Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Duchess | Lefsetz Letter


Speaking of stereos…

I heard “Duchess” on Deep Tracks the other day. If I hadn’t been in my car, I would have written about it right then.

And she dreamed that every time she performed
Everyone would cry for more

I’m not sure I even knew these lyrics back when, even though I had the vinyl, this was pre-internet.

I missed Genesis the first time around, I didn’t come on board until Gabriel left the group, although I did go back and buy the LPs with him on them, I love “Foxtrot,” but the truth is I was shopping in Licorice Pizza and they were playing “Wind & Wuthering” over the stereo and I bought it, this is the only time I ever did this.

I was an early Yes fan. Bought the first two Emerson, Lake and Palmer LPs, but funds were limited, I could not afford to get into Genesis or Gentle Giant, although I remember seeing the lines for Gabriel and group outside the Roxy, I’m pissed I missed that, although I did see Gabriel play a flower on “In Concert” or some other TV show, but you know TV sound, it did not register.

And I liked “Wind & Wuthering,” so when I saw “A Trick of the Tail” in the promo bin I purchased that, and it could still be my favorite Genesis album, which I know will offend purists, but come on, SQUONK?!

And then Steve Hackett left and there were three, I went to see the band at the Forum, bought my ticket before “Follow You Follow Me” got traction on the airwaves, became the band’s first hit in the U.S.

And “Seconds Live,” masterful!

But I could not remember what LP “Duchess” was on, I went to Wikipedia. For some reason, I thought “Duke” came before “…And Then There Were Three,” since it was more akin to what came before, but then I looked at the track listing…

“Duke” has “Misunderstanding,” which seemed a bit wimpy, like “Follow You Follow Me” but worse. But it also contained “Turn It On Again,” a harbinger of what was to come, when Genesis dominated MTV, albeit with clever videos.

Yes, the follow-up to “Duke,” “Abacab,” was the true commercial breakthrough, with a slimmed-down sound with synths dominant. But the definitive version is on 1982’s “Three Sides Live,” although there were four in the rest of the world.

But the take on “Three Sides Live”…

You’ve probably never heard it.

But I did, at Freddy and Demi’s apartment. Freddy Moore bought cassettes, I was still into vinyl, I’d go to their apartment and insert it into the deck, I had to hear “Abacab.”

Now “Abacab” is pretty powerful on the original LP, but the live iteration is MUSCULAR! You cranked it and the whole house shook. You were enveloped in the sound, it felt so GOOD!

And on “Three Sides Live” the opening cut is a version of “Duke”‘s “Turn It On Again.”

In the rewriting of history, subsequent to the ubiquity of Phil Collins, the post-Gabriel Genesis is seen as ersatz, a dash for cash, lightweight, BUT THIS IS UNTRUE! And “Three Sides Live” is one of the best live LPs ever cut, but you’ll never hear about it in any discussion of concert triumphs.

Now I became such a Genesis fan, I purchased Collins’ “Face Value” the day of release, I had no idea “In The Air Tonight” would become so legendary, on both black and white radio, my favorite cut in the wake of the breakup with my live-in girlfriend was “You Know What I Mean,” which segued into the exuberant “Thunder and Lightning,” and after the jaunty “I’m Not Moving” the LP became positively depressing, with “If Leaving Me Is Easy” and a droning, futuristic rendition of John Lennon’s head trip, “Tomorrow Never Knows.”

So I was all in, along for the ride when the rest of society showed up, and beware of your dream coming true, because it will end, people will turn on you, they will move on.

So I wasn’t sure which “Duchess” version I’d heard, the studio or live iteration.

So I just went to Spotify and pulled up the take off “Duke” and I’d forgotten what a long, spacy, dreamy intro the track had, it was the chorus that was implanted in my brain.

So maybe it was the live take I was remembering, with rougher edges.

But when I pulled up the live take it didn’t quite resonate either.


I used to come home, break the shrinkwrap, drop the needle and…


My music was my sanctuary, a way to excise and drown out the world I was not accepted in, the world I’m still unaccepted in.

Sure, we were all addicted to the radio, but we had to OWN THIS STUFF, so we could go DEEPER, so it would be indelibly enmeshed in our DNA.

Full spectrum music does not sound good utilizing today’s playback systems. You need a multi-speaker system, with tons of power, to avoid clipping, watts are not about loudness, but avoiding distortion.

And I was disappointed until I put on headphones.

Then the sound, the experience, came back.

Times were good
She never thought about the future, she just did what she would
Oh, but she really cared
About her music, it all seemed so important then

Boy did it.

But now every time that she performed
Oh, everybody cried for more
Soon all she had to do was step into the light
For everyone to start to roar
And all the people cried, you’re the one we’ve waited for

That’s right, we were addicted, we were waiting for your new opus, and when we got it, we spun it, learned it, and then went to the show, we had to go to the show, when tickets were ten or twelve bucks, certainly under twenty.

And when Genesis would go into “Duchess,” another of their anthemic numbers, we’d stand and sway and sing along at the top of our lungs, this was a religious experience, far exceeding what we’d been exposed to in church or synagogue, we were now truly home.

That’s right, anthems.

Our listening wasn’t casual. There were no playlists, no Pandora in the background, we chose what we listened to, what we bought, our collections were expressions of our identities.

And I’m driving in my car and when the band reaches the chorus…

This was art rock, this was prog rock, “Duchess” is more than six minutes long, it was not made for Top Forty, this was before MTV, when you made music to make a statement, at the length it required, if there needed to be a multi-minute instrumental intro, SO BE IT!

And the sense of ANTICIPATION!

We knew it was coming!

And, like I said, Genesis has been forgotten, put down, the band is uncool, especially the post-Gabriel era. But some people remember. And then you put the headphones on and hear the melody…

And then there was the time that she performed
When nobody called for more

Nobody’s calling for this music.

But back then fans did, before the band had any hits. There was this weird melding of experimentation and melody, that’s what makes “Duchess” so great, along with the changes and the instrumentation, the notes, engendering the desire to sing along.

And you may not.

But if you listen to “Duchess” you’ll find it impossible to sit still, you’ll start slapping your thighs, nodding your head.

From an era when music was truly royalty.

[from https://ift.tt/2k9aO1A]

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