I was listening to a couple of old Genesis albums last night and, as happens sometimes, I set the controls for shuffle and went through most of the studio albums on the iPhone today. This then reminded me of something that annoys me, a lot. first though, an overly long re-cap of those studio albums and what I think of them.
From Genesis to Revelation (1969)
This is a perfectly fine album of its time, that time being 1969, it’s even quite sophisticated in places but I’ve never thought it worth a great deal of repeated listening. Jonathan King, their producer I suppose, he certainly helped open doors for the band, wanted the band to make an album with songs loosely based on passages in the Bible in the form of a concept album, and in the music style of the Bee Gees. It was recorded in August 1968 during school holidays, with King adding string accompaniments. There were three singles, which were released before the album was, these being ‘The Silent Sun’, ‘A Winter’s Tale’ and ‘When the sour turns to sweet’, none of which achieved any commercial success. Rating: 5.0
|1.||“Where the Sour Turns to Sweet”||3:14|
|2.||“In the Beginning”||3:42|
|5.||“Am I Very Wrong?”||3:28|
|6.||“In the Wilderness”||3:21|
|7.||“A Place to Call My Own”||1:57|
This album was largely ignored on its release, which is a shame, as the opening track alone, ‘Looking For Someone’, is a real favourite of mine (perhaps because somewhere in there is the riff from ‘I am the walrus’). To open what most would probably consider as their ‘Proper’ debut album with just voice and organ suggests much greater confidence in what they were doing than perhaps they have previously admitted, but the whole album has this confidence. Having ditched the attempted pop of the previous album they were now producing tracks that were 6 to 9 minutes long, the closing track ‘The Knife’ being the longest and released as a single. Who releases a 9 minute single? It wasn’t a hit.
I do understand why this album does not receive a great deal of critical acclaim, or when it does it is more about where they were heading than where they were, but I like it all the same. Guitarist Anthony Phillips would leave the band after this album and they would be looking for a new drummer with the departure of John Mayhew. Rating: 6.8
|1.||“Looking for Someone”||7:06|
|3.||“Visions of Angels”||6:51|
Nursery Crime (1971)
I have some issues with Nursery crime as a whole, the opener ‘The Musical Box’ is just brilliant, and I’ve been listening to it for 40 years or so without it’s impact on me diminishing. I read things into it that were probably never meant to be there, but I hear them. The issue I have is that nothing else on the album quite reaches the heights of the opening track, it should have been the last track I think. This is not to say that I don’t like the other tracks, ‘Seven Stones’, ‘Return of the Giant Hogweed’, “Fountain of Salmacis’, all good, really good, but I’ve never had much time for ‘Harold The Barel’ or ‘For Absent Friends’. You can certainly see the progression through these first three albums and a growing confidence in the writing, tripping over the 10 minute mark with ‘The Musical Box’, which, as a side note, I first heard on the first live album and it took me a while to get used to the studio version. This is where Steve Hackett and Phil Collins have joined the band of course, which continued the development of the sound and the proficiency with which they could create. Rating: 7.3
|1.||“The Musical Box”||10:27|
|2.||“For Absent Friends”||1:44|
|3.||“The Return of the Giant Hogweed”||8:10|
|2.||“Harold the Barrel”||2:58|
|4.||“The Fountain of Salmacis”||7:47|
Ok, full disclosure, I love this album and won’t hear a bad word said against it. I was only five years old in 1972 and it would be another six years before I heard it, but imagine, eleven years old and fed a diet of empty radio friendly pap and then this, it was quite the (from Genesis to) revelation. What the hell was I listening to? It was also the first album of theirs that I ever heard, so the previous 3 albums were discovered after this one, it was my introduction to the band and the songs all feel like they, in some strange way, are partially mine. They belong to me and I to them because this sort of experience with music alters your DNA, merges with it and never leaves.
