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Music Review: Genesis – …And Then There Were Three

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A controversial, yet fundamental release, …And Then There Were Three marked a turning point in the Genesis history that would forever change its own landscape as well as the musical landscape of rock music of the time. In a time when the trend was the punk music scene, Genesis, now as a trio, began moving away from their progressive rock roots to a more commercial and radio friendly style.

After the departure of Steve Hackett, the roles of the remaining members became more firmly entrenched with Tony Banks handling all of the keyboard duties, Mike Rutherford all of the guitar/bass work and Phil Collins all of the drums and percussion work as well as the vocals.

To many of the early fans of Genesis, this was the final straw that began with the departure of Peter Gabriel. Many felt that this was a musical crisis that would soon lead to the groups eventual down fall. In fact, this became the most stable version of the Genesis lineup; lasting almost 10 more years.

"Down and Out" begins the track list with its 5/4 time signature and shows what a complex, musically diverse band that Genesis was. "Undertow"; a wistful Banks ballad and "Snowbound"; a spiritual Rutherford ballad are more pop tunes that come across with Collins small voicing. "Many Too Many," while good, is just a little over string produced.

For those who want to return back to the more progressive days of Genesis, then "Burning Rope" with Collins drum fills and "The Lady Lies"; an epic, are the standouts with "Deep in the Motherlode" and "Ballad of Big" following close behind.

The other songs are OK also with the boozy "Say it's Alright Joe" and the sprightly "Scenes From A Nights Dream" which sounds like a leftover from the "Wind and Wuthering" album.

The one song that sounds misplaced is the same song that gave Genesis its first hit record; "Follow You, Follow Me." Perhaps that is the reason it comes at the end of the CD. More prolific is the fact that this would be more of the direction of Genesis in the future within the realm of pop music.

At this point in their career, Genesis was still trying to figure out who they were. They were definitely moving away from their progressive rock sound but they had not made the change over to the pop sound that they would cultivate by the time they hit their true transitional album Duke and subsequently Abacab.

As an added bonus, this release comes with a second disk on DVD which has the album mixed in 5.1 audio, plus the two promomotion videos for the album containing "Follow you, Follow Me" and "Many Too Many". There are also interviews with Collins, Banks, and Rutherford as well as with Steve Hackett explaining why he left the band. There is also the documentary Three Days with Genesis which covered the 1978 European Tour.

…And Then There Were Three is a good album in the sense that it shows the direction that Collins and company will eventually take the Genesis, while still remaining closer to their original roots on this one. It is a little uneven at times, but still has a lot of the progressive rock that was Genesis. With the add-on DVD, it makes it worth owning regardless of which Genesis you liked. There is a lot to like here and in many ways …And Then There Were Three is an unsung classic.

"…And Then There Were Three" song listing

Disc: 1
Down and Out
Undertow
Ballad of Big
Snowbound
Burning Rope
Deep in the Motherlode
Many Too Many
Scenes from a Night's Dream
Say It's Alright Joe

Lady Lies
Follow You Follow Me

Disc: 2
Down and Out [DVD]
Undertow [DVD]
Ballad of Big [DVD]
Snowbound [DVD]
Burning Rope [DVD]
Deep in the Motherlode [DVD]
Many Too Many [DVD]
Scenes from a Night's Dream [DVD]
Say It's Alright Joe [DVD]
Lady Lies [DVD]
Follow You Follow Me [DVD]
Many Too Many [DVD][*]
Follow You Follow Me [DVD][*]
Reissue Interviews 2007 [*][Multimedia Track] –
Three Dates with Genesis 1978 [*][Multimedia Track]
Japanese Tour Programme 1978 [*][Multimedia Track]
Knebworth Programme 1978 [*][Multimedia Track]
German Festival Programme 1978 [DVD][*]

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About T. Michael Testi

Photographer, writer, software engineer, educator, and maker of fine images.
  • Rob

    This album triggers fine memories for me. I remember lots of herbal smoke, nudity and ice cubes….Oh yeah, the album was pretty darn good too! I haven’t listened to it in a long time and haven’t replaced the album with a cd yet, but I will now.

  • Hung Nguyen

    The remix of this album has significantly improved the way it sounds. It used to be that Phil’s vocals sounded thin with too much reverb, but now it sounds really good. Out of the recent batch of releases, this album has improved the most.

  • http://www.allthisandeverythingelse.blogspot.com/ T. Michael Testi

    Rob,
    Thanks for dropping the note.

    That’s the way I felt, I mean about the not having listened to it in a long time that is. It is really remarkable what they are doing with the remixes. I also like the DVD add-on as well. It allows you to have the album in its original state and then any bonus stuff as well. The videos are pretty good also.

    T.

  • http://www.allthisandeverythingelse.blogspot.com/ T. Michael Testi

    Hung,
    Thanks for the comment. I agree that they have done some masterful work here. I also like what they did with “A Trick of the Tail” which I will also be reviewing as well.

    T.

  • JB

    I’m a huge Genesis fan and I thought ATTWT was probably the weakest Genesis album, primarily because of the reasons you state. The group was in transition. They were slowly changing their musical frontiers to being more accessible (RE: radio friendly). The departure of Steve Hackett also changed to a much more heavily keyboard influenced sound, as Rutherford simply didn’t have the confidence on guitar that Hackett did (I would argue he still doesn’t).

    Their next album, Duke, would see them becoming more comfortable writing for a trio. They would also begin to write more together as a group, which still wasn’t really happening with ATTWT. Good review.

  • manhasset mauler

    I only picked up on the band circa “Seconds Out,” so at the time I didn’t see ATTWT as that much of a departure — to my ears Duke was the beginning of the end (saw them on that tour in 1980, Madison Square Garden — not bad but Collins’ hammy tendencies nearly ruined it).

    The dilemna for Genesis was their inability to sell records or get much radio airplay in the U.S. — Yes/Pink Floyd/ELP always had an easier time of it. I understand why the old school fans were not pleased, but it’s too easy to dump on the band for going with a more commercial sound –they are entitled to earn a living like everyone else, and if artistic credibility is the issue, then it’s worth remembering that no artist worth his or her salt clings to their hardcore audience forever.

    That said, I would have paid the $300 bucks to see them had Hackett rejoined.