their output. He was one who went wide-eyed and excited on hearing the album had "a 15-minute track on it!" Obviously it doesn't, I assume he meant Domino and its length gave him hope it might be about a battle or a homicidal plant or something.

    I said to him at the time, the problem was he didn't like their new stuff but insisted on going to the gigs anyway, in the hope they'd do a load of 70s material. The poor guy must have felt tormented because the night before his gig, he was passing by Wembley Stadium and accosted a fan who'd just just left, asking her what it had been like. She said the worst thing possible and told him they'd done Supper's Ready (which obviously they hadn't). So of course he was walking on air all the way up to his gig the next night, and all through it he was getting keener with anticipation of the moment they launched into SR. Which they didn't. By that point he must have felt they had something against him personally. I have to admit I found all this highly amusing.

    What I surmised had happened was that either she knew enough to know how to wind up a Genesis fan, or she was a newer fan who vaguely knew they did a long track called Supper's Ready and when Collins did his "and now some really old stuff" intro to the medley she assumed the near-20 minutes that followed was SR, and answered Sean's question innocently if mistakenly.

    Another randomly remembered thing - some time in 86 BBC radio show Radioactive did a spoof of Sledgehammer, with Philip Pope impersonating PG singing "One thing I can't work out is this/I can't tell the difference between/Phil Collins and Genesis!" I just tried a cursory search for it but didn't find it.

    Abandon all reason

  • Yes, John Peel once said a lot of things didn't he? Like calling Genesis and Roxy Music "the most promising bands" of the seventies. Unfortunately, he jumped ship once punk became the "in" thing.

    Nice review, Backdrifter. They certainly were sunny days back in the mid eighties :)

    I tend to take a softer view of Peel and perceive that he genuinely took to punk rather than that he was bandwagon-jumping, but do think it's a pity he then had to turn so dismissive on the rock and prog stuff he'd championed a few years earlier. I somehow managed to walk and chew gum at the same time, liking punk/new wave and rock/prog, all at once, simultaneously and everything. But Peel, who I admired, helped to bolster this absurd view that it absolutely had to be one or the other, and if you were in the prog camp then you were a hopelessly outdated square. (I think someone here said he actually played a track off ATTWT when it came out! I'd love to verify that and especially know which track).

    On a tangent, the twitter bot account John Peel Band Names is quite entertaining. It generates Peel-session type band names, so you get tweets like (imagining it in his voice) - "Something for the weekend, great band, great session, here's Diagonal Grandma".

    (Thanks for the kind words)

    Abandon all reason

  • I love that story about the fan who didn't like the new material but kept going to see them anyway. There's something quite perverse about some Genesis fans in that respect. I remember Derek D*ck (the bloke who used to sing in Marillion) saying he went to see them on the Abacab tour and they were "awful". What he meant was, the new material was "awful" but, really, what did he expect them to play?

    My own memories of Invisible Touch are that there was a tape going round school at the time with Invisible Touch on one side and Queen's Kind Of Magic on the other. I went out and bought both albums and, while I liked the Queen album, there was something that the Genesis album had that captured my imagination. I think it was their ability to stretch out a bit on things like Domino and Tonight Tonight Tonight and then of course you have The Brazilian.

    There were a good few Genesis fans in the same year as me at school and they introduced me to some of the other albums (I was like Dante to their Beatrice!) and then the Wembley Stadium concert on Radio One showcased a lot of stuff I'd never heard. I just loved the fact that the band who wrote Throwing It All Away were also (partly) responsible for Los Endos and In The Cage.

  • Another randomly remembered thing - some time in 86 BBC radio show Radioactive did a spoof of Sledgehammer, with Philip Pope impersonating PG singing "One thing I can't work out is this/I can't tell the difference between/Phil Collins and Genesis!" I just tried a cursory search for it but didn't find it.

    I honestly thought I'd shared this with the forum, must've been the old one! Recorded by me off the radio during a repeat in the 1990's:…ollinsandgenesis.mp3/file

    You'll have to download it first, I think. Getting mediafire links to work 1st time is a problem, if it doesn't work, let me know.


    Putting the old-fashioned Staffordshire plate in the dishwasher!

  • Interesting track :)

    There were others. One I recall is a spoof of Curiosity Killed the Cat, which included the line "poor Tiddles!"

    These are the people who got in a spot of bother for doing a song as the HeeBeeGeeBees called "Meaningless songs (In Very High Voices)

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    Putting the old-fashioned Staffordshire plate in the dishwasher!

  • While another member of Radioactive was Geoffrey Perkins (sadly no longer with us), who produced The Hitch Hiker's Guide To The Galaxy which has appropriately just turned 42.

    Anyway, Invisible Touch.

    Abandon all reason

  • Anyway, Invisible Touch


    It's worth mentioning the three tracks that didn't make the album: the heavy hitter Feeding The Fire, the sprawling instrumental Do The Neurotic and the infectious and boppy I'd Rather Be You. All of them would have sounded perfectly at home on the album and, had Invisible Touch been released later in their career, when CD was the accepted medium, I'm sure at least one of them (I'm guessing Feeding The Fire) would've made the cut.

    I recently made a remix of the album using the Nick Davis remaster and John Potoker's remixes. Here's the track listing:

    1. Invisible Touch

    2. Land Of Confusion

    3. Feeding The Fire

    4. Tonight Tonight Tonight

    5. In Too Deep

    6. Anything She Does

    7. Domino

    8. Do The Neurotic

    9. I'd Rather Be You

    10. Throwing It All Away

    11. The Brazilian

  • I've long thought that "Feeding the Fire," "I'd Rather Be You" and "Do The Neurotic" would have made a great EP.

    True. It's a shame they stopped doing EPs as Spot The Pigeon and 3X3 were excellent, I thought.

    Invisible Touch is a very "tidy" album. 45 minutes in length, it seemed tailor-made for the days of home taping. With the additional tracks, the album seems to breathe a bit more. The extra instrumental and Tony Banks lyric (Feeding The Fire) provides a fairer balance between pop and prog (I use those terms more for convenience than anything else) and I'd Rather Be You really is a catchy little number (always reminds me of Hall And Oates's Maneater and Stevie Wonder's Part-Time Lover).

  • Feeding the Fire and Do the Neurotic really stand out.

    I always thought some tracks on the album should have been b-sides ; not that they are bad, but maybe less interesting : Anything She Does (this song, to me, is a perfect b-side), In Too Deep, and Throwing It All Away (You will probably think that I don't like softer tracks, but I do...). I find the last two tracks more "Collins-esque" than "Genesis" sounding. I like them but I think I could survive without them...

    Just for fun, I thought about a rearrangement of the album, that would have been "better" for my taste :

    Side 1
    Invisible Touch (1st single)
    Tonight, Tonight, Tonight
    Feeding The Fire
    The Brazilian
    Side 2
    Land of Confusion (2nd single)
    Domino 10:45
    Do The Neurotic 7:10
    TOTAL 45:44
  • Not to my liking but always interesting to see others' rearrangements. Check out a few others in the rearranged albums thread.

    Abandon all reason