Tag Archives: Genesis

The post-modern penis…

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…or indeed, the post modern-vagina

Seems the dagger and the scabbard have become interchangeable in this age of unreason. Who knew? Call  me old-fashioned but as a language-aficionado I like our words to mean something, and if the one word has multiple meanings at least let them not be contradictory….

For since records began ‘the tail has been male': but no longer, it seems…

Bollocks, I say.

Linguistic disconnect evidences real-life disconnect: and disconnect is a core value of the male-centric socio-political system that led up to this violent, confused shitheap of a world which so many of its citizens seem so desperate to change; except no one can agree how, or what, or if it’s even possible.  Rape culture; animal torture; climate change; racism; war: connection? What connection?

Lib-fem-po-mo-trans-culture isn’t merely redefining language; it’s redefining the way we interact with out world. Or rather, it’s redefining – as in reducing – the power we feel we have to positively interact with our world. It’s old, conservative wine with a none-more-trendy, liberal label.

The Emperoress is resplendent in his her Kirsty Ward wardrobe. Look! No penis!

 

Like father, like son (update)

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Further to Like Father, like son, soundclips from the forthcoming Dimensionaut album are now available via the Sound of Contact website.

Sound of Contact is the new project from Simon Collins (son of Phil) and is something of a nod to his dad’s work in the nascent prog scene of the ’70s, albeit with a ’00s twist. If you’re a fan of Spock’s Beard, Transatlantic, Frost*, Beardfish and DeeExpus this may well be your proverbial cup of musical tea.

It’s tricky to get a proper feel for the album from such short soundclips – album trailers, like movie trailers tend to be a compilation of all the exciting bits without the filler, and I felt kinda stung by the last generic, derivative DeeExpus record.

But if Collins has inherited a modicum of his dad’s talent along with the looks (spookily like Phil from his Genesis days) we should be in for a treat. Nick Davis (Genesis, Tony Banks, Marillion)behind the mixing desk and John Wesley (Porcupine Tree, Fish) on guitar also bode well for prog-fans. It’s a prog/space rock album with a sci-fi theme, if that helps…

Here’s the teaser:

Like father, like son…

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A progressive rock band, with a singing drummer and two guys who double-up on guitar and bass duties – now where have we heard that before? Throw in the fact that said vocalising percussionist is Simon Collins, son of Phil and it looks like a definite case of history repeating itself, which for fans of Genesis and prog rock in general is surely no bad thing. Check out the trailer for Sound of Contact‘s forthcoming debut below:

Bit of a teaser this one – there’s not enough actual music on which to extrapolate any sense of how the album as a whole might sound, or how good it might be. I’m looking forward to hearing more, though; preferably a whole song in preference to short clips, bearing in mind how stung I felt after purchasing DeeExpus‘ last album on the strength of the trailer. Admit to being slightly troubled by reference to ‘…a deep concept album about a dimensional time and space traveler making wild discoveries on a trek to expand the boundaries of the human experience…’ (see below). As much as I’m a fan of the musical, technical and dramatic innovation that characterized much early prog; I’ll cheerfully admit there was much that was pretentious, wilfully obscure and downright cringeworthy: the best use of dramatic devices serve to enhance, not detract from the music. Mind you, The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway is probably my favourite Genesis record, so we’ll give ‘em the benefit of the doubt for now.  And did you clock the cheeky Echoes lift at 2.25, prog hounds?

From the press release:

‘December 12, 2012, Lightyears Music and Sonic Reality are proud to announce a new progressive rock band project, Sound of Contact. The brainchild of Simon Collins, Dave Kerzner, Kelly Nordstrom and Matt Dorsey, Sound of Contact have created a sound all their own while paying homage to the greats of Classic Prog Rock and Electronica. With a forthcoming concept album entitled “Dimensionaut”, producers Simon Collins and Dave Kerzner and mixing engineer Nick Davis (Genesis, XTC, Marillion) unleash a collection of truly atmospheric science fiction-inspired space rock!

…With their debut album “Dimensionaut”, they hit the ground running with a deep concept album about a dimensional time and space traveler making wild discoveries on a trek to expand the boundaries of the human experience. The album features a wide range of styles and dynamics from dark and mysterious progressive rock to nostalgic classic rock to high energy alternative to sci-fi film score-infused “space rock”. With a plethora of atmospheric instrumental segues, melodic radio-friendly vocal tracks and an 18+ minute long epic grand finale, “Dimensionaut” will offer a refreshing balance of adventurous musical styles and aims to bring back the art of the concept album to a new generation of listeners.’

