My Record Collection 115

GENESIS  are one of those bands that you simply cannot dislike.  They were at the heart of what became known as prog-rock; sometimes pretentious and overblown, and yet incredibly creative and weird and wonderful all at the same time.  I didn’t buy their first 2 albums but the third Nursery Crime (1970) was an early purchase.  The band at this time consisted of what is generally known as classic Genesis – Peter Gabriel (vocals) Tony Banks (Keyboards) Mike Rutherford (bass and rhythm) Steve Hackett (Guitar) and Phil Collins (drums).  They had had 2 albums with previous guitarist Anthony Phillips who was now replaced by Hackett (see H).  Well, what an album – ludicrous and brilliant at the same time, it is full of English eccentricity and great tunes.  The thing about prog-rock was that they often put two or three quite different melodies into the same song and this is no exception.  Anyway this album is famous for the track ‘The Music Box’, apparently a Victorian murder mystery though the words hardly register, it is simply a lovely piece of music.  Also ggod are ‘For Absent Friends’ and ‘Seven Stones’.  Foxtrot followed a year later – another classic.  A bit rockier in places, especially the opener ‘Watcher Of The Skies’, followed by the lyrical ‘Time Table’ – but the real triumph is the side long track ‘Supper’s Ready’, which goes through seven phases, some melodic and quiet, other louder and attacking.  Gabriel’s vocals are very expressive and carry the varied musical backdrop.  A remarkable achievement, and even more remarkable that the record company actually let them record it.  It was, of course – the Famous Charisma label, which seemed at the forefront of the explosion of styles and bands in the early seventies.  It was a wonderful time when anything was possible musically, experimentation, electronica and folk ditties.  Inspired by The Beatles and the freedom they expressed in their later recording’s bands sprung up everywhere and simply wrote and played whatever they liked.  But of course, along came punk in ‘76 and the music press were convinced that there was no future for groups like Genesis, Yes and Barclay James Harvest and even Pink Floyd – all of whom went on to achieve even greater success.  But somehow the magic was dissipating and record companies demanded more and more commercial success.  Oh Well.   A live album simply entitled Genesis Live came out in ’73.  I only bought it much later; longer more complex versions of the songs add nothing really to the album versions, but there is a long version of ‘The Knife’, a track from Trespass.  Later in 1973 they released Selling England By The Pound, which is really my favourite Genesis album of these early years.  The record is quite bucolic and English without being fey; it opens with the glorious ‘Dancing with the Moonlit Knight’ and barely flags until the closer ‘The Cinema Show’ followed by the coda ‘Aisle of plenty’ but the best is the sing-a-long ‘I Know What I Like’, which was largely written by Steve Hackett.  A great album and a major step up from Foxtrot.   Then in ’74 they released a double album; a concept of Peter Gabriel’s called The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway.  And despite some excellent songs it really is far too long and dense, they should have condensed it to a single album – but excess was the name of the game in the early Seventies.  Still it is a remarkable record and best songs are the title track, ‘Cuckoo Cocoon’ ‘Counting out Time’ and ‘Carpet Crawl’ – most of sides 3 and 4 were just too long and by then I had lost interest.  They toured this in an extensive 102 date tour of America and Europe.  At the beginning of the tour Peter had told the band that he was going to leave the group and pursue a solo career (see G), and in the summer of ’75 he finally and apparently quite amicably left the band.