So what?, you might think. But this statement is actually stronger than it seems; with very few exceptions, every Genesis song written between 1970 and 1990 were performed in live versions that were superior to the studio version. This was not the case for the songs off We Can't Dance, and for this reason, it's actually one of the very few Genesis studio albums I actually sit around and listen to. Otherwise, I'll get one of their incredible live albums - for at starter, get Three Sides Live and see what I meen, that album effectively renders Abacab, so treasured by many, completely obsolete.
But enough on that, the other strong force of this album is the quality of the music. As opposed to many reviewers here, I find no fillers on this album. Yes, the politisation in 'Tell Me Why' is perhaps not their strongest moment, but it's not a bad song, and the honesty in Phil's voice makes it for me. "If there's a God, is he watching, can he give a ray of hope?" is simply chillingly beautiful. and I find 'Way Of The World' to be a throughly enjoyable pop-song, can't see anything wrong in that. And that's what is probably the weaker moments on the record.
The record starts off with a burst of emotion in 'No Son Of Mine', first single of the album and one of Phil's most emotional songs ever, vocally as well as lyrically. In a lighter mood we find singles 'I Can't Dance' (second single) and 'Jesus He Knows Me' (fourth single), entertaining songs and smash hits both of them, and still we're not near the best part of the album.
Third single 'Hold On My Heart' was in my oppinion somewhat of a miss pick, it's a great song with excellent lyrics, but it was not the ballad of the album with most hit potential. I think 'Never A Time', discarded in last moment as sixth(!) single off the album, could have fared much better. The latter is an extremely beautiful song about the disruption of a relationship, one of the bands strongest love songs ever in my oppinion. And even more beautiful is the brilliant 'Since I Lost You', written for Eric Clapton after his son's tragic death.
And it get's better yet in the group of semi-long (7-minute) and long (10 minute) epic songs of the album. 'Driving The Last Spike' is an epic on the trials of the British railway workers, and with it's 10+ minutes features lots of great instrumental sections, and a vocal by Phil that is very touching. More thrilling is 'Dreaming While You Sleep', the frightened musing of the hit and run driver about the fate of his victim; musically, this song is brilliantly done with eery keyboard sound and Phil's trademark thundring drum style, and the lyrics are brilliantly conceived - "All my life, I'll be haunted by; all my life, just one moment in time! All my life ... until the day I die. All my life, I will never be free; all my life, trapped in her memory! All my life, 'til the day that you open your eyes."
On the lighter side is 'Living Forever', an ironical musing on modern day health obsession and the constantly changing to-do and to-avoid lists. The song is a brilliant pop-song in itself, and the instrumental second part is great. And then last, but certainly not least, comes the epic 'Fading Lights'. In my oppinion, this might be the best 10 minutes the band ever did, certainly, it's up there with old classics like 'Firth Of Fifth'. The lyrics are brilliant, one reviewer stated he was moved to tears everytime he listens to this, and I have to agree. This is one of the most beautiful texts ever written, in all its simplicity. Furthermore, the long instrumental part of this song is amazing, this song so vividly displays the amazing song writing skill of this threesome. With an almost prophetic quality, this was the last song the band recorded with Phil Collins on vocals, and it was the best of them all.
The quality of this album lies in three things: The great overall song quality, 6 songs from the album was released as single A-sides (No Son Of Mine, I Can't Dance, Hold On My Heart, Jesus He Knows Me, Tell My Why and in continental Europe only - Never A Time). Furthermore, 2 songs were released as B-sides (Living Forever, Way Of The World), and 2 more were instant live clasics (Driving The Last Spike, Fading Lights). The rare live performance of Dreaming While You Sleep is one of the treasured live performances of the band, and Since I Lost You was sufficiantly important for Phil to chose this song as one as his most important songwriting moments on VH1 storytellers. Not a bad fare of a 12 track album! That the amazing track On The Shoreline didn't make the album is another proof of the overall great quality of the songs!
The great production of the songs is another key factor. The songs are presented in immaculate version on the album, making it a listening pleasure from start to end. And finally, the atmosphere of the album is great. This comes from many things, the devoted performance, the great production, the great arrangement of the songs on the album, and even the brilliant atwork adds up to the total.
OVERALL RATING: 10/10
What is demonstrated is that these three individuals care for each other and this is felt through the music. Each individual complements the other and as a trio, this is certainly the best album they may have ever produced. Since his decision, Phil has never achieved the fame he had whilst juggling both a solo and group career. Why? Genesis was his release and this album is the best Phil has made since.
Yes, old fans will turn their noses up to this commercial album yet "Calling all Stations" is a non commercial fantastic album but did not meet expectations. Can you blame them for making this one slighlty commercial after "Invisible Touch".
"No son of Mine" is Genesis at its best, a sad tale yet powerfully memorable, another highlight has to be "Dreaming while you sleep".
These three individuals realised that music is the ongoing force that unites their fans and what a gem "Fading Lights" is - letting us know that Genesis as we knew it was no more.
A brave album, worth listening to time and time again. I have never tired of listening to it and never will.
Being a Genesis fan in all its reincarnations, from Peter Gabriel to Phil to Ray Wilson, any true Genesis fan should own this album because it captures the joy, sadness and history of a rock band called Genesis. You can sense a birth, maturity and finally its death on the very last note.
Whilst not as 'commercial' as their previous album "Invisible Touch" it still has the hits such as "No Son of Mine" and "I Can't Dance" to please the newer Genesis fans whilst Genesis re-discover their ability to mix long progressive instrumental breaks with lyrics with substance to create epics such as "Driving the Last Spike" and "Fading Lights" that certainly would please the older Genesis fan, as Phil Collins (largely) puts away the drum machine and the whole band play with a freedom that makes great use of the 70+ minutes on the CD.
In-between the two extremes their are some other good tracks such as "Tell me Why" and "Never a Time" and although the album has a much more sombre feel that more recent albums this is largely due to Genesis realising that they have probably run their course and after a promotion tour and one further album without Collins they called it a day. So put into context this is a fitting end that makes it an essential purchase for Genesis fans but strangely offers a useful introduction to new fans as it is very representative of what Genesis were about.
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