There was a point where I could sing along to the whole of ‘Suppers Ready’, though I don’t think I could do that now, I’d get by though. The album is a culmination of everything that had gone before and some still believe that this is the pinnacle of the Genesis output, I don’t. As a band they changed a lot over the years and this is, I think, the pinnacle of what I see as Phase 1 of the band. The thing is, they couldn’t do this again so they had to change, which they did with the next album.
There are some very interesting annotated lyrics to ‘Suppers Ready’ at a site called Fandom, click the link if you are interested, but here they are straight, reproduced here because I have such fond memories of sitting on the floor in my friend Dave’s bedroom, back against the bed, with the gatefold cover open, reading the lyrics as the record played and never really figuring out what it was all about, but loving it anyway. Rating: 9.1
Walking across the sitting-room, I turn the television off.
Sitting beside you, I look into your eyes.
As the sound of motor cars fades in the night time,
I swear I saw your face change, it didn’t seem quite right.
…And it’s hello babe with your guardian eyes so blue
Hey my baby don’t you know our love is true.
Coming closer with our eyes, a distance falls around our bodies.
Out in the garden, the moon seems very bright,
Six saintly shrouded men move across the lawn slowly.
The seventh walks in front with a cross held high in hand.
…And it’s hey babe your supper’s waiting for you.
Hey my baby, don’t you know our love is true.
I’ve been so far from here,
Far from your warm arms.
It’s good to feel you again,
It’s been a long long time. Hasn’t it?
I know a farmer who looks after the farm.
With water clear, he cares for all his harvest.
I know a fireman who looks after the fire.
You, can’t you see he’s fooled you all.
Yes, he’s here again, can’t you see he’s fooled you all.
Share his peace,
Sign the lease.
He’s a supersonic scientist,
He’s the guaranteed eternal sanctuary man.
Look, look into my mouth he cries,
And all the children lost down many paths,
I bet my life you’ll walk inside
Hand in hand,
gland in gland
With a spoonful of miracle,
He’s the guaranteed eternal sanctuary.
We will rock you, rock you little snake,
We will keep you snug and warm.
Wearing feelings on our faces while our faces took a rest,
We walked across the fields to see the children of the West,
But we saw a host of dark skinned warriors
standing still below the ground,
Waiting for battle.
The fight’s begun, they’ve been released.
Killing foe for peace… bang, bang, bang. Bang, bang, bang…
And they’re giving me a wonderful potion,
‘Cos I cannot contain my emotion.
And even though I’m feeling good,
Something tells me I’d better activate my prayer capsule.
Today’s a day to celebrate, the foe have met their fate.
The order for rejoicing and dancing has come from our warlord.
Wandering through the chaos the battle has left,
We climb up a mountain of human flesh,
To a plateau of green grass, and green trees full of life.
A young figure sits still by a pool,
He’s been stamped “Human Bacon” by some butchery tool.
(He is you)
Social Security took care of this lad.
We watch in reverence, as Narcissus is turned to a flower.
If you go down to Willow Farm,
to look for butterflies, flutterbyes, gutterflies
Open your eyes, it’s full of surprise, everyone lies,
like the fox on the rocks,
and the musical box.
Oh, there’s Mum & Dad, and good and bad,
and everyone’s happy to be here.
There’s Winston Churchill dressed in drag,
he used to be a British flag, plastic bag, what a drag.
The frog was a prince, the prince was a brick, the brick was an egg,
the egg was a bird.
(Fly away you sweet little thing, they’re hard on your tail)
Hadn’t you heard?
(They’re going to change you into a human being!)
Yes, we’re happy as fish and gorgeous as geese,
and wonderfully clean in the morning.
We’ve got everything, we’re growing everything,
We’ve got some in
We’ve got some out
We’ve got some wild things floating about
Everyone, we’re changing everyone,
you name them all,
We’ve had them here,
And the real stars are still to appear.
Feel your body melt;
Mum to mud to mad to dad
Dad diddley office, Dad diddley office,
You’re all full of ball.
Dad to dam to dum to mum
Mum diddley washing, Mum diddley washing,
You’re all full of ball.
