Monday, 24 December 2007

Holdsworth at the Brook

Went to see Allan Holdsworth at The Brook in Southampton a couple of weeks ago. Unfortunately, hardly anyone else went; the Brook is a tiny venue but it was less than half full - maybe 80 people. Holdsworth is a legendary figure, a highly influential guitarist with astounding technique. He was, briefly, a member of UK and played in Bill Bruford's band before releasing a number of solo albums. He plays really really fast, which is why I made the photo of him look a bit blurry (it's not camera shake, honest.) Holdsworth's band featured two other gifted and high-profile musicians, Chad Wackerman (Zappa, Petrucci, Vai) on drums and Jimmy Johnson on bass. Jimmy played on Roger Waters' Amused to Death which is a very good thing to have been involved with.

I can't imagine why so few people turned up for the gig. Ok, fusion isn't everyone's cup-of-tea, being short on hummable tunes and, to some extent, emotional impact, but these guys perform at the very highest level of technical ability on their respective instruments. Still, the lack of audience meant we got to stand right at the front, which was nice.

Incidentally, Alan Holdsworth is 61 years old. He looks great for his age, don'tcha think?

Monday, 5 November 2007

G2 live at Charterhouse

Review to follow soon, but, in the meantime, here are some photos.

Thursday, 21 June 2007

Genesis: Prague, 20th June 2007

I do not like stadium venues and though I was delighted to hear that Genesis was re-emerging to do a short tour, I was disappointed that the band decided to do another series of stadium shows. However, I had to see Genesis again, at least one more time, so I decided to travel abroad and see them as part of a city break. If the gig was disappointing, at least the holiday would make up for it.

I had originally booked tickets for Budapest but the venue was changed to Prague (and then changed from a stadium in Prague to a smaller temporary open air construction in the parking area next to Sazka indoor arena and called, prosaically, Parking Lot.) The temporary arena was limited to 18,000 fans so, by chance, I ended up seeing Genesis on probably the smallest show of the European leg of the tour.

I was hoping for a gig which re-unified the different eras of the band's music. However, after the awful Invisible Touch era (when, for me, the band seemed to have lost the plot completely) and disappointing shows at Knebworth in 1992 and at the NEC on the execrable Calling all Stations tour (my last two experiences of seeing Genesis live), I was not at all hopeful.

On our way into the arena, the security guards took everyone's water bottles off them, despite the 80 degree temperature and blazing sunlight, so we had to buy another load of water inside the venue at three times the price. Beer was very cheap though, and good, and the food was excellent.

There was a suggestion by the weather forecasters of possible thunderstorms during the evening, and, for a while, the sky became ominously dark. However, by 7.30 the sun was shining again and it stayed dry and very warm throughout the gig.

Our seats were stage right and quite high in the stands, close enough to the stage to get a good view of the band and far enough away to get an impression of the whole stage show. From where we were sitting, we could see pasrt of the area behind the stage and, just before 8pm, an MPV with black tinted windows pulled into view. Phil, Mike, Tony, Daryl and Chester got out of the car and began walking towards backstage. A few of us saw them and waved and they waved back. I never thought I would see Genesis play live again and to see the boys in the flesh walking towards the stage area brought tears to my eyes. It was just great to see them again.

Ten minutes later and the band took to the stage and launched into Behind the Lines / Duke's End. Within 30 seconds of the start, the sound man had sorted the audio out and, from then on, the sound was loud and very clear for the whole show, one of the best live sounds I've experienced. This is not what I was expecting as my memory of large-scale shows has been of a very compromised sound. The drums in particular sounded huge but very natural. Aside from some occasional low-frequency feedback (possibly from the drums), a bit of echo from the Sazka arena which loomed over the parking lot and some minor quibbles with the mix, the sound was very good and dynamic throughout.

The other surprise for me was how far the screen technology had improved since the early 90's. The picture quality was excellent and there was no lag between the audio from the stage and the video. We could see the band very clearly indeed, Phil with greying stubble and the cut on his head from the 'tambourine incident' earlier in the tour, Mike with straggly hair, looking like an academic, Tony looking pretty solid (obviously works out a bit), Chester who is beginning to remind me of Ritchie Havens and Daryl who looked very calm and in control.

The instrumental opening was, for me, perfect, allowing the band to loosen up and setting the scene for an evening which featured some terrific ensemble playing. Duke's End segued into Turn it on Again, and this time it was a proper version, with no silly medley bolted on the end , just a straight down the line performance.

