Genesis - Track By Track. By Alan Hewitt.
This album really defined the group’s move from Progressive to Pop superstardom and yet, to many fans it is a deeply frustrating one.
Opening any album with a six minute song about a man’s obsession with a prostitute is always going to be a risky business and totally unexpected for Genesis. Mama has everything that classic tracks by Genesis should have – lush enormous chords from Tony, afrantic and at times demented vocal from Phil and a claustrophobic vibe totally in keeping with its subject – a stunning opener.
Contrasting that with the cod – Country and Western of That’s All might not have worked elsewhere, but here the elements of light and shade which characterise so much of Genesis work are emphasised and after the gloom of its predecessor this track is a little ray of sunshine after the rain.
Even more Genesis melodrama next, Home By The Sea/Second Home By The Sea is definitely cast in the Genesis long form tradition. A ghost story with a sting in the tail (Or should that be a Trick Of The Tail?). Any fan who doubted that the band were capable of these type of songs any more must surely have been delighted by the latter day epic which soon became a firm favourite in the live set where it has remained right up to this day!
Once again, contrasts is the order of the day and the band’s wry side – swipe at the problems caused (and faced) by the illegal aliens is unconventional and it depends on how good your sense of humour is really as to whether you enjoy this one or not. Personally I think it does not really merit a place on an album being much more suited to being a B side but there you go.
From here on however, the evidence that the band were struggling to come up with material to match the rest of the album this far begins to pile up. Taking It All Too Hard is a sickeningly mawkish love song; the kind of which are usually attributed to Phil. I can’t really say it does anything for this listener I’m afraid.
Just A Job To Do could almost sum up the album as a whole. This unconvincing tale of a hitman and his victim definitely shows the band going through the motions and leaves me cold.
However, for me at least, the album perks up again with the next track, Silver Rainbow I only wish I knew what this song is really about but I love it!
The album ends on an unusually down beat note, It’s Gonna Get Better is probably one of the most turgid songs Genesis have ever written. An appalling mediocre end to an album. In some respects this album is almost an EP. The best material is definitely on “Side One” leaving a trail of also rans behind to fill the gaps. Fortunately those first four tracks are of such excellent quality, but their quality also shows the mediorceority of the rest of the material into even sharper focus.
The indications of how well a writing and recording session went are usually
to be found in the track relegated to the B Side status; this is the first Genesis
album where no extra material made it to the singles that were released. Were
the band struggling after all their solo efforts? Probably, in all events this
is probably one of the least satisfying Genesis albums taken on the whole.