Let me hear you lies, we’re living this up to the eyes.
Momma I want you now.
And as you listen to my voice
To look for hidden doors, tidy floors, more applause.
You’ve been here all the time,
Like it or not, like what you got,
You’re under the soil (the soil, the soil),
Yes, deep in the soil (the soil, the soil, the soil, the soil!).
So we’ll end with a whistle and end with a bang
and all of us fit in our places.
With the guards of Magog, swarming around,
The Pied Piper takes his children underground.
Dragons coming out of the sea,
Shimmering silver head of wisdom looking at me.
He brings down the fire from the skies,
You can tell he’s doing well by the look in human eyes.
Better not compromise.
It won’t be easy.
666 is no longer alone,
He’s getting out the marrow in your back bone,
And the seven trumpets blowing sweet rock and roll,
Gonna blow right down inside your soul.
Pythagoras with the looking glass reflects the full moon,
In blood, he’s writing the lyrics of a brand new tune.
And it’s hey babe, with your guardian eyes so blue,
Hey my baby, don’t you know our love is true,
I’ve been so far from here,
Far from your loving arms,
Now I’m back again, and babe it’s gonna work out fine.
Can’t you feel our souls ignite
Shedding ever changing colours, in the darkness of the fading night,
Like the river joins the ocean, as the germ in a seed grows
We have finally been freed to get back home.
There’s an angel standing in the sun, and he’s crying with a loud voice,
“This is the supper of the mighty one”,
Lord of Lords,
King of Kings,
Has returned to lead his children home,
To take them to the new Jerusalem.
|1.||“Watcher of the Skies”||7:21|
|3.||“Get ‘Em Out by Friday”||8:35|
|4.||“Can-Utility and the Coastliners”||5:45|
a. “Lover’s Leap”
b. “The Guaranteed Eternal Sanctuary Man”
c. “Ikhnaton and Itsacon and Their Band of Merry Men”
d. “How Dare I Be So Beautiful?”
e. “Willow Farm”
f. “Apocalypse in 9/8 (Co-Starring the Delicious Talents of Gabble Ratchet)”
g. “As Sure as Eggs Is Eggs (Aching Men’s Feet)”
Selling England By The Pound (1973)
I mentioned my friend Dave a little while back, this was and probably still is, one of his favorite Genesis albums, but not mine. The reason being that I never had a copy of my own until I bought it on CD about 15 years ago, and by then my delight in discovery and sponge like absorbing of all things prog related had severely abated. I appreciate it, I like it, a lot, it just never had the effect ton me that the other albums did, not its fault, just circumstances.
I’ve come to appreciate the songs from different avenues over the years, such as the tracks included on the live album ‘Seconds Out’, sung by Collins rather than Gabriel.
I’m not that keen on ‘The Battle Of Epping Forest’, I don’t hate it, I just never seem to listen to it much which is indicative of how I feel about it. I did listen to it just now while writing this, still feel the same way. This I think is the start of Phase 2, much better production, song construction is tighter, and there is a very distinct difference between the feel of ‘Foxtrot’ and this. Despite everything I just said – Rating: 9.00
|1.||“Dancing with the Moonlit Knight”||8:02|
|2.||“I Know What I Like (In Your Wardrobe)”||4:03|
|3.||“Firth of Fifth”||9:36|
|4.||“More Fool Me“||3:10|
|1.||“The Battle of Epping Forest”||11:43|
|2.||“After the Ordeal”||4:07|
|3.||“The Cinema Show“||11:10|
|4.||“Aisle of Plenty”||1:30|
The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway (1974)
The end of Phase 2 and the end of Peter Gabriel era Genesis. I had this album when I was 13, which was 6 years after it was released but it was all brand new to me. In the pre-internet era where would you hear anything from this album if you didn’t own it? Time for a confession, I had absolutely no money to buy this album so, one fateful day, I went to the only record shop in town to the ‘Imports’ section where all the albums had holes punched in the corners (thereby avoiding import tax as they were damaged), the thing about the imports section was that the actual records were still in the sleeves, the rest of the shop just had covers in plastic sleeves. Cut a long story short, I stuck a copy of the album inside my coat, pretend to browse a bit and then left the shop. Yes, theft, not proud of it, but it happened.
