CD Review: Genesis

A Trick of the Tail

By David Chiu

The Phil Collins-era of Genesis undeservedly gets a bad rep when it is compared to the earlier version of the band fronted by Peter Gabriel. Granted Genesis’s sound became more commercial with Collins as its lead singer but the music is just as good, and arguably superior. The recent resissues of the band’s albums from 1976 to 1982 captures a group in transition as it ably carried on after the departure of its eye-opening focal point in Gabriel.

You would have thought upon first hearing A Trick of the Tail (1976) that Gabriel was singing but it was actually Collins (who had previously sung lead on a Genesis song before and had done backing vocals). He rose to the challenge superbably although it would be a few more albums before he developed his own voice. Coming off of the ambitious if cryptic The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway, Trick was more accessible and straight ahead without Genesis compromising its complex musicianship, especially on the bombastic “Dance on a Volcano” and the hard rocking finale “Los Endos.” In the middle were some very tuneful tunes that bordered on pop like the quirky Robbery, Assault and Battery and the lovely ballad Ripples. The album, Genesis’s best, was proof that Genesis could survive without Gabriel. The expanded edition of the album includes a 1976 concert that featured performances of Gabriel-era songs like “Supper’s Ready,” “I Know What I Like” and “The Cinema Show.”

By 1980’s Duke, guitarist Steve Hackett had already left the band reducing Genesis to the trio of drummer Collins, guitarist/bassist Mike Rutherford and keyboardist Tony Banks. To fans, it probably represented the last link to the band’s past before Genesis became platinum hit singles makers. In contrast to the decent but unfocused …And Then There Were Three… Duke was a bold step forward. Its bright sheen, however, couldn’t disguise the underlying melancholy present in some of the songs such as the doo-wop stylings of “Misunderstanding,” “Alone Tonight,” and the heartbreaking Please Don’t Ask. Genesis hadn’t gone completely soft at that time showing again the muscular playing found on the opener “Behind the Lines,” “Turn it On Again,” and the instrumentals “Duke’s Travels” and “Duke’s End.” Of all the Genesis albums, Duke is an underrated gem. The DVD portion of this reissue contains a 1980 concert at the Lyceum in London featuring songs from Duke and earlier tracks like “Dance on a Volcano” and “Los Endos.”

Also available are the expanded editions of Wind and Wuthering, …And Then There Were Three… and Abacab.


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