1. This was the first CD that I wore out from repeated listening.
2. It is Tony Banks' favorite Genesis album.
3. Widely considered among fans as "the last great Genesis album", although others may argue that title belongs to "Wind and Wuthering".
Behind the Lines
Part I of the "Duke Suite" kicks
off the album with the by-now familiar power chords, immediately evoking the
not-so-distant memory of "Eleventh Earl of Mar" and "Down and Out". As the
instrumental texture eventually thins out, enters Phil with a stunningly
"different" vocal performance. Smokier than ever, effortlessly alternating
between sheer power and aching beauty, all without suffering in the higher
ranges. A sign of things to come.
"Behind the Lines" ends rather abruptly in an emotional climax, then out of the
ashes a pretty yet mysterious bridge tune emerges. At first there is
minimal instrumentation, but soon a pattern evolves and the perfect atmosphere
is set up for one of my favorite Genesis songs of all time. Tony's
typically fatalist lyrics about the rise and fall of a lady singer was supposed
to be a metaphor/prediction for the career of Genesis itself. Good thing
I've always had a knack for depressing lyrics :) Regardless of whether
pessimism is your cup of tea or not though, the chorus of this song is arguably
the most stirring motif the band has ever composed. Again, Phil's awesome
vocals is crucial in sustaining the impact of this emotional roller-coaster of a
A short quiet section wraps up the first suite in this album, featuring piano
and vocals only. Tony wrote this song by himself, giving it vague lyrics
that is open to interpretation.
Man of Our Times
This one is Mike's baby. I have always had trouble interpreting the
meaning behind this song. Mood-wise it contrasts sharply with
Guide Vocal, instrumentally aggressive bordering on bombast. Vocally
highly demanding, I'm not sure how many other male singers could hit those high
notes. While stylistically similar to "Cul-de-Sac", I've always preferred
One of two tunes that could have ended up on Phil’s "Face Value" album.
Described by Phil as another one of those "boy-meets-girl" songs.
Structurally simplistic as we would expect from the songwriter, there is no
denying that this is the most pop sounding song on this album. I rather
like the desperation expressed in the repeating last line "there must be, there
must be, some misunderstanding, ahh…", and wish Phil didn’t change that ending
in live performances of the song.
This Banks' song aspires to be another "Mad Man Moon" but doesn't fully succeed.
It starts out promisingly with pretty verses, but begins to lose some appeal
starting with "Time to stop this dreaming". The majority of what follows
feels a bit slow and somewhat lacking melodically. Consequently the
climatic portion sounds artificial/contrived. The lyrics are often
Turn it on Again
This song provides the much-needed rhythmic kick after "Heathaze". A
deliciously aggressive turn by Phil on lead vocal is supplemented by Mike's
driving bass rhythm. This song ends just in time before it gets tiresome
(unlike in live versions). I especially enjoy the falsetto backing vocals
"I can see another face" superimposed on the fade out chorus.
This ballad by Mike unfortunately happens to be my least favorite song on this
album. The main problem for me is the lyrics… How should I put it,
how about the word "corny". Phil tried mightily to rise above the whiny
chorus, but even he couldn't completely overcome this fatal defect. Mike
has proven both before and since that he is capable of writing much more
superior ballads than this.
A tremendously underrated song among the fans. I actually like this track
better than "Heathaze". Rumored to be written about the extinction of
dinosaurs, it is of course not hard to extend the analogy to a host of other
groups. So it is unique for its political undertones. However the
song really excels in melody, being one of the most hummable on this album.
The musical progression seems logical rather than forced.
Please Don't Ask
Another personal song by Phil which made the cut, and a brilliant ballad I might
add. When you read the lyrics it actually sounds poetic, yet without
losing that down-to-earth charm we all know and love. This coupled with
that trademark tear-jerking delivery and minimalistic yet effective instrumental
backing, and you've got yourself a classic.
One of my favorite Genesis instrumentals, and that is saying a lot. It
opens with what sounds like ocean waves crashing against the shore, then out
comes this blood-pumping drum solo, joined soon by amazing virtuoso keyboard
work by Tony. Mike also gets his chance to shine by way of a furious bass
and drum duet with Phil midway through the song. It gets better.
Towards the end of the track, the individual instruments somehow melt into one
glorious "wall of sound" which propels forward with an unstoppable thrust.
At the apex of this gigantic build up, Phil enters with a drastically different
retelling of "Guide Vocal". The mood achieved at the end of this song can
only be compared to the ending of "Supper's Ready", an enormous sense of victory
After the perfection of "Duke's Travels", anything else may seem like a let down. Thankfully this piece is just a short instrumental rehash of "Behind the Lines", harmlessly wraps up this overall incredible album.