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Calling All Stations is the fifteenth and final studio album by the English rock band Genesis, released on 1 September 1997 by Virgin Records. It is their only album recorded after drummer and lead vocalist Phil Collins left the group in 1996 which ended his 25-year tenure with the band. The remaining members, founding keyboardist Tony Banks and guitarist/bassist Mike Rutherford, decided to continue and write new music for an album. After an auditioning process throughout 1996, they chose Scottish singer Ray Wilson as Genesis's new lead singer.

Calling All Stations
Genesis - Calling All Stations.jpg
Studio album by
Released1 September 1997
RecordedJanuary–June 1997
StudioThe Farm, Chiddingfold, Surrey
Genre
Length67:42
LabelVirgin
Producer
Genesis chronology
The Way We Walk, Volume Two: The Longs
(1993)
Calling All Stations
(1997)
Genesis Archive 1967–75
(1998)
Singles from Calling All Stations
  1. "Congo"
    Released: 15 September 1997
  2. "Shipwrecked"
    Released: 1 December 1997
  3. "Not About Us"
    Released: 23 February 1998

Calling All Stations was released to mostly negative reviews from music critics who chastised its lack of direction, though Wilson's presence was well received. It sold poorly in comparison to their earlier albums; it reached No. 2 in the UK and performed well in Europe, but it peaked at No. 54 in the US.[2][3] This marked their first not to crack the top 50 there since 1973. "Congo", the first of three singles from the album, went to No. 29 in the UK.[2] Genesis toured Europe in 1998, avoiding the US altogether due to low ticket sales. The group disbanded at its conclusion before Collins returned in 2006 for the Turn It On Again Tour.

Contents

BackgroundEdit

 
After an auditioning process, Scottish singer Ray Wilson replaced Phil Collins on lead vocals

At the end of the We Can't Dance Tour in November 1992 the band went on hiatus, reuniting only for a one-off charity performance in September 1993. Their drummer and lead vocalist Phil Collins resumed his solo career and released Both Sides, keyboardist Tony Banks recorded an album with Jack Hues under the Strictly Inc. project, and guitarist/bassist Mike Rutherford continued his band Mike + the Mechanics. In mid-1994, Collins said that singing Genesis songs at the charity gig after making Both Sides, which he deemed a highly personal album, was uncomfortable. "For the first time I felt like an actor playing somebody else's part."[4] After a band meeting with manager Tony Smith in the summer of 1995, Collins left.[5] A press release from management announcing the news was released in March 1996.

Banks and Rutherford decided they had nothing to lose and started to write new songs in January 1996 to see if it was worth carrying on with Genesis.[5] After some ideas had been put down they were pleased with the results and began to audition lead singers. At this stage, the basic structure of the tracks on Calling All Stations had been written but the lyrics had not been worked on. Shortly after the album's release, Wilson compared the material as a mixture of their earlier progressive rock sound and their later, more commercial period.[6]

The two strongest candidates were English singer David Longdon, now of Big Big Train, and Scottish singer and guitarist Ray Wilson of the grunge-influenced band Stiltskin. Longdon's song "Hieroglyphics of Love" attracted producer Nick Davis who forwarded it onto Banks and Rutherford and liked it enough to invite him to the studio to audition.[7] Banks had liked Wilson's vocals from listening to Stiltskin's first album, The Mind's Eye (1994).[5] For his first audition, Wilson sang Genesis songs with Collins's vocals removed. At his second, he was asked to contribute vocal ideas to the new music that Banks and Rutherford had written, singing and humming ideas on the spot. Takes from this session were used by Banks to shape the verses to "There Must Be Some Other Way".[6] In November 1996, Banks and Rutherford chose Wilson as the new lead singer. Longdon said Rutherford phoned him with the news while Banks sent him a Christmas card with "a lengthy message inside."[7] The addition of Wilson to the band was not made public until 6 June 1997.[8]

RecordingEdit

Calling All Stations features Israeli drummer Nir Zidkyahu and American drummer Nick D'Virgilio. It was recorded using RADAR, a type of non-linear digital audio recording software capable of simultaneously recording 24-tracks onto computer hard drives.[5]

Wilson said he had a "pretty small" amount of input into the album.[6] Wilson recalled having free rein with his vocals on Rutherford's songs because he "doesn't know what he wants until he hears it", whereas Banks had worked out firm ideas from the beginning.[6]

