Classic Rock Review

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Genesis Wind And Wuthering (1976)


Forty to fifty percent of marriages end in divorce in the US. And even though they didn’t get married in the US, progressive Genesis and pop Genesis got divorced. Pop Genesis got the better deal, getting to keep the band members to continue working as a successful single parent throughout the 80s. Progressive Genesis got kicked to the curb, after having a full hold of the band members in the first half of the 70s. When vocalist Peter Gabriel left in 1975, the marriage became a bit strained. Drummer Phil Collins took over, and pop Genesis had made it clear that things were going to change. But not yet. For two albums, A Trick of the Tail, and this, progressive Genesis and pop Genesis fought bitterly for custodial rights. Progressive Genesis had dominated for a while, but on Wind and Wuthering, the fight was becoming more even.

But one can’t blame” Peter Gabriel for Genesis becoming a synth pop band. Wind and Wuthering was the last album with guitarist Steve Hackett, frustrated because the band wouldn’t accept his works more on the album. It shows, Hackett’s guitar rarely takes the lead in any of the songs, and is timidly in the back of the songs on the softer ones. Instead, the album is much more orchestral, for an already very orchestral band, heavily based on Tony Banks eloquently surging Mellotron and synthesizers. This orchestral feel results in a softer Genesis on the album at times, sentimental, harmonic, clues as to what Genesis would become on this albums successors, And Then There Were Three and Duke. This results in soft, buoyant, sophisticatedly simple songs like Afterglow and Blood on the Rooftops. Phil Collins voice definitely shines on those songs, his soft voice fits the songs perfectly, especially when backed by angelic backing harmonies on Afterglow. This also comes off as bland other times, Your Own Special Way is a cheesy, bland ballad that fails to capture any magic the rest of the album. The only interesting part of the song is the elegant electric piano interlude before returning to a repetitive song.

Progressive Genesis bites back, with songs like Eleventh Earl of Mar (complete with a storyline based on a Middle Ages figure) and Unquiet Slumbers for the Sleepers… In that Quiet Earth (often split into two parts.) The former sums up the album rather nicely, one part energetic prog onslaught of various keyboards, one part quiet, intimate soft-pop. And though his voice isn’t as lively or versatile as Gabriel’s, Collins does a good job. The latter is one of Genesis best instrumentals, and where all the band members join together. Hackett and Collins specifically stand out, Hackett leading the song with a spacey guitar melody, who keeps relatively quiet on the album, besides some acoustic guitar playing, and manic drumming from Collins. Shame the lazy bastard started using drum machines later on. Genesis [largely ripped off by 80s and 90s prog bands] brand of elegant, sweeping progressive rock is still maintains a large presence in the music on Wind and Wuthering.

Wind and Wuthering won’t be an album someone will be able to enjoy entirely if he/she only wants that Selling England by the Pound majestic prog, or straightforward songs having an easy-listening quality. There are fantastic moments of the bands farewell to progressive. Tony Banks especially, with some of his best playing on the calm/minimal to lively/complex type song One for the Vine. There are also some moments of dullness, like the first four minutes of One for the Vine (the second half of the song totally makes up for it, though), Your Own Special Way, or the synth driven instrumental Wot Gorilla?. The main hook of the absurdly titled song is done to death for the whole thing. Still, it’s an album worth checking out for anyone who’s loved Foxtrot or Trespass. It may be a bit daunting for people who are only fans of pop Genesis, or just pop music in general. But pop Genesis got its way in the divorce, so what do they care?

February 20, 2013 - Posted by | Genesis Wind And Wuthering |

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