It’s not the first time the influence of Collins Snr has surfaced in his work – check out this cover of Keep It Dark from GenesisAbacab album (1981).  Whilst I don’t think it’s a patch on the original – the arrangement’s too busy, it’s overproduced – I do like it; and am I alone in hearing similarities to Gem Godfrey‘s Frost* project? It certainly demonstrate how well-written material never ages – Genesis were always amongst the strongest songwriters from the early crop of Symphonic prog rockers – and that Collins bears a remarkable resemblance to his dad in the vocal department as well as looks.

Speaking of Genesis covers, and by way of a wee little bonus, here’s Brazilian Symphonic rockers Hydria‘s take on Entangled from A Trick of the Tail (1976). One of my favourite of their songs, I like how the Brazilians have veered away from the psychedelic ‘otherness’ of the original and re-imagined it as a power ballad, save for a brief atmospheric coda. Hydria‘s version highlights how well Genesis, even in the prog years, had mastered the use of melody and dynamics that would serve them so well during their second wind as a pop rock band. Raquel Schüler‘s vocals are great, too – I can imagine Hydria appealing to fans of Delain, Within Temptation, Evanescence, Nightwish, Panic Room and other female-fronted exponents of melodic rock bombast.

Grendel!

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If you’re any kind of Marillion fan – and if you’re a follower of, or regular visitor to musicbugsandgender then you’llknow that I am – then you may know that Grendel is to us what How Soon Is Now? is to hardcore Smithsheads: the b-side that transcended its second-billing to become the most revered, near-legendary song in the band’s catalogue. As anthemic in its own way as the aforementioned How Soon…, Comfortably Numb, Hey Jude, White Rabbit, The Final Countdown …well, you get the idea ;-)

For the Marillion novice, Grendel is an extended set-piece from the band’s early years, drawing lyrically upon John Gardner‘s novel of the same name – which re-imagines the Beowulf legend from the antagonist’s point of view – and musically upon the formative years of ’70s symphonic prog, notably GenesisSupper’s Ready and Van der Graaf Generator, with a bit of Floyd thrown in for good measure. It was a staple of the Aylesbury-based band’s early sets, and, if the testimony of die hards is to be believed, something of a highlight. As the fledgling neo-progger’s canon expanded, it was phased-out in favour of newer, more original compositions: but the sentimental attatchment lingered…

Requesting Grendel at both Marillion and Fish gigs has become something of a ritual over the intervening years. When it was announced that ex-frontman Fish was planning to perform the track for the first time as a solo artist at this year’s fanclub convention in Leamington Spa a couple weekends back, Fish and Marillion-related message-boards quickly filled with traffic from both nostalgic long-term fans and aficionados of a newer generation who never had the chance to see the original line up perform.

There was an understandable note of cynicism, too; understandable because the great Scot’s attitude toward the ‘Grendel!’ contingent has been as impatiently dismissive as his former colleagues over the years. Well, on the whole: when I caught him at Brighton’s Komedia on the 13th Star tour, he teased the crowd – or rather, guitarist Frank Usher did – with a few opening bars before declaiming ‘Ahh, fuck off!!’ and moving onto the next song. Well now, albeit probably in the ‘one off’ spirit of his Market Square Heroes performance with his former bandmates, Fish has finally caved in to fan nostalgia. So without further ado, here it is:

Without wishing to derail proceeding into the much-discussed ‘Fish’s voice isn’t what it used to be’ debate, it’s fair to say, that based on this unmixed i-phone type recording, the audience singalong does tend to dominate, so if your nostalgia has been piqued and you yearn to hear it the way it sounded in days of yore (and how ‘prog’ an expression is that?) the try this for size; Hammy-O, ’83:

And as a bit of an added bonus for the symphonic prog freaks, here’s some more epic tuneage from a few more recent bands who have had a stab at creating their own ‘Supper’s Ready‘ moments:

