Tabletop Genesis Episode 23 – “Calling All Stations”

genesis calling all stationsAnd then there were two: Mike Rutherford and Tony Banks faced some uncertain weather when they set out to prove there was Genesis after Phil Collins with 1997’s “Calling All Stations.” Did the addition of Ray Wilson on vocals satisfy fans, or did the whole endeavor leave them feeling … shipwrecked? The members of the tabletop discuss!

11 thoughts on “Tabletop Genesis Episode 23 – “Calling All Stations”

  • October 7, 2017 at 8:18 am

    There can’t be many albums that I have revisited so many times over the past twenty years, hoping that one day I’ll fall in love with them. Calling All Stations is such an album, though.

    On first hearing it, I never got through the first song before thinking “Phil Collins would have sang this so much better”. That’s my biggest issue with the album: a pedestrain singer with a limited range. Ray sings all the songs with his faux “rawk” vocals and it simply isn’t special enough.

    There’s an argument that, had Ray been involved with the album from the start, it might have generated enough chemistry to produce some really great music. I really don’t think so. They’d have still been stuck with Ray’s voice.

    The real star addition to the album is Nir Z. His style is sparse and incredibly tight and on the tour his playing was a true highlight…unlike Ray who thought it was enough to just amble from one side of the stage to the other, occasionally flicking his greasy locks.

    • October 7, 2017 at 9:41 am

      Ray is not really the issue here. It is most of the music itself.

  • October 7, 2017 at 9:32 am

    You all dod a great job reviewing this mediocre album. There are really solid moments but they are few and far between. My wife loves Ray Wilson and thinks his voice is sexy. She says the same about Peter. She could give or take Phil. I am glad you did not blame Ray for the album. He sounded great for the material given. I love Genesis more than 99% of the population. Keep up the good work and keep the Genesis love alive. 🙂

  • October 13, 2017 at 11:13 am

    This really was a great episode. Thank you. Let me explain why.

    I’d only ever tried listening to this album a few times before this week, failed to get through it each time, and hearing the first few tracks on the podcast and the Tabletop crew’s comments figured that nothing had changed.

    But as as Tabletoppers offered a few positive points, I did think I’d give it another chance. Listened to it again. Still felt nothing. I realized there are simply too many shit tracks and the flow of the album is absolutely execrable.

    So I put together a new 10-track version by ripping out the absolute crap and reordering the remaining tracks along with some of the extras. And, unbelievably, I think I actually like this now.

    I’m not listening to it as Genesis, but as a “vaguely late-Genesis-like” group. And it works. Think I’ve rescued it from the car crash/shipwreck of an album that it otherwise is.

    1. The Dividing Line
    2. Sign Your Life Away
    3. Not About Us
    4. Alien Afternoon
    5. If That’s What You Need
    6. 7/8
    7. One Man’s Fool
    8. There Must Be Some Other Way
    9. Uncertain Weather
    10. Calling All Stations

  • October 13, 2017 at 11:23 am

    1 more thing. Banjo Man.

    As a Genesis track I agree with the Toppers that it’s a complete “bro-no”.

    But listen to it as a Ten Summoner’s Tales-era Sting track, and it’s actually damn good (if not a bit too long). I can actually imagine Sting as the vocalist.

    • Tabletop Genesis
      October 16, 2017 at 11:36 am

      Interesting – but still, it needs a REAL banjo, right?

  • October 15, 2017 at 5:49 pm

    Another great episode, guys!

    To me, CAS is like one damned missed opportunity. I agree that Ray’s vocals are (quite possibly) the strongest element in the album, but I also think the overall sound/arrangements don’t make the most of it. Like, I dunno, a lot of songs make me think -soundwise, especially Tony’s patches- of reheated We Can’t Dance leftovers, like “If That’s What You Need”, “Small Talk” and parts of “Uncertain Weather. And because the overall music scene in ’97 was *incredibly* different to the one in ’91, that kind of sound should’ve been discarded upfront when composing/arranging.
    I voted for “There Must Be Some Other Way” in the poll ’cause I really love that middle section (similarities to “Fading Lights” notwithstanding), but I totally get why “The Dividing Light” won. Actually, that’s my second choice. Kickass track, to be honest – though I do find somewhat funny that the had Nick D’Virgilio (damn great drummer for Spock’s Beard) playing on the album and they “gave” him the simpler tracks instead of the more complex ones. Maybe it was a schedule thing, dunno.

