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Genesis Wind And Wuthering (1977)


Oops, I blew it. I said something good about Tony Banks in that last review, haven’t I? Well, screw it. Forget it. From the opening notes of this album and down to the last second, it’s a nauseating synthfest. These electronic sounds seem to infiltrate you, spoil the very air you’re breathing, poison the cup of tea you’re sipping at while trying to get through to the melodies. And remember: I’m not against synthesizers as long as they’re used in the correct way. You can put out a killer synth riff, something like Gentle Giant’s ‘Alucard’. You can use the synth to create outstanding fantasy-world or just outstanding spiritual musical textures, like Brian Eno.

You can at least demonstrate your vast instrumental prowess by playing a technically immaculate, warp-speed solo – something in the style of Keith Emerson; I admit that some would hate that last style, calling it self-indulgent etc., but it’s at least motivated. But when you engage in series of pointless, draggy instrumental passages that do neither of these three things, the reasonable question is: why? Why did Tony Banks clutter this huge, fifty-minute album with loads of these routine, boring, monotonous synth passages that do nothing besides just sit there and fart around? Okay, the tone he gets on this album and the general ‘atmospherics’ of his playing is basically not the worst thing in the world. But it’s absolutely the same tone and absolutely the same atmospherics he used on the previous album, and he doesn’t change at all throughout all of these fifty minutes! Just noodle noodle noodle noodle… until I really can’t tell one song from another, apart from a couple relative highlights I’ll be mentioning shortly.

My guess is that Tony desperately wanted a serious album, plus he wanted to establish a clear monopoly on the new Genesis sound. But in doing so, he managed to successfully forget about everything that made earlier Genesis so great – awesome melodies, light-hearted lyrics, diverse instrumentation and stylistics, and above all, the irresistable playfulness of Gabriel’s style which made the music complex and serious, on one side, and easily accessible and delightful, on the other one. This is still Genesis, for sure, but it’s a formal, lifeless, clumsy Genesis that completely misses the Genesis essence of old. Where such bands as Kansas were once faithfully copying Genesis in form, but not essence, Genesis now seem to be copying Kansas themselves. Yyyyuck.

As for Steve Hackett, he must have played a total of two or three notes on this album (speaking figuratively, of course), which explains why he left shortly after recording the album – the contradictions with Banks were getting irresolvable. Rutherford holds out, though, contributing yet another in a series of his beautiful, classic-influenced ballads (‘Your Own Special Way’), and Collins certainly does him a huge favour by stretching himself on it totally. Perversely enough, this is usually the fans’ least favourite number on the record, because it’s – go figure – too much pop for them. Well, it’s not the greatest song ever written, for sure, but at the least, it has a memorable and idiosyncratic chorus, and that’s far more than I could say about the rest of the album.

Two more songs manage to garner my attention in the long run. The album opens on a high note – ‘Eleventh Earl Of Mar’, dedicated to a metaphoric description of an old Scottish upraisal, buzzes along at a suitable pace and does include a couple of those long-lamented synth riffs that make it listenable. I can even disregard the ‘deconstructing’ of the melody (initiated on tunes like ‘Squonk’, where, if you remember, the verses got stretched out, twisted and disstructured in the most brutal way imaginable), as well as the fact that a large part of the vocal melody was shamelessly taken over from ‘Battle Of Epping Forest’ (and some – from ‘Squonk’ itself); the upbeat tone and the presence of real melodies make it tolerable and even enjoyable. And the Hackett/Collins collaboration ‘Blood On The Rooftops’ is a nice breather in between all the muck, opening with a pretty acoustic intro and accompanied with a Mellotron rather than a synthesizer all the way through. It’s not as well-constructed as ‘Entangled’ on the previous album, but if anything on this record feels sincere or moving, it is ‘Blood On The Rooftops’.

