Click to return to Dave’s Music Database home page.

Released: Sept. 14, 1981

Rating: 3.504 (average of 11 ratings)

Genre: album rock

Quotable: --

Album Tracks:

  1. Abacab
  2. No Reply at All
  3. Me and Sarah Jane
  4. Keep It Dark
  5. Dodo/Lurker
  6. Who Dunnit?
  7. Man on the Corner
  8. Like It or Not
  9. Another Record


sales in U.S. only 2 million
sales in U.K. only - estimated 100,000
sales in all of Europe as determined by IFPI – click here to go to their site. --
sales worldwide - estimated 6.5 million


peak on U.S. Billboard album chart 7
peak on U.K. album chart 1 2

Singles/Hit Songs:

  • Abacab (8/22/81) #26 US, #9 UK, #4 AR
  • No Reply at All (9/26/81) #29 US, #2 AR
  • Keep It Dark (10/31/81) #33 UK
  • Man on the Corner (3/13/82) #40 US, #41 UK, #14 AR

Previous album “Duke showcased a new Genesis – a sleek, hard, stylish trio that truly sounded like a different band from its first incarnation – but Abacab was where this new incarnation of the band came into its own” (Erlewine). “Straining to feel like virtuosos while staying terse, Genesis piled up staccato, minimalist keyboard patterns behind some of their bleakest lyrics” (Pareles). “Working once again with producer Hugh Padgham, the group escalated the innovations of Duke, increasing the pop hooks, working them seamlessly into the artiest rock here” (Erlewine).

The one exception, is “the brash, glorious pop of No Reply at All” (Erlewine), which is “powered by the percolating horns of Earth, Wind & Fire, yet polished into a precise piece of nearly new wave pop by Padgham” (Erlewine). The song “echoes the funk…Collins was savoring on his smash solo debut, Face Value” (Pareles).

Otherwise, “this is still art rock at its core, or at least album-oriented rock, as the band works serious syncopations and instrumental forays into a sound that’s as bright, bold, and jagged as the modernist artwork on the cover” (Erlewine).

“They dabble in other genres, lacing Me and Sarah Jane with a reggae beat, for instance, which often adds dimension to their sound, as when Dodo rides a hard funk beat and greasy organ synths yet doesn't become obvious; it turns inward, requiring active listening. Truly, only ‘No Reply at All,’ the rampaging title track (possibly their hardest-rocking song to date), and the sleek and spooky Man on the Corner (which hides a real melancholy heart underneath its glistening surface) are immediate and accessible – although the Mockney jokes of Who Dunnit? could count, it’s too much of a geeky novelty to be pop. The rest of Abacab is truly modern art rock, their last album that could bear that tag comfortably” (Erlewine).

Review Source(s):
  • Stephen Thomas Erlewine, All Music Guide
  • Jon Pareles, Blender magazine. (10/07), pp.118-9.

Related DMDB Links:

previous studio album: Duke (1980) Genesis’ DMDB page next studio album: Genesis (1983)

Last updated April 3, 2008.