Non-Genesis Topics / Calling All Stations

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Dear Paperlaters:

Sorry for not writing for a while.  Had to suffer through a final exam and a flu (no need to worry, I'm 90% sure it is not anthrax).  However none of that stopped me from following everything on the list closely as usual.  What else can I do?  I'm addicted. :) 

Regarding recent complaints about non-G topics and posts of personal nature, I just want to say that everyone on the list have their own view of what is or is not worthy to be posted on this forum.  Even the general guideline of "G-related" can easily be interpreted in multiple ways.  As for the non-G conversations, it is understandable that some of us may occasionally get carried away in another topic we are truly interested in and may be guilty of breaking the rule.  Sometimes it can be hard to remind ourselves that others may not be as passionate about a certain field as we are.  In these cases I think people are entitled to voice their objections (without resorting to personal insults of course).  With so many list members chances are no matter what you write someone is bound to disagree.  However agreement is not what we seek, the civilized exchange of ideas is where the purpose of this list lies.  There may even be a few who dislike us for no apparent reason, but again we are not here to win a popularity contest.  Having said that, I personally find it encouraging that the recent discussions on the list have been unusually on-topic (for Paperlate anyway). 

To do my part in adding to relevant discussions, I thought I'd offer my non-expert opinion on a much-discussed topic:  the relative merits of CAS.  I bought this album 2 days ago after looking for Nursery Cryme unsuccessfully in a record store.  Cutting to the chase, my feelings toward this album are rather mixed.  I understand that Tony and Mike were trying to evoke some of the "darker" and "artsier" aspects of their musical past without completely alienating their mostly pop fan-base at the time.  But while there are bits and pieces that seem to hark back to the 70's, on the whole the album strikes me as more generic than any other in the band's history.

Some conclusions I have thus far came up with regarding CAS:

1.  As a singer Ray Wilson is more than competent.  His voice is very likeable, but somehow lacking in uniqueness comparing to his predecessors.  Technically there is not much to pick on, he sounds stronger than Phil and smoother than Pete.  However, while you would be hard pressed to find a Gabriel or Collins sound-alike on the radio, Ray somehow reminds me of quite a few popular acts such as the lead singer of Creed.  For one brief moment at the end of One Man's Fool he even sounded like Sting (not a bad thing in itself).  Sounding so Americanized certainly doesn't help matters.  Moreover, I feel that Ray lacks variation in his approach to songs.  As a result the mid-tempo songs and the slower ballads somehow don't feel terribly different to me.  Finally, I'm sure Ray put lots of feelings in his vocals, but they don't grab me and shake me like Phil's (Actually I agree that Phil has a gift for sounding extremely passionate even when he didn't understand the lyrics).  Ray needs to improve on those ever-so-slight vocal inflections which are especially critical for ballads.

2. The sameness in the songs is not all Ray's fault, Tony and Mike certainly have something to do with it.  While I disagree with those who completely dismiss their work on this album, I do detect a deficiency in fresh ideas.  Some of you would say that this applies to all G output since Abacab (I can see the sarcastic grin on your face), but I must say I could always hear that special something, so hard to define, that distinguishes Genesis from other bands.  Sadly now this difference is becoming hard to discern. 

3. If I have to pick a stand-out track it will be Uncertain Weather.  I like the mournful lyrics in the same vein as Fading Lights.  The soaring chorus is haunting and memorable.  Actually I think this song may suit Phil's vocal style better, but Ray did a nice job here.  Other songs that I like include Alien afternoon and Small talk, although they remind me of Jesus He Knows Me and That's All respectively.  The climatic ending of One Man's Fool is another highlight for me.  Calling All Stations benefited from some fine instrumental atmosphere and strong vocals from Ray.  On the other hand, There Must Be Some Other Way is a weak song in spite of strong vocals from Ray.  The driving rhythms of The Dividing Line is largely wasted on lyrics which don't seem to fit the music very well.  Sure Congo is a catchy tune, but why Not About Us was chosen as the other single is beyond me.

4. Despite the flaws I pointed out above there is no reason Genesis should end with this album.  I don't think CAS was an embarrassment at all.  It was a worthy exercise which succeeded on some levels and did not on others.  Besides, why should the the band give up so easily after a setback?  Moreover, I'm not proud of how Tony and Mike seemed to blame the bad sales on Ray.  Last but not least, I don't like the fact that the title of the album sounded like a plea for public acceptance.  It is especially ironic when you consider that the album preceding it was named We Can't Dance mostly to show the band's defiance towards the dance-music trend.

Since when did I become so verbose?  Must be drinking too much tea.  Better stop now before I clog up the whole internet. :) 

Take care,

Lily

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