Review of the documentary, Genesis: Together and Apart (BBC), Part I.
As someone who grew up with Genesis in the 1970s and followed the band’s career very carefully until 1986, I found the most recent BBC documentary, Genesis: Together and Apart (2014 or 2015–I’ve seen both dates listed for its copyright), a serious disappointment.
Not that there weren’t some fine moments in the film. There most certainly were. Some great conversations? Yes. Some great scenes? Absolutely.
But, overall, watching the documentary made me feel as though I’d entered a de Tocquevillian nightmare. What is common becomes what is great in this story. Indeed, the documentary argues that it’s best to take one’s highest art and pander some low form to the masses, mediated by corporate marketers and profit-grubbing labels.
And, please don’t get me wrong. I’m not such a snob that I don’t enjoy post-Hackett Genesis. I do. I still consider ABACAB (1981) a great art-rock album. For me, there’s not a dud on the album, and it has never grown stale for me. While I don’t listen to it as much as I do MOVING PICTURES, which also came out that year, I listen to it constantly and have for 35 years.
I don’t have a problem with GENESIS (1983), either. While there’s a song or two on the album that does nothing for me, I still find “Mama” quite haunting and “Home by the Sea” outstanding. And, as much as Genesis fans mock “The Silver Rainbow” as sophomoric, I think it’s quite endearing, having captured the mystery (and clumsiness) of a moment of love quite accurately.
DUKE (1980): Outstanding, overall. I didn’t like “Misunderstanding” in 1980, and I still don’t. But such is life. I got listen to this album at any moment in my life, and I find it utterly captivating (I just skip that one song).
. . . AND THEN THERE WERE THREE (1978). Pretty much a perfect pop-prog album. Every song a little masterpiece.
It was only when INVISIBLE TOUCH (1986) came out that my love of Genesis faltered. I still think “Domino” is quite good, but, at least, three of the tracks are simply unlistenable for me. I can actually remember the day it came out, because my then-girlfriend was mad at me for some long-forgotten reason. When she broke our date that night, I just laughed and said: “That’s ok. I need to listen to the new Genesis album.” Which I did. And, which, naturally, only made her madder.
A year later, my INVISIBLE TOUCH cassette broke. When I took it back to the store, I replaced it not with the same album but with one I’d never seen before, one with a much more interesting cover–THE COLOUR OF SPRING (1986) by Talk Talk. I really can’t complain, as THE COLOUR OF SPRING became my all-time favorite album. To this day, it remains that.
Back to the article.
I only purchased a CD of WE CAN’T DANCE (1991) about a week ago, and I’ve still never bought CALLING ALL STATIONS (1997). I’m in no position to comment on WE CAN’T DANCE, but a first listen had me fast forwarding as quickly as possible through most of the songs.