If you’re looking for the precise moment when Genesis made their sharp turn away from prog, here it is. Their self-titled album was released on Oct. 3, 1983.
After engineering 1981’s Abacab, Hugh Padgham took over as the group’s producer on Genesis. He quickly got to work overseeing the band’s – and Phil Collins‘ – transformation into mainstream pop stars. The album got its reboot name because of this, and also because it was the first group LP to feature a complete set of songs composed by all three members.
From the prominent use of a drum machine on “Mama” to the Top 10 pop hook of “That’s All” to the radio-ready ballad “Taking It All Too Hard,” the album aimed squarely at the mainstream. And let’s not forget the shockingly wrongheaded decision to release a song called “Illegal Alien,” which came with a blatantly racist music video.
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Dig deeper and you’ll find a glimmer of what had come before. “Home by the Sea / Second Home by the Sea” starts crunchy and limber, and then it gets spacey and progressive. The lengthy suite – combined, it’s more than 11 minutes long – represents the last rickety bridge between Genesis’ two periods.
Listen to Genesis’ ‘Mama’
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Keyboardist Tony Banks, who composed the song’s lyrics, is particularly effective during the extended instrumental passage that links the tracks. He skitters with a gutsy verve over a metronomic rhythm that encloses listeners and then helps shape a towering, almost paranoid wall of sound before the song’s theme is reprised at the end.
Collins had by then developed into a singer of exceptional range, angrily imploring “sit down, sit down … sit down!” in the song. But more importantly, “Home by the Sea / Second Home by the Sea” retains a distinctive musical character that rounds out the narrative.
It’s all a perfect reflection of an era of the band that was definitively drawing to a close. A new one was just beginning.
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As personnel came and went over the decades, Genesis shape-shifted through prog, folk and (more than once) pop.
Gallery Credit: Nick DeRiso
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