Review Summary: Genesis cut loose their roots and fall.
In spite of prog rock’s dwindling relevancy, things were definitely looking up for Genesis at the start of the 1980’s. Duke
remains one of the few fine examples of a prog-gone-pop record done right, combining upbeat melodies and catchy choruses with the adventurous spirit of progressive music. It did what had to be done, namely reforming a sound that just wasn’t right for the times anymore. The band were initially wise to adapt to this new sort of fashion, but when they released Abacab
a year later, their credibility became a lot more questionable.
Apparently, the trio did not intend to continue where their previous LP had left them, discarding a number of compositions meant for its follow-up that they felt sounded too familiar. In taking further distance from the remains of classic Genesis, Abacab
couldn’t have done a better job. The album’s 'bold' experimentation does indeed deliver some different tunes, but in the attempt to introduce their audience to another face, Banks, Collins and Rutherford lose too much of what they were.
The 7-minute title track is one of the few occasions during which the record at least attempts to keep things a little progressive. While it succeeds in creating a punchy enough opening, the charm tends to wear off eventually: the revolving assault of synthesizers, guitar hook and chorus is far too simplistic to be allowed this level of repetition. Dodo/Lurker
is the other epic that Abacab
has in store, featuring some great organ portions but coming across as messy overall, especially in Collins’ odd vocal contributions. Although it seemed that he’d found out how to best work the limited range of his voice on Duke
, he strays a little here; his varying accents on Who Dunnit?
also fail to make an impression.
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puts Earth, Wind & Fire’s horn section to use, while Me and Sarah Jane
employs a reggae rhythm, both showing new influences within those straight-up pop songs. Not all of the material is equally distinguishable however, and even the melancholic ballad Man on the Corner
, though a relatively strong point on the album, feels inferior to similar outings in the band’s older work.
was an unfortunate entry into Genesis’ catalogue, even more so when considering how well the trio had at first adapted themselves to evolving musical trends. It remains one of the group’s weakest and most inconsistent albums, providing virtually nothing of note in the progressive field and not exactly too much in the form of great pop songs.
Genesis Mark V:
Tony Banks – Keyboards
Phil Collins – Vocals, Drums, Percussion
Mike Rutherford – Bass, Guitars
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Me and Sarah Jane