We Can't Dance

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We Can't Dance
Genesis - We Can't Dance.jpg
Studio album by Genesis
Released 28 October 1991
Recorded March – September 1991
Length 71:30
Genesis chronology
Invisible Touch1986
  • We Can't Dance
  • (1991)
The Way We Walk, Volume One: The Shorts1992
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 English rock band Genesis, released on 28 October 1991 by Atlantic Records in the United States and 11 November 1991 on Virgin Records in the United Kingdom. It is their last album recorded with drummer and lead singer Phil Collins before his departure in 1996 to pursue solo projects full time. Production began after a four-year period of inactivity from the group, following the commercial success of Invisible Touch (1986) and its tour.

We Can't Dance was a worldwide commercial success for the band. It became the band's fifth consecutive No. 1 album in the UK and reached No. 4 in the U.S., where it sold over 4 million copies. Between 1991 and 1993, six tracks from the album were released as singles, including "No Son of Mine" and "I Can't Dance". The latter received a Grammy Award nomination for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group With Vocals in 1993. Genesis toured in support of We Can't Dance in 1992 which saw the band play large stadiums and arenas across North America and Europe.


The Farm, where We Can't Dance was written and recorded

We Can't Dance was Genesis's 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. Collins had by then achieved greater success as a solo artist than as part of Genesis, while Mike Rutherford’s side project Mike and the Mechanics had also begun to have hits.[1] Both Rutherford and Tony Banks expected Collins to leave the band during this time due to his huge solo success, but he stayed on to record another album with them, which began at the group's studio, The Farm, Chiddingfold, Surrey in March 1991.[2] The trio were keen to work together after the break, and wrote the album together in two months. They originally considered a double album, but realised most people would be listening to their work on CD, which gave them the additional time they wanted to explore other ideas.[3] For recording, they enlisted Nick Davis as producer for the first time, as the group wanted fresh ideas. Davis was keen to feature Rutherford's guitar more prominently as an instrument, which came through in a number of tracks.[4]

Unlike other Genesis albums, Collins wrote the majority of the lyrics. Several of the songs dealt with serious and social issues. "No Son of Mine" was the opening track on the album and tackled the subject of domestic abuse. "Dreaming While You Sleep" was about a hit-and-run driver and his guilt about failing to stop at the scene of the accident. The ten-minute "Driving The Last Spike" was about 19th-century Irish navvies working on railways in the UK, and the poor and unsafe working conditions they had to endure. Banks used a Hammond organ patch on the track, which referenced his prominent use of the instrument early in Genesis' career. The other long track, "Fading Lights" came out of group improvisation.[5] "Since I Lost You" was written by Collins for his 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. "Tell Me Why" criticised the Gulf War and the plight of the Kurds in its aftermath.[6]

The serious material was balanced by shorter and lighter songs. "I Can't Dance" was a criticism of models who appeared in jeans adverts, and built around a heavy Rutherford guitar riff. "Jesus He Knows Me" was a barbed parody of the televangelist movement in the US, which they had seen while touring the country.[7]

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.


Commercial performance[edit]

We Can't Dance was released on 28 October 1991 by Atlantic Records in the United States[8] and 11 November 1991 on Virgin Records in the United Kingdom.[9] The album was a success in the charts, going to number one on the UK Albums Chart for one weeks from 23 November 1991. In the United States, it debuted the Billboard 200 chart at number four, the week of 30 November 1991.[10] It stayed at its peak for one week during its 72-week stay on the chart.[11] 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",[12] the latter two supported by humorous videos.

On 1 December 1991, the album was certified double Platinum by the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) for shipment of 600,000 copies. A year later, sales grew to reach quadruple platinum, signifying 1.2 million copies sold. The album reached quintuple platinum status in March 1997, for 1.5 million copies sold.[9] In the United States, We Can't Dance shipped 1 million copies by 27 December 1991. Five years later, the album was certified quadruple platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) for four million copies sold.[8]


Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 3/5 stars[13]
Entertainment Weekly C[14]
Rolling Stone 3/5 stars[15]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide 4/5 stars[16]

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."[15]

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).[13]

David Browne of Entertainment Weekly gave a lacklustre 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."[14]

Stevie Chick of The Guardian has dismissed the album as "blandness".[17]

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.[18]

Track listing[edit]

All tracks 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 A-side Length
1. "On the Shoreline" "I Can't Dance" 4:45
2. "Hearts on Fire" "Jesus He Knows Me" 5:15



We Can't Dance Tour
Tour by Genesis
Associated album We Can't Dance
Start date 8 May 1992
End date 17 November 1992
Legs 3
No. of shows 68
Genesis concert chronology

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.[19] The popular worldwide tour sold out arenas and stadiums (where they mostly played on the U.S. leg of the tour). As with previous tours, guitarist / bassist Daryl Stuermer and drummer Chester Thompson accompanied the trio.[12] This proved to be Collins' last tour with Genesis until the band reunited in 2007. The album was re-released as a SACD/DVD double disc set (including new 5.1 and Stereo mixes) in October 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 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.


