Genesis (1983)


 
1.Mama 2.That's All 3.Home By The Sea 4.Second Home By The Sea 5.Illegal Alien 6.Taking it all Too Hard 7.Just a Job to Do 8.Silver Rainbow 9.It's Gonna Get Better

 

We now enter the phase of this band’s career where they are no longer an FM, college, somewhat avant garde band. These guys are now officially superstars, and sales of subsequent singles, albums, and concerts would prove this point. This particular album, by itself, did not rocket its way all the way to the top, but by now Phil Collins was a household name, and there were some that had trouble distinguishing the man’s solo work from his Genesis contributions. It was typical to hear a Genesis song on the radio now and have the D.J. refer to it as Phil Collinsand Genesis.

The band chooses to name the record after the group name because a new style of writing and recording is now the favored method. They each come into the studio with no songs written, and write collectively as a group, from the ground up. Did this have more favorable results? Not necessarily, but it seemed to be what the three members enjoyed. Hugh Padgham is brought back into the fold to help with production duties and, as always, his presence is a welcome one.

There are two tracks on this record that, even though the band is exploring more radio friendly territory, could be easily described as “classic” Genesis. To be fair, even the term “classic” has many definitions when describing this group. Their history is just too complex. The lead-off track Mama is without a doubt, a fan favorite. Although it is definitely peculiar. Try explaining the song to someone who has never heard it. Heavy on drum machines, synthesizers, not at all danceable, complete with weird instrumentation and a menacing guffaw from the singer in various places. Halfway into the weirdness, the drums finally thunder in, and the song sounds more like a….well….a song.

The other track, ok, actually two other tracks (so my last paragraph should have said ‘three’, not ‘two’) are Home By the Sea and Second Home By the Sea. I think live versions would combine the two into the former title as it probably should be. The second ‘part’ of this song is basically a six minute jam of the band being themselves. It highlights one of the most special things about Genesis. Plus, doing the song live gives Collins an excuse to go back to his drum kit and pound away for several extra minutes.

The rest of this album is good, although not necessarily spectacular. Many of the songs seem geared towards achieving the goal of hit single, and one track actually succeeds. To my knowledge, That’s All became the first Genesis top ten song in the U.S. It’s a charming McCartney-esque ditty, yet doesn’t exactly feature key elements of the band’s brand. Not surprisingly, it would be shaved off the set list on future tours. Most fans didn’t seem to mind.

The track Illegal Alien was also a minor hit single and was made into a humorous video. Humorous by 1983’s standards, that is. This song would now be considered horribly offensive. Let’s hope the wrong special interest group doesn’t dig it up. They’d be calling for a ban of Genesis. Don’t blame the band, blame the over-the-top political correctness.

Yes, they had “gone commercial” on this record, but the band members were all on the same page, and most continued to love their efforts.

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