Mike's Music Reviews: G-L


  Artist (see also Other Related Artists)
** Album Title
Year Released
Somewhat Similar Albums (Artist)
My comments go here, and of course are just my opinion based on my own musical tastes. If I don't like an album at all, I won't include it here; however that doesn't mean lack of inclusion means I necessarily don't like it - I may not have it, I may not have typed a review yet, or aliens may have eaten it. In any case, all albums that are listed in here get a thumbs-up from me.

Ratings in the first column are as follows:
  *   means one of the artist's best albums
  **   means an overall must-have album (one you just can't live without!)



  Peter Gabriel (see also Genesis)
Peter Gabriel I
Peter Gabriel II
Exposure (Robert Fripp)
Revisited is really a compilation album, consisting of tracks from Peter's first two albums. You may be familiar with Solsbury Hill (and yes, it is about his departure from Genesis) but just about everything else is great in its own right. Songs like On The Air, Modern Love, and Perspective have a high-energy, 1970s feel to them that was quite unique at the time and still holds up today. Pete gets atmospheric (with Robert Fripp's assistance) on tunes like Exposure and Here Comes The Flood, and even somwhat comical with Moribund The Burgermeister. Don't forget the thoughtful and introspective songs that fill out the rest of the album. This is a cost-effective introduction to early PG, and a good spotlight of his solo talents.
  Peter Gabriel IV ("Melt")
Revisited (Peter Gabriel)
Peter went a big more rocking on this album, which produced the well-known songs Games Without Frontiers and Biko. Typical Gabriel, this album was produced by Steve Lillywhite of The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway fame, and Hugh Padgham's engineering lent his mark in an isolated starkness of feeling. Guests on this album include such musical luminaries as Kate Bush, Robert Fripp, Phil Collins, Morris Pert, Jerry Marotta, John Giblin, David Rhodes, Dave Gregory (XTC), and several others.
* So
Peter Gabriel IV ("Melt")
Sledgehammer and Big Time with their amazing videos were the most famous tracks from this album, if not from Peter Gabriel's whole career. Other defining tracks from this huge album include Red Rain, Don't Give Up, In Your Eyes, That Voice Again and Big Time. Somewhat like Genesis's early-80s efforts, this album has a strong flavor of prog-ish experimentation behind a distinctly modern-sounding pop/rock album, with the combination clicking very well. Peter's included many of his influences at the time in his backing musicians - Jim Kerr (Simple Minds), Stewart Copeland (The Police), Kate Bush, Youssou N'dour, and Laurie Anderson.
** Us
But Seriously (Phil Collins)
This album, as do most of them, took Peter in an entirely new direction. This one is extremely atmospheric, nearly oppressively dark, and focuses exclusively on themes of relationships. It works brilliantly, reflecting an intense emotional journey. This is the album where the influence of what's often labeled "World Music" hit Peter's work full-force... but don't let the label scare you. The instruments and musicianship, although often not traditional in the usual sense, are used extremely effectively and make this album into the emotional tour-de-force it is. Highly recommended.
  Genesis (see also T. Banks, P. Collins, P. Gabriel, S. Hackett)
* Foxtrot
Selling England By The Pound (Genesis)
This album produced Supper's Ready, one of the first (and most unique) of the Progressive Rock epics. The rest of the album is strong too, with Can-Utility and the Coastliners being my favorite track. This is hardcore old Genesis, and an excellent place to start.
* Selling England By The Pound
Nursery Cryme (Genesis)
Turn it up loud for your first listen! Very British in its references, Selling has very complex keyboard and drum interaction upon very melodical structures. Also has spectacular guitars and haunting vocals. This is pure old Genesis!!
