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Genesis


Country of origin:

England

Type of music generally:

Progressive rock; later albums (1980s) increasingly pop

Status:

Most recent release, R-Kive (3 CD compilation, 2014); most recent album of new material, Calling All Stations (1997)

See also:

Official site for the band Genesis

Wikipedia's entry on Genesis

Peter Gabriel's site; Ectophile's Guide entry for Peter Gabriel

Steve Hackett's site

Comparisons:

Yes, King Crimson

Covers/own material:

Own

General comments:

I became a Genesis fan when I saw them perform on a show called Midnight Special. I'd never heard of them, but according to the TV Guide, Todd Rundgren was supposed to be on and that's why I watched. I was stunned. I'd never seen or heard anything like it. It's the kind of personal experience that means nothing to anybody else, but the gist is universal to anyone who's had the experience. Before that I was a Top 40 teenybopper, just getting into things like Black Sabbath, the James Gang and Jimmie Spheeris. I was only barely starting to step out of the mainstream of pop and bubblegum. I didn't have a musical passion and I needed one.
     Seeing this odd man, Peter Gabriel I found out later, wearing these bizarre costumes, but, more important, hearing this music that wasn't like ANYTHING I'd ever heard before, was a revelation. It was complex and fascinating and utterly new to me. THIS was what I'd been looking for! I didn't even know it! It was pure magic, seared into my soul. The first time I felt the overpowering wonder and amazement and awe and indescribable *power* of musical magic. I grew up with music. I've always *loved* music. But that was the first time music grabbed my soul and psyche, heart and mind, and refused to let go.
     The only other times I've felt like that were when I first heard Kate Bush (within 10 seconds I was intrigued, 30 seconds I was in love, and a minute in I was on a life-long love affair), and when I heard Happy Rhodes. Of course. Being a Peter Gabriel/Genesis fan was what led me to Kate Bush which led me to Happy Rhodes, so that night watching TV had a profound effect on my life.
     I saw the original Lamb tour too, but remembered very little of it. In the first place, it was the most amazing show I've ever seen, before or since. Second, I hadn't yet gotten the Lamb album, so I wasn't familiar with the music at all. I didn't even know that it was a "concept" album, let alone what the concept was. See, I lived in a small town where it was an 80-mile round trip just to get to a record store that would be likely to carry something as obscure as Genesis (boy that sounds weird, doesn't it? but yeah, they honestly really used to be obscure). Of course I got the album as soon as possible and played it to death, learning every note and every word (it's still my favorite Genesis album), but by then it was too late. If I'd known the album well when I saw the show, I would have understood what I was seeing and hearing. As it was, it was just a jumble of costumes and lights and bizarre (but wonderful) music. Third, I was higher than one of Jeff's kites, and it was pret-ty good acid. For years I remembered the show as flashes of light, sound, images and it was, well, a jumble. (vickie@enteract.com)

In spite of their general and disappointing decline from 1984-present, Genesis remains one of my fave bands. Their best works:
     (with Peter Gabriel)

(without Peter Gabriel) (without Hackett)
  • Duke
  • Three Sides Live
Yeah, I omitted the other albums intentionally. :-) in my opinion, Peter Gabriel's departure wounded the band severely, though the much underrated Steve Hackett contributed some excellent work throughout his tenure, and shone brightest on the last few albums. The band's regrouping as a 3-piece forced them to change their focus in the studio, and they started down the path to pop which unfortunately led away from what I liked about the band. Oh well...
     I've always thought Tony was one of the most tasteful and melodic keyboard players in the world. His work on Live and Selling England just about defines the sound of Genesis for me. I had almost forgotten "Eleventh Earl of Mar"; and must add "Dodo" as (for me, anyway) the last truly Genesis-like gem to emerge from the studio, as late as Abacab.
     To me, Wind & Wuthering seems like a predominantly Steve Hackett-influenced album, even though Tony contributes a huge amount. Steve's textured and well-paced guitar fills are always there, creating an atmosphere that didn't always flourish in the early albums. Steve's solo work is very Genesis-ish too, btw; I have a couple of his '80s albums and like them a lot. (gregdunn@indy.net)

