Sunday, February 25, 2018

Songs from '78: "Follow You Follow Me"

For the second time--and not for the last--my memories of the pop music world of 1978 are shaped in part by the detritus of progressive rock, as it was reconfigured and reconstituted in the wake of punk and disco by talented musicians who realized that the audience simply wasn't there any longer--and, frankly, they themselves simply didn't have the patience any longer--for intricate, artistic, and often admittedly indulgent musical statements. The English band Genesis is a perfect example--there's not a shred of punk or disco to be found in any of their recordings, and yet, by the late 1970s, they were internalizing the solid rock and roll reminders which those very different movements communicated quite well: figure out what you want to say, say it succinctly, say it with passion and fun, and then move on to something else.

"Follow You Follow Me" is a wonderful love song, a Mike Rutherford composition, and a great example of this lesson: it has synthesized hints of Genesis's by-then patented expansive artistry, but was nicely packaged into less than 4 minutes nonetheless. It was the first single from And Then There Were Three, the band's first real step in an overtly pop direction. It wouldn't be until their subsequent albums--Duke, Abacab, and Genesis--that their departure from the progressive rock world became complete; for this recording, released 40 years ago today, what we're hearing is some skilled artists learning how to first put their talents to work in a different, tighter, more accessible direction. And you know what? Sure, I like "Firth of Fifth": it's a deliriously cool 10 minutes of music. But am I bothered by the change Genesis began, 40 years ago today? To slightly misquote Phil Collins: no, I don't mind at all.


Unknown said...

No I don't mind at all

Admittedly, ten years later. And not Genesis.

Russell Arben Fox said...

But a great find, Unknown! A one-hit wonder that deserves more attention than he usually receives.