Thursday, 8 August 2013

Genesis 'Land Of Confusion'

Chart Peak: 14

Charted at No. 28 on 18th November 1986, sold steadily for a number of weeks before peaking at No. 14 in January 1987. It was the group's third British Top 20 hit in a row since June last year.
The third and highest-charting of the five singles from the Invisible Touch LP, although it probably did gain somewhat from continued sales in the post-Christmas lull. It's still interesting to note that all five of the singles went Top 5 in the US, but 14 was the best any could do back home; I suspect this shows the importance of airplay to the Billboard listing.

One of the more angular tracks from this era of Genesis (and indeed Phil Collins) work, 'Land Of Confusion' aims at some sort of political comment, although it's never made entirely clear whether the setting is in the real world or some sort of dystopia. Apparently, "men of steel, men of power are losing control by the hour" and that's presumed to be a bad thing, so the real danger might be anarchy - and yet later in the song the protagonist promises "my generation's gonna put it right", which sounds a little like a kind of anarchy or vigilantism itself (and is slightly hard to take seriously from the mouth of Phil Collins anyway). Musically it seems slightly torn between the jaggedness of the irregular rhythms and the radio-friendly production which stops the dark stormy atmosphere they're aiming at from entirely coming through; that also means that the nostalgic middle-eight section doesn't contrast as much as it should. I suspect this may also have suffered from the fact that the track would mostly have been constructed from overdubs so they'd have been using click-tracks or programmed beats.

So the track doesn't totally live up to its intentions, but it does have something going for it at least in that it's much less bland than most of what Phil Collins was up to in the mid-80s (faint praise I know) and in the field of apocalyptic songs by bands featuring Mike Rutherford it beats 'Silent Running' by Mike + The Mechanics in my opinion. The immense if slightly naive-sounding chorus is another highlight, and at least we have the comparison of Alcazar's 'This Is The World We Live In' (which samples it) to show how much blander it could have been. The 12" single and its accompanying remix were worth my 99p anyway. Of course the song is also remembered for its video with the Spitting Image puppets of the band (as used on the cover's pastiche of Beatles For Sale) and Chris Barrie reprising the Ronald Reagan impersonation he also did on the 12" of 'Two Tribes'. Oddly, it doesn't appear on the VHS format of Now 9, though it is of course available on DVD these days.

Also appearing on: Now 1, 7, 8, 21, 23, 24
Available on: Invisible Touch

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