…And Then There Were Three… is the ninth studio album by English symphonic-rockers Genesis, released on March 31, 1978 on Charisma and Atlantic. The title references the fact that they were now down to three members after the 1977 departure of guitarist Steve Hackett.
The closing track, “Follow You Follow Me,” became their first single to reach the UK Top 10. In the United States, …And Then There Were Three… was their first album to reach Gold status. Musically, the album crosses the lush, pastoral sounds of their prior album, Wind and Wuthering, with the more compact approach of subsequent hits.
Rehearsals for …And Then There Were Three… commenced in September 1977, one month after Steve Hackett left Genesis for a solo career.
That summer, Genesis completed their tour behind Wind and Wuthering, their second of two albums (both 1976) recorded as a four-piece following the 1975 departure of frontman Peter Gabriel. For the tour, the band’s four remaining members — keyboardist Tony Banks, bassist Mike Rutherford, drummer/singer Phil Collins, and Hackett — hired American drummer Chester Thompson, recently of Weather Report, to handle drum parts during passages where Collins was busy at the microphone. (On their prior tour behind A Trick of the Tail, they employed drummer Bill Bruford.)
Genesis were in the process of mixing their second live release — the four-sided Seconds Out, drawn from the Trick and Wind tours — when Hackett quit the band. He had already made one solo album (Voyage of the Acolyte, 1975) and found himself stifled within the band environment, where Banks dominated the creative process. Just prior to his exit, they released Spot the Pigeon, a three-song EP comprised of leftovers from the Wuthering sessions.
Despite the impact Hackett’s departure had on their sound, the remaining trio of Banks, Collins, and Rutherford were confident they could survive the change just as easily as they survived the loss of Gabriel. On numerous occasions, the three had formed the musical core of Genesis, particularly on the “Apocalypse in 9/8” section of “Supper’s Ready” and the instrumental jam on “Cinema Show.” During the making of A Trick of the Tail, most of the input was down to Banks, Collins, and Rutherford, as Hackett was busy recording Voyage of the Acolyte.
With Hackett gone, Rutherford would now fill the dual role of bassist and guitarist. He’d already played an integral role in the band’s acoustic 12-string passages. On recent numbers like “Entangled” and “Ripples,” Rutherford employed a harmonic style that he first developed with original Genesis guitarist Anthony Phillips on their 1970 release Trespass. More recently, they collaborated on Phillips’ 1977 debut solo album The Geese and the Ghost, which features vocals by Collins on two tracks.
For part of 1977, Collins moonlighted in jazz-rockers Brand X, which issued two albums that year, Moroccan Roll and Livestock. That summer, he served as guest percussionist on Round the Back, the first of two albums by Scottish trio Cafe Jacques.
The three-man Genesis spent six weeks writing and rehearsing materiel for …And Then There Were Three…, which they recorded over a two-week period between September and October 1977 at Relight Studios in Hilvarenbeek, Netherlands, the site of the Wind and Wuthering sessions. Genesis co-produced the album with engineer David Hentschel, who worked on the two prior albums.
The album was mixed at Trident Studios, London, by Steve Short, a rising engineer whose credits included albums by Nova, Narada Michael Walden (I Cry, I Smile), and several 1976/77 projects that involved Collins, including Wuthering, Round the Back, the two recent Brand X titles and the related Marscape disc by Jack Lancaster and Robin Lumley. After finishing work on …And Then There Were Three…, Hentschel and Short produced and engineered A Song for All Seasons, the 1978 release by Renaissance.
The sessions for …And Then There Were Three… produced 13 songs: five by Banks (“Undertow,” “Burning Rope,” “Many Too Many,” “The Lady Lies,” “The Day the Light Went Out”), three by Rutherford (“Snowbound,” “Deep in the Motherlode,” “Say It’s Alright Joe”), and three group-written numbers (“Down and Out,” “Ballad of Big,” “Follow You Follow Me”). Collins, who stepped up as a lyricist in preparation for this album, did co-writes with Banks (“Scenes from a Night’s Dream”) and Rutherford (“Vancouver”).