Anyway, back to the album, the inside of the gate-fold cover had a rather long story penned by Gabriel inside that told the story of a spiritual journey of self-discovery of a Puerto Rican youth in New York City named Rael, and the story is told through his interactions with others. Again, I would put the album on, read the story, follow the lyrics and become completely embroiled in it. For a long time I would put this album as probably the best ever made, although since then I have come to realise that there doesn’t have to be a best of anything when it comes to music, there’s too much diversity for comparison.
As individual tracks some are a little strained I find but as a whole they work together to tell, what is, a rather odd little story. Which one would expect of Gabriel. Rating: 9.2
|1.||“The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway”||4:52|
|2.||“Fly on a Windshield“||2:47|
|3.||“Broadway Melody of 1974”||2:11|
|5.||“In the Cage”||8:15|
|6.||“The Grand Parade of Lifeless Packaging”||2:45|
|1.||“Back in N.Y.C.”||5:49|
|3.||“Counting Out Time”||3:45|
|5.||“The Chamber of 32 Doors”||5:40|
|2.||“The Waiting Room”||5:28|
|4.||“Here Comes the Supernatural Anaesthetist“||2:50|
|6.||“Silent Sorrow in Empty Boats”||3:06|
|1.||“The Colony of Slippermen”
|3.||“The Light Dies Down on Broadway”||3:32|
|4.||“Riding the Scree”||3:56|
|5.||“In the Rapids”||2:24|
Trick of The Tail (1976)
With Peter Gabriel having left the band after (or was it during?) the previous tour for The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway, drummer Phil Collins took over lead vocals, which was in many ways fortunate for the band as utilising an existing member at least kept the band dynamics intact and Collins had already been contributing much in the way of backing vocals by this time. This was the beginning of what I consider to be Phase 3. It is almost a completely different band, snappier songs, somehow more focused and the production and writing is sharp.
If you can get over the whole Gabriel leaving thing and take this as a single album without all that has gone before then you should be able to recognise it as a quite brilliant release. Very different to what had come before but still retaining its flavour.
There isn’t a bad track on it and as an introduction to Collins as the new vocalist, I really don’t think they could have done anything better. Rating: 9.0
|1.||“Dance on a Volcano”||Mike Rutherford, Tony Banks, Steve Hackett, Phil Collins||5:53|
|4.||“Mad Man Moon”||Banks||7:35|
|1.||“Robbery, Assault and Battery”||Banks, Collins||6:15|
|3.||“A Trick of the Tail”||Banks||4:34|
|4.||“Los Endos”||Collins, Hackett, Rutherford, Banks||5:46|
Wind And Wuthering (1976)
This was a somewhat more serious album than ‘Trick of the Tail’ in that it had less hooks and was more ballad based, sort of, which took longer to get into and fully appreciate but was somehow more rewarding as a result. I remember well that I found the album to be a grower and the more I listened to it the more I liked it and appreciated its more subtle intricacies. This was the last album with Steve Hackett on guitar but it doesn’t mark the end of Phase 3.
