[Review] Mike Rutherford: Smallcreep’s Day (1980)

Half a concept album based on the Peter Currell Brown book and half an album of standalone songs, but not a must-halve.

Kronomyth 1.0: One big leap for Mike Rutherford, one small creep for mankind.

Another day, another dollop of the old Genesis magic spread thinly across the course of an album. Instruction by means of reduction, Smallcreep’s Day distills Mike Rutherford’s contributions to the Genesis juggernaut: songs that weigh like heavy arches on the mind, ornate arpeggios and a tendency to tighten/loosen the music’s pressure by alternating between major and minor chords. It’s a style that Genesis has used in various amounts since the days of Lamb, making Smallcreep’s Day something of a throwback to the pre-Three releases.

The first half of the record is a conceptual story (based on Peter Currell Brown’s book of the same name) that follows Smallcreep from his factory job in search of the final product. When he finds it, the realization that nothing has changed seems like a gyp, but then Tony BanksA Curious Feeling wasn’t any better. If you’ve purchased that album from Banks or the similar-sounding Sides (from Anthony Phillips) and Please Don’t Touch (Steve Hackett), you’ll know what to expect from Smallcreep.

In its defense, Smallcreep’s Day isn’t plagued by weak singing, Rutherford handing over those chores to Noel McCalla (who does a better job than Kim Beacon did for Banks). Playing bass and guitar, Rutherford slips in some impressive lead work, notably on “Working In Line.” The backing band is solid, including old bandmate Ant Phillips on keyboards and a very respectable rhythm section of Simon Phillips and Morris Pert.

As a songwriter, Rutherford dusts off the old ideas and gives them a new paint job, approximating “Your Own Special Way” on “Every Road” and borrowing some of Brian Eno’s instrumental segues on Lamb for the lovely “After Hours.” It’s not all polite, mothballed music, kicking up some dust on “Overnight Job” and “Moonshine,” two tracks that are closer in line to the Abacab-era Genesis. As the least “commercial” of his solo albums (including Mike + The Mechanics), old school Genesis fans should start here if they’re interested in the gospel according to Mike. Arguably the least showy player in Genesis, the spotlight is long overdue.

Original elpee version*

A1. Moonshine (6:23)
A2. Time And Time Again (4:52)
A3. Romani (5:25)
A4. Every Road (4:13)
A5. Overnight Job (5:43)
B1. Smallcreep’s Day
(i) Between the Tick and the Tock (3:59)
(ii) Working in Line (3:06)
(iii) After Hours (1:46)
(iv) Cats and Rats (In This Neighbourhood) (4:49)
(v) Smallcreep Alone (1:33)
(vi) Out into the Daylight (3:49)
(vii) At the End of the Day (5:36)

All titles written by Mike Rutherford.

*UK and Japanese versions switch the A and B sides.

The Players

Mike Rutherford (guitars & basses), Noel McCalla (vocals), Morris Pert (percussion), Ant Phillips (keyboards), Simon Phillips (drums). Produced and engineered by David Hentschel.

The Pictures

Cover design & photos by Hipgnosis, with thanks to Richard Draper, Mark Church & Lindsey Redding.

The Plastic

Released on elpee and cassette in February 1980 in the UK (Charisma, CAS 1149), in March 1980* in the US (Passport, PB/PBC 9843), and in 1980 in Canada (Charisma, CA-1-2212), Germany, the Netherlands and Portugal (Charisma, 9124 047) and Japan (Charisma, RJ-7652) with lyrics innersleeve; reached #13 in the UK and #163 in the US. (*First appeared in 03/08/80 issue of Billboard.)

  1. Re-issued on compact disc in 1989 in the UK (Charisma, CASCD 1149).
  2. Re-issued on compact disc in 1998 in Germany (EMI, 787485).

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