Up til now, the albums that I have featured in this series have been commercial flops. The fans and critics have not liked them and the sales reflected that. “Invisible Touch” is the biggest selling release by Genesis. So how can an album as popular as this one be hated by so many?
Obviously, the easy route is to just blame Phil Collins for everything. He was at the peak of his powers in 1986 as “Invisible Touch” immediately followed Collins’ smash album “No Jacket Required.” Many old Genesis fans felt alienated since this album did have many similarities to Collins’ pop albums. In the process of “adapting” to a more poppy sound as well, Genesis wound up with many new fans who wouldn’t have even known about songs like “Supper’s Ready” or “The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway.”
In fact at that time, Peter Gabriel was riding a huge solo hit with “So,” which also came out in 1986 and was his biggest selling album. And “So” had a shift from prog and art rock to a more world music based sound but was also very poppy as well. Gabriel managed to make his songs still sound sincere and never mindless. Unfortunately, Genesis didn’t seem to care on “Invisible Touch.”
For as derided as this album is, it isn’t my least favorite Genesis album. Their next album “We Can’t Dance” earns that title. The reason is that “Invisible Touch” does have some good music on it. “Tonight Tonight Tonight” has always been a favorite of mine because it has incredible atmosphere and intelligent lyrics about drug addiction. I like that it is a very cold sounding song that moves slowly. I think that fits the subject matter too.
“Land of Confusion” was a massive hit, much of which could be attributed to the funny video. But it actually is a good song. The arrangement isn’t great. The synths and the “oh oh oh” parts that Collins does are a bit too much. The lyrics are still relevant even today. When compared to the mindless drivel of the title song and the horrid “In Too Deep,” “Land of Confusion” sounds fucking amazing.
Before I get into the mistakes, I have to say that “Domino” is a good epic. Yes it suffers again from sounding dated like much of the album but I think if it were re-recorded with real drums (like the rest of the album should have been), it would sound infinitely better. The same can be said for the outstanding instrumental closer “The Brazilian,” which shows what Genesis COULD do if they wanted.
The problems? Well, as I mentioned the production and choice of arrangements makes it sound thin and quite dated. The fluff of songs like the title track, “In Too Deep,” “Anything She Does,” and (to a lesser extent) “Throwing It All Away,” shows that the band were more concerned with simplifying things for the masses. The latter was actually a good ballad but once again Collins sings “ooo ooo ooo” and turns what could have been a good song into something rather cheesy.
Before we blame everything on Phil Collins, let’s remember that Mike Rutherford just released the first Mike + the Mechanics album in 1985 as well. Both were bonafide pop stars so there was no way they were going to not make “Invisible Touch” as poppy as possible. Tony Banks was out numbered and surely envious of the success, so he wasn’t going to fight too hard for proggy songs. Although, he did manage to get “Domino” on the record.
How could this album have pleased the older fans? Probably a tough one but the b-sides for this album were mostly really good. “Feeding the Fire” is actually my favorite song from these sessions and SHOULD have been on the album. The other instrumental “Do the Neurotic” was even more prog than the one that made the album: “The Brazilian.” Since it was unlikely they would include both, they went with the latter. Had Genesis put those 2 on and dumped “Into Too Deep” and the title track, the album is far more listenable but probably would not have sold as well and still pissed off too many old fans.
“Invisible Touch” is a sign of the times for Genesis. It is the definition of a sell-out on every level. But having said that, it still has some good music on it. It could have been so much better but by this point, Genesis were a completely different band than the one from a decade earlier.
I didn’t even mention the shitty artwork yet! Talk about not making any effort! But it fit the band since they weren’t going to try too hard when hits were really easy to write. “The best songs tend to get written quickly,” according to Mike Rutherford. Sorry, Mike. That’s how you write generic shit.
1. Invisible Touch
2. Tonight, Tonight, Tonight
3. Land Of Confusion
4. In Too Deep
5. Anything She Does
7. Throwing It All Away
8. The Brazilian