* The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway
In The Court Of The Crimson King (King Crimson)
The Wall (Pink Floyd)
A sprawling double studio theme album, The Lamb is at once brilliant and confused, soaring and plodding, complex and simple. The Lamb is unlike any other Genesis album. It is at once quirky, vague, and inspired... it's almost like a musical ink-blot test. The Lamb reaches quite high, making it often and falling short as well, yet it always came out interesting. I wouldn't recommend it as a first Genesis or prog album... a bit overwhelming for most newbies. If you like Peter-era Genesis this won't be as shocking. Don't expect it to be like anything in particular, because it's really not.
** A Trick Of The Tail
Wind & Wuthering (Genesis)
Possibly the best prog album ever. Often poetic lyrics and extremely complex music meshes together with a perfect blend of restraint and energy. VERY powerful - a must have!!! Phil Collin's first album as frontman and a very far cry from Phil the pop king we know today, this could be his most emotional performance ever. The whole band seemed to mesh better than at any other time in their history as well. Great artwork on the LP and original CD.
  Wind & Wuthering
A Trick Of The Tail (Genesis)
The follow-up to Trick, this album was in the same vein but felt different, less dreamy and more romantic perhaps. This was Steve Hackett's last album with Genesis. Still an excellent album, even if it doesn't click together quite as smoothly as did Trick.
* Spot The Pigeon (EP)
Wind & Wuthering (Genesis)
Spot the WHAT? you may ask. This isn't technically an album, it was a three-song EP released after Wind & Wuthering. These three songs are great though!! Match of the Day is a bouncy tune that sticks in your head half the day, Pigeons is just plain hilarious, and Inside and Out has an interesting Tony jam at the end. It's well worth getting ahold of these three!
* Seconds Out
Three Sides Live (Genesis)
This live double album has some remarkable performances of their best works up to that point, where Phil proved he was as likable singing to a live audience as Peter was... different to be sure, but still a master performer. Chester Thompson and the immortal Bill Bruford help Phil on drums, and Daryl Stuermer replaced Steve on guitar. Unfortunately since Steve left during this tour, his tracks were mixed down to almost nothing, however this album is still the best of all their live ones (save perhaps the box set performances.)
* ...And Then There Were Three...
Wind & Wuthering (Genesis)
Some people have found this album to be weak, but I think it's one of their strongest. This was the first album with just Banks/Collins/Rutherford, which are the Genesis most people know best. Strongly atmospheric, Undertow, Snowbound, Burning Rope, and Many Too Many are songs to listen to late at night while pondering the universe. A few songs don't seem to fit the rest of the album and some fit better in a different place (Follow You Follow Me should have been in the middle someplace) but all are good nonetheless. The LP actually has a better atmosphere than the CD, this album deserves the warmness afforded by analog equipment.
* Duke
Synchronicity (Police)
Grace Under Pressure (Rush)
Genesis's second "theme" album, Duke came out rather stark, bare, and bold... which serves it well. Its theme has been often attributed to being about nuclear war, although it's too abstract to be sure. While the two well-known songs Turn It On Again and Misunderstanding came from this album, the rest of it is of a more jam-centric but often darker and Orwellian nature. Current musicians could learn a great deal about effective and interesting uses of drum machines from this album... keep in mind Phil is a drummer at heart, and one of the world's best at that!
Genesis (Genesis)
If you've heard the song Abacab then you have a decent representation about the feel of this album. This album was produced by Hugh Padgham of Police fame, and the effect shows. This album was less esoteric than others to date yet there is still quite a bit of experimentation.
Face Value (Phil Collins)
This Padgham-produced eponymous album (frequently called the Mama album) was pop enough to be big and yet still had a sound distinctly Genesis. 7 of the album's 9 tracks can still be heard on the radio: Mama (you know, the evil-Phil "HA HA!!" song), That's All, Home By The Sea / Second Home By The Sea (the second one was the best one but few stations will play it), Illegal Alien, Taking It All Too Hard, and Just a Job to Do.
