Sunday 27 October 2013

Audio Visions Images of 1984


Can you believe how beautiful the cover drawing is?  Please take the time to examine it more closely once or if you receive it.

This album is one of those Genesis clones that are so common in the field of progressive rock.  How can we identify the taxonomy of the 'Genesis style'?  In my view there are 5 elements: the nasally voice and individual singing style of Peter Gabriel, the often-outlandish lyrics and subjects of songs, the classical influence (e.g. Firth of Frith), the folky or medieval guitar often using 12-string, and importantly, the use of all previous four elements within the structure of an accessible rock or pop song that has significant and huge variability from one section to another (sudden tempo changes, dramatic crescendos, abrupt fusion passages, etc.).  OK, make that 6 elements in total. If one or other element is missing, it doesn't quite capture the unique style.  (In neo-prog often everything is jettisoned except the most superficial imitation of Gabriel's singing style and lyrics and the synthesizer accompaniment.)  What was great about that seminal group was both the combination of elements and the sheer genius of the compositional and songwriting capabilities of the crew.  I guess the combination of Collins, Hackett, Rutherford, and Banks was golden.  Note that the Gabrielesque element was replaceable after he left the band, the rest carried on perfectly well in his absence.

As an aside, the amazing Canadian band "The Musical Box" has toured the world with a re-enactment of classic Genesis albums copying even the stories Peter told before each song.  I've seen them multiple times and can never get tired of seeing them again whenever they stop by in my town, it's so absolutely interesting, but so flummoxing to those like my wife who are laughing and shaking their heads on hearing the performance, asking, what the hell is this? The Musical Box is actually still touring, check it out.  I believe they recorded a CD too, perhaps more, or maybe I'm confusing it with a bootleg Genesis Live.  Someone can correct me here.

How often is it that a band coming out of nowhere creates a style that had no precedent, and then proceeds to influence an entire movement or style?  because everywhere in prog we hear some Genesis influence, whether in seventies Italian prog, later British prog, and the aforementioned neo-prog movement.  In fact in Germany in particular the Genesis imitators were legion in the late seventies carrying on into the eighties, as documented for example in other blogs' posts (e.g. Odyssee White Swan, Sirius, Lacrima, Audite, etc.).  Even when Kurt Cobain and Pearl Jam made alternative popular, they were working on an existing style that had evolved in Seattle in the late eighties & already developed its quirks such as the soft-loud-soft-loud that Nirvana took presumably from The Pixies.  But Genesis, uniquely, created their own sound, I believe without precedent and that sound went on to influence innumerable talented musicians.  (I would love comments on the subject if there are some who feel this is not correct.)  Among those so influenced are this group of artists who recorded this album in Memphis, Tennessee, something like 10 years later than the classic Genesis style they were imitating, but the eighties jumpy pop influence is palpable too in some areas.  It's not altogether consistently great but more interesting and enjoyable for its mimicry. 

The song called "Blues" turns out not to be the obligatory fast-forward-throwaway but, about 2 minutes after a lolling Gershwinian bluesy melody, very surprisingly changes to a bona fide electric progressive instrumental --  have a listen to the sample:

Or consider this example which almost made me laugh when I first heard it, "Rise Above," about sitting in a traffic jam.  The spot-on Peter Gabriel impression is simply too perfectly done.  Really reminds me of those Canadian Musical Box guys, with Denis Gagne as Peter Gabriel dressed in a silly costume popping balloons with his index finger... Be sure to see them!

When we find an album (from 29 years ago this time) so rare and unexpectedly good, I always ask myself, how is it possible we can still find these treasures from the past?  Was the period so fertile there is unlimited gold in the ground still?  Consider how Tom Hayes from cd reissue discovered his recent Metaphysical Animation.  How many more such treasures are still out there?  When will the hunt end?
To which my wife says: "Tomorrow, hopefully."


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. You're so right about the sheer amount of undiscovered rarities out there. I cannot possibly keep up. Never heard of this one, for example. Nice blog you have Julian. I will revisit for sure!

    - Tom

  3. Wow thanks for visiting, Tom. Please have a listen to this one and tell us what you think, given you are the online expert on matters prog.

  4. new upload of this beautiful little gem:

  5. Hi Julian,
    Continue your great and original search here, we need it !
    Maybe, you can help me to find another very rare little symphonic gem : ABAKUS Spielzeug 1981 ?
    Thank you by advance,