But the album is also cluttered with pointless, meaningless and deadly boring instrumentals (‘Wot Gorilla?’; ‘Unquiet Slumbers’) which make any instrumental passage on a 1970-74 Genesis album sound inspired and brilliant in comparison. “Self-indulgence” is the keyword here: either you make an instrumental memorable by basing it on a good melody, or you just drive the listener breathless with the energy and technical level of the performance, but if you fall somewhere in between, how can you stand the competition? Awful, awful compositions…

…yet not as awful as that ten-minute abomination on the first side. There, Banks reaches an all-time low with a brooding and raving ‘epic’ (‘One For The Vine’) which is just such a horrible load of pseudo-intelligent bullshit that I refuse to acknowledge it as a Genesis song. The lyrics are super-pretentious but mean nothing, with overbearing cliches and idiotic preachiness strewn all over the song, and the melody could have been written by Elton John at the age of 10. And this is supposed to be going on for ten minutes? Holy crap! Needless to say, no humour, no playfulness, and not even the percussion-heavy mid-section helps to bring the song out of its grotesque, overbearing, nauseating atmosphere. ‘One For The Vibe’, it should be called, and ‘Zero For The Effort’.

Oh geez, I must have been very offensive here – and I’ve just remembered that Wind And Wuthering seems to be a fan favourite! Where are we living, Eldorado? Nah, shucks. Were we living in Eldorado, Tony Banks would have been expulsed long ago. All I can say is that if this is a fan favourite, I suggest all you average boozers avoid hardcore Genesis fans. They might bite you.

So overall, this is a rather sad picture the band has drawn of itself. All these instrumentals, ten-minute Banks compositions… sad, very sad. Exhaustion? Stagnation? Overproductivity? Touring excesses? Yes, all that, plus somebody’s huge ambitions and vast ego. Nah, no way. Stick to Trick Of The Tail, where the band was still at least partially following in Gabriel’s footsteps, with lightweightness preserved in ‘A Trick Of The Tail’, Britishness preserved in ‘Robbery, Assault And Battery’, pure beauty preserved in ‘Ripples’, good riffs preserved in ‘Squonk’, shimmering guitar work preserved in ‘Entangled’, and rocking energy preserved in ‘Dance On A Volcano’. How many categories did I mention? Six? Wind & Wuthering doesn’t have a quarter of that.

April 12, 2013 Posted by | Genesis Wind And Wuthering | | Leave a comment

Genesis Wind And Wuthering (1976)


Blah. You know, I’m all for bands evolving over time. After all, if you use the same style again and again, eventually it’s going to grow stale. BUT, I also firmly believe that changing is not enough – you have to change into something that, at the very least, displays relative advantages over the style you’re discarding. Alas, with this album, Genesis threw away large parts of their classic style in cold blood, only to replace them with genericism and dullness. Now, instead of taking a song-by-song approach with this fact, I decided it would be better to run down the list of traits that made classic Genesis so great in my eyes (and ears), and then to compare them with the inferior doppelganger in this incarnation of Genesis.

Good Genesis: Lengthy compositions with a clear sense of purpose and direction, as well as a solid melodical base. The song-structures were complex, but they always resolved themselves eventually, helping the listener not feel overwhelmed by the difficulty of the pieces. Or, alternatively, compositions of short or medium length, complex yet overwhelmingly interesting at times.

Bad Genesis: Lengthy compositions that seem to be long and complex solely for their own sakes (One for the Vine). The melodies in these are only occasionally memorable even after repeated listens, and they lack any obvious sense of direction or purpose (One for the Vine). They try hard for some deep beauty, but come up short because there’s no there there (One for the Vine). One also discovers a fairly large number of instrumental tracks (3 out of 9 songs) that, on the whole, don’t make a tremendous amount of impact (not to mention that one of them, Wot Gorilla?, is a shameless rewrite of Riding the Scree, and another one strikes me as a shameless rewrite of Ravine). The only one that consistently keeps my interest at all is In That Quiet Earth, and that’s because it has a decent Hackett-led passage and a stretch where the rhythm section becomes inexplicably heavy; whenever it becomes dominated by Banks, though, it becomes less much less interesting.

Good Genesis: Fairly diverse instrumentation, with at worst an acceptable balance between Hackett’s guitars and the Banksynths (which showed an acceptably diverse pallette of tones), as well as a healthy amount of acoustic guitar. Hackett was regularly (if not frequently) given a chance to shine, while Banks would occasionally have some blisteringly good moments. In addition, Banks could also achieve a high level of spiritual catharsis with his keys when he wanted to, not to mention the images he painted on The Lamb.

