Genesis was an English rock band that released fifteen studio albums between 1969 and 1997. They formed as a baroque-psych quintet at Charterhouse school and cut their debut album, From Genesis to Revelation, under the guidance of producer Jonathan King. The original lineup featured singer Peter Gabriel, keyboardist Tony Banks, guitarist Anthony Phillips, and bassist Mike Rutherford.
Genesis embraced epic form on their 1970 release Trespass and the early concert staple “The Knife.” After Phillips’ early exit, the arrival of drummer Phil Collins and guitarist Steve Hackett heralded the classic lineup that made the 1971/72 albums Nursery Cryme and Foxtrot. Genesis concerts showcased theatrical numbers like “The Musical Box,” “Watcher of the Skies,” and “Supper’s Ready,” all enacted by a costumed Gabriel. Their 1973 fifth album Selling England By the Pound contains the enduring jam “Cinema Show” and the dark soliloquy “I Know What I Like,” their first charting UK single.
In 1974, Genesis staged a lavish tour behind their double-album The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway, about the surreal exploits of a New York punk. When Gabriel departed for a solo career, Collins assumed vocals on the 1976 albums A Trick of the Tail and Wind & Wuthering, recorded as a quartet. Hackett preceded these with his 1975 solo debut Voyage of the Acolyte and left during mix-downs for their 1977 live album Seconds Out. The remaining trio of Banks, Collins, and Rutherford continued with …And Then There Were Three…, an album of shorter numbers.
Genesis ascended globally with their 1980 tenth album Duke, comprised of a piecemeal suite and solo numbers, including their Billboard breakthrough “Misunderstanding.” Their 1981–83 albums Abacab and Genesis made them mainstays of classic MTV with videos to “No Reply at All,” “Man On the Corner,” “Mama” “Illegal Alien,” and “That’s All,” their first US Top 10 hit.
During this time, all three members proliferated with solo careers. Collins achieved superstar status with his 1981 album Face Value and the hits “In the Air Tonight” and “Against All Odds.” His third album, No Jacket Required, became an all-time top-seller with the hits “One More Night,” “Sussudio,” and “Don’t Lose My Number.” On July 13, 1985, he was the only act to perform at both locations (London and Philadelphia) of the globally telecast all-star charitable event Live Aid.
Genesis consolidated their world dominance with Invisible Touch, which spawned the 1986/87 Billboard Top 5 hits “Invisible Touch” (No. 1), “Throwing It All Away,” “Land of Confusion,” “Tonight, Tonight, Tonight,” and “In Too Deep.” The accompanying world tour covered 114 shows in 10 months.
After a four-year break for solo and side projects, Genesis reconvened with the 1991 release We Can’t Dance, another top-seller with the hits “No Son of Mine,” “Jesus He Knows Me,” and “I Can’t Dance.” Collins left the band in 1996 and Genesis recorded one further album, Calling All Stations, with singer Ray Wilson. Genesis folded in 1999 but Collins, Banks, and Rutherford regrouped for tours in 2007 and 2021.
Members: Tony Banks (keyboards), Mike Rutherford (bass, guitar), Peter Gabriel (vocals, flute, oboe, 1967-75, 1999), Anthony Phillips (guitar, 1967-70), Chris Stewart (drums, 1967-68), John Silver (drums, 1968-69), John Mayhew (drums, 1969-70), Phil Collins (drums, vocals, 1970-96), Steve Hackett (guitar, 1970-77)
In 1965, the five founding members of Genesis were playing in rival bands at Charterhouse School in Surrey. Singer Peter Gabriel, keyboardist Tony Banks, and drummer Chris Stewart comprised the pop trio Garden Wall. Guitarists Anthony Phillips and Mike Rutherford were in the R&B/beat group Anon with bassist Rivers Jobe, singer Richard Macphail, and drummer Rob Tyrell. School policies made it difficult for the young musicians, then aged 14/15, to pursue band activities and the two acts splintered by late 1966. Jobe later surfaced in blues-rockers Savoy Brown, playing on their 1968 album Getting to the Point.
