young man says you are what you eat, old man says you are what you wear

 

Genesis

 

Peter Gabriel. Phil Collins. You know these guys. They were in Genesis at one time. Look what happens to you when you leave Genesis -- Gabriel takes more time than Tom Scholz to release new albums, and Collins is stuck singing with 'N Sync (or was it the Backstreet Boys? damned if I know) for a crappy Disney movie. And what about the people who weren't frontmen? Who knows what happened to Steve Hackett, Anthony Philips, or any of those other guys!

Please see separate page for Peter Gabriel solo albums.

And let me add something -- a lot of Genesis fans believe that Collins screwed up the band. This is NOT TRUE. Listen to any Mike and the Mechanics album, then remember that Banks is responsible for most of Wind and Wuthering, THEN try to tell me that.

lineup: the only everpresent members are Tony Banks (banksynths) and Mike Rutherford (bass, guitar); other people involved with Genesis are Phil Collins (drums, drum machines, vocals [Nursery Cryme to We Can't Dance]); Peter Gabriel (vocals, flute, percussion [FGtR to Lamb]; Steve Hackett (barely audible guitar [Nursery Cryme to Wind and Wuthering]); Anthony Phillips (guitar on the first two); Ray Wilson (vocals that are astonishingly unlike Peter Gabriel's on CAS); and some nondescript drummers on the first two albums and CAS.

review index: From Genesis to Revelation / Trespass / Nursery Cryme / Foxtrot / Live / Selling England By the Pound / The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway / A Trick of the Tail / Wind and Wuthering / Seconds Out / ...And Then There Were Three... / Duke / Abacab / Three Sides Live / Genesis / Invisible Touch / We Can't Dance / Live: The Way We Walk (the shorts) / Calling All Stations

missing albums: the other Live: The Way We Walk album and the two Archive box sets.

apex: Foxtrot
nadir: Calling All Stations
overlooked: Duke


From Genesis to Revelation - 1969

Rating: ***
Best songs: I'm not even gonna bother trying this time.
Worst songs: ditto.

 

Haha, this isn't Genesis! This is the Bee Gees or something!

Oh, wait, it really is Genesis. Dang, that's weird. This certainly sounds nothing like Genesis. But you probably figured that out already. It's cheesy 60s pop songs that are very badly produced (thanks a lot, Jonathan King) -- sounds like they mixed the entire band (minus Gabe) down to one channel on most of these songs.

Thankfully, the songs are rather good. I won't go into specifics, as it's all kinda samey; instead, I'll just close this review with a sample of the lyrics: "once upon a time there was confusion / disappointment, fear and disillusion". Isn't that so deep and philosophical?

Yeah, I thought so too.


Trespass - 1970

Rating: **1/2
Best songs: Looking for Someone, Dusk, The Knife
Worst songs: Stagnation

 

You know, I really can't find much to say about this album. This is the last Genesis studio album I heard. It's hardly a revelation (no pun intended), either: the style on this album is very far removed from the previous album, and very close to the following.

As for the songs, the only real classics are "Looking for Someone" and "The Knife". "The Knife", in particular, is intriguing -- it's quite messy in its composition but somehow manages to work in spite of that. Of the other songs, "Stagnation" is a bloody bore, "Dusk" is a pretty little acoustic thing, and the other two songs are somewhat undistinguished. See? I didn't name them because they're undistinguished!

In closing, I'd like to say that I'd give this 3 stars, but I give a whole friggin' lot of 3-star ratings.


Nursery Cryme - 1971

Rating: ***1/2
Best songs: The Musical Box, The Return of the Giant Hogweed, Harold the Barrel
Worst songs: The Fountain of Salmacis, Harlequin

 

The first album with Phil Collins and Steve Hackett. They're both put to excellent use in the opener "The Musical Box", a strange epic tale that makes great use of dynamics. Phil's driving percussion work and Steve's unique guitar tones serve the loud portions especially well, particularly the driving section following Gabriel's line 'and I touch...the wall!'. Steve also beats Eddie Vedder-Halen to the punch on the two-handed guitar tapping thing on this one.

