(All Album Reviews by Sean)
Wind and Wuthering is commonly known as the last album with the classic Genesis sound. I'd have to agree. All the great instrumental sounds from the Peter Gabriel era are here, but something else is in the mix as well: A rich lushness and a big improvement in overall engineering. This is my favorite of the post Gabriel releases for that very reason. It took a few listens, but very quickly I was hooked on this album.
The music is all top notch here, on an even par with the best of the Gabriel era. It harkens back and looks forward all at the same time. The melodies are a little more streamlined and it makes it all the more palatable.
Instrumentally Tony Banks’ keys are dense and multi-layered, something only hinted at on earlier releases. Lush layers of Mellotron, Hammond organ and synth abound. The guitar work is sublime. This was the last album to feature lead guitarist Steve Hackett and he is in excellent form here, turning in some of his best work during his tenure with the band. Both his electric chops and his excellent classical guitar work are a dominant force on Wind. Phil Collins and Mike Rutherford turn in excellent performances as well. While I am not a big fan of Collins singing, especially on the post-Duke albums, here his voice is in fine form. He's a good singer who sounds best when he has quality music to sing to, such as here.
Much like the wintry cover art, the music is cool. Upbeat in spots, but with a strong sense of space and longing. Standout tracks that any prog fan should look into are the propulsive "Eleventh Earl of Mar", "One For The Vine" which is a real prog gem with a great off-meter middle section, and the one two punch of "Unquiet Slumber/In That Quiet Earth", one of the very best instrumentals in the Genesis catalog. And last but not least, the regal "Blood on the Rooftops", a classical guitar driven number that is Hackett at his best.
Also noteworthy are "All In A Mouse’s Night", which has some very nice music but lyrically is no more than a children’s cat and mouse story. "Wot Gorilla", a very short instrumental piece that never really develops into anything too grand. And the anthemic "Afterglow", which soon became a concert staple. Collins vocal is a real standout and the strongest part of "Afterglow" in my opinion.
Also included is "Your Own Special Way", the bands most overtly pop number up to that point. It is roundly disliked by most classic fans - a number that has people reaching to skip it. In the context of the Wind LP though, it's not that bad. I can take it or leave it. While most of this record looks back, "Own Way" give a glimpse at the road the band would soon go down and never return. Oh the pain, the misery that would soon engulf classic Genesis fans!
In the meantime Wind and Wuthering stands as the last classic Genesis album and a bookend companion LP to the bands excellent A Trick Of The Tail. Both are worth looking into, highly suggested and inseparable.
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There was a time when I considered myself a Genesis fan. This was long ago, in the late 70s/early 80s, when progressive music was giving way to arena rock and hair metal. I wallowed in the ecstasy of Duke and drifted off to “Home By the Sea”, but as Genesis became more and more pop, I made a 180-degree turn. They had lost the magic.
It didn't occur to me at the time to explore their earlier works... albums from Foxtrot up through Trick of the Tail. I had discovered Genesis with And Then They Were Three in the summer of 1978, and never gave a thought to who the fourth and fifth members had been. Peter Gabriel became a huge solo artist and Steve Hackett a less famous one, but my mind was on the wonderful music Phil, Tony, and Mike were making... for awhile anyway.
In recent years, I have returned to my progressive rock roots and discovered it had not died in the 1980s after all. I have found a vast universe of music waiting to be explored, and I have had a wonderful journey so far. This genre of music has introduced me to many terrific new friends, some who have encouraged me to discover the REAL Genesis, and Wind & Wuthering was suggested as my starting point. I was also informed that this album is related, more or less, to the novel Wuthering Heights, which ironically happens to be my favorite novel of all time.
This version of Genesis contains Phil Collins, Steve Hackett, Mike Rutherford, and Tony Banks... four, not yet three.
So, 33 years after its release, Wind and Wuthering finally arrived in my mailbox. After reading the lyrics in the booklet, I was a confused at first. It seems that all the songs are about war, not timeless love! Ah, but look closely and remember the novel it is based on... two souls locked in a passionate battle with each other, both with too much pride to admit their deepest affections until it's too late.
This appears to be Tony Banks' album. His beautiful keyboard work is all over every song, from soaring synthesizers to sweet piano, turning gruesome lyrics into haunting melodies, along with Phil's smooth voice and Steve's distinctive guitar.
This is a sensual, dramatic, passionate album, no doubt about it. “One for the Vine”, “All in A Mouse's Night”, and even “Wot Gorilla” show off Tony's amazing flexibility on the keys. However, Hackett's song, “Blood On the Rooftops”, is the clear winner here. Take away the ‘modern’ lyrics and you find the song is incredibly sweet.
I especially love “Your Own Special Way”. Following the allusion to Wuthering Heights, the lyrics make me think of Heathcliff crying out to Cathy's ghost... "don't ever leave me!"
I see subtle connections to the novel everywhere, whether or not that was intentional by the band. It's my belief that the last song, “Afterglow”, represents Heathcliff the best. This line gives me chills... "But I, I would search everywhere just to hear your call, and walk upon stranger roads than this one. In a world I used to know before, I miss you more." While I admire “Blood On the Rooftops”, I think “Afterglow” is my favorite song on Wind and Wuthering. It's a good way to end the album.
Before “Afterglow”, though, there are two short instrumentals that will break your heart, even if you don't know the story... “Unquiet Slumbers for the Sleepers” and “In That Quiet Earth” (the second song not so quiet.. this is a very proggy tune!). These are references to our romantic couple that wander the ghostly Yorkshire moors, together at last, yet in death.
I don't know how many people experience this kind of love... the kind that burrows down deep into your soul and psyche, beyond obsession, and lasts beyond the grave, but somehow Genesis captured its essence and set it to music. Even if you are not empathetic or understanding to the passion of the story, you will at least understand the passion in the music.
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