Turn it on Again was followed by No Son of Mine, again a superb version with Mike playing some fluid lines (both Daryl and Mike's guitar tones were perfectly judged throughout.) Land of Confusion was next up, sounding a bit dated (some of their 80's music seems locked in that decade to me) but getting a big cheer from the crowd. As expected, most of the audience seemed more familiar with the Invisible Touch / We Can't Dance material, but they listened attentively throughout and there were a fair number of hard core progressive rock fans who became very exciteable at certain points of the show, the next track being one of them.

As Mike donned his rather stunning looking new double-neck (such an iconic sight) Phil gave a lovely introduction ("you may hear some notes that you've never heard before, and some of them may be intentional") to a selection of older material (alright, a medley.) The medley commenced with In the Cage which sounded simply magnificent. It was slightly slower than some live versions I've heard, but if anything, that made it more powerful. Banks had a good organ sound for the keyboard riffs, although the lead sound wasn't the best choice, sounding a bit too staccato. Collins provided a tremendous vocal performance, singing with real conviction. In fact, throughout the whole gig, Collins' vocals were exceptional. I don't think I have ever heard him sing as well. He was in the zone from start to finish, imbuing every lyric with meaning and feeling. I have always been a huge fan of Phil's drumming but I have never before appreciated what an outstanding live singer and front man he is.

In the Cage segued in familiar fashion into the 7/8 bit from Cinema Show (with the Slipperman section) and then came part of Duke's Travels. By this stage, the band were really flying and clearly enjoying themselves, although on first listen the changes between different sections sounded a bit clumsy at times. It will be interesting to see how the medley develops during the tour and whether any structural problems are ironed out. Afterglow, which closed the medley, was a suitably anthemic finale and one Italian progressive fan at the back of the stands was moved so much that he pulled his wife to her feet and danced cheek to cheek with her.

One romantic moment followed another, as Hold on my Heart followed on. It was a huge change from the instrumental fireworks of a few minutes earlier, but it was beautifully sung and played and sounded very strong. Genesis have such a lengthy history that there are now many contrasting styles from the different eras. The challenge within this set was to make a cohesive live show incorporating those different styles and I was beginning to think that they had nailed it.

Home by the Sea was next. It was a huge performance of this more recent progressive rock song and it was great to hear the crowd burst into spontaneous applause at the end of the instrumental section before the vocal reprise. By now, the sun was setting behind the arena and a crescent moon was high in the sky along with numerous aircraft vapour trails. It was a perfect evening for an open-air concert, and Genesis were providing a show of astonishing quality. They were flitting between complex progressive rock workouts, ballads and anthems with ease and there was an attention to the detail, quality and the legacy of the band's music that was profoundly moving.

Follow You, Follow Me, which followed Home by the Sea was nothing short of a triumph. Phil sang it from behind his kit in front of a backdrop of characters (for example, Albert and Cynthia) from the band's albums on the large screen. Again, this was a proper version, laid back and unhurried like the original. There was something about Phil singing it whilst playing drums that just worked perfectly. It's hard to explain why that is, unless you love the band and know their history.

Then came Firth of Fifth, starting with a drum passage and cutting straight to the fast keyboard part before the guitar solo. This time, Banks got the keyboard solo sound just right. Daryl's take on the guitar solo which follows on has always divided fans. Many think he plays too many notes for a part where melody and feel are all important. I agree with that view, but must say that this is the best Stuermer version I've heard, still fiery and fast but with excellent tone and control. Firth of Fifth segued directly into an outstanding performance of I Know What I like. Once again, this was a lovingly executed version, complete with Phil's tarantella (with his younger self from 1976 performing the same tricks on the screen behind him) and an anthemic rendition of the Stagnation theme.

On previous tours, Mama has not always been a good live song. It's tough to sing and, let's face it, whilst it was a hit single it's not exactly a huge amount of fun. It's a dark and eerie song, a distant relative to Musical Box in its intensity. But tonight, it was simply magnificent, far and away the best live version I've heard.

Probably the most surprising and welcome inclusion in the new set has been Ripples. This version which followed Mama was different from the 1980 performance, performed by Mike on electric 12-string and by Daryl using an acoustic guitar patch on his guitar processor. It was a beautifully sung and performed version (Tony's piano sounded wonderful) showing off the full dynamic range of the song. It was another few minutes of high emotion for longstanding fans.

