"The Story of… Wind & Wuthering" - Continuing TWR's fond look back at the band's albums, we come to 1976 and Steve Hackett's final album with the band: Wind & Wuthering. As usual, this feature will contain a mix of bootleg, album and concert reviews….
Wind & Wuthering Track By Track…..
1976 was something of the creative apogee of the band's career to many fans. Creating one hugely successful album (A Trick Of The Tail) after the departure of Peter Gabriel had been amazing enough, but within the same twelve months they had also created one of the finest albums ever to be released by the band. What is even more amazing is that the band managed to do this against an increasingly hostile background. The "New Wave" had finally washed over the UK music scene and allegiances were swiftly changed as it became increasingly un-cool to like the kind of music that Genesis were creating.
1976 was a particularly eventful year for yours truly. It was during this year that I first experienced the excitement of hearing a Genesis album during one unforgettable evening at a friends' house. During that evening I was exposed to the glories of both the Gabriel era band (Selling England By The Pound) and the Collins driven band (A Trick Of The Tail) and yet remained obdurately devoted to the pursuit of music by REAL composers such as Vaughan Williams and Sibelius! What changed my mind? Tuning in to my local radio station in late December 1976 I was lucky to catch a broadcast of a premier of the new album by Genesis. Fortunately, I stayed "tuned" and it was during the next forty five or so minutes that this album changed my musical life forever….
Eleventh Earl Of Mar. What a way to open an album! The broadly dramatic and in some ways, symphonic manner in which this track was put together instantly appealed to me. Musically, this was a band who knew the correct use of dynamics and the scope of vision contained within a mere five minutes still leaves me breathless even after all these years!
The symphonic approach to their music was what first drew me to Genesis in the first place and nowhere is this more amply demonstrated than on One For The Vine. All the vital components of an opera are contained within this one song: drama; a fully developed storyline and superb music.
Genesis were never viewed at the time as purveyors of love songs and yet Your Own Special Way fits snugly into this genre and is a delightful example. Penned by Mike Rutherford, it certainly showed an unexpected side both of him as a musician, and of the band itself and is a delightful little number.
Not all of Genesis's experiments worked and Wot Gorilla? Phil's fusion number doesn't really fit within the overall framework or atmosphere of the album I'm afraid. Especially when it is borne in mind that Steve Hackett had offered the band the basic track which later became the classic Please Don't Touch for this album! Oh well, you can’t win 'em all I suppose!
Fans seem to be divided on the merits or lack of them of the next track; All In A Mouse's Night. The humorous tale of a latter-day Tom And Jerry pair of characters is brilliantly played out both musically and vocally. Genesis daring to do "humour" whatever next?! Personally I love this track, the wryly observed characters and musical performances by all of the band lift this into the realms of a mini operetta.
Then we come to the real heart of the album for me; a quartet of tracks which although individual; come together into one spiritual whole. I have always revered Blood On The Rooftops which confirmed my admiration of Steve Hackett as a composer of real merit and Phil's vocal delivery on this one is by turns delicate and spirited.
With the album's roots firmly entrenched in the dramatic countryside of the Brontes it is no surprise that the band lifted a quotation from that most dramatic of novels; Wuthering Heights for their dramatic overture Unquiet Slumbers For The Sleepers/In That Quiet Earth which evokes the dramatic landscape and characters of the book in a suitably eloquent manner leading us into the piece de resistance that is Afterglow. I fell in love with this track at first hearing and my feelings have not changed thirty years on! I cannot imagine a better ending to an album than this one, if you are not breathless and damp-eyed by the end then you are not human! This quartet of tracks manage to evoke everything that I have come to love about Genesis in their broad sweep of musical emotions, they capture the listener's heart and soul which is what great music is all about.
I have had an enduring love affair with this album since that first hearing back in 1976. This album is the well-spring for everything that I have ever done connected to the band and it is always the album I come back to. Genesis themselves have always maintained that they have never produced that "perfect" album, well… in Wind & Wuthering they came pretty darned close as far as I am concerned!
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