  Invisible Touch
Not just Genesis's biggest album ever, I believe this was the biggest album of the entire 1980s!!! Rabid Genesis fans tend to minimize IT as pop crud, however it is superbly performed and produced... and, as usual, the best tracks (Domino and The Brazilian) never made the radio. Land of Confusion, Tonight Tonight Tonight, Invisible Touch and In Too Deep are still most people's idea of Genesis, leaving little hint of their past.
** Calling All Stations
A Curious Feeling (Tony Banks)
Phil left in 1997 leaving fans to wondering if continued success was possible, let alone the miracle of a good album. CAS made us all shout out thanks to Great God Almighty above for an absolutely INCREDIBLE album by any standard! This is really not like anything you've heard lately from anybody, and puts Genesis under the "progressive rock" banner once again. CAS smacks you on the side of the head with a musical 2x4 to get your attention, then the band drills it into your head that reports of their death have been greatly exaggerated. Heavier and darker is an apt description, fans of old Genesis will be very pleased. New singer Ray Wilson might even become the best Genesis singer ever! He sounds very much like Steve Hackett, or Peter Gabriel at times - very bluesy, with a subdued hint of darkness that suits this album very well. CAS has Tony Banks written all over, under, and through it, with LOTS of keyboard textures. Nir Z and Nick D'Virgillio's great drumming prompted Collins to say CAS has "Great drums!"... high praise indeed! Lots of dark, atmospheric keyboards, haunting guitar, the Great Drums, and versatile and powerfully emotive vocals all say one thing very loudly: Genesis is back, and they're kicking butt and taking names!
** Genesis Archive 1967-75 (Box Set)
From One Fan To All Others (Genesis Bootleg)
This is among the best box sets I've ever seen, and an absolute must-have for any prog fan. Fears of Atco-sucky-remaster-itis didn't materialize; the book is great, the sound is superb, the selections complete and appropriate. All material is unreleased except via bootleg channels or as very rare official singles from the early 70's, so you won't end up re-hashing your existing Genesis collection at all. Peter's famous stories are included in the complete live versions of The Lamb, Supper's Ready and other classics, as are most all the rare songs like Happy The Man, Twilight Alehouse, The Day The Light Went Out, The Magic Of Time, and many many more (the one song they missed was Silver Song, probably due to the legal ownership quagmire it's in.) All material otherwise available on bootlegs has been remastered and improved so well that this set is still well worth purchasing even if you have such famous boots as From One Fan To All Others. The Genesis Website also enhances this box set very well.
  Genesis Bootlegs / Imports / Unofficial Releases (see also Genesis)
** Musica
Three Sides Live (Genesis)
Recorded in London on May 7, 1980, this one gets my vote as possibly the best live album ever recorded. Not only do you get to hear live versions of songs that didn't make it onto Three Sides Live like Ripples, Deep In The Motherlode, One For the Vine, Ripples, The Lady Lies, and Dancing With The Moonlit Knight, you get the impressive Duke suite of Behind the Lines, Duchess, Guide Vocal, Turn It On Again, Duke's Travels, and Duke's End. Musica's version of In The Cage/Colony of Slippermen/Afterglow is much more intense than that on Three Sides Live, and may be the best 10 minutes of Genesis music ever... I get goosebumps every time I hear it. This is available as a double CD, and can supposedly be found for under $50.
  From One Fan To All Others
Genesis Archives 1967-75 (Genesis)
This out-of-production boot made a lot of other bootlegs unnecessary. CD one is nothing but rare/unreleased tracks, while the second and third discs contain the entire Lamb show (recorded from the soundboard January 10, 1975 in West Palm Beach, FL.) As this tour came to America well before the album was released (yet still sold out at most venues!), it is pretty funny to hear things like a guy in the audience yelling "What the hell is this?". There are several (mostly intact) stories and Peter's narration of the Lamb. FOFTAO isn't as great as the official box set, but good nonetheless... Supper's Ready and some other tracks are the same performances but th box set versions always sound better. Overall sound quality is good to excellent, except for a couple of tracks. FOFTAO should cost you about $50-70. Grab any copy you can find as it's discontinued and there is no other source I know of for some of the live tracks (Silver Song, Going Out To Get You, Get 'Em out By Friday.)