Well, I've spent enough time on the Box, so why don't we move on? "The Return of the Giant Hogweed" is the other epic highlight, featuring a great "agressive" mood. There are also a couple short tracks worth noting: "For Absent Friends" was probably intended as a throaway, but it's actually a quite nice acoustic piece with surprisingly prominent Collins vocals, and "Harold the Barrel" is a great story-song featuring Gabriel changing his voice to imitate the various characters in the story. And it's only three minutes long!

The only problem here is that the album ends on a flat note: "Harlequin" is okay, but doesn't really do anything (at least "For Absent Friends" is less than 2 minutes long...), and "The Fountain of Salmacis" is a dull exercise in Greek mythology that should have been left to the history books.


Foxtrot - 1972

Rating: *****
Best songs: that really long one, Watcher of the Skies, and most of the others
Worst songs: none of 'em

 

OKAY, OKAY, I'll give this one a proper review! Quit whining, youse guys! (you know who you are) Here it is, track-by-track:

"Watcher of the Skies" - Despite Tony Banks's wimpy-sounding mellotron intro (only he could make a mellotron sound like crap), this is a quite interesting bass-driven tune.

"Time Table" - The chorus is gorgeous.

"Get 'Em Out By Friday" - It's funny, I always think I don't like this one, but I never skip it when I'm listening to the album. One of Gabe's best rock operettas, possibly even better than "Harold the Barrel".

"Can-Utility and the Coastliners" - Probably the least-looked-upon tune from this album. I like it quite a bit, but I'm usually too anxious to hear "Supper's Ready" to pay it too much attention.

"Horizons" - Whoa, they had a guitarist?!

"Supper's Ready" - One of the few side-long suites to deserve every minute of time it takes up. Some people think it doesn't even pick up till halfway through. Hmph, they're nuts! The opening part is great!


Live - 1973

Rating: ***
Best songs: The Musical Box, Watcher of the Skies, The Return of the Giant Hogweed, The Knife
Worst songs: n/a

 

The best of the three major Genesis live albums, though that's not saying terribly much. It's all performed well, but the first half of the record sounds pretty much exactly like the versions on the preceding studio albums. "The Musical Box" has a really cool middle part, where the band actually comes close to rocking hard. Incredible, ain't it! But the rest is passable if not outstanding.


Selling England By the Pound - 1973

Rating: ****1/2
Best songs: Dancing With the Moonlit Knight, I Know What I Like (In Your Wardrobe), Firth of Fifth, Cinema Show/Aisle of Plenty
Worst songs: After the Ordeal

 

The last great hurrah for Gabriel-led Genesis. The first half is as good as either side of Foxtrot, if not better -- two epic pieces ("Moonlit", "Firth") interspersed with two unassuming pop songs ("Wardrobe", "Fool"). Side two contains two more great epics ("Battle", "Cinema/Aisle"). The only drawback is a bit of filler ("After"). In the end, not as overwhelming as Foxtrot, so it's rated slightly lower.


The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway - 1974

Rating: **1/2
Best songs: In the Cage, The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway, Fly on a Windshield...
Worst songs: nearly all of sides 3 and 4

 

Frustrating -- record one has a bunch of wonderful songs on it (particularly all of side one!), but disc II can more or less be thrown out the window (with the exception of the closer "it"). And don't try to follow the storyline, it'll give you a headache.


A Trick of the Tail - 1976

Rating: ****1/2
Best songs: Entangled, Dance on a Volcano, Squonk, Ripples
Worst songs: nah, not really...

 

Whoops! Where'd Petey go? Why, he went to go make solo albums every 7 years or so. Just like a cicada.

