My Record Collection 117

Genesis – Superstars – The 1980’s were, unlike for so many others, the most successful of years.   The tight-knit trio seemed to have a charmed life; they all pursued solo projects; Tony Banks wrote some film scores and a handful of solo records; Mike Rutherford formed a new  group altogether Mike and the Mechanics (see M) and Phil Collins literally flew off into the stratosphere.  At the same time Genesis became huge, absolute Superstars.  And those who had left – Peter Gabriel was untouchable too (see G) and Steve Hackett (see H) had a succession of great records and a very loyal following.  There have always been rumpurs of a Genesis reunion, which have come to nothing – so far.  The band though, supplemented by extra members live, continued to have phenomenal success.

As ever it was the songwriting which was the key.  They simply managed to write great tunes, changing over the years but still retaining that special Genesis sound.

Duke appeared in 1980.  The group had taken a few months off – Banks and Rutherford had released solo albums and Collins wrote one of the great break-up albums (he had split from his wife) which he released shortly after this record.  There is something quite magical about this album.  It flows and moves from song to song, and yet there are both slower love songs and the Genesis of old – longer more complex ones.  My favourites are the two single ‘Misunderstanding’ and ‘Turn It On Again’ but ‘Duchess’ and ‘Man of Our Times’ are excellent.  Phil Collins vocals have never been better and the ensemble playing is superb too.  A great record. Followed by another a year later.  The band were really flying with Abacab.  Shorter radio-friendly and highly contagious songs – best are ‘No Reply At All’ and ‘Me and Sarah Jane’ as well as the hit single title track.  There seemed no stopping them now – they were pop-royalty and everyone loved them.  1983 saw a self-titled album, which seems strange as it was their twelth studio album, but maybe this was more a decision of the record company than the band – who knows.  The album Genesis was their most commercial to date and a number one album across the world.   Almost every song is easily accessible and distinctive.  Phil Collins was enjoying solo success too – though inevitably this very success turned on itself and he became a bit of a villain in the music press.  But his voice and drumming on this record are immaculate.  Best songs – ‘Mama’, ;Home By The Sea’ and ‘That’s All’.  But by now any resemblance to the Genesis of Foxtrot or Lamb Lies Down were long since gone – though they still included some of the early songs in their huge World tours.  Invisible Touch was their next offering.   Three years had passed with each of the three pursuing their solo careers, and yet when they got back together they wrote the whole album in a few weeks.  Another huge number one hit.  Best songs, the title song, and ‘Tonight, Tonight, Tonight’ and ‘In Too Deep’.  To be honest there was little difference now between Phil solo and Genesis records.  I stopped buying both back then.

I have since caught up with one more Genesis album and a free one from the Daily mail of hits.  We Can’t Dance came out in 1991.  A five-year gap; and a quieter, more reflective album than the pop bravado of the last 4 records.  It seems to have far more of Collins influence and is very similar to his later albums – so a tad on the boring side.  But to have had 13 studio albums and worldwide success is a great achievement.  Most of their fans still hark back to the classic lineup with Peter Gabriel, but there is no denying their immense popularity. They have been pretty inactive for over 20 years now, and occasionally there are rumours of a band reunion, though it seems none of them can be that bothered to make the effort.  So bye for now to GENESIS

