We Can’t Dance - The final word from the readers of TWR. A selection of your letters, compiled by Peter Morton.
The differing opinions on the new Genesis album, We Can’t dance, as reviewed in our last issue, clearly seem to have created a talking point among our readers, just judging by the number of letters I have recently received on the subject. However, of all the letters so far, most people seem to talk favourably of the album.
Ian Oxley of Peterborough says of We can’t Dance… “It is the best thing the band have written since Duke”.
Scott Lester of London admits that … “Although it is not their best album, it is definitely superior to Invisible Touch, in that the sound on this new album is much fresher and less electronic and studio-like than before, and although there are a few duff tracks, these are easily compensated for by the brilliant Fading Lights, No Son Of Mine and Dreaming While You Sleep…”
Certainly reader Marcus Doller from Surrey found the album… “A surprising return to form” he goes on to say that… “prior to hearing No Son Of Mine I had resigned myself to nit buying the album, as I thought that most of the band’s material in recent years had gradually moved towards the more slick, short, poppy songs on the boys’ solo projects…” he adds that… “with this album the songs have much more substance and instrumentation, and if I wanted to hear Phil Collins singing all the time, I ‘d listen to his solo albums. It’s about time that they showed off their playing ability again…”
Marcus finishes his letter like so many others I receive with the following question - when is there going to be a Genesis retrospective boxed set a-la Jethro Tull/Yes/Led Zeppelin? Ito would tie in nicely with the world tour.
However, not all of the letter agree entirely with my review. Tom Dunn from Wigan sides with Mark Horner’s review of the album. Although he finds We Can’t Dance a well produced and enjoyable album he feels that… “On the whole it is a poor effort from a band of Genesis’ history and calibre, it is bland and lacks any substance unlike previous albums such as Foxtrot or A Trick Of The Tail…. “ He finishes his letter by asking the question: “If Genesis is just another project to fit in the members’ filofaxes, how can they produce quality material? They are all talented people, but they seem to be spreading themselves too thinly over a number of projects. It is time for a change which is unlikely in the personnel department , so how about inviting outside writers in…?”
These extracts are from the large selection of letters recently received. Many
thanks to all of you who put pen to paper on the subject. We have decided to
print one more review of the album selected from the many that we have received.
So now it is over to Kevin Powell for his views…
As a longstanding fan of the band (since 1974 to be exact) I felt I must say a few words on my reaction to We Can’t Dance. It seems everyone wants to have a go at Genesis these days and although I don’t think this is their best album by a long way, I feel some comments flying around are unjustified. Here are my song-by-song thoughts in brief…
No Son Of Mine - A rather surprising choice as first single. Not instantly accessible as say Invisible Touch but a much more hard hitting, building to a powerful ending. Although I think the band should have avoided much used “Prophet” In The Air Tonight sound at the start of the track.
Jesus He Knows Me - A much covered subject but the song is a strong follow up track to the album opener, I like the reggae type break in the middle. The song has had quite a lot of airplay since the album was released, but I don’t think it would work as a single.
Driving The Last Spike - Perhaps the track is a little over long but I feel it is one of the album’s highlights. A gentle start to the song with a nice keyboard riff from Tony before the vocals come in, leading to some meaty guitar licks from Mike and some powerful drumming from Phil. The final section of the song has a definite similarity to some of Simple Minds’ work - perhaps that’s why some people seem hostile to this track?
I Can’t Dance - One of the untypical Genesis songs. A very simple Stones-like guitar riff, some blusey electric piano from Tony and some unusual percussive sounds all add up to a tune that has given the band their second top ten single from the album. I personally found Phil’s vocals a little weak on this track - especially the chorus.
Never A Time - For me the weakest song on the album. It lacks any real passion at all and hardly a great melody - sorry lads!
Dreaming While You Sleep - Another highlight for me. This track manages to capture some tension and features some powerful vocals from Phil, as well as an appearance by Mike’s bass pedals towards the end of the piece - something you don’t hear much of these days!
Tell Me Why - Am I the only one who actually likes this track? I feel some of Phil’s best vocals are on this one - genuinely emotional. OK, he has covered some of the subject matter before but so what? How many other artists have avoided doing this? I also love the Byrds-type jangly guitar solo in the middle section.
Living Forever - A definite Beatles-type backing vocal on this track which also features a great keyboard solo from Tony - the instrumental passage at the end is the band really gelling together as only they can and they hit top form!
Hold On My Heart - yes, I know the lyrics were written by Phil. But the song is more moody and a little more subtle than just a solo track - I like this one!
Way Of The World - It took a few plays to get into this song. Not one of the greatest lyrics that the band has produced but I do like the instrumental towards the end. It reminds me slightly of Tears For Fears’ Everybody Wants To Rule The World.
Since I Lost You - NOT as a lot of people seem to think, a Phil Collins love song but actually written following the death of Eric Clapton’s son: Conor; something which obviously had a big effect on Phil. The vocals are extremely emotional and the music sombre, without being overly gloomy.
Fading Lights - Yes, the song every Genesis fans seems to give the thumbs up to. Personally I like the grandiose instrumental break, some nice mood changes but again I feel that the song is a little over-long, and while some fans may say it is the best track, it could be argued that it is also the most dated sounding. It wouldn’t sound out of place on Wind & Wuthering, or even Duke.
Over all then, I quite enjoyed the album. At this stage in their career it is difficult for the band to come up with something totally fresh and original, but I would like to finish with the following points for any critics or so-called fans to consider…
1. Do any of the tracks actually sound the same?
2. How many other bands can you think of who produce quality music and have their own distinctive sound, and yet manage to avoid becoming cliched? If you are honest, I don’t think you will find too many who are genuinely innovative.
At least Genesis have not become caricatures of themselves like so many of their contemporaries. To have the ability to record twelve songs and to make each one sound different is a rare talent. I still feel that Phil, Mike and Tony have EXCEPTIONAL talent, and after nearly eighteen years of following the band, I am not going to slag them off because they haven’t recorded another Supper’s Ready or The Lamb… In my opinion, the album is more complete and less patchy than either Genesis or Invisible Touch.