I know that this is not Genesis' final album but with the departure of Phil Collins after it was made and the fact that the three remaining members had developed their own solo careers, it does feel a bit like a swansong.
We Can't Dance came out in 1991, five years after their previous album, Invisible Touch. At 71 minutes and 36 seconds, it is long. The first time I heard it, I did feel that it slightly outstayed its welcome. However, having listened to all their previous work in chronological order and then listened to We Can't Dance repeatedly for the last week, I can say that I love every minute.
The average song length is 6 minutes which gives the group plenty room for expansion and I feel that they have reflected various different styles as well as restated their 1970s progressive roots. It feels like a summation of all the band did.
The opener, No Son of Mine is a desperately sad song of family dysfunction and it is very moving and powerful.
Jesus, He Loves Me is a wonderful satire on American TV evangelism, also very enjoyable
Driving the Last Spike is a long track about the dangers and sacrifices made in building railways in the 19th Century. It is full of defiance and passion. Musically, it reminded me of the Who. Brilliant stuff.
I Can't Dance is a much shorter track and I can imagine it going down well - the basic guitar riffs remind me of the Rolling Stones' Honky Tonk Woman.
Never a Time is a lovely soulful song that some purists think should belong on a solo Phil Collins record. I don't care, it's nice.
It also sounds to me a little like a 90s soul song that Whitney Houston might be happy to sing. It may not feel like Genesis but it works
Dreaming While You Sleep - nicely mysterious and quite long. Again melodically, it reminds me of Phil Collins' solo output
Tell Me Why - This reminds me a bit of work that the group was doing in the 1970s on Wind and Wuthering but some of the guitar playing sounds quite Beatles-like. It also has the same protest element that Land of Confusion had on Invisible Touch
Living Forever - Again this sounds like like pure Genesis. Mike Rutherford's guitar playing is very distinctive here and the Bachian keyboard playing by Tony Banks is back - something very reminiscent of the earliest Genesis albums.
Hold on my Heart - Another soulful and intimate Phil Collins number. I like it
Way of the World - This feels like another protest song like Tell Me Why - perhaps less distinctive but has a lovely catchy chorus
Since I Lost You - This feels a bit like a pastiche of early 60s soul but with Genesis' superb musicianship and production values. I found it very moving.
Fading Lights - Another long progressive track which harks back to Genesis' heyday.
For me this album is a summation of everything the group was good at. There is not a single dud track, which when you consider how much material is here, is an amazing achievement.
Highly recommended - I feel almost saying that it is my favourite Genesis album
on 5 May 2003
At the time, everyone was expecting Phil Collins to finally hang up his boots and continue on his own. This was expected since "Invivsble Touch", yet he stayed on for another album.
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.
on 27 February 2006
We Can't Dance generally get the hard side from most reviewers, and I have to say I disagree completely. The reason why I hold this album in so high esteem is a fact that probably evades most listeners: None of the songs on this album were ever performed better live than on the album.
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
on 4 July 2009
I have snobbed this album for years. To me, Genesis equal to Gabriel period, with interesting three or four album coda's, and that's all.
How stupid I was. This is an amazing album, with twelve beautiful & amazing song, some in progressive vein (the terrific 'Driving the Last Spike'), full of quotes and recalls of classic & futher periods, all unforgettables.
And, yes, this new edition plays wonderful: clear, dynamics, with great impact. A worthwile purchase.
A real gem, both for Genesis' first, second and third hours fans, and for everything likes good music. 72 minutes of pure pleasure. A real gem.