SongsEdit

"Calling All Stations" is the first track Banks and Rutherford wrote for the album and most of the original takes were retained for the recorded version. It was used as the opener because of its heavier rock sound and dramatic mood.[5] The song's arrangement underwent several changes as Banks and Rutherford had Wilson sing various melody lines to see what his voice was capable of, resulting in a stronger track overall. Wilson picked "Calling All Stations" as his favourite song from the album.[5]

The lyrics to "Small Talk" were written by Wilson.[6]

ReleaseEdit

The album was launched in Europe on 26 August 1997 with a live press conference, interview, and acoustic performance on German television and VH1 from the Television Tower in Berlin. Two days later, the North American launch event with a live interview and acoustic performance took place at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, broadcast as a nationwide radio special.[8]

Calling All Stations peaked at No. 2 in the UK, making it the first Genesis studio album not to reach the top spot since ...And Then There Were Three... (1978).[2] It failed to make an impact in the US chart with a peak at No. 54 on the Billboard 200. This made Calling All Stations the first Genesis album since Selling England by the Pound (1973) to not crack its top 50.

An Super Audio CD/DVD set with new stereo and 5.1 surround sound mixes was released in September 2007. A CD/DVD set was released in North America in November 2007.

ReceptionEdit

Professional ratings
Review scores
SourceRating
AllMusic     [9]
Blender     [10]
Chicago Tribune    [11]
Entertainment WeeklyC−[12]
Rolling Stone     [13]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide     [14]

Steve Knopper reviewed the album in the Chicago Tribune, calling it "a formless blob of synth sounds" and asserting that new singer Ray Wilson has "no confidence or personality, let alone the vision to stave off his bandmates' meandering ideas".[11] Both AllMusic and Rolling Stone commented that Ray Wilson was a fitting vocal replacement for Collins, but that the album is wholly lacking in good material. Both also commented on the album's odd mix of art rock and pop, saying that it failed to capture any of the likeable elements of either genre; Rolling Stone summarised it as "a Mike and the Mechanics artrock album".[9][13] In 2014, Stevie Chick of The Guardian dismissed the album as "inexplicable".[15]

Tour and aftermathEdit

Following the album's poor commercial performance in the US, a 27-date North American tour in large arenas was booked to start in November 1997[8] but it was cancelled due to insufficient ticket sales. A revised 22-date schedule in smaller venues was also cancelled.

Genesis supported the album with a 47-date European tour from 29 January to 31 May 1998. The core trio were joined by Zidkyahu on drums, percussion, and backing vocals and Irish musician Anthony Drennan on guitar and bass. Rehearsals took place at Bray Film Studios in Windsor and the Ex-Service Men's Club in Chiddingfold, close the band's recording studio. The tour concluded with spots at the Rock am Ring and Rock im Park Festival in Germany. A majority of the older songs were transposed in a lower key to accommodate Wilson's lower vocal range. Midway through the set included an acoustic medley of songs from their 1970s output.

At the tour's conclusion, Genesis went on hiatus until Collins reunited in 2006 for the Turn It On Again Tour.

Track listingEdit

All songs written by Tony Banks and Mike Rutherford, except where noted.

No.TitleWriter(s)Length
1."Calling All Stations" 5:43
2."Congo" 4:51
3."Shipwrecked" 4:23
4."Alien Afternoon" 7:51
5."Not About Us"Banks, Rutherford, Ray Wilson4:38
6."If That's What You Need" 5:12
7."The Dividing Line" 7:45
8."Uncertain Weather" 5:29
9."Small Talk"Banks, Rutherford, Wilson5:02
10."There Must Be Some Other Way"Banks, Rutherford, Wilson7:54
11."One Man's Fool" 8:58
Total length:67:42
  • Note: The CD liner notes state that track 7, "The Dividing Line", is 8:59.

B-sidesEdit

No.TitleLength
1."Papa He Said"4:09
2."Banjo Man" (Banks, Rutherford, Wilson)4:22
3."Phret"4:05
4."7/8"5:13
5."Anything Now"7:03
6."Sign Your Life Away"4:45
7."Run Out of Time"6:36
8."Nowhere Else to Turn" (Banks, Rutherford, Wilson)4:35
Total length:40:48

"Papa He Said" and "Banjo Man" are from the single "Congo". "Phret" and "7/8" are from the single "Shipwrecked". "Anything Now", "Sign Your Life Away" and "Run Out of Time" are from the single "Not About Us". "Nowhere Else to Turn" is an unreleased track from the sessions.