  1. "Land of Confusion"
  2. "No Son of Mine"
  3. "Driving the Last Spike"
  4. "Old Medley"
  5. "Dreaming While You Sleep" (select dates)
  6. "Fading Lights"
  7. "Jesus He Knows Me"
  8. "Home by the Sea/Second Home by the Sea"
  9. "Hold on My Heart"
  10. "Domino (Part 1: In the Glow of the Night – Part 2: The Last Domino)"
  11. "Drum Duet"
  12. "I Can't Dance"
  13. "Tonight, Tonight, Tonight"
  14. "Invisible Touch"


  1. "Throwing It All Away"
  2. "Turn It On Again"

Additional songs:

Charts and certifications[edit]

Sales and certifications[edit]

Region Certification Certified units/Sales
Australia (ARIA)[37] Platinum 70,000^
Austria (IFPI Austria)[38] Platinum 50,000*
Canada (Music Canada)[39] 4× Platinum 400,000^
Finland (Musiikkituottajat)[40] Gold 25,000[40]
France (SNEP)[41] 2× Platinum 788,600[42]
Germany (BVMI)[43] 5× Platinum 2,500,000^
Japan (RIAJ)[44] Gold 100,000^
Spain (PROMUSICAE)[45] Platinum 100,000^
Sweden (GLF)[46] Platinum 100,000^
Switzerland (IFPI Switzerland)[47] 4× Platinum 200,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[48] 5× Platinum 1,500,000^
United States (RIAA)[49] 4× Platinum 4,000,000^

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone



  1. ^ Bowler & Dray 1992, pp. 208,210.
  2. ^ Bowler & Dray 1992, p. 217.
  3. ^ Bowler & Dray 1992, p. 219.
  4. ^ Bowler & Dray 1992, p. 220.
  5. ^ Bowler & Dray 1992, pp. 220-221.
  6. ^ Bowler & Dray 1992, p. 221.
  7. ^ Bowler & Dray 1992, pp. 221-222.
  8. ^ a b "American album certifications – Genesis – We Can't Dance". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved 15 September 2016. 
  9. ^ a b "British album certifications – Genesis – We Can't Dance". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved 15 September 2016.  Enter "We Can't Dance" in the field 'Keywords'. Select 'Title' in the field 'Search by'. Select 'Album' in the field 'By Format'. Click 'Search'.
  10. ^ "Billboard 200: The Week of November 23, 1991". Billboard. Retrieved 15 September 2016. 
  11. ^ "Artists – Genesis – Chart History – Billboard 200". Billboard. Retrieved 15 September 2016. 
  12. ^ a b Bowler & Dray 1992, p. 222.
  13. ^ a b Orens, Geoff. Album review, Allmusic.
  14. ^ a b Browne, David (15 November 1991). "We Can't Dance Review". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 8 June 2012. 
  15. ^ a b Manning, Kara (9 January 1992). Album Review, Rolling Stone.
  16. ^ Nathan Brackett; Christian David Hoard (2004). The new Rolling Stone album guide. New York: Simon & Schuster. p. 328. ISBN 978-0-7432-0169-8. 
  17. ^ Chick, Stevie (3 September 2014). "Genesis: 10 of the best". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 6 September 2014. 
  18. ^ "History". BRIT Awards. 
  19. ^ "Genesis - The Movement". 
  20. ^ "Australiancharts.com – Genesis – We Can't Dance". Hung Medien. Retrieved 7 October 2012.
  21. ^ "Austriancharts.at – Genesis – We Can't Dance" (in German). Hung Medien. Retrieved 7 October 2012.
  22. ^ "Item Display - RPM - Library and Archives Canada". 
  23. ^ "Dutchcharts.nl – Genesis – We Can't Dance" (in Dutch). Hung Medien. Retrieved 7 October 2012.
  24. ^ Pennanen, Timo (2006). Sisältää hitin - levyt ja esittäjät Suomen musiikkilistoilla vuodesta 1972 (in Finnish) (1st ed.). Helsinki: Kustannusosakeyhtiö Otava. p. 263. ISBN 978-951-1-21053-5. 
  25. ^ Inc, Nielsen Business Media (30 May 1992). "Billboard". Nielsen Business Media, Inc. – via Google Books. 
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  • Bowler, Dave; Dray, Bryan (1992). Genesis: A Biography. Sidgwick & Jackson Ltd. ISBN 978-0-283-06132-5. 

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Shepherd Moons by Enya
UK number one album
23 November 1991 – 29 November 1991
Succeeded by
Dangerous by Michael Jackson
Preceded by
Welcome to Wherever You Are by INXS
UK number one album
22 August 1992 – 28 August 1992
Succeeded by
Best I by The Smiths