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Genesis

Category: Musician or composer

Genesis

Genesis is an English rock band that formed in 1967. The band currently consists of its three longest-tenured members - Tony Banks (keyboards) and Mike Rutherford (bass, guitar), who were founder members; and Phil Collins (vocals, drums), who first joined in 1970. Past members Peter Gabriel (vocals, flute), Steve Hackett (guitar) and Anthony Phillips (guitar) also played major roles in the band in its early years. Genesis are among the top 30 highest-selling recording artists of all time, with approximately 150 million albums sold worldwide.

Genesis – and maybe they would be annoyed by me saying this – were at one time  a hugely spiritually inspired group.  The singer songwriting pair of Banks and Rutherford with input from Hackett, produced some extraordinary pieces, complex, eerie, haunting, sometimes dark, sometimes ethereal.  The melodies are not catchy little numbers you hum on the bus, they are as good if not better than many classical music compositions.  Classical music was an influence on Tony Banks and Steve Hackett in particular. Some works are operatic, some extraordinarily lengthy and complex.  There is, for example the  23-minute multi-part epic "Supper's Ready" and songs such as the Arthur C. Clarke-inspired "Watcher of the Skies".

They have succeeded as a band because there are a large number of equally spiritually inclined followers, who love what they do, but it is helped because their stage presence was also once riveting.  For example  “Gabriel's flamboyant and theatrical stage presence, which involved numerous and elaborate costumes and surreal spoken song introductions, made the band a popular live act.” and “During their live performances, Genesis pioneered the use of lasers and other light effects, most of which were built by the Dutch technician Theo Botschuijver. A customised handheld unit was used to channel laser light, which allowed Gabriel to sweep the audience with various light effects.”

Genesis formed in 1967, when Peter Gabriel and Tony Banks were students at Charterhouse School in Godalming.  Genesis's original line-up consisted of Peter Gabriel (vocals), Anthony Phillips (guitar), Tony Banks (keyboards), Mike Rutherford (bass & guitar) and Chris Stewart (drums).  Their first album, From Genesis to Revelation, was released  in March 1969.

Stewart was replaced by John Mayhew before the recording of Trespass. “ Trespass included progressive rock elements such as elaborate arrangements and time signature changes, as in the nine-minute song The Knife".

Ill health and recurring stage fright caused Phillips to leave the band in the summer of 1970.  The remaining members decided to carry on, replacing Mayhew with Phil Collins on drums, and Phillips with Steve Hackett.  Collins and Hackett made their studio debut in 1971 on Nursery Cryme.  The next album, Foxtrot, was released in October 1972.  So far so good.  But  from here it starts to get particularly interesting.

In 1974, Genesis recorded a double disc concept album The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway. The story describes the spiritual journey of Rael, a Puerto Rican youth living in New York City, and his quest to establish his freedom and identity. During his adventure, Rael “encounters several bizarre characters including the Slippermen and The Lamia, the latter being borrowed from Greek mythology and influenced by a poem by Keats.”

Creating the ambitious The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway album strained relations between band members, particularly Banks and Gabriel, and Gabriel decided to leave the band, citing estrangement from the other members, and the strains of his marriage and the difficult birth of his first child.   The group auditioned reportedly over 400 lead singers to find a replacement for Gabriel. Eventually, the band decided to use Collins as the lead vocalist.

And the next album they produced was the 1976 A Trick of the Tail. And this album with Collin's voice is truly inspired – in another world. 

 

Music historians later commented that Collins sounded more like Gabriel than Gabriel did".  One wonders which Gabriel they meant.  The album was not a commercial success.  A good sign, spiritually it means they were way out in front.  I like Genesis, but this site is not about who I like, but where I think something else happened beyond normal creativity and on this album I think something did.  The team was then:

 -Tony Banks / pianos, synthesizers, organ, mellotron, 12 string guitar, backing vocals
- Phil Collins / drums, percussion, lead and back vocals
- Steve Hackett / electric guitar, 12 string guitar
- Mike Rutherford / 12 string guitar, basses, bass pedal

The songs which were truly extraordinary did not involve the input of Phil Collins, who bless his little heart, is a wonderful musician but not a spiritual traveller - at least not until later [see the observation for him].