Not being a fan of the Invisible Touch album, Throwing it all Away was one of the songs I had been dreading. Whilst it will never one of my favourites, I have to say that it sounded rather good. It also featured some clever use of the stage lights and camera to show the audience on the screen behind the band as steam rose up the aluminium-effect back-drop into the sky, as if from a just-landed spaceship.

By now, Phil was effortlessly working the crowd with his between song banter, some of which was familiar from previous tours but not in a way that sounded second-hand or lazy. His links between songs were clever and funny and his attempts to speak Czech were greatly appreciated. His Domino-effect introduction was also pitched just right; good fun, and not too long. Which is more than I can say for the song itself which I have always found to be too long and not much fun. However, the band clearly enjoy playing it and Mike who appeared to be focused and concentrating very hard all night became quite animated, moving close to Tony with Daryl in tow whilst Phil looked on. The close bond between the band members became very clear.

The drum duet was next, starting on bar stools before moving to drum kits. Stunningly played, brilliantly crafted and, again, showing great warmth between band members. Mike then made a re-appearance with his mighty double-neck and Genesis launched into one of the highlights of the set, Los Endos. As the first jazz-rock section came to a close and the track seemed to pause for breath with that huge chord before the 12-string riff, the lights once again shone out onto the audience. It looked and sounded astonishing.

After Los Endos came Tonight, Tonight, Tonight, played only up to the instrumental section before linking into Invisible Touch. Tonight, Tonight, Tonight is another song like Mama which shows that Genesis made some very serious and interesting music in the later stages of the their recording career. The progressive / pop era split is nowhere near as clear as many fans make out.

As for Invisible Touch, well, I suppose they had to play it, even though it is a throwaway number compared to Los Endos or Tonight, Tonight, Tonight. But it got the audience dancing in the aisles, and the fireworks exploding off the top of the stage brought things to a monumental close.

I Can't Dance was the first encore, another necessary song in a stadium show, but again, the band looked like they were enjoying it and Tony played some nifty electric piano. The final song was announced as a song which is very special to the band and Genesis then went on to play an enchanting rendition of Carpet Crawl. Finishing the set with a stately and relatively obscure song from the Lamb was an almost perverse choice, but I loved them for it. Far from making things appear anti-climactic, it provided an almost spiritual note on which to end the evening. Once again it was lovingly and carefully played and once again it was a song of high-emotion for longstanding fans.

For us up in the stands under the crescent moon and stars, the evening ended with a view of the band leaving the stage making their way back to their car, this time by torchlight.

This was a gig of stunning quality. Genesis are back as a serious band playing beautiful music. They would argue that this has always been the case. However, for me, the band made so many wrong moves in the 80's and 90's with their recordings, live shows and attitudes to their earlier music that there was a danger of damaging their legacy.

For the hard-core fan, it's it's all about balance. If you feel the band's heart lies more with the crowd-pleasing songs than with their artistic side, then the balance doesn't feel right. After a long period of spending so much time and energy on chasing hits and commercial success in the 80's and 90's, the band seemed to have spent too long on the wrong side of that equation to make a comeback as an artistic force. However, I left that stadium last Wednesday feeling that the appropriate balance had finally been restored.

To the casual fan, this must all seem impossibly arcane. However, to longstanding fans, the new tour has meant an opportunity for a kind of rapprochement with a group of people that have been an important part of their lives.

Wednesday, 13 June 2007

Genesis 1976-1982

The newly released box-set of the five Genesis albums released betwen 1976 and 1982 (remixed for SACD in surround sound by Nick Davis) provides an excellent opportunity to re-evaluate the band's music.

I became a Genesis fan in 1976 at the start of the period covered by this first box set, and, for the past 30 years, they have been my favourite band. In music, no-one else comes close. The only other artists that have lived with me for so long, and have been so important to me, work in different fields; Alan Garner as a writer and Monty Python in comedy and film.

I am not immune to the weaknesses of Genesis, and their occasional misjudgements, so this review will not be uncritical. However, I am a fan, which is the perspective from which I write.

A Trick of the Tail
The power and the glory

This album shows Genesis at the height of their powers; a colossus sat astride the progressive rock genre. Along with Selling England by the Pound, it is their most complex and sophisticated work.

There are no out-and-out epics, on the album, they keep things tight and concise, with the songs, as always, at the centre of things. However, this is full-on progressive rock and within almost every track there are breathtaking instrumental passages, some madrigal and melancholy (Entangled, Mad Man Moon) , others showing devastating ensemble playing (Dance on a Volcano, Los Endos.) Of particular note is the almost absurdly complicated instrumental passage in Robbery, Assault and Battery, where the band takes flight over constantly evolving time signatures; Rutherford and Collins let rip on this song, and Banks plays an astonishing asymmetrical solo.