  Selling England By The Session
Year ?
Selling England By The Pound (Genesis)
A two-disc collection of both the Selling recording session outtakes and some rehearsals, including the rare chance to hear them jam to the Rolling Stones' The Last Time and the Animal's (?) You Really Got Me You can also hear the band members arguing, discussing, and laughing over the different takes. There is also a Phil drum solo. This boot is a really neat one for fans of old Genesis, it's an excellent and enjoyable portrait of musical experimentation in progress and really makes you feel like you're sitting there in the room with them as they see where the music takes them.
  The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway - Outtakes
The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway (Genesis)
This CD, recorded during The Lamb sessions, is labeled "For Provocation" and that it definitely does. It is quite interesting to hear what the unmixed tracks sounded like, and in some cases they were done in a somewhat different style than what appeared on the album. This is a good addition for anyone who likes the Lamb. A minor but interesting side note is that the cover looks like an engraved version of the cover of the original album.
  A Trick Of The Tail - Outtakes
Year ?
A Trick Of The Tail (Genesis)
This CD contains the outtakes of the Trick sessions, and contains some very good bits that were never released or were precursors to familiar songs (for example, Beloved Summer contained a part used later to open Los Endos, but is a song by itself.) A good supplement to one of the greatest albums ever made.
  Steve Hackett (see also Genesis, Kansas)
  Voyage Of The Acolyte
The Kick Inside (Kate Bush)
This is the most Genesis-like of Steve Hackett's solo albums, and it is an excellent effort. Steve showed the guitar mastery here that he does in Genesis, although when he went solo he had vastly more opportunities to stretch and develop guitar parts. This album seemed to capture a lot of the pent-up creativity, and yet was just a prelude to things to come.
  Spectral Mornings
Musically, Hackett grew and changed immensely after he departed Genesis and this album reflects this. This is good solid guitar-based rock, with a fair amount of synthesizers provided by Kansas player and longtime Hackett partner Nick Magnus. As with all his albums, there is also a good bit of humor to be found in such tracks as The Ballad Of The Decomposing Man, while airplane nuts will enjoy Tigermoth.
** Till We Have Faces
1984 / re-released 1994 with bonus tracks
The Rhythm Of The Saints (Paul Simon)
This album was largely recorded in Brazil, using local musicians, and will sound familiar in parts to those familiar with Paul Simon's efforts in that area... although this album came out many years before. This is an excellent album, feeding off the simultaneous opposition and integration of Hackett's immense progressive performance talents with the infectious groove of traditional Brazillian music, particularly the genius percussion. The Rio Connection is a one-in-a-million live jam session that's as funky as anything to come from Motown, while several songs have his trademark sense of droll British humor stamped upon them: Duel (about the movie of the same name), Myopia, and Matilda Smith-Williams Home For The Aged. Everything about this album clicks, though. The idea for this album was crazy, but it proved that in the hands of a genius such ideas give birth to great things. This album showcases Hackett's true gift, that of possessing a certain rare combination of traits: insight to arrange complex pieces that fully exploit all the capability he's got to give (which is immense), talent and ability to play these arrangements (while improvising within them and mixing in various styles), and good sense to avoid ever becoming trite, forced, or unnecessary.
