We Can't Dance

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
We Can't Dance
Genesis - We Can't Dance.jpg
Studio album by Genesis
Released 11 November 1991[1]
Recorded March–September 1991
Studio The Farm in Surrey, England
Length 71:30
Label Atlantic, Virgin
Genesis chronology
Invisible Touch
We Can't Dance
The Way We Walk, Volume One: The Shorts
Singles from We Can't Dance
  1. "No Son of Mine"
    Released: 21 October 1991
  2. "I Can't Dance"
    Released: 30 December 1991
  3. "Hold on My Heart"
    Released: 6 April 1992
  4. "Jesus He Knows Me"
    Released: 13 July 1992
  5. "Never a Time"
    Released: 5 November 1992
  6. "Tell Me Why"
    Released: 8 February 1993

We Can't Dance is the fourteenth studio album by the band Genesis, released on 11 November 1991 through Atlantic (United States) and Virgin (Europe). It was released as a single album on CD and cassette, and as a double album on vinyl. The album reached No.1 in the UK, where it remained on the charts for 61 weeks. It was the band's final studio album featuring vocalist/drummer Phil Collins, who would leave Genesis in 1996 to focus on his solo work.


We Can't Dance was Genesis' first studio album in five years, following the international success of Invisible Touch in 1986. After the tour for that album ended, the band took a long hiatus to focus on solo careers. Both Tony Banks and Mike Rutherford expected Phil Collins to depart the band during this time due to his huge solo success, but he stayed. The album reached No. 1 in the UK and No. 4 in the U.S., selling several million copies (including 4 million in the U.S. alone). The album also spawned several hit singles, including "No Son of Mine", "Hold on My Heart", "I Can't Dance" and "Jesus He Knows Me", the latter two supported by humorous videos. Two songs, "On the Shoreline" and "Hearts on Fire", were cut from the album, because "there wasn't enough room on the record." Both songs were released as B-sides.

Contrary to popular belief, "Since I Lost You" is not about a broken relationship. The lyrics were written by Phil Collins for friend Eric Clapton. On 20 March 1991, Clapton's four-year-old son Conor died after falling from the 53rd-story window of his mother's friend's New York City apartment, landing on the roof of an adjacent four-story building. Collins played it to him before putting it on the album to get his approval.

Most of the songs were created by improvisation at Genesis' Fisher Lane Farm ("The Farm") studio. The band noted in past interviews how this album was the perfect balance of both their old style longer songs and their current, short, pop/rock songs.

Following the release of the album Genesis spent 13 weeks on the road playing 55 concerts between May and July 1992, with a 15 date UK tour in October/November.[2] The popular worldwide tour sold out arenas and stadiums (where they mostly played on the U.S. leg of the tour). This proved to be Collins' last tour with Genesis until the band reunited in 2007.

During the recording of We Can't Dance a 40-minute documentary called No Admittance was produced and broadcast on the Discovery Channel. It has since been included in the bonus DVD released in 2007.

The album was re-released as a SACD/DVD double disc set (including new 5.1 and Stereo mixes) in October 2007.

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 3/5 stars[3]
Entertainment Weekly C[4]
Rolling Stone 3/5 stars[5]

Rolling Stone chiefly commented on the album's lyrics. They criticised "Tell Me Why" and "Way of the World" for being soulless and impersonal social commentaries, but regarded most of the songs as outstanding, and summarised "Although We Can't Dance doesn't quite achieve the vulnerable grace of Duke or the exuberance of Abacab, Genesis has nevertheless delivered an elegantly spare – and even adventurous – album."[5]

AllMusic similarly criticised the lyrics of "Tell Me Why" and "Way of the World", calling them "paeans for world understanding that sound miles away from any immediacy". However, they praised the album for returning to a less pop-oriented direction, and especially complimented the grittiness of "No Son of Mine", "Jesus He Knows Me", and "I Can't Dance" (which received a Grammy Award nomination for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group With Vocals in 1993).[3]