As an album I find it to be one that I have to actually listen to, not as background music while I do something else, I actually find that if I try to do that then I end up paying attention to it and then whatever I had planned on doing never gets done. Rating: 9.0
|1.||“Eleventh Earl of Mar”||Tony Banks, Steve Hackett, Mike Rutherford||7:39|
|2.||“One for the Vine”||Banks||9:59|
|3.||“Your Own Special Way”||Rutherford||6:15|
|4.||“Wot Gorilla?”||Phil Collins, Banks||3:12|
|1.||“All in a Mouse’s Night”||Banks||6:35|
|2.||“Blood on the Rooftops”||Hackett, Collins||5:20|
|3.||“Unquiet Slumbers for the Sleepers…”||Hackett, Rutherford||2:27|
|4.||“…In That Quiet Earth”||Hackett, Rutherford, Banks, Collins||4:45|
…And Then There Were Three… (1978)
I listened to the whole album only yesterday and it is, for me, a rather under appreciated part of their discography. It is the end of Phase 3 for me as it still retains the feel of the two albums that preceeded it, even though Hackett is gone and, as the title suggests, there are only the three of them left, Rutherford, Banks and Collins. There isn’t a bad song on the album and it spawned a proper actual hit single in ‘Follow you, follow me’, which I recall taping off the radio. A top ten hit single no less!
I think that, in a similar way to the previous album, it was repeated listening that really allowed these songs to settle for me. I had my doubts that the band as a three piece was sustainable but this release proved that it was. Rating: 8.7
|1.||“Down and Out”||Phil Collins, Tony Banks, Mike Rutherford||5:25|
|3.||“Ballad of Big”||Collins, Banks, Rutherford||4:47|
|1.||“Deep in the Motherlode”||Rutherford||5:14|
|2.||“Many Too Many”||Banks||3:30|
|3.||“Scenes from a Night’s Dream”||Collins, Banks||3:30|
|4.||“Say It’s Alright Joe”||Rutherford||4:18|
|5.||“The Lady Lies”||Banks||6:05|
|6.||“Follow You Follow Me”||Rutherford, Banks, Collins||3:59|
It is 1980 and, at the age of 13 I was about to decide that this was the last great album by Genesis. I still stick to that even today. I spoke to Dave tonight and we chatted about exactly this and, with some reluctance, he agreed. There are parts of future albums that are good, but nothing as consistent as this and some of those that preceded it. I owned this album, bought around the time it was released and found it fairly easy to get into, partly because this was where the band became somewhat more singles related having perhaps realised that it was something they were capable of doing after the success of ‘Follow you, follow me’, although, the album was packed full of really good songs regardless of whether they were suitable as singles or not.
I’ll look it up in a moment but from memory ‘Turn it on again’ was the first single off this album and definitely ‘Misunderstanding’ followed as I had that on 7″. I looked it up, ‘Duchess’ was released in the middle of those two.
The album flows really well, and opens and closes with, thematically at least, the same track. Rating: 9.1
|1.||“Behind the Lines”||Tony Banks, Phil Collins, Mike Rutherford||5:31|
|2.||“Duchess”||Banks, Collins, Rutherford||6:40|
|4.||“Man of Our Times”||Rutherford||5:35|
|1.||“Turn It On Again”||Banks, Collins, Rutherford||3:50|
|4.||“Please Don’t Ask”||Collins||4:00|
|5.||“Duke’s Travels”||Banks, Collins, Rutherford||8:41|
|6.||“Duke’s End”||Banks, Collins, Rutherford||2:04|
Abacab is a good album, but there’s just something about it that I can’t completely get on with. I sometimes feel it was as though some of the tracks were such deliberate attempts at chart success that they lost a sense of effortlessness that good songs have, as though they have appeared fully formed and been pressed to wax the next day. Obviously that is not what happens but, in general, I don’t want a song to make me think about the process of creating it, certainly not on the first few listens, but this did and continues to do so.
