“The Last Straw” - Genesis’ new album, We Can’t Dance reviewed by Alan Hewitt.
So, Genesis usher in the Nineties with their new LP: We Can’t Dance. Does it live up to expectations? Sadly, not quite.
Certainly the album’s opener and first single: No Son Of Mine is a well-constructed song although I find too many references to Phil’s solo efforts among the music. That aside, it is still a powerful examination of the break up of a family seen from the child’s point of view - a son of “In The Air Tonight” if you like.
Jesus He Knows Me follows and is a clever analysis of the growing influence of television evangelists. Several lines in the song remind me of lines form Get ‘Em Out By Friday and certainly the song has the same lyrical bite as its predecessor.
So far, so good. Driving The Last Spike is however, too much! This is Genesis at their worst. An appalling hotch potch of great instrumentation with outrageously pretentious lyrics.
I Can’t Dance restores the balance with a great blues tune featuring some excellent guitar work from Mike. This is the “satisfaction” part of the Turn It On Again medley brought to fruition.
Never A Time and Dreaming While You Sleep are both fairly straight forward, the lyrics to the latter are to my mind, some of the best that the band have written.
Just when the album was on an upswing, we come to Tell Me Why which is a discofied version of Colours from Phil’s last album to my ears. I cannot understand the combination of what are really excellent lyrics with a rather flippant instrumental pattern. The subject matter is too serious for the up tempo music.
Living Forever however, is far better. A very clever dig at health food fads it also contains some of Tony Banks’ best keyboard work on a Genesis album. This track is far too good to be a B side but at least it serves to show what Genesis can do when they really put their minds to it.
Hold On My Heart is a prime example of a Phil Collins love song and is brilliant but as a Genesis track it falls far short of what we have come to expect. The instrumentation is as lush and clean as usual and it is certainly evidence of Mike’s work with The Mechanics - a stylish little number, my bet for the next single.
Way Of The World is another social conscience song. This I think is where the main problem lies. It seems that the band habitually avoid social issues and have suddenly been infected with a massive does of “conscience” and it has a rather hollow ring to it. I listen to music to be entertained and not preached to, although if the point is well made then I can put up with it.
Since I Lost You is another plaintive love song, well constructed and well performed but nothing out of the ordinary.
The closing track: Fading Lights is however, a reitertation of everything I have loved about Genesis over the years. A combinatioon of a great vocal performance by Phil and what without doubt, to me at least, is Tony’s best keyboard work soloing since Home By The Sea in 1983.
I think over all that this album will please the newer Genesis fans more than the long standing ones, myself included who I am sure were hoping for a return to the more traditional Genesis style. Eight out of ten - MUST do better next time!