Cul-De-Sac is the ninth song on the Genesis album Duke, released in 1980. This very dramatic track could have been right at home on the band’s Wind And Wuthering album, released in 1976. I will forever argue that Duke is a progressive rock album and this great track helps to illustrate that point.
The song opens quietly with just keyboards and a brief vocal. The band then spend nearly one minute setting the mood of the song instrumentally. The bulk of the music coming from Tony Banks’ lavish keyboard play. When the main vocal begins the bass and drums drive the song musically, with the keyboards complimenting. Mike Rutherford plays some fantastic bass lines that, along with Phil Collins’ drums, really propel the song. Aside from a wonderfully melodic, but brief, guitar solo the guitars really take a back seat.
At the 2:54 mark the band slows the pace and brings the drama down a notch. They than slowly rebuild the tension and drama. That drama comes to a head as Phil belts out, “No, not even one!” This leads to Mike’s guitar solo and one last chorus before it all ends in a very dramatic instrumental flourish.
I must say that Cul-De-Sac features one of my favorite vocal performances from Phil Collins. It’s a very serious vocal that perfectly compliments the dramatic feel of the music and the lyrics. Phil takes a slightly different approach to the vocals. His delivery is restrained, but strong, controlled but forceful.
Overall Cul-De-Sac is a great example of three man Genesis. The song is drenched in keyboards, but all five instruments, (keyboards, bass, drums, guitars and vocals) are important to the music. The three band members play for the song, there is not a need for any over the top playing here.
Duke is my favorite album by Genesis. I feel that everything came together for this album. All aspects are top notch, from the songwriting to the production to the energetic performances. For me it is a near perfect album. Kudos to David Hentschel who co-produced the album with the band.
Cul-De-Sac is a song that the band never played live. Unfortunately this great song tends to get overlooked. I feel that it is a very special song that deserves a bit more attention.