Almost all of the classic Genesis styles and sounds are represented on this album, and all in their most evolved forms (fantasy and story based lyrics, the multiple 12-string songs, the piano-led tracks, sections drenched in Mellotron, the fast-paced instrumental work-outs, and even a quirky pop-song.)

The band never sounded so good, and, arguably, never would do so again.

Wind and Wuthering
Romance and stagnation

Wind and Wuthering came hot on the heels of A Trick of the Tail, released just 10 months afterwards. Genesis were exceptionally prolific in the early and mid 1970's and yet their quality control was very high - each album from Trespass through to A Trick of the Tail added something better or different to their catalogue. Wind and Wuthering is, for me, the first evidence that the band's extraordinary burst of creativity and progress was just beginning to fade. There is much that is very good on Wind and Wuthering, little that is truly outstanding.

Wind and Wuthering was the last time that Genesis were to work almost exclusively within the bounds of their classic progressive style; indeed, many of the songs on Wind and Wuthering can be directly compared with antecedents on A Trick of the Tail or earlier albums. For example, the album opener, 11th Earl of Mar, borrows its Mellotron crescendo idea from Fountain of Salmacis. Those crescendos do sound absolutely fantastic, but at the end of the day it's a competent and well-arranged song rather than anything really special. Wot Gorilla? is another take on the jazz-rock of Los Endos, but seems underdeveloped, like an excerpt from a longer piece. Similarly, One for the Vine, although benefitting from Banks' nicely arranged piano and Mellotron and typically outstanding bass work from Rutherford, isn't anywhere near as strong as its equivalent on Trick, Mad Man Moon (the perfunctory performance from Hackett on One for the Vine doesn't help.)

All in a Mouse's Night, the album's humorous song, is, again, a highly competent track and this time Hackett does make a good fist of things, with a strong solo on the playout. In That Quiet Earth is a more developed instrumental than Wot Gorilla?, building on one of the themes from 11th Earl of Mar and benefitting greatly from the SACD 5.1 mix (the more pronounced bass pedals have a surprising and interesting effect on the tonality of the piece). However,it still lacks the 'wow' factor. And then there is Afterglow, which, whilst having something of an anthemic quality, is, in truth, a bit of a plodder, showing little of the band's normally sprightly sense of rhythm and lightness of touch (something they addressed when they played the song live where Afterglow took on a different dimension.)

Worst of all the songs on the album, however, is Rutherford's Your Own Special Way. It's a dreary and drippy love song with a horrible middle-eight from Banks. Whilst the chorus is reasonable and some of the lyrics quite pretty, at six minutes, it is absurdly long for such a small idea.

All of this may sound overly critical, and perhaps it is. With the exception of Your Own Special Way, none of these tracks are weak, and some are very good. Wind and Wuthering is still a strong piece of work; it's just that too much of the music is a bit ordinary, and, less than a year earlier, Genesis were doing so many extraordinary things on A Trick of the Tail.

To be fair, there are two songs on Wind and Wuthering, Blood on the Rooftops and Unquiet Slumbers for the Sleepers, which are
exceptional and as good as anything the band has ever done. Both of these tracks are predominantly the work of Steve Hackett; a parting gift from a writer who needed more space. Both tracks make extensive use of Hackett's classical guitar; this is clearly a style that would have developed further if Hackett had stayed on board.

As well as these two gems, two of the other songs recorded as part of the album sessions, which were held back for the later 'Spot the Pigeon' EP release were also very strong and would have strengthened the album. Inside and Out is a very powerful composition; the band's final significant demonstration of the multiple 12-string style (with a fast-paced instrumental section bolted on the end) which would have added a sense of drive to the album. Pigeons is a different kind of thing altogether, but just as strong, a quirky, Beatles-influenced song which should have replaced the dreary Your Own Special Way (both of these non-abum songs are available in splendidly re-mixed form in the box set of the '76-'82 releases.)

Unfortunately, in holding these songs back for the EP release, Genesis did not make the best use of the available material, and, despite the presence of Unquiet Slumbers for the Sleepers and Blood on the Rooftops and the attractively dreamy and romantic feel of the album as a whole, Wind and Wuthering is the sound of a band that has become suddenly becalmed.