From the pool of finished material, they finalized a tracklist of 11 songs, cutting two from the running order: the timely “The Day the Light Went Out” — inspired by the New York City blackout of 1977 — and Collins’ personal “Vancouver,” the destination of his soon-to-be estranged wife. Both songs were relegated to the b-side of “Many Too Many,” the second single released from the album. The two opening numbers, “Down and Out” and “Undertow,” were trimmed from their original length.
…And Then There Were Three… is the final Genesis album to feature the Mellotron, a cornerstone of their sound since 1970. Consequently, tracks like “Burning Rope,” “Deep in the Motherlode,” and “The Lady Lies” are often cited as the last of their symphonic/pastoral numbers.
The original vinyl release of …And Then There Were Three… is housed in a gatefold sleeve designed by Storm Thorgerson and Aubrey Powell of the design firm Hipgnosis, which also did 1977/78 covers for Gabriel (Peter Gabriel), Yes, Bethnal, Justin Hayward (Songwriter), Hawkwind (Quark Strangeness and Charm), Wishbone Ash, Fabulous Poodles, Sad Cafe, and the Alan Parsons Project (I Robot).
Thorgerson shot the outer- and inner-fold photos using time-lapse to convey the flow of lyrics on the album. The outer-fold (swarming clouds at dusk) reveals two shady figures (assassins at a body-dump site?) lighting cigarettes from a lengthy strand of light while a third accomplice waits in a nearby car. On the inner-fold (parting clouds at dawn), the light strand at the abandoned scene forms the word “GENESIS.”
Genesis toured …And Then There Were Three… between March and December 1978 with nearly 100 shows across the US, Japan, and Continental Europe. Their only show in the UK occurred on June 24 at the Knebworth Park Festival, which also featured sets by the Jefferson Starship, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Devo, Brand X, Atlanta Rhythm Section, and Roy Harper.
For this and subsequent tours, the three-man Genesis were augmented by Thompson and American jazz-rock guitarist Daryl Stuermer, a longtime fan who impressed with his audition of “Squonk” and “Down and Out.” For this tour, he played guitar on the Hackett-era numbers and bass on the new songs, where Rutherford felt more confident as a guitarist.
Stuermer was brought to the band’s attention by bassist Alphonso Johnson — Thompson’s colleague on the 1976 Weather Report album Black Market — who was briefly considered for the role. On this tour, Genesis revived “The Fountain of Salmacis,” long absent from their setlists, so Stuermer could impart his own unique style on Hackett’s complicated guitar parts.
Collins, who shaved off his beard for the tour, donned a flatcap and trench coat (staples of his later wardrobe) for the number “Say It’s Alright Joe,” where he acted as the drunkard in the lyrics and used Banks’ keyboard as a pretend bar.
A1. “Down and Out” Collins, Banks, Rutherford (5:25)
A2. “Undertow” Banks (4:47)
A3. “Ballad of Big” Collins, Banks, Rutherford (4:47)
A4. “Snowbound” Rutherford (4:30)
A5. “Burning Rope” Banks (7:07)
B1. “Deep in the Motherlode” Rutherford (5:14)
B2. “Many Too Many” Banks (3:30)*
B3. “Scenes from a Night’s Dream” Collins, Banks (3:30)
B4. “Say It’s Alright Joe” Rutherford (4:18)
B5. “The Lady Lies” Banks (6:05)
B6. “Follow You Follow Me” Rutherford, Banks, Collins (3:59)
1. “The Day the Light Went Out” Banks (3:18)
2. “Vancouver” Collins, Rutherford (3:01)
Tony Banks – keyboards
Phil Collins – drums, percussion, vocals
Mike Rutherford – basses, guitars
David Hentschel – production, engineer
- Discogs: Genesis – …And Then There Were Three…
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