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Genesis - Duke (1980)

Duke was the first ever Genesis album I sat down and listened to from beginning to end. At the time, I'd never heard any of their more prog/rock material from the 70's.

Album opener "Behind the Lines" is pretty entertaining, with its great washes of keyboards and tight playing, whereas "Guide Vocal" is a short much softer number, before drums and keyboards are everywhere again on "Man of Our Times". The latter track drags, but whilst that makes it apparent that Genesis come from a prog background, the 80's hit-making years are also hinted at.

"Misunderstanding" and of course "Turn It On Again" see the future pop Genesis on display, the former working well and sounding nothing like the four preceding songs. The latter is a band composition - it's a very 80's-sounding pop song, in the same way that The Beatles sound very 60's.

The Rutherford-written "Alone Tonight" annoys the hell out of me. It's a slow song, a soaring ballad that just sounds too mawkish. "Cul-de-Sac" and "Please Don't Ask" are more mid-tempo and pleasant but hardly affecting pop/rock songs - there's nothing to hold onto really - they're very middle of the road.

"Duke's Travels" builds slowly, going on for over 8 minutes - it's mainly a prog instrumental, though some singing does come in later on - it tries my patience to be honest, and as Duke isn't really much of a 'prog' album it seems rather out-of-place.

Duke was very much a transitional album. It's OK, but that's all.

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by Reviewer: Adrian Denning

Posted: Thursday 18th Oct 2018 10:39 AM
Recent album review
Although Misfits is more sonically mainstream than Sleepwalker, it sees Davies returning to his old satire / social commentary mode, and the resulting album tries far too hard.

The more successful tracks are still the Arena Rock bangers: "In a Foreign Land" is about tax exiles, and there's some commentary about cultural implosion on "Live Life". But even while focusing on current affairs, Davies appeared to think he could write a song about anything, be it cross-dressing on "Out of the Wardrobe", or allergies with "Hay Fever".

Some of the commentary is ridiculous, such as the band's reggae jab at racism "Black Messiah" (yes, The Kinks did a reggae song, with Davies adopting an accent at times, thus moving a few steps closer to Weird Al Yankovic. And in a particularly tone deaf move, the track was released as a single in the UK).

It gets worse too, as the album ends with the unbearable 'call to action' disco / Arena Rock hybrid "Get Up". And Davies' earlier lyrical preoccupations are revisited too - his interest in 'ordinary' folk gets an airing on the title track - a gentle song about coaxing a misfit back into society, but with music that sounds like a sterile non-technical version of a Dire Straits song, along with clichéd lyrics.

Rock music about rock music (a.k.a 'meta-rock') gets an airing too, with "Rock & Roll Fantasy", a case of 'folks love rock music' a la "Juke Box Music" combined with some self-mythologizing. It's pandering, over-long, but was nevertheless a hit in the States. Dave even sneaks in a middling rock ballad called "Trust Your Heart", which I guess was a good sign for the band's internal dynamics.

Granted, this album was a success and a fair number of people like it, but it's actually quite empty. Ray's 'middle-class observer' persona (that's closest to his actual self) lacks the oomph of a punk's complaining, and is entirely diluted when placed alongside trite crap like "Hay Fever".

I realize the silent majority of undiscriminating, regular rock fans were unperturbed by the band's lack of edge, instead hearing someone singing to them and their worries. However, Ray could've at least targeted his demographic with music that was something more than equivalent to an off-brand breath mint, and without resorting to clichés or reading the news. Disappointing.

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by Reviewer: Obscurity

Posted: Thursday 18th Oct 2018 10:55 AM
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