Ah well, it's not like they needed him. This is actually an improvement on the last one, mainly because it's not filled with a bunch of..uh..filler. The first side has three awesome compositions: "Dance on a Volcano", on which I cannot comment because of pending legal action, "Entangled", a lovely acoustic piece about psychology and/or hypnotism, and "Squonk", part of which Phil would rip off two decades later. And closing the album is "Mad Man Moon", which is okay, but a little too long.

Side two contains a couple bouncy pop tunes in "Robbery, Assault and Battery" and the track after which the album is titled, another gorgeous acoustic (well, the first part is, anyway) piece named "Ripples", and a good-enough instrumental named "Los Endos". Overall very high in the quality department, but this level of post-Gabriel success would be short-lived. Until it gets re-born!


Wind and Wuthering - 1976

Rating: **
Best songs: Eleventh Earl of Mar, Your Own Special Way
Worst songs: Unquiet slumbers for the sleepers bla bla bla, Wot Gorilla?

 

*cough* Did I say they didn't need Gabriel? I take that back.

Banks goes all out here, and that's NOT a good thing. A couple good tracks reside here: "Eleventh Earl of Mar", a good uptempo opener (and the album's high point) and the ballad "Your Own Special Way". But that's really all. "One for the Vine" has some nice guitar and piano work, but not enough interesting ideas for the ten minutes it takes up. There's also another ten minutes of instrumental wanking in the form of "Wot Gorilla?" (hilarious title, indeed) and "Unquiet slumbers for the sleepers..."/"...in that quiet earth". The rest is pretty nondescript.


Seconds Out - 1977

Rating: **1/2
Best songs: whatever,
Worst songs: yo

 

Live albums rock! Yeah! Let's listen to an inferior version of "Supper's Ready"! Or a medley that just includes the last couple minutes of "Musical Box"!

It'd get a higher rating if they didn't sound EXACTLY like they do on record. And of all the songs off of Wind and Wuthering, they picked "Afterglow" instead of "Your Own Special Way" or "Eleventh Earl of Mar"? Why?


...And Then There Were Three... - 1978

Rating: ***
Best songs: Snowbound, Deep Inside the Motherlode, Down And Out
Worst songs: The Lady Lies, Say Its Alright Joe

 

Steve Hackett finally realized that nobody could hear his guitar parts with Tony Banks' keyboards blaring away constantly, so he left.

The result? Well, look at the title. Banks was now free to pile as many synthesizers, organs, and pianos as possible into the mix. Mike Rutherford picks up the electric guitar, but while his bass playing is excellent, his guitar technique is pretty average. Also, the band finally finishes their transition to shorter song structures: only four of the album's eleven tracks go past 5 minutes (and only two of those pass six).

And what of those songs? Well, the first side contains some more excellent balladry in "Undertow" and "Snowbound", and though it's pretty much a combination of "Dance on a Volcano" and "Eleventh Earl of Mar", the opener "Down And Out" is a great energy rush with some fantastic drumwork. Even the Banksfest "Burning Rope" is worthwhile, particularly the wonderful chorus.

Side two is more spotty -- pluses include the great 'go west' song (presumably what the album cover was based on) "Deep Inside the Motherlode" and the band's first US Top 40 hit "Follow You Follow Me" (with a sickly-sounding guitar intro). The rest has its moments, but the songs just seem to drag on by, particularly the six-minute "The Lady Lies". Overall, it seems the departure of Hackett pushed the band out of its Wind and Wuthering lull and towards its notorious pop-oriented direction. Good job, boys!


Duke - 1980

Rating: ***1/2
Best songs: Duchess, Heathaze, Turn It On Again, Alone Tonight
Worst songs: Please Don't Ask, Duke's Travels

 

What's this? Pop meets prog? Sort of. The boring ten-minute instrumental "Duke's Travels" is the last great hurrah for 70's Genesis, and the opening "Behind the Lines"/"Duchess"/"Guide Vocal" suite melds lengthy instrumental sections with more conventional song structures. But the rest is pretty much straight pop 'n roll. Two big hits are on here, "Misunderstanding" (hated by 43.28% of Genesis fans) and "Turn It On Again", and aside from the awful Collins song "Please Don't Ask", the rest is average-to-good straightforward rock. Highlights? "Heathaze", aside from the typically bad lyrics, is a good Banks song, "Alone Tonight" is another great ballad, and that's about it. I refuse to mention the rest. At all. So there.