In early 1967, Rutherford and Phillips started writing material and invited Gabriel, Banks, and Stewart along to record a demo tape of six songs: “Don’t Want You Back,” “Try a Little Sadness,” “She’s Beautiful,” “That’s Me,” “Listen on Five,” and “Patricia.” The tape was sent to Charterhouse alumnus Jonathan King, who scored a 1965 UK hit with “Everyone’s Gone to the Moon.” King secured them a one-year deal with Decca and became their producer.
The young band spent the second half of 1967 at Regent Sound Studios recording potential singles. After considering various band names (Gabriel’s Angels, Champagne Meadow) they chose Genesis at King’s suggestion.
First Two Singles
On February 2, 1968, Genesis released the mid-tempo ballad “The Silent Sun,” their first of two Decca singles. The exclusive b-side, “That’s Me,” is a medium-uptempo number (ala Family) with strummed verses and a swelling, harmonized chorus; intercut with searing guitar refrains.
On May 24, 1968, Genesis released “A Winter’s Tale,” a mid-tempo ballad (in A) with stately piano and plaintive vocals that break to a bellowing, harmonized chorus line (“You’re concealing every feeling, can you find me?”) cut by Gabriel’s sigh of “Noooo!” The b-side, “One-Eyed Hound,” opens with a sliding guitar lick reminiscent of Jimi Hendrix (echoes of “Purple Haze” and “The Wind Cries Mary”) and lyrics about a mystery figure, condemned in the harmonized refrain (“This man committed a sin, This man he never can win”).
That summer, Stewart cleared for another Charterhouse pupil, drummer John Silver. Genesis recorded their debut album in August 1968 at Regent.
1969: From Genesis to Revelation
Genesis released their debut album, From Genesis to Revelation, in March 1969 on Decca. It features “Silent Sun” and twelve additional group-credited originals, which range from folk ballads (“Fireside Song,” “In Hiding”) to psychedelic rockers (“In the Beginning,” “The Serpent”) with moments of soulful jubilation (“In the Wilderness,” “In Limbo”), romantic tenderness (“One Day,” “Window”), and ominous uncertainty (“Am I Very Wrong?”). Side one chronicles the formation of Earth while side two deals with early man’s quest for love and serenity.
“Where the Sour Turns to Sweet” (3:14) is a ballad that opens with simple three-note piano motifs (C→E♭→F… G→B♭→C) to the finger-clicking line “We waited for you, come and join us now.” The verses (in C) feature strummed acoustic guitar, crisp piano, light strings, and soft vocals. Gabriel invites the listener to “Leave your ugly selfish shell” and “Drift away while the saffron burns, to the land where the rainbow ends.”
“In the Beginning” (3:42) is a psychedelic rock song that fades in with a vibrating drone that distorts then yields to a brisk acoustic strum (in E). Gabriel — in a phased vocal (ala Music In a Doll’s House) — blasts in with “Ocean of motion, squirming around and up and down,” a depiction of young Earth at its formative stage. He further describes the newborn world and declares “It has begun, you’re in the hands of destiny,” then Phillips cuts in with a searing, six-note guitar refrain.