Genesis (band) - Alchetron, The Free Social Encyclopedia

My Record Collection 116

Genesis – The middle years.  Peter Gabriel left in 1975, and although hey tried out several vocalists they decided that Phil Collins, who had sung a couple of tracks and was backing vocalist to Peter anyway, should take on the role of singer. The first album without Gabriel was ‘A Trick Of The Tail (1976).   Gone were the pyrotechnic vocals and a softer voice appeared, but also the strange jumpy styles and a more regular rock sound began to emerge.  Not such a bad album and certainly more successful than their last one.  Best songs were ‘Squonk’, Robbery, Assault and Battery’ and ‘Dance on A Volcano’.  The drumming seems particularly good, and the band seem a bit more together.  Maybe because they were both writing the music and the words, whereas Peter used to tend to add words to finished instrumental pieces.  Steve Hackett however had already recorded his first solo album (with Rutherford and Banks) in a style more like the old Genesis – a sure sign that he wasn’t totally keen on this new direction.  The band followed this with Wind and Wuthering later in ’76.   A different feel to this album I thought.  There were certainly more instrumentals, and Tony Banks had already written quite a lot of material.  Again Steve Hackett felt squeezed out in terms of songwriting, which led to his departure the following year.  Saying that, this is still a strong album with some good stuff on it – but already one could feel the band moving away from the Gabriel era long complex songs with strange lyrics into somewhat safer and gentler territory.  Best song by far was ‘Your Own Special Way’, but this was hardly the Genesis of old.  This was a gentle love song.  I have just played the record twice and nothing else really leaps out and says WOW.  Another huge tour followed and then a second live album Seconds Out, which I bought at the time and worked my way back to some of the erlier albums I has missed.  Well, a pretty faultless live album, excellent versions of fan’s favourites which in some cases are at least as good as the studio ones.  Collins sings the old songs pretty well though with a softer edge than Gabriel.  The ensemble playing is very good.  Best songs ‘Carpet Crawl’, ‘Supper’s ready’ and ‘I Know What I Like’.  But as they were mixing the album Steve Hackett announced that he was leaving to pursue a solo career (see H).  He had already recorded and released a debut album a year earlier but the band had told him not to record a second, even though most of his suggestions for Wind and Wuthering weren’t take up   So, it could not have come as that much of a surprise when he left.  Could the band possibly survive the departure of both lead singer and guitarist. 

And again, rather than recruit a replacement they just carried on, Mike Rutherford filling in on lead as well as bass.  In a way the band became even tighter, though thye had to have extra players for live work.  In the studio at least they developed a close working relationship, that eventually led to all three pursuing solo stuff as well as Genesis work – but, the albums slowed down and the style morphed more and more into a highly commercial and pleasant rock sound with fewer surprises but much easier listening songs.  The first of which was 1978’s ….and then there were three.  Well, a really successful and quite commercial album.  The transformation of Genesis from a truly innovative prog-rock outfit to a super-cool rock band was almost complete.  Gone were the daft lyrics, the weird time changes, the long meandering songs with several different melodies.  In came smooth and shorter songs, more standard sounding production and success – even a hit single; ‘Follow You, Follow Me’.   But somehow they were still Genesis, only a slightly different Genesis.

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.

My Record Collection 114

Garbage – a nineties band from America with a Scottish girl singer, who seemed to sound a bit different.  A post punk sound but it was really the vocal drawl and the angry lyrics I liked.  I gor the debut self-titled album which had a couple of singles on it – and really it still sounds pretty good.  The singles ‘Stupid Girl’, ‘Only Happy When It Rains’ and ‘Queer’ are all good, as are most of the songs – but somehow I wasn’t really into groups at this time and only bought this and the follow up Version 2, which came out in 1998.  Well, not so bad on reflwction – it just doesn’t have the same oomph as their debut.  ‘Special’ and ‘When I grow Up’ are okay though. 

Art Garfunkel he was the singer of Paul Simon’s songs, though at the time hardly any of us knew that it was Paul Simon (see S) who wrote them.  After the slightly acrimonious split Art had some small success.  I bought this double album The Singer and The Song for my Mum one year, but copied it for myself. It is okay, not my sort of schmaltzy stuff really – but as a record (and you know what a completist I am) it stays in the collection.  But apart from the one or two hits, and a few half-decent covers it disappoints.  Also, a major mistake was to include Simon and Garfunkels Bridge Over Troubled Waters (and a couple of others) – as it shows up the rest of the songs for what they are – second rate.  At the time of their split we struggled to understand why Paul was dispensing with such a beautiful voice – but then it slowly dawned on us – he was THE Talent.

Bob Geldof – After the fame of organising Live Aid, the lead singer of the Boomtown Rats decided on pursuing a solo career.  Deep In The Heart Of Nowhere came out in 1986.  I remember at the time that I quite liked it; Bob was a folk hero and the album was produced by Dave Stewart (see E – Eurythmics) and featured a host of stars.  But listening now it seems a bit flat and ordinary; such is hindsight.  Best songs ‘In The Pouring Rain’, and ‘Beat of the Night’   Two years later and quite a change of style; gone was the bombastic production and in came a folky, Irish and gentler sound.  Not such a bad record at all.  Best songs ‘The Great Song of Indifference’, ‘Love or Something’ and ‘Walking Back To Happiness’. Bob has made the occasional album since but I am not buying any more. .