Bad Genesis: The balance between the guitars and keyboards isn’t as off-kilter as I used to think, but there are still problems in this regard. Hackett has a number of standout moments, but uncovering those only emphasizes the sense that, when he’s not doing something to stand out, he completely disappears from the mix. Banks dominates as always, and this is a problem given that he really seems pretty uninspired most of the time (yup, I mean that), except for some decent keyboard riffs. There’s some piano, which is sometimes used to good effect, but he relies strongly on some awfully monotonous sounding synths most of the time. I get that the point of the synths is to create some atmosphere, but egads, anybody can create atmosphere – it’s the KIND of atmosphere you make that matters, not to mention that you need to vary it at least a bit from song to song. Nope, the arrangements on this album, on the whole, are just not that good; I end up spending my time waiting for an interesting Hackett part (like the great solo at the end of One for the Vine that’s by far the best part of the track), and feeling bored most of the rest of the time. There are a lot keyboard parts on here that just SCREAM out “emotionally manipulative” to me, and I mean that in the worst meaning of the term.

Good Genesis: Often bombastic, often humorous and usually clever lyrics (depending on the author). Though Banks could certainly contribute a lamer here and there, Gabriel could come up with clever, non-cliched texts to counteract whatever stinkiness Banks or Mike might produce.

Bad Genesis: There are a LOT of lyrics on this album that fall between mediocre and horrible, and few that ascend to good (Blood on the Rooftops is rather nice here). In particular, I really dislike the lyrics to One for the Vine. This “alternative” perspective of Christ has no interesting philosophical ideas and no clever individual lines, and sounds to me like Tony thought that writing about a Messiah in a non-mainstream way would be enough to make it worthwhile. I just feel like it’s full of cliches, and full of preachiness, and I hate it completely. As for other songs, there are decent lyrics here and there, but not much I’d find as interesting as Squonk or Ripples.

Good Genesis: Peter Gabriel as lead vocalist. I know that it may seem obvious or, depending on your perspective, the cry of a deranged fan, but you have to remember – Peter had the uncanny ability to make even the most obscure and ludicrous tales and lines come to life by the sheer power of his voice. Even Banks lyrics could come close to enjoyability (e.g. Watcher of the Skies).

Bad Genesis: Wind and Wuthering, for large stretches, pulls off an absolutely amazing feat. See, there are many, many albums where the lyrics take a back seat to the music, and where one can successfully hear and enjoy the vocals without hearing the lyrics. W&W, on the other hand, has the distinction of being the only album in my collection where I hear the lyrics but do not hear the vocals. A paradox? Hardly. Throughout the album, it becomes painfully obvious that Phil, who isn’t that talented a singer in the first place, hasn’t the slightest clue what to do with the lyrics Tony presents to him to sing. Hence, if you thought his singing on Trick was a bit flat and emotionless, you need to hear Wind to hear what it’s like for a singer to be totally afraid to try any expressivness for fear of “getting it wrong.” The song where this hurts the most, actually, is the middle track, All in a Mouse’s Night. The lyrics are actually somewhat cute (though a bit too dry to be as humorous as they could be), and in the hands of Gabriel, it could have become a minor classic (just imagine him squeaking as the mouse or screeching as the wife or hissing as the cat). But alas, Phil doesn’t change his tone one iota through the track, and the result is pure, unadulterated filler, albeit with another nice Hackett passage buried in the last minute of the song..

As you can tell, I’m not too fond of the stylistics of this album. Since I haven’t done much but bash it so far, though, I should explain why it gets a 6 instead of a lower grade. First of all, with regards to the last problem (the vocals) – because three of the songs are pop songs (or, at the least, songs with a relatively clear direction and with easily discernable hooks) instead of Banks prog-ravings, Phil is able to contribute fully solid vocals on each one of them. The first, the hit Your Own Special Way, is a decent Rutherford acoustic ballad, and although it’s certainly way too long (and the midsection way too soft and mellow), it also features a fully memorable chorus and a pleasant verse melody. Much better, though, is a classic in the Collins/Hackett collaboration Blood on the Rooftops. In addition to the aforementioned pretty acoustic intro, it also (a) features a well placed mellotron that sounds better than any of the other synths on the album, and (b) contains a beautifully romantic melody with some well-timed emotional climaxes. It’s EASILY Collins’ best vocal performance of the album, and if anything, makes me glad the band would start to shift towards pop from the next year onwards.