“Fireside Song” (4:16) opens with a piano prelude. The song is a strummed acoustic ballad with sweet strings and gentle vocals. Gabriel describes the dawn of a new eon when life on Earth takes bloom; elucidated in the harmonized, cutaway chorus:
Once upon a time there was confusion
Disappointment, fear and disillusion
Now there’s hope reborn with every morning
See the future clearly at its dawning
“The Serpent” (4:36) starts with a distant strummed–percussive jam. The song (:40 onward) is a dark psychedelic number with a rumbling bassline (in D minor). The opening lines state that the planet is properly aligned for life, and thus the “creator prepares for the dawn of man.” The tempo intensifies as Gabriel emotes “You’re waking up, the day of incarnation.” Man is made in god’s image, prompting Peter to announce “Beware the future!” On the chorus, he talks of life in the newborn world amid stormy backing (Am…D…) with searing leads and heavenly harmonies, capped with the line “
“Am I Very Wrong?” (3:28) has a faint piano–harpsichord prelude that cuts to the song proper (at :34). It’s a dark folk ballad (in C minor) with plucked double-tracked guitar and somber vocals. Gabriel applies the title question to a series of actions (“
”) and circumstances (“ ”). On the harmonized bridge (in C major), Phillips offers respite: “Today’s your birthday friend, everything all right… ”
“In the Wilderness” (3:21) is a melodramatic ballad with a poignant, minor-key piano motif that gives way to a swelling, joyous chorus. Gabriel, accompanied only by Banks, sings of wildlife (first verse) and soldiers (second). He cuts away each time as the structure jumps (to D major), which prompts him to bellow:
Music, all I hear is music – guaranteed to please
And I look for something else
Rain drops pouring down the rooftops
Flowing in the drains
As the people run their lives
As their lives are run by time
After the final chorus fades to a false ending, Banks plays a faint piano variation of the “all I hear is music” melody (in B minor).
“The Conqueror” (3:44) opens side two with a muted guitar variation of the “all I hear is music” melody (in A minor). It resolves in the major third (C#), which triggers the song proper: an uptempo strummalong with an arching five-note piano pattern (1… 4–3–2–1… in A). Gabriel sings with jubilation about the conqueror, a character whose arrival has heads rolling and “Five hundred little women… calling at their heroes door.” Locals call him an “empty headed clown” who bought a “castle on the hill… just to knock it down.” However, his impending arrival is heralded as a “justice day.” The brisk musical rush pauses as Peter laments the final details: “And the words of love were lying on an empty floor… just in the place.. where the conqueror… laaaaaay…” — holding that final vowel as the band resumes for a strumming fadeout.
“In Hiding” (2:56) opens with a strummed, harmonized chorus line (“Pick me up, put me down, Push me in, turn me round”), countered by Gabriel’s assertion: “I have a mind of my own.” It’s a harpsichord-driven waltz ballad (rooted in D) in which Peter takes solace in nature.
“One Day” (3:16) is a gentle string-laden ballad (in C) where Gabriel, as a young romantic hopeful, rehearses a proposal with his “animal friends.” On the chorus, his excitement swells with bold promises (“One day well fly away to the kingdom of my dreams”) amid distant brassy fanfare.
“Window” (3:53) has a harpsichord prelude (in B♭) that yields to the song: a quiet folk ballad with soft vocals and plucked guitar. Gabriel, in dense metaphors, sings of finding serenity in love. Each verse concludes on the harmonized refrain “Come see me take my hand; come see me in my land.”
“In Limbo” (3:06) has a slow prelude of piano and harpsichord, which cuts to the song: an uptempo number with fanfare brass over hand claps and an R&B piano figure (in C and F). Gabriel comes in with the exuberant lines “Pleeeeease… take me awaaaay… far from this plaaaace…” and lists the places he’d like to be (“
… ”) and the places he wants to escape (“ ) as the band concurs “take me away.” The song crescendos (at 2:40) and fades on a slow pattern (in C minor) with wailing acid guitar as Peter drops pained ad libs (“Peace… floating in limbo…”).
“The Silent Sun” (2:08) opens with a rising piano motif, followed by light acoustic verses set to a mid-tempo, three-chord pattern (D… G… C… D…). Gabriel uses natural phenomenon (“The silent sun that never shines… motion of a turning wheel… mountain strain that chills the sea”) as metaphors for the emotions that he wants to communicate to his love interest — a wish stated on the harmonized chorus: “Baby, you feel so close, I wish you could see my love.”
“A Place to Call My Own” (1:57) is a somber piano–vocal postlude with a single stanza, sung from the perspective of a new spirit on the verge of life. It fades on an upward modulation of brass, strings, and vocables.
Once sessions wrapped, arranger Arthur Greenslade added strings and horns to the songs. The album appeared in a plain black sleeve with the title, but not the band name, listed on the cover. This was done at King’s insistence to avoid confusion with an American band named Genesis, which came to Decca’s attention just prior to the album’s release. Genesis subsequently parted ways with King, who retained rights to From Genesis to Revelation and reissued it numerous times over the ensuing three decades.
