Song of the Day, November 28: No Reply At All by Genesis

Today’s song is No Reply At All by Genesis. This hit and its parent album, abacab, represent a controversial turning point for the band. Ever since original lead vocalist Peter Gabriel left in 1975, the band had begun a steady change in approach. They slowly shed their progressive rock trappings and epic length songs (as well as guitarist Steve Hackett). By 1982, the resulting trio — Tony Banks, Phil Collins, and Mike Rutherford — had released albums of shorter, often more radio friendly tracks. All three had also put out solo discs, most notably Collins’ Face Value with its two #19 hits, In the Air Tonight and I Missed Again.

It was from this springboard that No Reply At All was seen to launch. Replete with horns by Earth Wind and Fire, the first single from Abacab seemed like something totally different. In fact, it’s a reasonable evolution of the band’s sound and — with the benefit of decades passing — far less shocking than the outright radio pap of Invisible Touch five years later.

No Reply At All is a punchy song with a great beat. It’s also a creepy bad relationship song with a disturbing undercurrent that’s true to Genesis’ sound at least since Collins took over the mike. Banks’ keyboards and Rutherford’s guitar work are as strong as ever and it’s one of Collins’ finest vocal deliveries — solo or with the band. It’s also a damn fine pop song, deserving a better chart showing that it achieved, especially when compared to the band’s later top ten success. The band know what sort of obsessed depression they’re delivering and just how to sell it.

Look at me, you never look at me,
Ooh, I’ve been sitting, staring, seems so long.
But you’re looking through me
Like I wasn’t here at all.
No reply, there’s no reply at all.

This week in 1981 No Reply At All hit its U.S. peak of #29. Celebrate that anniversary with this great song today.

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About Robert Hulshof-Schmidt
Freelance writer, researcher, online comic vendor, and project manager. Fan of a wide range of music -- especially folk and 80s pop -- vintage comics, British TV, and LGBT fiction.

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