I’ve also developed some fondness over time for the closing Afterglow. I don’t think Collins’ vocal part is great here, and I don’t think it has as much power as was probably intended (especially with it following two instrumentals). In fact, truth be told, I don’t think it’s an amazing studio song … and yet, I’ve heard it and enjoyed it so many times as the closing part of live medleys that some of that fondness can’t help but wear off onto this version.

I should also give props to the album opener, Eleventh Earl of Mar, which has grown on me a lot through the years. I find the intro and outro a little annoyingly over-the-top overblown, but there are some neat Hackett effects that break through the synths, and give a deceptive sense of how much Hackett to expect on the album. I also think the vocals are pretty unremarkable (I feel like the song is better when I’m singing along to it), and I find it a little irritating that the vocal melody seems more than a bit borrowed from The Battle of Epping Forest. Still, it has some great organ riffs, more energy than the rest of the album combined, some powerhouse drumming and bass work, some decent lyrics (even if they don’t come through well), and a good balance between the intended beauty of Tony’s keys and the power of Steve’s guitar.

But again, there’s not much else positive to be found on this album, at least not to my ears. It’s not quite as horrendous as I initially thought, but egads, it’s definitely NOT deserving of being called a fan-favorite. I mean, if you like 70’s Genesis just because they were progressive, you could like this album. But if you like 70’s Genesis because they were a special kind of progressive, chances are good that you’ll be disappointed as hell in this.

Slight addendum: Many years after writing this review, while I still think that Unquiet Slumber for the Sleepers is distressingly similar to Ravine, I do kinda like the slow unwinding of the quiet melody in the background. To be honest, while I don’t find any of the last three tracks (Unquiet, Quiet Earth, Afterglow) individually very great, put together they make for a pretty decent 10-minute album-closing suite (nothing amazing, but definitely decent).

March 31, 2013 Posted by | Genesis Wind And Wuthering | | Leave a comment

Genesis Wind And Wuthering (1976)


This might be Genesis last foray into the English pastoral stylings with prominent 12-string guitars and acoustic beauty. It is sadly also Steve Hackett’s last record with the band. Fortunately Steve would have a prolific solo career after he left, so we had much more to look forward to from Mr. Hackett.

My opinion is that Wind & Wuthering starts off just a bit weaker than previous records by the band. “Eleventh Earl of Mar” has never been one of my favorite pieces by my favorite band, yet I can’t deny the power of the drumming throughout and the lovely melody at the quiet acoustic middle of the song.

The group more than make up for it in the next song with “One for the Vine.” This is perhaps my favorite of any Tony Banks epic and has an interesting lyrical idea that neatly and wonderfully folds back into itself with the story it’s telling. A neat time-travel trick that quirks in the right way.

Need a single? Michael Rutherford’s “Your Own Special Way” is a romantic ballad in waltz time and way better than the more successful “Follow You Follow Me” from next album’s And Then There Were Three. “All In a Mouse’s Night” can be a little “twee,” but it holds a soft spot in my heart as the kind of humorous piece they would have done in their salad days. Phil Collins is at his most successful aping this aspect of former frontman Peter Gabriel on this cut than any other attempts made in my opinion. It’s a”dork”able, to borrow a recent phrase.

The next few songs are perhaps Hackett’s final contributions to the band, beginning with “Blood On the Rooftops.” It is wonderfully evocative of much of Hackett’s later solo career, as is the next two stunning instrumental pieces “Unquiet Slumbers for the Sleepers…” and “…In That Quiet Earth.” These two are part of an extended epic including the last three songs on the record. It’s uninterrupted even if the songs are separated by tracks, ending with another absolutely gorgeous Bank’s piece “Afterglow.”

This song, with its simple melody and breathtaking beauty is again one of Bank’s finest compositions. I actually enjoy the more straightforward way of bringing in expressive ideas to the songwriting since Gabriel left as principal lyricist. Sometimes Peter got a bit esoteric in his flights of fancy. But ya know, that worked too.

