In line with the above I’m gonna be equally expansive...
Songs I’m afraid to admit I don’t like:
Everything, and I mean everything, after ‘Duke’.
Actually, even on ‘Duke’ there were worrying signs of the direction of travel. The album is flawed by the inclusion of the two Collins’ numbers: a sickly double spoonful of ‘Manilow Magic’ sitting alongside the hidden 'Duke suite'. But however strong the urge is to reach for your tonsils, the latter is the band’s farewell to prog rock and in this sense, ‘Duke’ is the final chapter that came mid-way through the book. From this point on the band would spend their career pulling a ‘Silence of the Lambs’ act, anxiously sewing themselves a pop music suit out of whatever musical scraps they had left.
First up was ‘Abacab’. A blare of horns announced its arrival in 1981. Yup, horns; as in ‘Earth, Wind and Fire’! Much like a trumpeting fart that is instantly regretted the moment you discover how wet it is, ‘Abacab’ dribbled off the vinyl with that embarrassed look that geriatrics reserve for when they’ve finally lost control of their sphincters. No wonder this material was roundly booed whenever performed in the aftermath of its release; yet the record execs, with a nod to Roger Waters, simply held their noses and whooped: “Welcome to the Machine, boys!” They were well aware that new, younger fans had arrived on the back of the success of ‘Face Value’. The ‘Philly boys’ (as someone on this forum has proudly declared himself) were here: the dumbed down generation with their school leaver exams that awarded them a point for simply spelling their own name correctly. They were willing fodder for easily digestible musical hooks and the band did not disappoint them. Sic biscuitus disintigrat!
If the band lost control of their bowels with ‘Abacab’, by the time ‘Genesis’ was released, they at least had enough of their marbles left to recognise that their glory days were over.
“Let us relive our lives in what we tell you,” they croon in ‘Home by the Sea’.
I’d have happily re-lived the glory days with them if only they’d called it a day and bloody well checked themselves into a home by the sea. But no; they limped on with songs like, ‘Mama.’ But in the naked democracy of the recording studio, who but a half-wit could fail to prefer the symphonic grandeur of early Genesis over that means-tested pauper: a song which may as well be ground out on an organ, accompanied as it is by a monkey with a pantomime laugh.
(Have the ‘Philly boys’ started trolling me yet? I’m conscious of the fact that this is no ‘prog rock’ forum)
The descent into amateur dramatics wasn’t to end here, however. How far from the lofty heights of ‘The Cinema Show’ would the band be prepared to fall? The answer is apparently, ‘Illegal Alien’ and that stick-on moustache. With this Chas ‘n’ Dave style novelty song ringing in our ears all we need now is a takeaway curry and a hand-job in a Tesco car park and that’s the great British Friday night out sorted!
Then comes ‘Invisible Touch’ and we get more of the same. ‘Salmacis’ this most definitely is not, as grammar school Phil is clearly more at home in ham videos monkeying about in a flasher mac. Those old enough to remember ‘Game for a Laugh’, might be forgiven for expecting Jeremy Beadle to suddenly leap out rather than anything remotely connected to Charterhouse. Oh, come back Gabriel, all is forgiven... even your silly psychedelic excess!
And so to ‘We Can’t Dance’, where the energetic clowning has now given way to an arthritic walk aptly reflected in the music. With Phil’s solo career in full flow, it wouldn’t be long now before he would hobble off into the sunset. Would we finally be spared this long drawn out death? Sadly, no! The band lurches on in the blind hope that if Miss Ellie from ‘Dallas’ can hoodwink the world into believing she’s the same person in 84-85 as she was in the previous 7 series, then Ray Wilson can pull off something similar. He can’t and we’re left to squirm through a final album before finally, finally the band is allowed to rest in peace.
“Slow build, slower decay," is how Peter Gabriel summarises everything and sadly, this is a mouth of decay containing no gold fillings. Yet, what a legacy nonetheless! A whole decade of superlative music throughout the 70s. Not even the Floyd managed to pull that off!
RIP Genesis 1970-80. Et in Arcadia ego