For me, A Trick of the Tail and Wind & Wuthering were the only two post-Peter Gabriel albums worthy of the name Genesis, although I'm not among those who believe that the band ceased to exist creatively after Peter Gabriel's departure. "Eleventh Earl of Mar" was musical literature to me once upon a time. For anyone looking to explore the real Genesis, I'd have to warn that the music that came from them during the 80s and 90s was a complete departure from the incredible band they were. That is not to say that the more recent music is unlistenable, but it is much more rooted in popular tastes. Popular, of course, referring to music of such general appeal that it can be spoon-fed to the masses via the media. (JavaHo@aol.com)

I listened to Trespass yesterday and it remains my favorite even though Selling England by the Pound was my first Genesis album. (onealien@mo.himolde.no)

The early Genesis albums are definitely worth getting. Well, except for the first one (From Genesis to Revelation)—that one's for completists only. But the others—Trespass, Nursery Cryme, Foxtrot, Live, Selling England by the Pound, and The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway are all well worth getting. In case you don't know those are the Peter Gabriel-fronted Genesis albums.
     Foxtrot is my personal favorite, but that may only be because that was my firstPeter Gabriel Genesis album.
     Sure, those first albums may have been rather silly sometimes lyrically (think "Without any reason, my body revolves" from Lamb), but musically they are all wonderful. And I certainly don't think the Collins-fronted Genesis could be considered any more mature. (mageeol@ro.com)

They've remastered the whole Genesis back catalogue and re-released the CDs with the original cover art. Two studio engineers from England have done the job using state-of-the-art equipment. The result is amazing. I've bought all CDs from Trespass to Wind & Wuthering. (Dirk.Kastens@rz.uni-osnabrueck.de)

I remember that Midnight Special show with Genesis well. I knew Genesis pretty well at that point, at least from the point-of-view of their music. That was the first time that I actually saw what the guys looked like. I had a copy of Nursery Cryme but it had no pictures of the band. BesidesPeter Gabriel, they all looked like a bunch of normal guys. The music they made was so fantastic, not to mention the very interesting album cover art, I expected them to all look like Bowie or something.
     I used to read Melody Maker (UK) and Circus Magazine (US) religiously. At that time both music papers were focused on all of the great new music coming out of the UK like Bowie and Yes. I read a brief blurb in Circus that said something like "Do you wish that King Crimson were still doing the music they used to do? Do you want a band that is going in a creative direction like Yes? Then check out Genesis." And then they had an endorsement from Keith Emerson saying something along the lines of "these guys are great". So my friend, that turned me onto King Crimson and Emerson, Lake and Palmer, and I went scouring the obscure and cool record stores in Berkeley for Nursery Cryme. We went to three or four stores and finally found it. None of the pretty knowledgeable music store folk every heard of Genesis. We had to dig through bins for a while before we found it. We were elated and ran right home to play the album.
     My initial reaction was that the music was good but I wasn't sure that I could get into the singer. I later played the album for my sister and let her borrow for awhile. She loved it! She then found out that Foxtrot was released and bought it and played it for me. It didn't hit me the first listen. She let me take it home and I listened to it several times over the weekend. The third time I turned down the lights and just really listened to the album. After that listen and really hearing "Supper's Ready", I was hooked on Genesis and Peter Gabriel for life.
     I agree with Vickie about how Genesis and Peter Gabriel can be important in the process of leading one to Happy. Her thread of Genesis toPeter Gabriel to Kate Bush to Happy is similar to mine.
     I still feel like the music that Genesis was doing then was some of the most interesting and creative music and lyrics that I will experience in my lifetime. I totally agree with praise of the storytelling on songs like "Get'em out by Friday" and "Harold the Barrel" let alone "Supper's Ready" or "The Lamb".
     The early incarnation of Genesis was innovative and vital. The later incarnation had a few bright moments but was mainly putting out average pop music.(wpm@value.net)

Genesis *starved* in those early days; I used to go see them at one of their favorite venues in the UK. They were not the mainstream songwriting collective that they later became, as you're no doubt aware. And that theatricality, mostly Peter Gabriel's highly original and unfettered inspiration, was exactly one of the things that made them inaccessible to the wider markets; it was only after Peter Gabriel left and they had some Top40 action that they started to see any kind of financial success. Basically when they tried to maintain the purity of that vision, they were a critical success but a financial disaster. They would travel to gigs with packed lunches because they couldn't afford to eat out! (phil@tiaranetworks.com)