Development, First Concerts
In the eleven months that followed the album’s completion, Genesis went on hold as Gabriel and Phillips did their finals exams and Banks and Rutherford enrolled in college. They reconvened in mid-1969 and cut four demos: “Family” (a prototype of “Dusk”), “Going Out to Get You,” “Pacidy,” and “White Mountain.” Silver cleared out for drummer John Mayhew, formerly of the Ipswich beat groups The Clique and The Epics.
Genesis rehearsed long hours at the Macphail family’s Wotton cottage and played their first concert at Mrs Balme’s Dance Club in Chobham on September 23, 1969. Notable Nov.–Dec. shows include Twickenham Technical College (with Black Cat Bones) and multiple dates at Brunel University Student’s Hall, Uxbridge, where they supported Caravan, Fairport Convention, and The Idle Race.
Their most high-profile early show occurred in March 1970 at the Atomic Sunrise Festival, a seven-day event at London’s Roundhouse with sets by Arthur Brown, Audience, Black Sabbath, Brain Auger’s Oblivion Express, Clark Hutchinson, Hawkwind, Juicy Lucy, Mighty Baby, Principal Edwards Magic Theatre, and Quintessence. Genesis played on day three (the 11th) along with David Bowie.
During March–April 1970, they held a residency at Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club, London, where they impressed members of Rare Bird, who recommended Genesis to the heads of Charisma Records. The label’s founder, Tony Stratton-Smith, took Genesis under his wing and linked them with producer John Anthony at Trident Studios. Elsewhere, Gabriel played flute on one track (“Katmandu”) on the April 1970 Island release Mona Bone Jakon, the third album by Cat Stevens.
Genesis recorded instrumental tracks for an unaired 1970 BBC documentary on painter Michael Jackson. Two tracks, “Manipulation” and “Provocation,” became the respective taproots of “The Musical Box” and “The Fountain of Salmacis.” On their new pieces, they explored thematic variations in altered modalities and key centers: devices that helped Genesis expand into long-form composition.
Genesis released their second album, Trespass, on October 23, 1970, on Charisma. It features three group-written numbers (“Visions of Angels,” “Stagnation,” “The Knife”) and two Phillips–Rutherford collaborations (“White Mountain,” “Dusk”). The opening track, “Looking for Someone,” is a Gabriel–Banks–Phillips composition. Musically, the songs veer between folk, classical, and melodramatic rock arrangements with a mix of slow and mid-tempo passages.
“Looking for Someone” (7:08) opens on the chorus line, accompanied by faint Hammond organ (in A♭). Gabriel sings as a lonely traveler (to Damascus and back) who copes with urban isolation as he pursues meaning on his own terms; emphasized on the refrain “.” The band enters on his pained delivery of the line “Trying to find a needle in a haystack.” After the second bridge (2:36), they shift through instrumental movements: a filigree-laden moment; a galloping guitar–organ whirlwind; a closed–cadence riff (in F# and A♭m); a quiet flute passage. Gabriel re-enters with the “All that I have I will give” lines over a stately pattern that leads to further variations of the instrumental themes. Later (5:10), a faint organ fugue summons a martial flow of layered drums over throbbing bass and searing leads, which wind up to an abrupt close (in C).
“White Mountain” (6:46) fades in with plucked 12-string guitar over shivering drones (Dm… Gm… Am…). The song tightens with a medium-uptempo pattern (in D minor) of plucked guitar and Hammond organ sustain. Gabriel, in a pained and melodramatic tone, sings of a mountain fox and its flight from a vengeful wolf pack. The track tenses and accelerates as Peter sings “Outcast he trespassed where no wolf may tread, the last sacred haunt of the dead” (the source line of the album title). After a faint, echoing third verse, Peter flute-laces Anthony’s 12-string filigree before the recapped intro drone carries out the piece.
