Late Genesis records shared two traits with Phil Collins’ solo efforts, though Mike Rutherford and Tony Banks could bring out more of Collins’ artsy, prog-rock side. Those traits:
1. Goofiness. All those “videos about making a video.” Light-hearted pop fare like Invisible Touch.
2. Sanctimony. Collins seemed desperate to make social statements with a bludgeon. “Hey, homelessness is bad!” Thanks for the update, Mr. Brokaw.
On rare occasion, those two traits combined — and worked.
And here it is … Jesus He Knows Me.
First of all, the song works. The fast tempo suggests a con-artist preacher waving his hands and speaking quickly in the hopes that you don’t notice his message is drivel. The lyrics dish out plenty of zingers without dwelling on them as if they’re carved on stone tablets.
It’s not a great showcase for Rutherford and Banks, but it’s a funny thing about Genesis — for all their prog-rock history, have you ever thought of these guys in the same company as Rick Wakeman, Geddy Lee, Steve Howe, Chris Squire, etc., in terms of instrumental mastery? The “prog” in their prog-rock comes from the concepts, not the skills.
The video builds nicely on the concept, in part because all three guys rise to the acting challenge and are willing to have fun with themselves. Collins accurately captures televangelical affectations, and the sequence of Rutherford being caught with a woman who’s not his wife and “the man I met last night” is priceless.
Land of Confusion makes good use of the briefly popular Spitting Image puppets and is almost as effective, but I’d give the slight edge to this one.