Abacab - 1981

Rating: ****
Best songs: Abacab, Me And Sarah Jane, No Reply At All, Dodo/Lurker
Worst songs: Who Dunnit?, Like It Or Not

 

The drum machines are more prominent on this one. Luckily, they've figured out that their prog writing has gone down the tubes, so they've converted 90% to pop songcraft. The only hints of prog come in the second cousin, once removed of Squonk, more popularly known as "Dodo"/"Lurker".

Anyway, they spit out one great tune after another: the title track (featuring surprisingly good Rutherford guitar), the horn-filled "No Reply At All", Banks's surprisingly good "Me and Sarah Jane", the aforementioned "Dodo" and the album closer "Another Record". The only minuses on this album are the incredibly annoying "Who Dunnit?" and oh-so-generic "Like It Or Not", and a couple of middling songs such as the sounds-like-solo-Collins "Man on the Corner".


Three Sides Live - 1982

Rating: ***
Best songs: don't
Worst songs: ask

 

I'm one of the few people that actually has the original US edition of this album. Therefore, I'm not going to bother with the live tracks (aside from these two words: "Afterglow" AGAIN?!), and instead will look at the five songs on the non-live side:

"Paperlate" - The obligatory single, it's basically a copy of "No Reply At All" with a weaker melody.

"You Might Recall" - This one's a good midtempo track with a noteworthy riff.

"Me and Virgil" - This one's rather silly, and the melody is way repetative, but it's a worthwhile listen in spite of that.

"Evidence of Autumn" - Typical Banks composition. Luckily, they didn't include a lyrics sheet, so I can be blissfully unaware of what Phil's singing as long as I don't pay too much attention.

"Open Door" - A quiet(er) Rutherford number. Very nice after the bombast of "Evidence". And is that an oboe in there? Oooookay...

Overall, I give the studio side three stars. Highlight: You Might Recall, Lowlight: Evidence of Autumn. Thank you, and good evening.


Genesis - 1983

Rating: ****1/2
Best songs: Mama, That's All, Home By the Sea, Silver Rainbow
Worst songs: this space for rent

 

Undeniably the peak of pop-era Genesis. Nine songs and only one or two present problems that prevent this from reaching five stars. If the opener "Mama" doesn't floor you, surely the extended piece "Home By the Sea" will. (I _love_ those scratchy chords that open the latter) And the rest? Is good! There's weirdness like "Silver Rainbow", silly synth-funk (who'd I steal that from? come on, speak up!) in the hit-man tale "Just a Job to Do", and yet more Collins balladry in the form of the lite shuffle "That's All" as well as a couple of tracks on side two which I won't mention as just talking about the individual songs makes you a bad reviewer.

What's bad? Well, "Illegal Alien" has absolutely terrible lyrics, but the catchy chorus just about makes up for it. And that's all!


Invisible Touch - 1986

Rating: ***
Best songs: Land of Confusion, Tonight Tonight Tonight
Worst songs: The Brazilian, Anything She Does

 

Hmm. Where do I start? This is a step down. How's that? Okay. Let's think for a minute -- we've heard half this album on the radio, haven't we? And seen the great video for "Land of Confusion".