“Visions of Angels” (6:53) starts on a sweet piano figure (in C) and moves through a slow subdued verse, an eager bridge, and a soaring chorus. Gabriel sings as a character who copes with his own mortality and his unfulfilled romantic ideals, embodied by the elusive angel. After the second utterance of “Forever goodbye,” Banks plays a brief organ fugue, followed by 12-string filigree over a modulating sequence that leads to a grand, flowing passage of swelling organ and faint vocalise.
“Stagnation” (8:51) Opens with plucked acoustic filigree (rooted in G) and a vocable refrain. Gabriel sings a buoyant, drum-free verse, followed by a desolate bridge with booming kick-drum. Phillips leads a sequence of 12-string passages which (at 2:05) enter a dark sequence with eerie sliding tones; followed by an organ-led band passage. Another quiet set of verses precedes the next band-swell, marked by Peter’s “I want a drink” refrains. On the album’s inner-gate, Gabriel prefaces the lyrics to this song with the tale of Thomas S. Eiselberg, a rich man who uses his fortune to bury himself deep in the ground and, in doing so, inherits the Earth.
“Dusk” (4:15) is a faint, rhythm-less number with layered acoustic guitar (strummed and plucked 12-string) and slow vocals with elongated vowels and distant harmonies. Midway, Phillips and Rutherford commence a brisk chordal sequence overlaid with flute, followed with interwoven filigree.
“The Knife” (9:00) is one of their heaviest numbers in the Genesis catalog, spurred by a brutal Hammond riff in G minor that layers and rises to A♭ for the vicious lyrics, sung from the voice of a despot marching his men off to war. After the winding “Stand up and fight” bridge (in C minor), Gabriel, in a distorted tone, wraps each chorus with the strident, demonic refrain “Some of you are going to die; martyrs, of course, to the freedom I will provide!” Anthony plays a strident lead over an instrumental variation of the preceding themes, capped by a winding bridge, which crescendos and spawns a faint bass-drone passage laced with flute and triangle. A chant forms (“we are only wanting freedom”) that triggers an uprising, animated by screams and brutal trade-offs of Ant’s cutting leads and Rutherford’s gruff bass. The final passage (at 7:15) is a closed-cadence martial progression (A♭) that modulates (to B♭) and recaps the winding bridge (in C minor) before the final, howling utterance of Gabriel’s apocalyptic line.
John Anthony produced Trespass during June–July 1970, around the time of his work with label-mates Lindisfarne and Van der Graaf Generator (H to He Who Am the Only One). The engineer, Robin Geoffrey Cable, worked with Anthony on VdGG and the 1970 Vertigo release by Affinity. He also engineered albums that year by Jade, Magna Carta (Seasons), and Elton John (Tumbleweed Connection).
Trespass has the first of three Genesis gatefolds illustrated by painter Paul Whitehead, who did the H to He artwork and the cover to Sea Shanties, the first of two albums by High Tide. On Trespass, royals look out over a kingdom valley from a blue castle with demons and cherubs. A gash cuts across the image, caused by a knife (an actual knife pictured stuck through the cover.)
Trespass reached No. 1 on the Belgian Albums Chart. Abroad, the album appeared on Philips (Germany, Italy) and ABC/Impulse! (US).
Lineup Change: Phil Collins and Steve Hackett Join
Soon after the completion of Trespass, Phillips left the band due to stage fright. Meanwhile, Banks deemed Mayhew ill-suited to the band’s music. In August 1970, Genesis auditioned two ex-members of Flaming Youth: guitarist Ronnie Caryl and drummer Phil Collins. They hired Collins on account of his unique timing, personal charm, and ability to harmonize.
The four-piece Genesis toured from August to early November, during which Banks deputized the vacant guitar slot with a fuzz-treated pianet. For nine weeks (Nov. 3, 1970 — Jan. 10, 1971), they gigged with guitarist Mick Barnard, who appeared on their television debut on the BBC music program Disco 2 (11/14/70). Notable shows from his brief tenure include Jan. 8–9 dates at Slough College (with Hawkwind) and Technical College, Ewell (with Kevin Ayers and a nascent Queen).
