View Full Version : The Re-genesis of Genesis

Michael Jefferson
9.15.07, 9:00 AM
Reviewed for Coffeerooms by Mike Jefferson

1976 marked the rebirth of art rock epic songsters Genesis as a more cohesive, more commercially viable unit. The metamorphosis occurred when lead singer Peter Gabriel packed up his circus outfits, Adams Family make up and rolled up the parchments of his 20-minute songs, opting for a solo career. On the hook for a new singer and a less theatrical mage, the group auditioned vocalists as they prepared for their first post-Peter album.
Phil Collins temporarily manned the mike stand during rehearsals, content to remain the group’s drummer. The other members, Steve Hackett (guitar), Mike Rutherford (bass, guitar) and Tony Banks (keyboards), figured Collins could handle the quieter material. When Collins wrapped his near-virgin lungs around the challenging “Squonk” the group realized their new singer had in their midst all along. Genesis was reborn…
Rhino has reissued a spate of the Phil Collins helmed Genesis albums in an enjoyable two CD/DVD format. The first CD is a remastered version of the original recording, immaculately reproduced. Now you can hear the bass and guitar patterns that acted as the foundation for Tony Banks’ soloing. The second disc contains a 5.1 digital recording of the album (the better to hear what a good drummer Phil Collins is), plus interviews, promotional videos and rare concert footage.
A Trick of the Tail (3.5 out of 5 stars) (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B000P7V45S/w3pgcoffeeroomss)
“A Trick of the Tail” is tricky indeed, magical in parts, promising sleight of hand in other sections, and at its worse, pure flim-flam.
The album begins with “Dance on a Volcano,” one of those worrisome speed freak progressive rock jams that never pulls itself together. Beginning with a massive drum roll, blanketing synths and Steve Hackett’s studied guitar, it balances its rep on the remnants of the old Genesis; the verses are herky-jerky, packed with tongue twisting lyrics, with Collins squawking intensely. Hackett manages to sound like he knows what he wants to do despite the chaotic arrangement, favoring billowy chords on his guitar. There are a lot of good ideas being tossed about, but there’s no need to hear them all in the space of thirty seconds. The song spins haphazardly toward an end, as if to show the group could even out-weird Peter Gabriel. They can, but that doesn’t make it good.

“Entangled” is twinkly, olde English and a memorable step for the new Genesis, a song worth getting wrapped up in. A ghostly madrigal, Banks plays a spooky synth solo that blends beautifully with Hackett’s acoustic thrumming and the distant moan of a choir.
“Well, if we can help you we will. Soon as you're tired and ill. With your consent I can experiment further still. Well, thanks to our kindness and skill you’ll have no trouble until. You catch your breath and the nurse will present you the bill.”
In “Squonk,” Collins’ barbaric anvil drumming beats down like a tired blacksmith with a schedule to keep. Mellotrons and synths surround the beat, which is also supported by Rutherford’s countering bass. There’s no lack of confidence from Collins at the mike either, as he rips his voice ragged. "Squonk” runs the musical kharmic wheel from progressive rock to a Catholic mass fade out, and yet manages to sound like a cohesive composition instead of a hodge-podge of ideas.
The mellow, majestic piano that begins “Mad Man Moan” builds like a yellow moon slowly rising on a starless night. The middle section is busy, with an interlude that could be the pre-precursor to “Paperlate,” then proceeds to transform itself into a full blown orchestral drama on par with the lavishness of a philharmonic orchestra. The song hits its “mad man” stride picking up uncontrollable steam (another bow to the Gabriel era) threatening to careen out of control before somehow steering itself back toward a very pleasant ending.

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