Wind & Wuthering
REVIEW BY: Benjamin Ray
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 05/16/2005
Many call Wind & Wuthering the last great Genesis album, as it is the final time they approached something like art rock before going pop and forging a completely different sound.
The disc is notable in that it synthesizes the sound Genesis would become and what they were leaving behind, making it an odd listen that is nevertheless interesting, regardless of which camp you fall into as a fan.
Where the music falters is its total reliance on Tony Banks' synthesizers; guitarist Steve Hackett is almost nowhere to be found, and when he does appear it is with an acoustic guitar. This is his swan song with Genesis, and his departure gave the band reason to totally shift gears in the following years."Blood On The Rooftops" is one of Hackett's best guitar workouts, a classical piece with dramatic flair and lyrics revolving around political apathy, alternating between explosive choruses and simple verses. It's a song only this band could pull off, and it's the strongest on the album.
Tony Banks had always been the driving force behind the band, but here he makes his keyboard presence felt more than Phil Collins' voice. This results in a rather thin sound (where is the bass?) that distills the power some of the music may have had, such as "Eleventh Earl of Mar," a royalty power trip. Collins does good work on the song, though.
"One for the Vine" is the 10-minute prog epic, but it too comes off as watery and underproduced, a bit slow and badly in need of some guitar to sustain the drama the song so wants to obtain. It is good in spots - and Phil's anti-war vocals are better than what he would write for most of Abacab - but the song is just short of classic.
Tunes like "All in a Mouse's Night," "Wot Gorilla" and "...In That Quiet Earth" are the sound of a band coasting, as gray as the album cover. As for the pop turn, both "Afterglow" and the very pretty "Your Own Special Way" are the first two real ballads the band wrote, simple, direct and tuneful, betraying the spirit of everything on The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway. If your favorite Genesis album is Invisible Touch, you'll like them, but only "Your Own Special Way" equals the body of work that has come before.
There is a moody, gray elegance to the music; it never gets loud or dirty but chooses to stay polite and professional. While not a bad album by any means, there is a palpable sense that this could have been so much more.