In January 1971, they hired ex-Quiet World guitarist Steve Hackett, who Gabriel found though an ad in Melody Maker that read “Imaginative guitarist/writer seeks involvement with receptive musicians, determined to drive beyond existing stagnant music forms.” Hackett made his live debut with Genesis on Jan. 14 at University College, London.
On January 24, Genesis embarked on the nine-date Charisma Package Tour supporting Van der Graaf Generator and Lindisfarne. On February 28, they played the Roxburgh Hall, Stowe, supported by Supertramp. In March, Genesis played their first overseas concert at La Ferme, Woluwe St Lambert, Belgium. By popular demand, Charisma booked eight further package dates in April with a fourth act, Bell + Arc. On April 9, they played the Easter Festival at London’s Lyceum with Arc, Audience, VdGG, and Patto.
In June 1971, Genesis played the Eleventh National Jazz and Blues Festival, a three-day event at Little John’s Farm in Reading with Al Kooper, Anno Domini, Armada, Colosseum, Ricotti/Alberquerque, Rory Gallagher, Osibisa, Stray, Storyteller, and Warm Dust. Genesis appeared on day two (Saturday the 26th) along with East of Eden, Gillian McPherson, Hardin and York, Renaissance, Steel Mill, Stud, Terry Reid, and Wishbone Ash.
That summer, Genesis retreated to Stratton-Smith’s residence, the 16-century Luxford House in Crowborough, East Sussex, where they wrote and rehearsed new material. Sessions for their third album commenced on August 2 at Trident. Meanwhile, Gabriel and Collins partook in a nine-piece cast of backing vocalists — along with singers Jane Relf (Renaissance, Illusion), Ann Steuart (Tudor Lodge), Jon Anderson (Yes), Alan Hull (Lindisfarne), Steve Gould (Rare Bird), and Peter Hammill (Van der Graaf Generator) — on the eponymous debut album by singer–songwriter Colin Scot, released in 1971 with musical backing by keyboardist Rick Wakeman (Strawbs), guitarist Robert Fripp (King Crimson), and rustic rockers Brinsley Schwarz.
1971: Nursery Cryme
Genesis released their third album, Nursery Cryme, on November 12, 1971, on Charisma. This is the first of five studio albums with the classic seventies-era lineup of Gabriel, Banks, Rutherford, Collins, and Hackett. The album contains seven group-credited originals that were actually written by assorted member pairings.
“The Musical Box” (10:25) originated from a Phillips–Rutherford jam under the working title “F#” (the song’s root key), which Genesis first recorded as “Manipulation.” Gabriel wrote the lyrics, which concern a young Victorian girl named Cynthia who accidentally kills Henry, a village boy, during a game of croquet. Back in her room, the spirit of Henry (as a sexually frustrated old man) appears when she opens her musical box. Hackett added guitar parts to the faster passages after joining the band.
“For Absent Friends” (1:48) marks the lead vocal debut of Collins, who wrote the lyrics about a pair of widowed older women. Hackett composed the music: a plucked guitar pattern with a simple verse and bridge. In concerts, this number allowed Gabriel time to go backstage and change costumes.
“The Return of the Giant Hogweed” (8:09) is an aggressive number (analogous to “The Knife”) about Heracleum mantegazzianum, a phototoxic flowering plant native to the Eastern Caucuses. In Gabriel’s lyrics, the plant is imported from Russia to overtake the human race. The intro features Hackett and Banks on harmonized thirds. Hackett utilizes a technique called “tapping,” where the fingertips of the picking hand hammer frets above the fingering hand. (This was later popularized in hard-rock circles by Eddie Van Halen.)
“Seven Stones” (5:08) is a swelling Banks–Hackett epic about an old man’s ruminations over wealth and prosperity, which he puts down to luck and circumstance.
“Harold the Barrel” (3:01) is a comedic music-hall number with thumping piano and abrupt key changes, composed by Gabriel with lyrical contributions by Collins. Harold is a restaurant owner from Bognar (Regis, a seaside town in West Sussex) who, in a fit of psychosis, alarms the townsfolk during a suicidal rooftop standoff.