PersonnelEdit

Credits adapted from the album's liner notes.

Genesis

Additional musicians

  • Nick D'Virgilio – drums on "Alien Afternoon" (first half), "If That's What You Need", "Uncertain Weather", and "Small Talk", percussion
  • Nir Zidkyahu – drums on "Alien Afternoon" (second half) and everything else, percussion

Production

  • Tony Banks – producer
  • Mike Rutherford – producer
  • Nick Davis – producer, engineer
  • Ian Huffam – assistant engineer
  • Geoff Callingham – technical assistance
  • Mike Bowen – technical assistance
  • Dale Newman – general assistance
  • Wherefore ART? – sleeve design
  • Kevin Westernberg – photography
  • Peter Robathan – photography

CertificationsEdit

Year-end chartsEdit

Chart (1997) Position
German Albums Chart[16] 33
Region Certification Certified units/Sales
France (SNEP)[17] Gold 100,000*
Germany (BVMI)[18] Gold 250,000^
Poland (ZPAV)[19] Gold 50,000*
Switzerland (IFPI Switzerland)[20] Gold 25,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[21] Gold 100,000^

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ http://www.allmusic.com/album/calling-all-stations-mw0000026641
  2. ^ a b c Genesis UK chart history, The Official Charts. Retrieved 14 November 2017.
  3. ^ Calling All Stations USA chart history, Billboard.com. Retrieved 9 November 2011.
  4. ^ https://thegenesisarchive.co.uk/news-pc-phil-ponders-life-without-genesis-tallahassee-democrat-29th-july/
  5. ^ a b c d e f Hewitt, Alan; Pound, Simon (22 August 1997). ""An Alien Afternoon with Tony Banks" – Tony talks to TWR about the new Genesis album at The Farm". The Waiting Room Online. Retrieved 9 July 2019.
  6. ^ a b c d e http://www.twronline.net/issues/twr36/twr36_chidd.htm
  7. ^ a b Giammetti, Mario (November 2010). "David Longdon exclusive interview for 'Dusk'". Dusk.it. Retrieved 9 July 2019.
  8. ^ a b c "Genesis - Calling All Stations - Press Kit". Virgin Records. August 1997. Retrieved 13 July 2019 – via The Genesis Archive.
  9. ^ a b Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. Album review, AllMusic. Retrieved 25 November 2011.
  10. ^ Blender magazine Archived 19 April 2009 at the Wayback Machine
  11. ^ a b Knopper, Steve (26 September 1997). "Calling All Stations review". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 13 December 2013.
  12. ^ Schinder, Scott (5 September 1997). "Calling All Stations review". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 9 June 2012.
  13. ^ a b Wild, David (10 December 1997). "Genesis: Calling All Stations : Music Reviews". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on 2 May 2008. Retrieved 9 June 2012.
  14. ^ Nathan Brackett; Christian David Hoard (2004). The new Rolling Stone album guide. New York: Simon & Schuster. p. 328. ISBN 978-0-7432-0169-8.
  15. ^ Chick, Stevie (3 September 2014). "Genesis: 10 of the best". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 6 September 2014.
  16. ^ "Top 100 Album-Jahrescharts" (in German). GfK Entertainment. Retrieved 8 September 2016.
  17. ^ "French album certifications – Genesis – Calling All Stations" (in French). Syndicat National de l'Édition Phonographique.
  18. ^ "Gold-/Platin-Datenbank (Genesis; 'Calling All Stations')" (in German). Bundesverband Musikindustrie.
  19. ^ "Polish album certifications – Genesis – Calling All Stations" (in Polish). Polish Society of the Phonographic Industry.
  20. ^ "The Official Swiss Charts and Music Community: Awards (Genesis; 'Calling All Stations')". IFPI Switzerland. Hung Medien.
  21. ^ "British album certifications – Genesis – Calling All Stations". British Phonographic Industry. Select albums in the Format field. Select Gold in the Certification field. Type Calling All Stations in the "Search BPI Awards" field and then press Enter.