We would never again see this version of Genesis again and this record is a strong testament to the fact that the band could indeed carryon quite well without Gabriel. They would of course, prove this time and again in the future, but this is the last time they would do it playing on the same field.

March 1, 2013 Posted by | Genesis Wind And Wuthering | | Leave a comment

Genesis Wind And Wuthering (1976)


The 70s were the golden age of big albums. In a time where music is marketed multimedially one can hardly image what a compact work an album was and how important the cover design was. Wind & Wuthering is such an album.

Many listeners, remarkably, have said that Wind & Wuthering is their atmospheric companion for the autumn season, though they do not explain whether that is so because of the music or because of the title and the cover art that goes with it. However that may be, the album was in fact recorded in autumn, and the cover and the music go very well with each other.

Tax evasion leads to peculiar things, one of which was Wind & Wuthering. It is the first album the band recorded abroad. In September 1976 they booked into the renowned Hilvaria (Relight) Studios in The Netherlands where they would also record the album after that, And Then There Were Three. Genesis took David Hentschel with them. He had already co-produced A Trick Of The Tail and worked as a sound engineer on Nursery Cryme. This cooperation continued until 1980, which proves how well they worked as a team. The band started recording with a lot of self-confidence, for they had coped well with the departure of Peter Gabriel and put out a really strong album with A Trick Of The Tail. The self-confidence also caused problems that prompted Steve Hackett to leave the band after the tour. Everybody’s large output clashed with each other, particularly Tony’s and Steve’s; in the end they had to agree on which songs would be put on the album. Thirty years later Tony said that he felt good about Steve’s input at the time, but „I think he said as much in various articles afterwards, that I was controlling it too much – and he’s probably right“ [Chapter & Verse, p.192].

Tony’s and Steve’s ambitions can be heard very clearly in places. There are many classical reminiscences on the album, to which came Phil Collins’s fusion-style drumming and the well-rounded pop compositions by Mike Rutherford. The result was an album that presents the classic line-up of four in perfection and gives us a glimpse at later releases that would focus more on songs. All in all the compositions are more compact and less playful than on A Trick Of The Tail.

The opening song Eleventh Earl Of Mar is a good illustration. After a brief instrumental overture a strong, driving beat becomes the foundation for the verse. The song has an almost conventional structure with recurring parts were it not for the lack of a proper chorus. Eleventh Earl Of Mar tells the story of the Jacobite uprising in the Highlands in 1715. It is narrated from the point of view of a child that hears the story from its father. The vocal rendition is particularly effective when you listen to the part where the (presumable) son urges the father to read on. You can almost feel the excited begging. The dream has also found a proper musical equivalent that interrupts the composition with a very calm passage. Steve’s nylon guitar takes the lead role in this part. It also reveals the full strength of the band: They have found a great way to put the story to music and create, as it were, a fantastic film for the ears.

One For The Vine keeps up the momentum. It is an epic longtrack that flows along calmly despite its complex rendition. It is a typical Banks song full of changes in harmonies, peculiar time signatures and unusual chords. Tony had chosen a peculiar sequence. The individual parts are finished completely before the next part is introduced by a brief theme on the piano or the guitar. The band dispensed with transitions, as it were, in these places. They found it rather difficult to find a proper arrangement for the song, and that is not surprising if you examine the sheet music. The mood of the song resembles Mad Man Moon from their previous album. The story, however, fits Eleventh Earl Of Mar, for here again is someone else who sends a host of people to destruction. The deeper focus of the song is on the fatal seduction of the masses. In 2008 Phil Collins said in an interview that they had the impression that not everybody did understand everything, every word in our songs, so the image was added to make the emotional character of our songs come out clearer [Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 04/06/2008]. The German print of the album actually had lyrics sheets with a translation.

The song seems like a classical piano ballad that takes a rough turn in its third part and suddenly switches to a fusion-like theme in 5/4. It is a funny idea and shows their talent for sophisticated composition and clever inventions. The most brilliant thing is the fact that they kept this song together as a harmonious unit despite this contrast and the fragmentation mentioned above.