“Harlequin” (2:56) is a soft acoustic folk ballad (primarily in Gm and Cm) with high-register harmonies, penned by Rutherford during the Phillips era.
“The Fountain of Salmacis” (8:02) beacons with frosty Mellotron, which Banks embraced at Hackett’s suggestion. The lyrics concern the nymph of Salmacis, a spring reputed for its feminizing water, and her corruption of Hermaphroditus, the two-sexed child of Aphrodite and Hermes.
Genesis recorded Nursery Cryme during August and early September with John Anthony, who produced this album just after sessions wrapped on Pawn Hearts, the fourth album by Van der Graaf Generator. Neither album charted in the UK but both found rapturous audiences on the Continent, especially Italy, where Pawn Hearts reached No. 1 and Nursery Cryme reached No. 4 in 1972. Trident’s David Hentschel engineered both albums.
Nursery Cryme features Whitehead’s second gatefold cover for Genesis. The image, based on the lyrics of “The Musical Box,” depicts a Victorian girl playing croquet with severed human heads on a striped lawn (yellow–green), seen from a panoramic view with a sharp vanishing point. To the right (back gate) is a depiction of Coxhill, an actual manor house with a striped croquet lawn. The inner-gates show lyric sheets with accompanying illustrations, spread across a black, garnished background. Whitehead also gave Genesis a signature logo here that would also appear on the subsequent studio album and ensuing live release.
Genesis promoted Nursery Cryme with a 25-date UK tour (Nov. 19–Dec. 23) that included a show with Gravy Train (12/7/71: Hobbit’s Garden, Wimbledon). The third act on the bill, Roxy Music, made their live debut that evening.
1972: “Happy the Man”, “Twilight Alehouse”
Genesis opened 1972 with a New Year’s Night gig at the Roundhouse. On January 16, they flew to Belgium for the Charleroi Festival, where they performed three numbers from Nursery Cryme (“The Musical Box,” “Return of the Giant Hogweed,” “Fountain of Salmacis”), one from Trespass (“Stagnation”), and two unrecorded numbers: “Happy the Man,” a carefree acoustic folk tune (in open D with shifting thirds) about a jovial simpleton; and “Twilight Alehouse,” a madcap piece with abrupt changes and psychedelic keyboards.
“Twilight Alehouse” (7:49) starts with a muted guitar pattern (in E minor), joined by Gabriel (on kickdrum) with the lyrical ruminations of a lonely, broken man. The track swells as Gabriel roars “I will now receive my comfort, conjured… by the… magic… power of wine!” A floodgate chorus takes hold, where Peter exclaims “Just a drink and you can blast tomorrow” amid striking organ notes and a sliding rhythmic pattern. After the third chorus (at 4:30), the song goes instrumental with a fast, faint guitar–organ passage with billowing flute. Collins reenters (at 6:22) for a brisk, stormy jam (in A minor) that concludes with a three-chord power riff, overlaid with swirling organ.
Genesis embarked on a 30-date UK tour that ran nearly two months (Jan. 19–March 11) and included dates with Rory Gallagher (2/5/72: Luton Technical College) and a triple-bill in Bracknell with Morgan and Kingdom Come (2/26/72: Sports Centre). On April 7, Genesis played their first show in Italy at the Apollo 2000 in Treviso. Their Italian tour covered eleven cities over twelve days, wrapping with two shows on April 19 at Teatro Mediterraneo, Napoli. While there, Banks and Rutherford wrote the lyrics for a new epic, “Watcher of the Skies.”
After a show at Frankfurt’s Zoom Club (the premiere site of two King Crimson lineups), Genesis did a string of April–May UK dates, including shows with jazz-rockers Ben (4/30/72: Civic Hall, Guildford) and Irish up-and-comers Fruupp (5/9/72: Town Hall, Oxford).
That spring, Genesis recorded “Happy the Man” with John Anthony. Charisma issued the song on May 12, 1972, as a standalone a-side, backed with the Nursery Cryme cut “Seven Stones.” Genesis made eight live appearances in June, including bills with Budgie (6/2/72: Hastings Pier Ballroom), Capability Brown (6/16/72: Corn Exchange, Bedford), and Graphite (6/30/72: Community Centre, Slough).