Okay, I have to admit it -- this was the first Genesis album I heard. For that matter, I'm loath to trash it, but at the same time I'd rather not lose all credibility by praising it. Let me try to hit some middle ground here: "Land of Confusion" is a wonderful synth-rocker, and "Tonight Tonight Tonight" is actually interesting despite its 8-minute running time. "The Brazilian" is dullsville, man, and "Anything She Does" is a blah generic rawk song. The rest is decent. "In Too Deep" -- I LIKE that falsetto. I think it's cute, in a cheesy way. And the title track is a pretty good pop tune. The rest is, as I said, decent: "Domino" isn't really worth the 12+ minutes it runs (my LP version just omits the second half of it -- why couldn't they have cut "Anything She Does" or "Brazilian" instead?!). Oh well, whatever.

What do you think?


We Can't Dance - 1991

Rating: **
Best songs: We Can't Dance, Jesus He Knows Me, No Son of Mine
Worst songs: Dreaming While You Sleep, Driving the Last Spike, Hold On My Heart, Tell Me Why, and so on...

 

After a five-year hiatus, Genesis makes a way-too-long album with way-too-long songs. The good part? Three great pop tunes: the hit "We Can't Dance", "No Son of Mine" (about an abusive father), and the televangelist rant "Jesus He Knows Me". The rest ranges from decent ("Never a Time"? "Way of the World", maybe?) to mind-numbingly dull ("Driving the Last Spike", "Fading Lights", "Tell Me Why").

After this, Phil finally realized he didn't need these two guys and left, but has only produced like, one or two albums since then. (Still, Dance Into the Light is way better than Calling All Stations)


Live: The Way We Walk (the shorts) - 1992

Rating: **
Best songs: Mama, I Can't Dance, Jesus He Knows Me
Worst songs: Hold On My Heart

 

Thanks to the joy of $1 cassettes, I now own this one. And that's about all it was worth. This album is basically We Can't Touch Live, with the two best-known songs from Genesis tacked on. And the point of this album was...?

As for the quality of songs, The Invincible Dutch tracks aren't even well-produced: "Tonight Tonight Tonight" is shortened to a three-minute crowd-pleaser, "Land of Confusion" just doesn't feel right, and "Invisible Touch" has Phil gratuitously using the word "fuck". Phil, there were probably children at that concert! The rest sounds fine, but considering Genesis typically did note-for-note renditions of the songs in concert, what's the point of having this, especially if you have the preceding two albums?


Calling All Stations - 1997

Rating: *1/2
Best songs: Congo, Not About Us, Calling All Stations
Worst songs: One Man's Fool, Small Talk, If That's What You Need, The Dividing Line

 

Well, my original review was rather harsh, so I thought I'd give it another go, as my opinion of this album has softened a little bit. Having picked up singer Ray Romano (who now stars in the hilarious CBS sitcom "The King of Queens"), the last two Genesis members Mike Rutherford and Tony Banks try to create, well, We Can't Dance Part Two. The album is divided up into pop tunes and ham-fisted attempts at something progressive. Unsurprisingly, the pop tunes are the more successful: "Not About Us" and "Congo" just about merit a place on a Genesis greatest hits album (though only "Congo" made it onto Turn It On Again: Fifteen Genesis Songs You Hear on the Radio All the Time, Plus a Song from the Album Nobody Bought, a Song Sung by That "Sledgehammer" Guy, and a Re-Recording of "Carpet Crawlers" (Which Wasn't a Hit But Is Included to Get Genesis Fans to Buy the Album)). On the other pop ditties: "Shipwrecked" isn't bad, and "Uncertain Weather" has a neat chorus, but "Small Talk" and "If That's What You Need" are real snore-fests. And why do all the songs fade out?

But y'see, it's the attempt at prog-rock that really hurts this album: the long(er) songs have interesting parts (the synthy opening/ending jams of "The Dividing Line" and the, er, synthy jam in the middle of "There Must Be Some Other Way" -- if we could stick those two together, maybe we'd have a neat instrumental), but they don't deserve being long in the first place. "One Man's Fool", however, doesn't have any interesting parts at all. But hey, give it a fair listen, and you just might like it! Some of it, anyway!


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