Later that year, Genesis recorded Wind & Wuthering.  Released in December 1976, the album took the second part of its title from Emily Brontë's novel Wuthering Heights, whose last lines—"how anyone could ever imagine unquiet slumbers for the sleepers in that quiet earth"—inspired the titles of the seventh and eighth tracks.

Guitarist Hackett left the band in October 1977.  Following the departure of Hackett, Rutherford took on guitar duties in the studio  The group decided to continue as a trio, a fact they acknowledged in the title of the 1978 album ...And Then There Were Three....

This combination Banks, Collins and Rutherford somehow changed the chemistry.  The music from now on is extremely good and at times earthy, sexy and very dynamic, but it is not haunting or on another plane.  It seems as though Hackett was key to producing the final alchemical mix.

As the band had been recording and touring constantly since the winter of 1977–78, it was decided by Banks, Collins, and Rutherford to take the majority of 1979 off. Collins had previously informed his bandmates that he needed to attempt to save his marriage by following his wife to her new home in Vancouver. If they planned to go back into the studio, they were going to have to count him out. Banks and Rutherford responded by proposing that the band go into hiatus while he sorted out his family issues and record solo material in the meantime.

After his attempt to save his marriage (which ended in divorce), Collins returned to the UK in August 1979.  When the three bandmates came back together to begin recording their next album from October to December 1979, Duke (1980), the product was much more the result of all three working together equally. Duke was the real transition from their 1970s progressive rock sound to the 1980s pop era. The use of a drum machine became a consistent element on subsequent Genesis albums, as well as on Collins's solo releases.

“ The more commercial Duke was well received by the mainstream media, and was the band's first UK number one album, while the tracks "Misunderstanding" and "Turn It On Again" became live performance favourites.

I liked Genesis at all stages of their butterfly like existence and endless caterpillar transitions, but before they were three you sat and listened, afterwards you put them on in the car and drove like a maniac.  Collins had a big influence on the changes that took place and this is not meant in any way negative.  But the whole character of the band changed through his ideas, vocals and additions.  The very fact they collaborated with  Earth, Wind and Fire shows the change in style.

Genesis's highest-selling album, Invisible Touch, was released in 1986, at the height of Collins's popularity as a solo artist. The album yielded five US Top 5 singles: "Throwing It All Away", "In Too Deep", "Tonight, Tonight, Tonight", "Land of Confusion" and "Invisible Touch".

Collins left the band in March 1996. He said  that he "felt it time to change direction in my musical life. For me now, it will be music for movies, some jazz projects, and of course my solo career. I wish the guys in Genesis all the very best in their future. We remain the best of friends."

In 1998, Banks, Collins, Gabriel, Hackett, Phillips, Rutherford, and Silver gathered for a photo session and dinner to celebrate the release of the box set, Genesis Archive 1967–75.

And, nearly 40 years after the band first formed  Banks, Collins and Rutherford announced Turn It on Again: The Tour on 7 November 2006.  The trio had wanted to reunite as a five-piece with Gabriel and Hackett for a live performance of The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway.  Perhaps in the end they realised that this team was musically if not financially, the high point of their careers.

What was their inspiration at that time?  I don’t know.  It wasn’t drugs according to them:

We didn't have any drugs (laughs). I've never taken drugs. I'm not interested in drugs, apart from alcohol, which I quite enjoy. It's never been a thing for me. You could never play Genesis music on stage, certainly from the 70s period, under the influence of drugs. One or two people tried and it didn't work at all (laughs).[Tony Banks]

But they were wealthy, and live in beautiful safe houses. We also have a few hints that they may have used hypnosis and relaxation techniques.  But then I don’t know…….

References

Genesis on A Trick Of The Tail Complete Interview

Observations

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