Monday, April 11, 2016

Genesis: Duke (1980)

I recall reading some kind of online discussion or thread in which Genesis fans were arguing about what is the last great Genesis record. Duke was offered as a suggestion by several people. In my humble opinion, Duke is indeed the last great Genesis record, though I would argue that there are a few good tracks later on, though I draw the line at the Ray Wilson years. Nothing the band released after Duke was nearly as good.

I watched an interview with Phil Collins in which he said that he would not accept the credit or the blame for the more pop-oriented direction that the band took in the 1980s. I think that's a fair enough statement, considering that there were two other band members, and I can't believe that Phil had total control over the band's musical direction.

Duke contains two of Genesis's most commercial (up to that point) pop songs: Misunderstanding and Turn it on Again. Yes, they are pop songs, but they are good ones. The album also has some great progressive moments, like Between the Lines, Duke's Travels, and Duke's End. There is some fabulous musicianship and some especially fine drumming, for all of you Phil Collins haters.

Despite the commercial feel of a couple of songs, this is a complicated record. Let's take Turn it on Again as an example. This is is 13/8! How many pop songs are in that time signature?

I would rate Duke as one of my favourite Genesis records. For years, I had the Duke poster hanging in my bedroom.

I got a copy for Christmas the year it came out and I remember putting it on while family members were still unwrapping gifts. We had an old stereo cabinet with a turntable that probably had a ceramic stylus. When Between the Lines started, my sister's boyfriend looked at me like I had put on the most irritating music in the world. I think he begged me to take it off. Years later, I noted that he bought a copy of Invisible Touch. You just cannot trust the older generation (and he was 15 years older than me).

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