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Articles Home » 1981 Articles » Genesis - 1981 Abacab
Genesis - 1981 Abacab

ARTIST: Genesis
ALBUM: Abacab
LABEL: Atlantic
SERIAL: CS 19313
YEAR: 1981
CD REISSUE: 2007, Rhino Records (w/ bonus DVD), R2 128508


LINEUP: Phil Collins - drums, percussion, vocals * Tony Banks - keyboards * Mike Rutherford - bass, guitar

Additional Musicians: Johnny Graham - trumpet * Andrew Woolfolk - sax * Stayton Heyward - bass * Earth, Wind & Fire Horns

TRACK LISTING: 01 Abacab * 02 No Reply At All * 03 Me And Sarah Jane * 04 Keep It Dark * 05 Dodo/Lurker * 06 Who Dunnit? * 07 Man On The Corner * 08 Like It Or Not * 09 Another Record


With the success of his first solo album 'Face Value' and the release of 'Abacab', Phil Collins began a subtle campaign of distancing himself and Genesis from the progressive rock movement. Negative comments about Pink Floyd and Yes and disapproving of 'those bands that have synthesizers and lights' in the press of the day seemed hypocritical and mind-boggling from the drummer behind such classic albums as 'Foxtrot' and the monumental 'The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway'. In hindsight he was preparing fans and critics for a more commercial Genesis than heard before, moving away from classical motifs and headlong into the world of soul and straight pop. Signs that change was in the air came as early as 1978's 'And Then There Were Three' which offered shorter more concise songs and 1980's 'Duke' which gave the band their biggest hit at the time -'Misunderstanding'. While this new direction brought Genesis greater success, much of their progressive fan base including this reviewer, lost interest quick.

The Songs
Why? For starters, the glaring use of the Earth, Wind & Fire horns. Collins used these guys on 'Face Value', but on a Genesis album really? Another bone of contention is the general unevenness of the album, unlike any other Genesis release up to this point. Drawing the listener into a false sense of security, 'Abacab' is as fine a Genesis tune as any, but from here on things get rather sticky. 'No Reply At All' with the boys from Earth, Wind & Fire, not to mention the annoying hand claps should send any 'Trespass' fan into convulsions while 'Me and Sarah Jane' is as flat as day old Pepsi, although I find 'Keep It Dark' with its metronomic drums and minimalist approach mildly interesting. Out of the gate on side two is 'Dodo/The Lurker' which sounds somewhat like Genesis of old, but 'Who Dunnit?' puts an end to the positive vibes in just seconds. A dance beat with a new wave edge matched with inane lyrics making for one of the bands most teeth-achingly embarrassing compositions. Finally, 'Man On The Corner' sounds like a Phil Collins solo outtake and very in turn very unexciting, although it was a minor hit in the States which says a lot about radio in America at the time. The same can't be said for Mike Rutherford's 'Like It or Not' which stands out as the records jewel amidst the gravel. Reminiscent of the classic 'Wind and Wuthering' album and Rutherford's brilliant solo 'Smallcreeps Day', this is Genesis as they should be; English, melodic and above all progressive with nary an American soul influence to be found.

In Summary
Some of the better material from the sessions was left off 'Abacab' including 'Paperlate' which was released as a single in the U.S. The song appeared on a UK only EP '3 X 3' with the excellent 'You Might Recall' and the not so great 'Me And Virgil'. All three songs were released on the studio side of 1982's 'Three Side Live' in the U.S. 'Abacab' sold considerably well and the tour that followed was a major success although the album remains a mixed bag for 'real' Genesis fans. Finally, for collectors and insane completeists, the label released four different versions of the cover, each using a different colour scheme.

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#1 | reyno-roxx on June 28 2010 22:03:49
Absolutely loved the title track when it came out as a single....that actually got me interested in the band far more than the Gabriel material ever had.
#2 | Eric on June 28 2010 23:14:32
I'm a 'Trick of the Tail'- 'Wind And Wuthering' fan myself. Thier first 1969 Jonathan King produced pop psych album 'From Genesis To Revelation' is pretty cool too. I always struggled with Gabriel's voice for some reason, but he is the most copied voice in prog...
#3 | dangerzone on June 29 2010 13:08:17
'Trick of the Tail' is the best Genesis album for me.
#4 | Eric on June 29 2010 14:40:22
'Seconds Out' is a pretty cool live album from this period (Trick/ Wind) too. Easily the best version of 'Carpet Crawlers'...
#5 | Jez on July 01 2010 18:44:39
I love Old, Mid and latter era Genesis and 'Abacab' was a good one for me, especially the excellent title track and 'Man On The Corner'. 'Who Dunnit' is bloody awful though and THE worst track Genesis have ever put their name to imo
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