I could be completely off the mark, but it’s a feeling I find difficult to shake off, though this doesn’t mean I dislike the album. There were singles taken from this album, ‘Abacab’, ‘No Reply At All’, ‘Keep It dark’ and ‘Man On The Corner’. Rating 8.6
|1.||“Abacab”||Tony Banks, Phil Collins, Mike Rutherford||7:02|
|2.||“No Reply at All”||Banks, Collins, Rutherford||4:41|
|3.||“Me and Sarah Jane”||Banks||6:00|
|4.||“Keep It Dark”||Banks, Collins, Rutherford||4:34|
|1.||“Dodo/Lurker”||Banks, Collins, Rutherford||7:30|
|2.||“Who Dunnit?”||Banks, Collins, Rutherford||3:22|
|3.||“Man on the Corner”||Collins||4:27|
|4.||“Like It or Not”||Rutherford||4:58|
|5.||“Another Record”||Banks, Collins, Rutherford||4:30|
One of the problems I have with this album is that I think that the track ‘Illegal Alien’ is a steaming pile of shit, I really do. I enjoy side 1 but as soon as I turn the album over I am confronted by said steaming pile of shit. There are decent songs on the album though and it spawned 4 singles, ‘Mama’, ‘That’s All’, ‘Home by the Sea’ and ‘Steaming Pile of shit’ (I won’t mention it again!)
I remember liking ‘Mama’ at the time and I’m pretty sure I have the 12″ single of it somewhere, although I’m not as keen on it now, I think it was of its time but ‘Home by the sea’ and a few either hold up still. Rating: 7.8
|3.||“Home by the Sea”||4:46|
|4.||“Second Home by the Sea”||6:22|
|2.||“Taking It All Too Hard”||3:54|
|3.||“Just a Job to Do”||4:44|
|5.||“It’s Gonna Get Better”||5:00|
Invisible Touch (1986)
I bought this when it was released and my overall feeling when hearing it was one of disappointment. I didn’t like side 1 of the album, which were all singles, as was ‘Throwing it all away’ from side 2. I did like ‘Domino’ and ‘The Brazilian’ but as an album I found it bland. I rated all these albums independantly without considering the ratings of the other albums and this came out higher than ‘Trespass’, that was a mistake. Rating: 7.0
|2.||“Tonight, Tonight, Tonight”||8:49|
|3.||“Land of Confusion”||4:45|
|4.||“In Too Deep”||4:59|
|1.||“Anything She Does”||4:06|
|3.||“Throwing It All Away”||3:51|
We Can’t Dance (1991)
I thought this album was a bit of a return to form with ‘No son of Mine’ and ‘Driving the last spike’ being particular highlights. I wasn’t that keen on the title track to be honest but the video was quite funny I suppose. I have no time at all for ‘Jesus he knows me’, it’s all bit embarrassing that one, I understand what they were getting at but it’s a crap song.
‘Hold on my heart’ is quite nice but I couldn’t help feeling that it was something stolen in some way from a John Martyn album, I don’t quite know why, there’s something about it. Rating: 8.2
|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|
|9.||“Hold on My Heart”||4:37|
|10.||“Way of the World”||5:38|
|11.||“Since I Lost You”||4:09|
Calling All Stations (1997)
So Phil Collins had now left the band and was replaced by Ray Wilson of Stiltskin. Genesis was effectively over and I just can’t accept that this even bears the Genesis name. It is terrible, I know, I’ve listened to it, I’m not jumping on any bandwagons here, I’ve heard it, once when released and once today, I really never need or want to listen to it ever again. Banks and Rutherford should be bloody ashamed of this utterly forgetable and pointless drivel. Rating: -3.0
|1.||“Calling All Stations”||5:43|
|5.||“Not About Us” (Banks, Rutherford, Ray Wilson)||4:38|
|6.||“If That’s What You Need”||5:12|
|7.||“The Dividing Line”||7:45|
|9.||“Small Talk” (Banks, Rutherford, Wilson)||5:02|
|10.||“There Must Be Some Other Way” (Banks, Rutherford, Wilson)||7:54|
|11.||“One Man’s Fool”||8:58|
And that is it and very much the point of this rather overly long post. The ratings are mine of course, my opinion only, and people will disagree, but let’s graph this stuff:
It is plain to see, a legacy destroyed by the last album. Which is why, with Gabriel releasing a cover album, Steve Hackett touring old Genesis songs, Phil Collins looking like he will be able to drum again and Rutherford and Banks not seemingly up to much, get back in a room and make an album. It could be great but a 7.0 would do, just so Genesis doesn’t end with the whimper that is that final album.