    Also, in my very humble opinion, “Anything Now” should’ve been on the album. It’s better than half the songs there and I have no idea why they decided to not include it.

    Cheers from Chile!

  • October 17, 2017 at 11:39 am

    So good to hear you all again!! I’ll try the new podcast you recommended, but I love the 5 varying perspectives discussing my favorite band and have missed you all. I agree with Stacy that this sounds like a Tony solo album (e.g., keyboards mixed too far up, tempos too similar).

    Consistent with that, I also agree with Simon that CAS misses Phil the Arranger, both as musical visionary and his melodic but masculine drumming talent. Nir’s comment that he was given direction (even for letting loose on “The Dividing Line”) is telling that the guy who owns the dynamics isn’t an owner of the VISION. For example, if Phil sensed a need for more drive, he would double track some percussion or even suggest a complete rework (both wonderfully in evidence on “Los Endos” v. “It’s Yourself”). And for the love of Genesis, please let Nir use a hi-hat!! The shakers keeping time gets really tired, and Phil had the best hi-hat foot in the biz.

    Ray has an intruiging voice and a nice add to songs like “Congo”, but unlike Phil or Peter, didn’t really amp up the emotion into a emotive chorus. When he tried to get there live especially on Phil’s songs, he got pitchy and still sounded unemotive, I think because that wasn’t his gift. Example –

    Bottom line – CAS has great moments, but Mike & Tony needed more of a producer and less of an engineer that Nick provided, and I think that was one of the many roles Phil applied to their awesome compositions.

  • October 23, 2017 at 8:34 pm

    Listening to your excellent Podcasts and the reflections on the foreclosure of the band post CAS, my prognosis, having seen Genesis at Earls Court in London with Ray Wilson in 1997, is that the decision not to continue with the tour may have had more to do with the past than the future.

    Sadly, my verdict was this concert was a rather calamitous and tide-turning affair, with an almost tangible lack of chemical or musical cohesion.

    This was compounded by an unrealistic fan expectation of a Gabriel / Collinesque vocal sound that RW was not yet quite equipped to present and this was brutally evident when the earlier material was presented.

    No one on stage looked very happy, and the audience drifted off.

    As stated in your podcast continuous uninterrupted success is hard to achieve, and a little more stamina and resolve might have enabled Genesis to move into a 3rd incarnation, but alas this was not to be.

    As a historic foot note, I first saw the band on the Lamb Tour in the mid 70’s and thereafter many times, and remember leaving that 1997 concert with the clear sense that that was that.

    • Tabletop Genesis
      October 25, 2017 at 10:53 am

      Thanks, Barry. Maybe we here in the states weren’t unlucky to get the tour here! 😉 What would you say the audience make up was – more lifelong Genesis fans who wanted to support the band/see how Ray was, or more general population who may not have known Phil had left?

      • October 26, 2017 at 3:52 am

        Hi, Thank you for responding to me post. I have since done a quick internet search and see that the concert to which I referred was on 27th February ’98 which was some 6 months after the release of CAS.

        As per the link, the European tour was a month in, and the set list covered the catalogue.

        I was quite near the stage, but could see that all did not seem well. The band chemistry appeared to be lacking, and Ray Wilson did not come over as being that comfortable with the inherited set pieces.

        The audience was a typical Genesis audience with both pre and post Gabriel aficionados.

        It was not a very comfortable feeling being in the audience, and from what I recall we were not the only ones to elect to slip away early.

        As you say you were maybe lucky not to have had this rather disastrous tour in the US, where the audience might have been a bit more vocal…?!

        It is very interesting to hear your Podcasts given that you all came to Genesis mid-term, and for what I judge to be very enlightening and entertaining assessments.

        To me time has continued to sever the high end from the low end, and indeed identify exactly who provided what influence.

        Creativity and appeal apart, the Genesis hallmark has to be the consistent high level of musical quality and a distinctive ‘sound’; two rare & challenging dimensions in music per se, and vital to secure an enduring and respected musical legacy.


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