Charterhouse days re-revisited

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Fans of ex-Genesis guitar virtuoso Steve Hackett will be aware that he’s been revisiting the back catalogue of that band to an ever increasing extent in the last few years at his live shows. Hackett finds himself in much the same position as his old bandmate Mr Collins, insofar as he has continually enjoyed much respect from his musical peers (notably Eddie Van Halen who credits him with pioneering the tapping technique utilised to much-admired effect on Eruption) whilst being virtually ignored by the mainstream press. Unlike his former colleague, he has managed to avoid the frankly hysterical levels of media hostility and also in contrast to Collins and fellow guitarist Mike Rutherford he has continued to plow a musical furrow that prioritizes exploration, challenge and technique over singer-songwriting convention or radio airplay. For all the critical vitriol spat upon Genesis and Collins in the last two decades, their megastar status during the ’80s remains undeniable: indeed, their refusal to be swept away by the New Wave and actually grow in popular stature is undoubtedly at the heart of much of their, frankly unjustifyable vilification.

Whilst much of ex-Genesis singer, Peter Gabriel‘s solo catalogue has been defiantly progressive in spirit, and the Collins-led trio continued to dabble with long-form, complex composition right up to the end, Hackett stands apart among that band’s former membership with respect to his flying the flag for prog rock per-se; and revisiting the early Gabriel-fronted albums in particular. In 1996 he released Watcher of the Skies: Genesis Revisited which featured new studio arrangements of material from the first seven albums, plus two previously unheard recordings, to mixed but generally positive acclaim from critics and fans.

18 years later he’s doing it again, teaming up with a newer generation of musicians, along with some scene veterans. This second chapter of covers – imaginitively-titled Genesis Revisited II – features a dazzling array of contemporary prog talent, including Steven Wilson (Porcupine Tree), Mikael Åkerfeldt (Opeth, Bloodbath), Conrad Keeley (…Trail Of Dead) and Simon Collins (son of Phil); as well as long term studio and live collaborators including Amanda Lehmann, Nick Beggs and Hackett‘s flautist brother John; and prog-loving pop veteran Nik Kershaw (further boosting his prog credentials following last year’s guest spot on DeeExpus‘s King of Number 33).

As was the case with volume one, the new arrangements are variously similar and significantly different to the original versions. In general the songs sparkle with new embellishments; Hackett‘s playing is tighter and cleaner than in days of yore and, of course, the recording, production and mix are up to a contemporary standard in contrast to the sometimes woolly  sound of the ’70s. What really impresses, though, are the songs themselves: as much as Genesis was a leading exponent of the art/prog rock movement and as such, aspired to high standards of musicianship, they were always songwriters first and foremost. Consequently, whilst some of the more outre experimentations from the ’60s and ’70s has come to sound clunky and willfully obscure, Genesis‘ output for the most part stands up really well: even signature, symphonic extravaganza Supper’s Ready still boasts enough by way of melodic hooks and hummable tunes amongst the widdly-diddly to ensure that its 23-minute duration feels much shorter.

Genesis fans will undoubtedly love this; but even if you’re not a fan this is an excellent opportunity to dip your toe into the dark and mysterious currents of an exceptionally-creative and much-maligned chapter in British rock music.

And you can try before you buy: Prog magazine are streaming the album from their site here

Got that covered (2)

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Following on from ‘Got That Covered’ today’s post explores a different angle – hard rock/metal/grunge style interpretations of pop songs. This approach has produced some mixed results: Marilyn Manson scored hits reinterpreting The Eurythmics (‘Sweet Dreams’), Soft Cell (‘Tainted Love’) and Depeche Mode (‘Personal Jesus’) and Alien Ant Farm were similarly successful with Michael Jackson (‘Smooth Criminal’) but I felt Machine Head fell flat taking on the musical brilliance of The Police (‘Message in a Bottle’). Robbie Williams was obviously playing it for laughs when he performed a punk-style ‘Back For Good’ (by his former band, Take That) at gigs, and that’s ok too if it’s done right, though I wonder what was going through Andrew Eldritch (The Sisters of Mercy‘s) mind when he convinced his band to perform Hot Chocolate (‘Emma’) and Dolly Parton (‘Jolene’). Funny, but peculier rather than ha, ha!

