Friday, January 8, 2016

Genesis 10: And Then There Were Three

Down to a trio—in the studio, anyway—Genesis went right back to work on an album, their determination illustrated by the simple title …And Then There Were Three… Right away they appear to be trying to prove themselves, given the unorthodox meter of “Down And Out”, as well as all the layered guitar parts, all coming from the fingers of lonesome Mike Rutherford.
From there the sound is less progressive than before, much closer to pop, and very little like Peter Gabriel was ever in the band. In other words, more like the Genesis that filled stadia in the ‘80s and ‘90s, and where most people heard them first. But that doesn’t make it easier to ingest, and dense music doesn’t make for easy listening.
“Undertow” mildly resembles the “old” Genesis sound, with some nice passages, but “Ballad Of Big” pits a couple arena rock riffs against each other and Phil’s falsetto in a way that doesn’t match the Old West theme. “Snowbound” sounds like it could have come from the previous studio albums, a strangely haunting portrait of a snowman on the surface, but even more eerie and sinister underneath. (Thanks, guys.) Lengthy but ultimately satisfying is “Burning Rope”, for reasons we can’t pinpoint, which is fine.
As if one 19th-century American influence wasn’t enough, “Deep In The Motherlode” talks of the Nevada gold rush, though the music is better. “Many Too Many” is a lush romantic lament, a little too heavy for the pop charts, while “Scenes From A Night’s Dream” tries too hard for the same. “Say It’s Alright Joe” seesaws between an alcoholic’s plea and a revved-up comeback in a poor example of misguided dynamics. More “epic” is “The Lady Lies”, which sounds equally prog and modern, and very busy.
After all that, “Follow You Follow Me” is very welcome, but champions of the album remain split as to whether the song belongs. For a single, it put keisters in seats, and that’s another reason why …And Then There Were Three… is a defiant statement. It’s a long way to that song, and not a clean path.

Genesis …And Then There Were Three… (1978)—

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