Okay, how could you all discuss Genesis and not mention Wind & Wuthering or Tony Banks? This was a pretty big album way back when I was a teen, I remember "Eleventh Earl of Mar," "One for the Vine" and "All in a Mouse's Night" getting a lot of airplay, and of course "Your Own Special Way" and "Afterglow".. yes there was a time when they'd actually play more than two songs from an album. "Blood on the Rooftops" has some really nice guitar on it too..
     I always liked Tony Banks' writing and keyboards, he did most of W&W and TotT, but I never seem to hear him getting much credit. (sspan)

It's also neat to see people talking about early Genesis, some of my all-time favorite music. I can't begin to remember all the "moments" I've found in songs in the past—they seem to change over time, and listening to them often can, unfortunately, rob them of the surprise that contributes to their power. However, both Kate Bush and Genesis have lots of these moments. Tony Banks' exotic chord changes in "Mad Man Moon" from A Trick of the Tail stand out in my mind, for example.
     I actually read something a few months ago about this phenomenon: unexpected breaks, catches, or slides between notes/chords are the surest way to give someone goose bumps. The theory is that these surprising musical shifts mimic the way a distressed infant sounds, hence they elicit the emotional response in adults. (I hope the technical explanation doesn't lessen the "magic" for anyone—I actually think it's pretty cool. :) (Greg.Jumper@Eng.Sun.COM)

I treasure my early Genesis albums and think that Foxtrot and Nursery Cryme (not to mention Genesis Live) are monumental triumphs of musicality, passion, ambition and imagination.
     "Watcher of the Skies" by Genesis has the most thunderous opening chords (it's a mellotron, but it sounds like the Organ from Hell) you're likely to hear.
     The prog rockers used to get it right—one of my fave fade-out songs of all time is Genesis' "Afterglow" from their Wind and Wuthering that soars off into the distance in a glorious blaze of harmonies and regret. (adamk@zoom.co.uk)

Comments about live performance:

I was fortunate enough to see Genesis with Peter Gabriel in late 1973 (the best live show I've ever seen). They began with "Watcher of the Skies" in pitch darkness, except for Peter Gabriel's fluorescent green eye-paint. Amazingly eerie. (dgk@panix.com)

I remember seeing Genesis in (I think) '79 at Pine Knob in Detroit. Duke had just been released. The show was basically the Seconds Out show with a little Duke set in the middle. I remember the highlight for me being "Dance on a Volcano" when Phil Collins sat behind his drum set, which was a mirror image of Chester Thompson's. I think Phil is the lefty of the two, but I can't remember for sure. Seeing the two of them playing their brains out in the middle of this incredible song in mirror image was astounding. Of course, it was only the second concert I'd ever seen, so maybe I was easily impressed. Or maybe not...:) (JavaHo@aol.com)

The only time I've seen Genesis was on the Invisible Touch tour, and although I loved it (if I remember correctly, they played "Los Endos"), I rather regret the fact that I was 5 years old when they toured for Lamb. (burka@jeffrey.net)

Recommended first album:

I would start with Selling England by The Pound (*love* I Know What I Like [In Your Wardrobe]!) and no earlier, IMHO. (zzkwhite@ktwu.wuacc.edu)

Recordings:

  • From Genesis to Revelation (1969)
  • Trespass (1970)
  • Nursery Cryme (1971)
  • Foxtrot (1972)
  • Genesis Live (live, 1973)
  • Selling England by the Pound (1973)
  • The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway (1974)
  • A Trick of the Tail (1976)
  • Wind & Wuthering (1977)
  • Seconds Out (live, 1977)
  • ...And Then There Were Three... (1978)
  • Duke (1980)
  • Abacab (1981)
  • Three Sides Live (live, 1982)
  • Genesis (1983)
  • Invisible Touch (1986)
  • We Can't Dance (1991)
  • The Way We Walk, Volume One: The Shorts (live, 1992)
  • The Way We Walk, Volume Two: The Longs (live, 1993)
  • Calling All Stations (1997)
  • Genesis Archive 1967-75 (compilation, 1998)
  • Turn It On Again: The Hits (compilation, 1999)
  • Genesis Archive 2: 1976-1992 (compilation, 2000)
  • Platinum Collection (compilation, 2004)
  • Genesis 1976-1982 (compilation, 2007)
  • Turn It On Again: The Hits—Tour Edition (compilation, 2007)
  • Genesis 1983-1998 (compilation, 2007)
  • Live Over Europe 2007 (live, 2007)
  • Genesis—Live 1973–2007(8 CD/3 DVD, 2009)
  • >LI>R-Kive (3 CD compilation, 2014)