And Then There Were Three
Short stories

In which our heroes, weakened by the loss of lead guitar player, Steve Hackett, take the first significant steps in a process of change which would take them far from their classic progressive rock style.

These early steps, although quite deliberate, did not, on the face of it, seem to be radical ; a decision was made to simplify the band's material and change the focus towards shorter length songs. In practice, this meant ditching most of the extended instrumental sections and concentrating on the vocal passages. However, the songs still show, for the most part, a familiar, lyrical, romantic story-based approach; for Genesis, change began with the music and only later would deal with what the songs were about.

So, the songs were shorter, but there were also some other changes at the margins of their music which seemed less important at the time, but, in retrospect, mark a real difference in the
sound of the band. These changes include the loss of the multiple 12-string sections, the almost complete lack of Mellotron, which, sadly, would never again be used as part of Banks' recording set-up with Genesis (although it was still to get a short final airing on Banks' first solo album, A Curious Feeling), and the introduction of the sound of the Yamaha CP70 electric grand piano.

Despite the loss of some of the classic elements of Genesis and the deliberate change to shorter songs, there was much here for existing fans to enjoy. The songs are set within a rich variety of musical and lyrical settings, from the ferocious opening track Down and Out (which, against the flow of the abum's overall approach is highly complex and features one of Banks' finest and most blistering solos) to the drippy but strangely charming Snowbound. In between these two extremes we have the acoustic ballad Say It's Alright Joe, the story of a down-on-his luck alcoholic (which sadly fades out, when on earlier albums there would have been a madrigal 12-string section), a couple of excellent piano-based anthems in Undertow and Many Too Many, two prog mini-epics in Burning Rope (based on the Mad Man Moon / One for the Vine template, but with some of the instrumental sections which were originally written for the song edited out) and the Lady Lies; two up-tempo tunes with a wild west setting: Deep in the Motherlode and Ballad of Big and another, less successful, up-tempo song, Scenes From A Night's Dream.

The final song in this set is particularly noteworthy. Follow You Follow Me became a major hit which took the band into unexpectedly popular territory (although it has to be said that the beautiful and subtle Follow You Follow Me is a million miles away from the crass commercial sensibilities of later songs such as Invisible Touch and Illegal Alien.)

If Follow You Follow Me hinted at more changes to come, most of And Then There Were Three was close enough to the band's mid-period material to keep the hardcore fanbase happy. And Genesis would, once again, return to longer songs on their later albums, so this wasn't the end of the band's progressive rock sensibilities. However, many of the defining features of the band's classic music would never again be heard on subsequent releases, so perhaps And Then There Were Three marks more of a turning point for Genesis than a casual listen would suggest.

Finally, I must give a mention to the two 'b' sides from the set which are available in the box set release. The Day the Light Went Out is so-so, but Vancouver, with its shiny new mix, is a terrific little song. It's Genesis' take on She's Leaving Home and it could have sounded horribly twee, but a heartfelt vocal and lashings of organ from Tony Banks make it one of the best ever Genesis 'b' sides.

The real world

Duke is a very hard-edged, sombre piece of work. The tone is wary, almost bitter at times; it is a long way from the high romance of And Then There Were Three and Wind and Wuthering. Collectively, the band had been experiencing a remorselessly negative press, and progressive rock as a respected genre seemed to be dead in the water. There were challenges for the band members as individuals as well; Collins was experiencing the failure of his first marriage and the impact was also being felt by Rutherford and Banks. These problems had a major impact on the timbre of the album.

So, on Duke, the fantasy story-telling of previous albums was banished, replaced by realism, sometimes obscured by layers of imagery, at other times explicit. Indeed, Collins' first set of lyrics for Behind the Lines was vetoed by the other band members as being too direct an attack on music journalists.

Perversely, whilst the lyrics demonstrated a new realism, the band had decided that And Then There Were Three wasn't adventurous enough musically and had announced that one side of Duke would be taken up by a single 25 minute long song. In the post-punk days of the late 70's, this would have been a risky strategy and, in the end, the Duke Suite, as it came to be known, was split into two song-cycles which bookend the album. Another part of the long piece which was originally intended to be a short linking section between the two main chunks of music was sped up and expanded, and became one of the band's most successful singles, Turn it on Again.

In retrospect, it's a great shame that Genesis didn't stick to their guns with the side-long track. The songs and musical passages that make up the Duke Suite are all very strong and would have made a classic extended piece. Even separated out, the remains of the long song make for a spectacular beginning and ending to the album with a number of sections being as good as anything Genesis have ever done.

