Calling All Stations (1997)

1.Calling All Stations 2.Congo 3.Shipwrecked 4.Alien Afternoon 5.Not About Us 6.If That's What You Need 7.The Dividing Line 8.Uncertain Weather 9.Small Talk 10.There Must Be Some Other Way 11.One Man's Fool


How do you make rock critics miss Phil Collins? In the long complex history of Genesis, the dice had finally turned up snake eyes with their fifteenth studio album twenty eight years after their inception. It is somewhat ironic that every time the band went through a personell change, that they could somehow increase their popularity several times over. It wasn't until they were whittled down to a threesome did they conquer the world. When drummer/frontman Collins announced he wouldn't be back for this effort, it wasn't anything new to founders Tony Banks and Mike Rutherford.

Collins admitted that during his tenure, he contributed least to the overall writing and idea input department. Strange since his solo success was so incredibly overwhelming. Tony Banks and Mike Rutherford, who contributed the most, rarely had any success as solo artists. Having said all that, you can't hold a grudge against the two then they tried to continue the magic. They drafted singer Ray Wilson and used two different studio drummers (Nir Zidkyahu and Nick D'Virgilio) to try to keep the machine moving.

Unfortunately, this turned into the lamest release the band has ever recorded and had listeners reaching for the no-doze. Although Phil Collins might have had a somewhat limited musical input in the past, it's clear that what he did contribute was a magic formula that kept interest alive. Those (very few) who have heard the long-ago out-of-print solo material by Banks and Rutherford can attest that there's not much different here. To add insult to injury, the whole thing just seems to be poorly executed. Many songs, for example, sound as if the recording engineer got bored during the mix and pressed the "fade-out key" to end the song suddenly and unexpectantly.

It's hard to critique many aspects since the whole album is so dredgingly dull. Even after several listens, it's hard to differentiate many of the songs. The so-called "single" Congo tries for a tribal feel along with some pop likability. It understandably bombed. Many other efforts such as Alien Afternoon and Small Talk are outright embarrassments. It didn't help that the music industry had changed radically since the last album (Collins' latest solo effort was a letdown in terms of sales as well at this point). On a slight positive note, Shipwrecked and a nice chorus and The Dividing Line actually sounds o.k. for the first few minutes until the singing starts. The band toured to lukewarm audiences to promote the effort (the American leg of the tour was actually cancelled), and Wilson was sacked shortly afterwards.

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