So here’s a few interpretations that press my ‘like’ button, as it were; starting with a classic from Genesis‘ stadium rock phase back in the ’80s…

Disturbed – Land of Confusion (Genesis). I’m a big fan of Genesis – their 1992 show at Knebworth was one of the best live performances I’ve ever seen, and the set opened with this song. I’m not 100% convinced by the vocals on this track but the combination of the music and the animation really works. I’ve always thought that the ’80s production on the ‘Invisible Touch’ record was kinda lightweight and that these tracks could benefit from a more hard rock approach. Disturbed prove me right, and in fact Phil Collins referenced this cover during band rehearsals for the ’07 reunion tour

Deftones – To Have and To Hold (Depeche Mode). What’s brilliant about this cover is the way Deftones‘ stoned alt-metal really nails the gothic, introspective tone of Martin Gore’s original whilst taking the song in a totally different sonic direction. This was taken from a 1998 DM tribute album ‘For The Masses’ also featuring versions by Rammstein, The Smashing Pumpkins, Apollo 440, The Cure and Failure amongst others.

Mike Shinoda – Enjoy The Silence [Re-interpreted](Depeche Mode). More of a remix than a cover this one, but a worthy version that casts David Gahan in the role of the hard rock star he wanted to be back in DM’s ‘Songs of Faith & Devotion’ days. The more muscular approach actually suits Gahan’s vocal well and the (official) video clip is just brilliant

Tricky – Black Steel (Public Enemy). Since parting ways with Massive Attack the aptly-named Bristolian has proved to be one of his generation’s most ideosyncratic musical voices, to the point of wilful obscurity. His 1995 debut ‘Maxinquaye’  on which this track appears remains one of his best, most accessible works. Putting the words of Afrocentrist political commentator Chuck D into the mouth of a British woman (his then-girlfriend Martina Topley-Bird) and setting it over Grunge-y guitars demonstrates his skill in thinking outside the musical box. Contrasting greatly with the ‘Trip-Hop’ style with which he first rose to prominence, it still possesses somewhat of a hypnotic, druggy quality.

Empty Spaces – Mushroomhead (Pink Floyd). Not a massive departure from the original ‘Wall’ version, just a little heavier and darker. Mushroomhead got stick for happening to be share some image similarities with the more commercially successful Slipknot – even though neither band was aware of the other until several years into their respective careers – but although they’re both metal bands their sounds are quite distinct and MH are well worth checking out. Like SK, however, they’re Floyd fans, and  I like that this YouTube poster has synched it up with the original Gerald Scarfe animation.

Got The Time – Anthrax (Joe Jackson). Thrash Metal is a prime example of how the wider listening tastes of musicians drive songwriting in new directions. Metal and Punk/New Wave were mutually exclusive if you believed some of the pundits, but Anthrax, like contemporaries Metallica loved both. That’s why we have cool reinterpretations like Metallica doing ‘The Wait’ and ‘So What?’,  and Anthrax‘s ‘Protest and Survive’ and ‘London’ covers amongst others. This take on JJ doesn’t differ much from the original, save for Joe Belladonna’s trademark overwrought vocal (I’m a Bush man, myself) but it’s a testament (no pun intended) to the importance of the Brirish New Wave to the fledgling Thrash scene back in the late ’80s/early ’90s. The sound quality on this clip isn’t great – it’s a live recording and not the best – but I just loved the cute Lego animation, even if a shortage of figures results in an absence of Dan Spitz…

Toxic – Marillion (Britney Spears). What strikes me about this version – and I had the pleasure of being in the audience for this one-off performance at their fan convention in the Netherlands – is that they don’t appear to be taking the piss.

Lay Lady Lay – Ministry (Bob Dylan). Ministry have turned in a plethora of wacked-out and occasionally dubious musical homages over the years, including the kind of stuff you might expect like Sabbath, ZZ Top and The Stones through to left-field yet indubitably appropriate choices like Amy Winehouse (‘Rehab’, natch). This is perhaps my favourite, from the somewhat underrated ‘Filth Pig’ album:

Sticking with Al and co. albeit in a different, tongue firmly in cheek guise:

Do Ya Think I’m Sexy? – Revolting Cocks (Rod Stewart). They’ve messed around with the lyrics a bit on this version, and I like the little snigger on ‘KY Jelly’…

These Boots Are Made For Walkin’ – Megadeth (Nancy Sinatra). Another comedy take on a well known song, also with a few lyrical liberties taken. Apparently, writer Lee ‘The Moustache’ Hazlewood was a little upset about this, deeming it “vile and offensive” and demanding that the naughty song be excised after 10 years of much-appeciated royalty payments. Count-ry singer…

Enjoy, and fell free to comment and/or suggest your own off-the-wall rock interpretations…