Wind & Wuthering
First Appeared in The Music Box, July 2007, Volume 14, #7
Written by John Metzger
Mon July 23, 2007, 06:00 AM CDT
With A Trick of the Tail, Genesis had proven that, despite the loss of Peter Gabriel, it was still a viable outfit. The problem, however, was that the ensemble hadnít really developed a new framework for its music. Instead, it merely had returned to the architecture that it had employed throughout the early portion of its career. At times, the songs that were featured on A Trick of the Tail, good as they were, sounded as if they had been written for Gabriel to sing. Clearly, the band needed to develop its own voice, one that fully left the Gabriel-era in the past. Pressed to follow-up quickly upon A Trick of the Tailís successes, however, its subsequent endeavor Wind & Wuthering was written and recorded before Genesis had committed to a new direction. Consequently, the results were uneven, and although it was the groupís eighth studio effort, it felt exactly like a sophomore outing.
The interviews that are featured on the recent reissue of Wind & Wuthering are refreshingly honest and enlightening. Bass player Mike Rutherford admits not only that the album is "flatter," but also that Genesis hadnít yet developed a new vision for its work. Whether it was intentional or not, the setís lead track Eleventh Earl of Mar told a tale of a man who lacked leadership and motivation, which very well could have been a metaphor for the group itself.
The departure of Gabriel had created a vacuum that the remaining members of Genesis ó which, in addition to Rutherford, included Phil Collins, Tony Banks, and Steve Hackett ó were rushing to fill. Banks and Rutherford, in particular, were writing songs at a rapid pace, but while on A Trick of the Tail their individual efforts had been shaped and sculpted by the band as a whole, the material that filled Wind & Wuthering didnít appear to have undergone the same evolutionary process. In addition, Hackett had begun to feel marginalized by the rest of the outfit. The tunes that he brought to Genesis routinely were dismissed, and his guitar accompaniments increasingly were being displaced by Banksí keyboard displays. Considering the internal and external tensions that the ensemble was facing, itís not surprising that Genesis stumbles aimlessly through portions of Wind & Wuthering. Throughout the endeavor, attempts at jazz-fusion (Wot Gorilla) commingle with complex, prog-rock compositions (Eleventh Earl of Mar and One for the Vine). Permeating the affair, there also is a sterile detachment to the music that is difficult to shake.
Still, Wind & Wuthering isnít without merit, and what is, perhaps, most fascinating of all about the set is that, as it progresses, Genesis manages to find its footing and figure out its future. In particular, My Own Special Way offers an insightful glimpse at the various forces that were tugging at the band. Thereís no question that the song lacks focus. Although it bears a bit of a resemblance to Entangled, it also boasts a less interesting arrangement. Within it, however, one can hear the band shifting gears by trading its prog-rock roots for a dose of romantic soul.
This battle among the various incarnations of Genesis is present throughout Wind & Wutheringís latter half. The intricate but playful All in a Mouseís Night benefits immensely from its new, hallucinogenic mix, while Blood on the Rooftops, with its classical guitar intro as well as its politically-charged lyrics, sounds like an assimilation of the ideas that Yes had outlined on Fragile. The final trilogy of tunes, however, is where it all comes together. In moving from the eerie Unquiet Slumbers for the Sleepers to the crashing drums, majestic instrumentation, and Beatle-esque overtones of ...In that Quiet Earth, Genesis confidently reconnected with the full-band mind-set that it so effortlessly had established on A Trick of the Tail. Although it took Genesis several more years ó until the release of Duke in March 1980 ó for the journey that began on Wind & Wuthering to be completed, it is apparent, as the group seamlessly slips into the startlingly lovely Afterglow, that the ensemble had found the key that would guide it toward its rebirth. Ĺ
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2007 The Music Box