  Guitar Noir

Guitar Noir is thoroughly modern rock... you know, REAL rock with driving guitar that's actually played and not tonelessly strummed, throbbing but intelligent drums, and some good old-fashioned keyboard work... and it's all executed superbly. It's thoughtful, complex, and unusual, never falling into a set pattern that would make it get boring. Without being derivative, Guitar Noir reminds one at various times of Jan Hammer, Trevor Rabin, Traffic, Don Henley, Richard Marx and even Kenny Loggins and The Escape Club. It has everything from a song about a Vampire With A Healthy Appetite to a journey through TV land (Little America) to many points in between. Whenever I hear this album, I am always struck by the high quality of it - no commercially-oriented schlock here, despite being of a genre more likely to get on the radio than other Hackett music and having several songs that could be right off of action-oriented TV shows. All of Hackett's music comes from his desire to make great music, not from the desire to make it big, and it certainly shows. Hackett's supreme mastery of the guitar is matched only by his skills as a very thoughtful, intellectually strong and frequently humorous songwriter, and the two combine here for one hell of a performance. Guitar Noir is a little bit different than the usual Hackett fare in that it's a fairly straightforward, rock-oriented affair. Like most of his efforts though, the interpretation changes throughout the album, and that helps it it excel at being what it is.
** Watcher Of The Skies: Genesis Revisited
Fans of Genesis will never be convinced that their best songs could be improved on. They're wrong, dead wrong. Only Steve Hackett could do it, and he did just that. This is one of the few albums I've ever heard made me drop everything and start giggling uncontrollably and jumping up and down with delight like a kid in a candy store. Imagine I Know What I Like done in a bouncy, silly, bluesy bar-room piano style, a Brazilian-rhythmed Los Endos with bits of Dancing With The Moonlit Knight thrown in, Dance On A Volcano performed with the angst of Nine Inch Nails, and Waiting Room Only doing everything right that the Beatle's Revolution No. 9 did wrong. All that sounds wild, and it is, but it works brilliantly. Steve also gives us refreshingly new renditions of Hackett-era Genesis songs like The Fountain Of Salmacis, For Absent Friends, Firth Of Fifth, a Genesis-like original and an old, unrecorded Peter Gabriel track. There is one clunker, an awful Michael Bolton-like version of Your Own Special Way... but still, this album is a real winner. Oh yeah, don't forget the major award they won for the "First-ever known use of a philharmonic orchestra to enhance rock music (that didn't come out laughably sad.)" Steve is likely the only one in the world who could pull all this off successfully, and he was assisted by a veritable who's who of music legends including (but not nearly limited to): John Wetton (King Crimson, Asia), Bill Bruford (every prog band ever formed), bass genius Tony Levin, Chester Thompson (Genesis live drummer), Ian McDonald, Paul Carrack, and Julian Colbeck. This is serious, butt-kicking progressive rock... it's about time somebody figured out how to do this right! There are also interesting liner notes, you know when he starts referring to King Crimson's mellotrons and then wanders into Star Trek that you are in for quite a treat. Two thumbs up, five stars, AAA rating, USDA approved, etc. etc. etc....
  Jon & Vangelis (see also J. Anderson)
* Page Of Life
Olias of Sunhillow (Jon Anderson)
This album was re-released in a vastly different format from the original Page Of Life. However even though it has apparently been cut down, it is an excellent album. Vangelis, a onetime contender to replace Rick Wakeman in Yes and composer of much dramatic music (most famous being the theme from Chariots Of Fire) blends very well with Jon's talents, here they seem to feed off each other's musical energy. In particular, Wisdom Chain will leave you in the throes of severe syncopation. I look forward to hearing more J&V albums, they aren't easy to find on CD but have been generally well-respected over their many years of collaboration.
  Kansas (see also Steve Hackett)
* Leftoverture
Please Don't Touch (Steve Hackett)
I know we've all tired of hearing Carry On Wayward Son on the radio, but the rest of this album is excellent. One of my favorite things (which my friend Chris Giddens first pointed out to me) is the four, count 'em, four simultaneous keyboard parts in Miracles Out Of Nowhere. Cheyenne Anthem and Magnum Opus are very good tracks too. Kansas members Steve Walsh and Phil Ehart appeared on Steve Hackett's Please Don't Touch album.

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