Friday, 1 February 2013

She seems to have an...Invisible Touch (1986) - Genesis

What makes Genesis a great band? And more importantly what makes a guilty pleasure a guilty pleasure? Well, Invisible Touch answers all those questions in the first few stanzas of the title track with its clean, echoed vocals and sweeping pop riffs. Was this the same Genesis who had made the prog-classic Lambs Lie Down on Broadway but 12 years earlier, now a stadium pop act packing out Twickenham and Wembley Arenas? An alienated band who’s original fans had been bearded Tolkien readers, giving way to rolled up sleeves, slick haired yuppies who liked Miami Vice.

When all is said and done this is a great album made by a band at the top of their commercial peak. Let’s be serious, you are doing pretty well if you are topping the charts and packing the arenas, Phil and the gang were riding high on a mixture of the zeitgeist and a creative burst in their songwriting partnership. Genesis’s success hinged on the material written collectively by Banks, Rutherford and Collins and it is on this album that it truly shines. 

For me the title track is pretty throwaway, pleasant enough, musical sherbet that fizzes and melts as soon as it hits the ears. But things soon get seriously good with Phil’s almost follow-up to ‘Mama’ (not ‘In the air tonight’ and some might suggest), ‘Tonight, Tonight, Tonight’ starts peeling out across the speakers. A dark song about drug addiction with one of the catchiest choruses and some awesome playing from the lads this is definitely my favourite song from the album - even better it apparently features in a ruthlessly atmospheric episode of Magnum PI from the same era!

Next follows a song that takes me back to the holidays of my youth. ‘Land of Confusion’ was a real family favourite and obviously one for Michael Mann who used it in a gritty montage for the grand finale of Miami Vice. His setting might have had Crockett and Tubbs battling Colombian drug lords, mine was a gentler drive along the moist strata cliffs of the Lot-Garonne on a lazy August afternoon, the windows of the Saab down and noise of the cicadas just penetrating the backbeat of the drum machines. Of course, most will remember the tune for the fantastic Spitting Image video that went with it  - how 80s. It is a rollicking cut full of great hooks, some of Collins’s best vocals and some poignant (as poignant as Genesis could really get) lyrics. 

This was an era where artists put all their singles in a mad montage on the A-side of the album and ‘In Too Deep’ does not disappoint as a slow ballad, coming as it does after three more rock based tracks. This sugary piece used to sinister effect in American Psycho should not be written off lightly for it has a wonderfully romantic feel, hopefully not ruined by Bret Easton Ellis’s analysis of the song in the book. I am sure there were many hearts broken and won to this tune back in 1986/1987. 

‘Everything she does’ must have the most upbeat beginning I have ever heard to a song with a subject so dark, about a voyeur and a soft core porn star. The subject matter of 80s pop/rock tunes will never cease to amaze me! After that the album seems to get all a bit proggy to appeal to some of the old fanbase, but it just sounds a little dated as the technology doesn’t really suit the medium on the drudging ‘Domino’.

Thankfully there is one brilliant track on the second side, ‘Throwing it all away’ which makes up for it. A lilting, uplifting tune which warms the soul with its simplistic message. It has a very infectious guitar riff but even better it makes one of the best live tracks for Genesis as it encourages the audience to get involved. I am surprised though that Brett Easton Ellis didn’t think of this track as a useful comparison when Bateman was disposing of the bodies! 

The above should have been the last track but ‘The Brazilian’, a dull instrumental was tacked on the end for good measure... a shame, but who am I to question the wills of the holy triumpherate of musicians! 

Great album, need I say more: 8/10 

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