Selling England by the Pound

Release info:

1973—Atco

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Group members:

Phil Collins—drums, percussion, vocals
Michael Rutherford—12-string guitar, bass, electric sitar
Steve Hackett—electric guitar, nylon guitar
Tony Banks—keyboards, 12-string guitar
Peter Gabriel—vocals, flute, oboe, percussion

Produced by:

Genesis, John Burns

Comments:

The other day I was listening to an old Genesis album, Selling England By The Pound. At the end of the album is a short song called "Aisle of Plenty" in which Peter Gabriel is basically singing British supermarket prices. At one point he gets to the phrase "seventeen and a half..." and holds on to the word half for a few measures, during which the band behind him punctuate the music just a bit more. The result for me is goosebumps! (rlovejoy@comcast.net)

A Trick of the Tail

Release info:

1976—Atco

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Group members:

Phil Collins—drums, percussion, vocals
Mike Rutherford—12-string guitar, bass, bass pedals
Steve Hackett—electric guitar, 12-string guitar
Tony Banks—piano, synthesizer, organ, mellotron, 12-string guitar, backing vocals

Produced by:

David Hentschel, Genesis

Comments:

God I love that disc! One of my all-time faves. (JavaHo@aol.com)

...And Then There Were Three...—Atlantic

Release info:

1978

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Group members:

Phil Collins—drums, vocals
Mike Rutherford—guitar, bass
Tony Banks—keyboards

Produced by:

David Hentschel, Genesis

Comments:

With all this talk about Genesis I thought I'd jump in and mention an album that no one has mentioned and that is ...and then there were three... which is the first album without Steve Hackett. I just listened to this a last week and there are so many great songs on it! Am I the only one one who loves this one? "Down and Out", "Undertow", "Snowbound", "Many Too Many", "The Lady Lies"—these are great songs! It's funny that I really love this album considering the fact that I'm such a huge Steve Hackett fan. If y'all think Tony Banks is underrated, this definitely goes for Steve Hackett as well. Not only is he a great guitarist, one of the most melodic and tasteful, but he writes beautiful music too. (tamar@u.washington.edu)

Genesis Archive 1967-75

Release info:

1998—Virgin—CDBOX6, 7243 8 42221 2 3

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended for fans
Phil Collins—drums, percussion, vocals (tracks: CD1.1 to CD3.5, CD3.8, CD3.9)
Steve Hackett—guitar (tracks: CD1.1 to CD3.5, CD3.8, CD3.9)
Mike Rutherford—guitar, bass, vocals
Anthony Phillips—guitar, vocals (tracks: CD3.6, CD3.7, CD4.1 to CD4.20)
Tony Banks—keyboards, organ, piano, vocals
Peter Gabriel—vocals, flute, percussion

Comments:

I had to include this release for sentimental reasons, at the very least. The rare material on disc three is what made the set truly worthwhile for me.
     Since I rank Genesis as one of my two favorite artists of all time (Kate Bush being the other), I naturally had to have the box set when it came out. While I routinely collect all of the "legitimate" discs of artists I follow, I don't go for bootlegs, so I hadn't heard several of the old non-album classics on discs 3 and 4 of the box set until it came out.
     Discs 1 & 2 contain a live version of The Lamb; disc 3 contains previously-unreleased live versions of older classics as well as some B-sides; and disc 4 contains *very* early demos and B-sides (i.e., songs of the same or earlier vintage as the material on the first Genesis album, From Genesis to Revelation, including demos of some of that album's songs which show the band's and the material's progression).
     I'm not a huge fan of recordings of live shows, but the rarities on discs 3 & 4 are well worth having, in my (biased) opinion. (Greg.Jumper@Eng.Sun.COM)

Further info:

Video releases include: The Mama Tour (1985); Three Sides Live (1991); The Genesis Songbook (2001); The Way We Walk: Live in Concert (2001); Live at Wembley Stadium (2004); The Video Show (2005); and When in Rome (2007)


Thanks to JoAnn Whetsell for work on this entry.

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Entry last updated 2015-05-30 21:43:00.
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