Atlantic Records, 1981


REVIEW BY: Benjamin Ray


A few of the art-rock bands of the 70s, most notably the Moody Blues and Yes, found success in the 80s by radically altering their sound to a weenie pop-friendly format that fit in on the radio. Genesis was the worst offender of these, and it seemed the dumber they got, the more fans responded. 

Yet it's hard to feel bad for Genesis, which never really had more than a cult following between 1969 and 1978; you almost rooted for them to make it big somehow. It's just a shame they had to temper their creative impulses to do it.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Now, I'm not saying those who like Abacab lack intelligence. I'm saying that the amount of thought put into something like "Firth of Fifth" or "The Fountain of Salmacis" or The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway seems much different than, say, this album's "Man on the Corner" or "No Reply at All." This disc is nine synthesizer-heavy, radio-ready songs, with only a hint of the creativity and weirdness of old.

The title track remains catchy; one wishes the long instrumental fadeout remained the same way, but it fails to generate a spark (the live version is better). "Dodo/Lurker" tries to capture that old spirit, but wimpy synthesizers and a lame second section do not an epic pop suite make. The horns on "No Reply At All" are now trite and annoying, while "Like It Or Not" is just standard pop fare. "Another Record" has some spaciness going on and "Keep It Dark" features some rudimentary guitar work from Michael Rutherford but not much else.

Perhaps the most exciting song is "Me And Sarah Jane," an odd number with a cool middle section, but it's not worth buying this just for that song - you can get a better version on Three Sides Live, which makes many of these songs sound better. The production here is too thin, treble-heavy and fluffy to qualify as a great album, much less a Genesis album. And despite what you've heard about "Who Dunnit," it's not horrible, but one listen is all you'll ever want.

Abacab is not as bad as Invisible Touch, but it's not great either.

Rating: C-

User Rating: B


© 2004 Benjamin Ray and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Atlantic Records, and is used for informational purposes only.