The remaining songs on the album are more patchy, however; every band member got two songs each, and, in each case, that stretched the quality too far; one song per individual would have done it. So, in the positive column, we have Rutherford's extraordinary Man of our Times, as tough and challenging a piece of music as its close relative, Back in New York City; Bank's dreamy and reflective Heathaze, featuring a brilliant vocal performance from Collins (although sadly, like the rest of the album, not featuring any Mellotron; a flight of Trons on the chorus would have made the song far more dramatic) and Collins' own emotional end-of-relationship ballad, Please Don't Ask. On the debit side, Rutherford's Alone Tonight and Bank's Cul-de-Sac are fillers, and Collins' Misunderstanding is a horrid mid-tempo pop song which doesn't fit the serious mood of the rest of the album.

Of the two 'b' sides from the set which didn't make the album, Banks' Evidence of Autumn is very popular amongst Genesis fans and, whilst no classic, would have been better on than off, whilst Rutherford's Open Door is a bit of an oddity, sounding like an unsuccessful outtake from Wind and Wuthering.

So, Duke is a dark, powerful, sombre work, marred only by the presence of three weaker songs. Unfortunately, Banks and Rutherford had used up some superb material on their first solo albums which they worked on just before Duke. Even the thought of the possible inclusion on Duke of Banks' 'You', or Rutherford's 'Time and Time Again' is enough to make Genesis fans go weak at the knees.


Fire and water

On Abacab, Genesis stripped their music down to the bare bones and took a decisive step into modernity. It was an important change which freshened things up and contributed to the longevity of the band as recording artists. In retrospect, however, it was only a partial success, although it wasn't so much the change in direction that weakened Abacab, it was the lack of top quality material on the album itself. Aside from the title track and Dodo / Lurker, nothing quite cuts the mustard. And ironically, it is Dodo, by far and away the most traditional sounding Genesis song, that has aged the best. Some of the other material on here sounded a bit average when the album was released and the passage of time has not done the album many favours.

The title track, which opens the album, builds on the Turn it on Again template, featuring a driving bass pulse. It's an interesting and original composition with an extended and very loosely played instrumental section, ending in one of Rutherford's best guitar solos. The lyrics are abstract, sounding good but offering little, if any, meaning. Next up is a song which caused palpitations for fans of the traditional Genesis sound; No Reply at All features extensibe use of the Earth, Wind and Fire horn section. Genesis never had guest musicians on their albums, either before or since, and the addition of a horn section was a provocative move.

In fact, the horn section adds little to the song and comes over as more of a gesture of difference and separation from the past rather than a significant musical contribution. It's more satisfying to focus on Bank's nice middle eight chord sequence and Rutherford's outstanding bass playing (has anyone ever written better bass parts than Rutherford at his best?)

Banks' contribution, Me and Sarah Jane finds Genesis back on more familiar ground, but it is an average song really, nothing to get excited about. The final song on the original side one of the album, Keep it Dark, is superficially more attractive with its driving riff and Trick of the Tale-style story, but it's not a song that pays repeated listens.

Dodo is a different beast altogether, a clever composition with a huge wall of sound and some very exciting moments, it's far and away the best song on the album.

What should have happened then is that Genesis should have put two of the later released 'b' sides from the Abacab sessions on the album straight after Dodo - the jazz-rock instrumental Naminanu. the lovely Submarine. This would have made side two of the album very convincing. Indeed, Tony Banks has recently confirmed that Genesis had planned an epic song on Abacab featuring these three songs which would have made for a very interesting listen. Sadly, all that seems to remain of the links between the tracks is the drum rolls at the end of Dodo and at the start of Submarine.

In any case, like the Duke Suite, the Dodo suite was never completed and Genesis decided instead that they would follow Dodo with what is felt by fans to be one of their worst ever tracks - Whodunnit. It's certainly a strange song which,at best,could be described as an experimental, new wave piece with synthesisers rather than guitars. Experimental or not, it's definitely terrible.

And after that, well, the album peters out with a couple of reasonable but unexciting solo compositions from Collins and Rutherford (respectively, Man on the Corner and Like it or Not) and, finally, a poor band-written song, Another Record.

Abacab was a necessary experiment in freshening things up, something that had to be done to keep the band working as a creative force. It was the first of two albums where Genesis re-invented themselves as an art-rock band. However, it is also unforgiveably dull, with precious little drama or excitement on show.