Welcome to the musical meandering insights of Aaron Joy. Here you'll find 600 reviews of CDs & DVDs of rock & metal in all its variations, mainstream & indie. What they all share is that the album or band is unique in some way & not every submission was reviewed. Please share these reviews or link to them if you like what you read. Reviews are no longer being posted here but feel free to e-mail Aaron & post comments. (Formerly the Roman Midnight Music Blog) (last update 5/23/2017)

October 17, 2010

Genesis ~ Calling All Stations

(Click on heading to visit official website.)
Style: progressive, british
Year: 1997
Label: Atlantic
Home: Britain

Members: Tony Banks ~ keyboards
Mike Rutherford ~ guitar
Ray Wilson ~ vocals

Additional: Nick D'Virgilio, Nir Zidkiyahu ~ drums

I grew up under the 80's Phil Collins-driven trio Genesis that was focused on commerical hits with more pop rock elements & lacking the experimental prog/art-rock that the band had been as a quintet with Steve Hackett & Peter Gabriel. I'd also always enjoyed Phil Colllins solo career through the introduction of my dad. The first CD I ever bought was a Phil Collins live album. So when I heard that Collins had left Genesis & was replaced by a very different type of singer I took interest, albeit for me Collins was synonymous with Genesis. I was a big prog-rock fan at the time & Calling All Stations was a return to the bands art-rock/proggy roots so I immediately loved it, not to mention the fact that the title track opens the album with a riffing distorted guitar probably never heard under Collins. The few hits ("Congo", "Shipwrecked" & "Not About Us") disguised an album full of extended moody songs more akin to Pink Floyd's The Division Bell than anything Genesis had done in decades. This unexpected change in sound, more than anything else about the album & new singer, is what probably caused it's lack of commercial success & the dismissal of singer Ray Wilson after this one outing. This is a good but not perfect movement away from the Phil Collins 80's pop sound, but sadly was never allowed to mature before the band temporarily broke up to later reunite with Hackett & Collins. It's the same thing that happened to Al Pitrelli when he joined Megadeth or Gary Cherone joining Van Halen. However good it could have been it never really got the chance & fans are left listening to an idea undeveloped. Where would Genesis have been if they'd decided after one album Phil Collins wasn't as good as Peter Gabriel? But, that's the short-term vision of the music industry. With songs clocking in an average of either 5 minutes or eight it's a dense album of hypnotic keyboard-heavy arrangements with the occassional dark guitar solo creating a much darker album than anything Collins dared do either in or out of the band. It's clean production cries out for commercial success, but the songs are not pop enough for that nor progressive enough to reach another audience. Further, Wilson is a far different singer than Collins & brings a whole new feeling to the bands with a deeper tone that's a bit edgier & I always found a more attractive listen, he's also better looking. To hear his interpretations of classic Genesis tunes in a live setting would be a welcomed addition to the Genesis catalog but probably will remain forever in the bootleg world. Undoubtedly Collin's personality was at the forefront of Genesis for over a decade, which Wilson could not replace & thus Calling All Stations is a band trying to work as a band again & stretching their wings in ways they hadn't done, not recording when it could fit between the solo careers of it's members. This is an album that, even in context of what came before, gravely deserves a second listen & reevaluation.

(featured on the Roman Midnight Music CD Reviews & Interviews podcast: episode 13 "Memorable Rock Singers", February 2011,
click here to listen)

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