My Record Collection 113

Gallagher and Lyle – Ah, one of my very favourites.  They were a Scottish musical duo, comprising singer-songwriters Benny Gallagher and Graham Lyle; they signed for Apple in 1968 and joined up with a couple of other musicians and became part of McGuinness Flint (see M).  At Apple they had written songs for Mary Hopkins but were interested in making it on their own.  After 2 albums and a successful couple of singles they became a duo in 1972 (the best of years).  Their debut was a very quiet, almost folk-song affair.  A beautiful gem simply titled Gallagher and Lyle, it has been very hard to find on CD, but I eventually got a Japanese import.  What a delight this record is; gentle and lyrical, almost acoustic and soothing words and voices.  Takes me right back to the early Seventies when I was discovering new music every week, and this was one of those gems.  Best songs; opener ‘Mrs Canatelli’ and ‘closer ‘Desiderata’ – and everything in-between.  The record sold poorly but, as was the case in those days, they were allowed to continue slowly building a fan base.  They followed this a year later with, if anything, an even quieter album, Willie and The Lapdog. The songs are almost not there sometimes, barely scratching the surface and yet hauntingly beautiful; ‘Among the birks’ and ‘Hotel Constantine’ – there is a yearning in these sad songs that I particularly love.  The following year they moved up a gear and produced an album of much catchier and a bit rockier tunes; maybe a change of producer, or they were just writing more upbeat songs but Seeds was a joyful record.   The boys seemed to be getting into their stride, reluctant pop-stars that they were.   Best songs; I Believe In You’, ‘Layna’ and ‘Shine A Light’ – but really there isn’t a poor song on the record.  In fact, I can’t recall a song they might have recorded that I don’t like – a pretty rare achievement.   And they kept getting better; 1974’s The Last Cowboy was their best yet, it may even be my favourite of theirs.  It kicks off with ‘Keep the Candle Burning’ and doesn’t draw breath until the title track at the end.  The addition of brass and orchestra and a full-tilt band on the upbeat numbers brought them more into the soft-rock world.  My favourite song though is the lyrical and gentle ‘Mhairu’.  But real stardom was now just around the corner.  The following year they released their biggest seller Breakaway.  Well, it was full of great songs, a couple of hit singles and a warmer more rounded, slightly middle of the road sound.  Saying that it really is a triumph of an album.  Best songs ‘Heart On My Sleeve’, ‘Stay young’ and my favourite ‘Fifteen Summers’. Suddenly they were on Top of The Pops and famous, and yet somehow I preferred them as quiet folkies….oh well.  The following year they released another classic album Love On The Airwaves.   This has now become almost impossible to find on CD but I still have my vinyl copy, which might be worth a few bob.   Anyway, the album is another great batch of songs – best are ‘Every Little Teardrop’, ‘Never Give Up On Love’ and my favourite ‘The Runaway’.  The boys were now having quite regular top twenty hits, but for whatever reason they started to drift more to the middle of the road and lost some of their edge.  1978’s Showdown was noticeably a bit disco, a touch bland; maybe they were just getting tired.  But still not such a bad record really I suppose.   Best songs; ‘In Your Eyes’ and ‘Heartbreaker’.  One more album before they called it a day – 1979’s Lonesome No More.  Now I don’t own it on CD, because it is an absolute rarity.  Amazon lists it at £1253.00  – can you believe.  The tracks are not available on Youtube or Spotify or Amazon Music.  I did own it once on LP and have a cassette tape of it somewhere.   Anyway, the boys called it a day after that one and settled into early retirement.  Benny Gallagher (see just after this post) made a couple of albums and Graham Lyle wrote a few songs for, among others Tina Turner and one record with one of his earlier bandmates McGuiness.  (see L).  There is of course the obligatory Greatest Hits and a couple of lovely live albums as follows.  Heart On My Sleeve – Greatest Hits.  No surprises, just a lovely collection of their songs,  River Sessions was a few live songs for Cyde Radio, mostly early songs – very nice and mostly acoustic.   And I’ve just got Live at De Montfort Hall, a 1977 concert and excellect too.

Benny Gallagher – only 2 albums as a somewhat tentative and reluctant solo performer; On Stage 2006, is a very quiet performance; the songs, many by the duo sound more like demo’s than real songs.  Best are ‘How Come’ written for Ronnie Lane (see L) of The Faces (see F), and ‘The Salt Of Her Tears’ which infuriatingly sounds very familiar, though I cannot remember from where.  A year later hus one and only solo studio album was At The Edge Of The Wave. – a quiet and subdued record really, gone is that magic spark of creating memorable songs.  A sad sort of a coda…still we have the early albums to enjoy.