Your Own Special Way was probably intended as a contrast for the melancholic, demanding One For The Vine. It is a comparatively light-footed catchy song, and therefore became the only single from the album. Though it did not exceedingly well it did show that this band was capable of moving into the mainstream and writing big commercial hits. Wind & Wuthering showcases the compositional style of the individual band members, and Your Own Special Way is obviously Mike’s baby. Many fans dislike the song because it songs quite bombastic. It is a song about being together, but the word love is carefully avoided. Mike wrapped it all up in a lyrical text rich with metaphors. Despite the musical preferences one has to admit the song has qualities. It is consistent, accessible and has lyrics like a poem.

If Your Own Special Way is Mike’s thing then Wot Gorilla? demonstrates Phil’s penchant for jazz rock. This one is a very lively piece of music that is ever so slightly over the top. Tony Banks, who co-wrote the song, adds some classical music to it by inserting chord changes that resembles baroque organ compositions. Despite some subliminal grumbling the band, ironically, stick to a simple 4/4 full of joy of playing. It sometimes occurs to the reviewer that the band tried to put all the vivacity of a Cinema Show live version into a studio recording.

Festive organ sounds mark the beginning of All In A Mouse’s Night, the first song on the second side of the album. The title indicates that we are told a fable. Just like Eleventh Earl Of Mar this song has, despite repeating parts, no classical song structure, but it is a well-rounded, coherent song that ends in a majestic moral. Tongue-in-cheek humour luckily saves the lyrics from embarrassing pathos. The music lives off the contrast between verse-like thin parts and rich symphonic parts. This change in dynamics provides the tension the lyrics demand with their cat-and-mouse game. Steve adds a nervous ambient sound of scratching, wafting sounds in the quiet parts. The unorthodox use of the guitar and the complete lack of rock clichés show just how important Steve was for early Genesis, and a song like Blood On The Rooftops illustrates the options the band lost when he left the band.

Classical guitar creates a lovely melancholy and leads the listener imperceptibly into the vocals. These stay close to the guitar line, melting into a perfect unity. “Day and grey, and English film, the Wednesday play.” We immerse in the scene and are taken to England. The contrast between drab reality and shiny world of American movies becomes a listening experience. Phil and Steve work together perfectly. Steve provided melancholic verses, and Phil added a big chorus to it. Many fans consider Blood On The Rooftops a highlight on Wind & Wuthering.

Unquiet Slumbers For The Sleepers continues in this vein. The brief instrumental recall the musical interludes on The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway. Steve’s floating nylon guitar and Tony’s almost whistling synth create a magic, otherworldly atmosphere. Slowly we float into the next song that is going full steam ahead. In That Quiet Earth is a lively, sometimes hectic instrumental, a bit like Duke’s Travels. In That Quiet Earth is the only song on Wind & Wuthering that was written by whole band, and it proves how competent the band have become. Each musician has his opportunity to shine without overshadowing the others. They confidently create musical tensions and make good use from the large store of compositional options. Genesis have become a mature group who know what they want. They utilize the dramatic, wild element of the song to arrive on the spot in the relaxed, almost soulful mood of Afterglow.

The effect of that was so great that they would use it live for the next ten years. Though In That Quiet Earth may be replaced be other songs (e.g. in the Old Medley) the releasing effect of Afterglow remained – it became a live classic. Tony explained that he had written it spontaneously: „I wrote [Afterglow] pretty much in the time it takes to play it, and consequently [it] has a spirit about it that comes from being less contrived.“ [Chapter & Verse, p. 177]. One will hardly find a better description for Afterglow. It hovers along weightlessly, gains substance and finally towers like a thundercloud grown from a gentle shroud of clouds. Phil proves how much he has grown as a singer, how much strength there is in his initially fragile voice. From here on, Genesis songs do not aim at the brain, but at the heart. This ever increasing and intensifying finale leaves the listener with the impression of a dignified, almost august album. If you compare Wind & Wuthering with its predecessor, A Trick Of The Tail, you will realize that this album was arranged very neatly without any frills. It is less romantic, less gentle than its predecessor, but it makes up for it with power and a sense of adventure. Genesis still tell their stories, but they have already turned their eyes towards a brighter, more streamlined future. With the last notes of Afterglow ends a book that began with the words Looking For Someone and spanned seven years full of glorious tales.

February 24, 2013 Posted by | Genesis Wind And Wuthering | | Leave a comment

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 | | Leave a comment