Genesis Cut Up on 'We Can't Dance'

The "I Can't Dance" video
Photo Credit
video screenshot/Atlantic Records

In 1985, Phil Collins released his biggest solo album (No Jacket Required) and followed it up with 1986's Invisible Touch, the biggest-selling album by his longtime band Genesis. 1989 saw Collins hit big with a decidedly darker solo affair, ...But Seriously. What would Genesis do next? That question was answered in the fall of 1991, when the band released the ambitious We Can't Dance.

READ MORE: July 1986: Genesis "Touch" the Top of the Charts

The prog-rock outfit's 14th album (and sixth as a trio of Collins on drums and vocals, Mike Rutherford on guitar and bass and Tony Banks on keyboards) came after a long period of inactivity for the band. In that time, Rutherford also proved his chops as a hitmaker; Mike + The Mechanics scored a U.S. chart-topper with "The Living Years." The longtime bandmates were keen to work together, though, converging on their longtime studio (The Farm in Surrey) and devising every track on the album while there.

By this point, music buyers had started embracing compact discs over vinyl, which boasted sharper sound and greater storage capabilities. For fans of the band's progressive roots, that meant multiple lengthy epics like "Driving the Last Spike," a tribute to 19th century rail workers, and the contemplative closer "Fading Lights." Both songs stretched well over 10 minutes apiece.

But Genesis hadn't left pop ideas behind entirely after openly embracing them on Invisible Touch. Singles like "No Son of Mine," a grim portait of family drama punctuated by Rutherford's growling guitar and a classic rhythmic onslaught from Collins, and the atmospheric love ballad "Hold On My Heart," were both Top 20 hits in America and England. Most popular, of course, was the international Top 10 hit "I Can't Dance," a cheeky satire of image-conscious pop ideals. The accompanying video saw Collins lampooning fashion shoots while debuting a somewhat iconic stiff "dance" that's come to visually represent this period in the band's history.

READ MORE: Phil Collins Headed Toward the 'Light' on Sixth Solo Album

For a time, We Can't Dance looked like the end of an era for the band. Collins announced his amicable departure from Genesis in 1996; an album with frontman Ray Wilson, 1997's ...Calling All Stations..., was a critical and commercial dud. But Collins finally came back for a tour in 2007, and the trio embarked on one last tour in 2021.

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Rhino Records
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