David Browne of Entertainment Weekly gave a lackluster review, stating: "At a time when everything is uncertain... you almost have to admire a record like We Can't Dance. [...] You know there will be a couple of fleeting moments when the band breaks out of its torpor – for instance, on the very polite primal stomp of 'I Can't Dance' – and that such moments will just as quickly be subsumed by the rest of the musical quicksand."[4]

Stevie Chick of The Guardian has dismissed the album as "blandness".[6]

The album garnered Genesis an American Music Award for Favorite Pop/Rock Band, Duo, or Group and two further nominations for Favorite Adult Contemporary Album and Favorite Adult Contemporary Artist. At the Brit Awards in 1993, the album was nominated for Best British Album while Phil Collins was nominated as Best Male British Artist for his contribution to the album.

Track listing[edit]

All songs written by Tony Banks, Phil Collins and Mike Rutherford.

No. Title Length
1. "No Son of Mine"   6:39
2. "Jesus He Knows Me"   4:16
3. "Driving the Last Spike"   10:08
4. "I Can't Dance"   4:01
5. "Never a Time"   3:50
6. "Dreaming While You Sleep"   7:16
7. "Tell Me Why"   4:58
8. "Living Forever"   5:41
9. "Hold on My Heart"   4:37
10. "Way of the World"   5:38
11. "Since I Lost You"   4:09
12. "Fading Lights"   10:16


No. Title Single of origin Length
1. "On the Shoreline"   "I Can't Dance" 4:45
2. "Hearts on Fire"   "Jesus He Knows Me" 5:15

Working titles[edit]

Before We Can't Dance was released, all songs had working titles.[citation needed] Below is a list of the original song working titles and finalised song titles (in parentheses):

  • "Elephantus" ("No Son of Mine") – 6:39
  • "Do the New One" ("Jesus He Knows Me") – 4:16
  • "Irish" ("Driving the Last Spike") – 10:08
  • "Blue Jeans", "Heavy A Flat" ("I Can't Dance") – 4:01
  • "B. B. Hit", "Still Throwing It All Away" ("Never a Time") – 3:50
  • "Rolling Toms" ("Dreaming While You Sleep") – 7:16
  • "Rickenbacker" ("Tell Me Why") – 4:58
  • "Hip Hop Brushes" ("Living Forever") – 5:41
  • "Burt Bacharach" ("Hold on My Heart") – 4:37
  • "Spaghetti West" ("Way of the World") – 5:39
  • "Song for Conor" ("Since I Lost You") – 4:09
  • "Nile" ("Fading Lights") – 10:17



The "We Can't Dance" tour featured shows in large arenas and stadiums throughout North America and Europe. It would be the band's final full-length tour until the 2007 Turn It On Again reunion tour. The tour is captured live on the albums The Way We Walk, Volume One: The Shorts, The Way We Walk, Volume Two: The Longs and the concert video The Way We Walk - Live in Concert.

The set list featured much of the We Can't Dance album as well as the Invisible Touch and Genesis albums. The only material from the 1970s played on a regular basis was featured in a new "Old Medley" of songs which replaced the "In the Cage" medley of past tours.

Typical set list:

  • "Land of Confusion"
  • "No Son of Mine"
  • "Driving the Last Spike"
  • "Old Medley: Dance on a Volcano*/The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway*+/The Musical Box (Closing section)*+/Firth of Fifth*+ (Solos)/I Know What I Like*+ (including bits from: That's All*+/Illegal Alien*+/Your Own Special Way*+ or Misunderstanding/Follow You Follow Me*+/Stagnation*+)"
  • "Throwing It All Away"
  • "Fading Lights"
  • "Jesus He Knows Me"*+
  • "Home by the Sea"
  • "Hold on My Heart"
  • "Domino"
  • Drum Duet
  • "I Can't Dance"


Also played on the tour were "Mama" (during the first few shows in North America), "Dreaming While You Sleep" (during the first few shows and once at the end of the tour in London) and "The Carpet Crawlers"* (one time only in Southampton, England). Both "Way of the World" and "Living Forever" were rehearsed for inclusion in the tour set list but ultimately didn't make it with "Way of the World" being dropped only four days before the first show of the tour.

Tour Band[edit]


Charts and certifications[edit]