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We Can't Dance  Hear it Now

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Like some phoenix of classic rock rising above the creative debris left by other decaying dinosaur bands, Genesis has arrived again with its seventeenth album, We Can't Dance, the first combined effort from Phil Collins, Mike Rutherford and Tony Banks since Invisible Touch from 1986. Despite hyperactive lives immersed in solo projects, Collins, Rutherford and Banks still seem to treat Genesis as a concentrated commitment rather than a mere avocation. This time around they smartly rekindle the best elements of their less commercial, more contemplative sound of a decade ago. Although We Can't Dance doesn't quite achieve the vulnerable grace of Duke or the exuberance of Abacab, Genesis has nevertheless delivered an elegantly spare – and even adventurous – album.

Collins daringly lets down what's left of his hair on "I Can't Dance," a gritty, tongue-in-cheek anthem for the average guy. Equally unadorned are the fractionally hopeful "Hold on My Heart," the mournful, majestic "No Son of Mine" and the eerie "Dreaming While You Sleep." Collins's haunting "Since I Lost You" is a tragic lullaby written after the death of Eric Clapton's son, while "Jesus He Knows Me" is a sharp indictment of televangelical piety.

We Can't Dance falters, however, when Genesis raises the torch of social consciousness. Although Collins and Rutherford can compose crushingly personal love songs, they remain distant observers of the big picture on "Tell Me Why" and "Way of the World," respectively. If Genesis risked something more than impotent concern on such songs, perhaps its well-intentioned messages might carry more import.


(Posted: Jan 9, 1992)


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