Duke had some pop success, largely in the form of "Misunderstanding" and "Turn It On Again", which would become a signature song for the band for decades, closing or opening shows, even used as the name of their 2007 reunion tour. They also had a minor single in "Duchess". This was the story of a pop star who found success, then get fans turned on her. But it was more than just a single, it was part of a large suite of songs. "Duchess" led into "Guide Vocal"; this would have a reprise of sorts during the largely instrumental Duke Suite, consisting of "Duke's Travels" and "Duke's End", which closed out the album. This kind of lyrical and musical running theme is a prime example of progressive rock sensibilities. There is a fairly subtle connection between most of the songs; they are each unique standalone pieces, but have distinct musical patterns that tie everything together on an almost subconscious level. In true prog rock fashion, this works as a single piece of music as well as it does a collection of twelve individual songs.
One of the truly underrated songs from this album is the haunting "Heathaze". It has soft verses leading into stronger choruses. Collins voice is as good here as it is anywhere, soft and really when it needs to be, strong and smooth when it needs to be. The lyrics speak of alienation, at once literally and metaphorically.
Some other songs that receive little attention include "Please Don't Ask", a sad, post-love song with some great harmonies. Also, "Cul-De-Sac" is an interesting song with interesting changes. Where the previous song was melodramatically somber at times, this is someone in a similar place, but more bitter than depressed. There's more energy here, but they and up in the same place.
The opener may be familiar to fans of Phil Collins' solo work. "Behind The Lines" appeared on his first solo album, "Face Value". This marks the only song to appear on a studio album of Collins and Genesis. This one has a different sound to it, though. Collins' version is far more upbeat, almost bubbly in time, where this one takes a bit more time, yet sounds more urgent. Both are well done, but I always preferred this one.
There is a lot to take in with this album. Musical themes, lyrical themes, pop songs, prog songs. It's very nearly a portrait of the band at that moment in time. It's not a full-fledged concept album like "The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway", it's not a pure pop album like "ABACAB", it's something in between. That is usually a potential disaster, but it really works as something uniquely interesting. Keyboardist Tony Banks and guitarist Mike Rutherford are clearly with Collins in redefining the band, and they guide us through a wonderful journey. Get the full album and give it a few listens to get the most out of it.