Dusting 'Em Off
Revisiting an album, a film, or an event on its anniversary

Dusting ‘Em Off: Genesis – Invisible Touch

on March 27, 2010, 12:45pm

Patrick Bateman deemed Genesis‘ 13th album “the group’s undisputed masterpiece.” Although Bateman is a fictional character from American Psycho, he is correct.

Released in 1986, Invisible Touch is Genesis’ most commercially successful album, selling over 15 million copies world wide and producing five U.S. Top Five singles. Furthermore, it exquisitely blends pop and progressive rock with notable lyrics, culminating in a bridge between older and newer Genesis fans. That is, if the older, stoic Genesis fans could bring themselves to admit their penchant for Phil Collins’ pop, and newer, clueless fans could learn to appreciate the power of Peter Gabriel’s prog.

The album takes off with the title track. Appealing to pop fans, with Collins’ upbeat drums, the shortest song of the album packs a punch with his astute lyrics. The chorus is accompanied by verses impeccably depicting unrequited love.

She don’t like losing, to her it’s still a game.
And though she will mess up your life,
You’ll want her just the same, and now I know
She has a built in ability
To take everything she sees.
And now it seems I’ve fallen, fallen for her.

Further pop favorites from the album include guitarist Mike Rutherford’s “Land of Confusion” and the Tony Banks-penned “Anything She Does”. Rutherford paired the band’s music with aggressive lyrics focusing on the greed and excess of the 1980’s. However, the song offers hope for the future, with lyrics such as “I won’t be coming home tonight/My generation will put it right/We’re not just making promises/That we know we’ll never keep.” With the use of puppets from the popular UK sketch show Spitting Image, and its unfavorable portrayal of Ronald Reagan, the music video for “Land of Confusion” garnered as much attention as the song.

“Anything She Does”showcases Bank’s keyboard skills on the E-mu Emulator II, which is a series of disk-based digital sampling keyboards. The sample used is from a horn chart of one of the band’s previous songs, “Paperlate” (off their 3 X 3 EP).  The song’s subject is also recycled. Mirroring “Turn It on Again” from Genesis’ 1980 album Duke, “Anything She Does” discusses longing for fictional figures.

“In Too Deep” and “Throwing It All Away” set a slower mood with melancholy tones and soft music. Although Collins wrote the keyboard-focused “In Too Deep” and Rutherford wrote the percussion-based “Throwing It All Away”, the songs are eerily similar, as both portray true love that cannot be salvaged. For example, note the similarity between “In Too Deep”‘s chorus: “Listen, you know I love you, but I just can’t take this/You know I love you, but I’m playing for keeps/Although I need you, I’m not gonna make this/You know I want to, but I’m in too deep”, and this verse from “Throwing It All Away”: “We cannot live together/We cannot live apart/That’s the situation/I’ve known it from the start/Every time that I look at you I can’t see the future/’Cause you know I know babe, that I don’t wanna go.” Notice the similarities?

Hearkening to the progressive roots of Genesis, “Tonight, Tonight, Tonight” and “The Brazilian” offer a more instrumental direction. “Tonight, Tonight, Tonight” contains an ominous loop from the drum machine, siren imitations from Banks and Rutherford, and an instrumental bridge full of suspension. It conjures goosebumps without being superfluous. The progressive rock continues with the fully instrumental “The Brazilian”. While not as long as “Tonight, Tonight, Tonight”, the song makes ample use of its four minutes and 49 seconds. In typical 80’s fashion, a sea of keyboards washes over one’s ears. However, the surge of base and consistent drum beats carry the listener through.

If Bateman is correct about the “new peak of professionalism” prevalent in Invisible Touch‘s hits, what else does he know? Perhaps, Whitney Houston and Huey Lewis and the News should be the next thing streaming through the speakers.

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