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Abacab  Hear it Now

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The irony of singer-drummer Phil Collins' recent solo disc, Face Value, charting higher than any previous Genesis LP apparently hasn't been lost on the band as a whole. Abacab, Genesis' third outing as a trio, not only features a blast from the Earth, Wind and Fire brass section (which was largely responsible for the R&B overtones of Face Value) in "No Reply at All," but most of the album quakes with a radically stripped-down sound, traceable to the thoroughly modern mood of Collins' record and his deep-echo ricochet drum technique.

XTC, for example, marks the spot in the industrial rumba "Keep It Dark," while the sonic distances between piano, percussion and voice in the upbeat, Peter Gabriel-like mantra "Another Record" approximate the wide-open instrumental spaces of the Police. With the exception of their dueling solos in the prolonged, pseudopunk Emerson, Lake and Palmer-style title track, Tony Banks exhibits admirable restraint on keyboards, and utility guitarist Mike Rutherford generally concentrates on his pumping bass. Throughout, the novel sparseness of the group's arrangements and some highly rhythmic interplay contrast sharply with the forbidding ivory-tower artistry that has been Genesis' bread and butter in the past.

Art-rock lovers who are confused by the manic, Ian Dury-type follies of "Who Dunnit?" may be able to take solace in more typical Genesis fare like "Me and Sarah Jane," with its classical gestures, and the pop of "Like It or Not."

Though you can't actually dance to Abacab, it does prove there's life left in the band yet.


(Posted: Nov 26, 1981)


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