On August 11, Genesis played the opening day of the Twelfth National Jazz, Blues and Rock Festival (aka the 1972 Reading Festival), where they performed “The Knife,” “Twilight Alehouse,” “Watcher of the Skies,” “The Musical Box,” and “Return of the Giant Hogweed.” Other performers at the three-day event included Curved Air, Electric Light Orchestra, Faces, Focus, If, Jericho, Jonathan Kelly, Linda Lewis, Magma, Man, Matching Mole, Nazareth, Shuggie Otis, Stackridge, Status Quo, Steamhammer, String Driven Thing, Stray, Sutherland Brothers & Quiver, Ten Years After, Vinegar Joe, and Wizzard.
That month, Genesis began work on their fourth album. After false starts with soundmen Bob Potter (Airconditioning, Steeleye Span) and Tony Platt (Bronco, Mott the Hoople), September sessions rolled with Dave Hitchcock, who worked on recent Decca/Deram titles by Aardvark, Caravan (In the Land of Grey and Pink), Jan Dukes de Grey, Satisfaction, Walrus, and the 1971 self-titled Pegasus release by folksters Fuchsia.
On September 28, Gabriel shocked the audience (and his bandmates) at the National Stadium, Dublin, when he appeared on stage in a fox mask and his wife’s red Ossie Clark dress for that evening’s performance of “The Musical Box.” The idea for this getup came from Whitehead’s cover art for the upcoming Genesis album. This stunt boosted the band’s profile and unveiled Gabriel’s knack for outlandish stage costumes, which he would coordinate with the lyrics on select numbers. (On subsequent performances of “The Musical Box,” he donned an old man mask to enact the Henry character.)
Two nights later, Genesis played the Melody Maker Poll Winner Concert at the Kennington Oval Cricket Ground. The Sept. 30 event also featured Argent, Emerson Lake & Palmer, and Wishbone Ash (plugging Argus).
Genesis released their fourth album, Foxtrot, on October 6, 1972, on Charisma. Side one features compositions by assorted member combinations with lyrics by Gabriel (“Get ‘Em Out by Friday”), Hackett (“Can-Utility and the Coastliners”), and Banks–Rutherford (“Watcher of the Skies”). Banks lone-composed “Time Table,” a piano ballad with a grand chorus and lyrics that long for the days of old English royalty. Side two starts with the Hackett solo prelude “Horizons,” which foreshadows “Supper’s Ready,” a 22-minute suite in seven parts, composed by all five members with lyrics by Gabriel.
“Watcher of the Skies” (7:23) takes its title from the ninth line in “On First Looking into Chapman’s Homer,” an 1816 sonnet by English Romantic poet John Keats. Banks and Rutherford were also inspired by the 1953 alien invasion novel Childhood’s End by British sci-fi author Arthur C. Clarke. Gabriel and Collins — who counters the song’s symphonic-rock arrangement with jazzy drum rolls — added musical ideas to the piece, which features Banks on a de-tuned Mellotron that Genesis purchased from King Crimson.
“Time Table” (4:46) opens with a piano etude and shifts through muted verses about “a time of valor, and legends born,” then proceeds to a swelling chorus about epic battles that resolves on the line “Though names may change each face retains the mask it wore,” implying that historical records will mostly remember people through tribal affiliations. The song fades out on a descending piano figure that modulates a whole step with each repetition.
“Get ‘Em Out by Friday” (8:36) is a comedic dystopian number about a government plan to reduce human height to a maximum of 4 ft. to lower requisite floor heights and accommodate more people in council-owned housing. Gabriel enacts the voices of four different characters: John Pebble and Mark “The Winkler” Hall, both representatives of Styx Enterprises, the company behind the scheme; and the commoners Mrs. Barrow (a tenant) and Joe Ordinary (in Local Puborama), who laments the situation in a whimpering tone during the song’s slow, dark penultimate section. Genesis (barring Collins) group-wrote the music, which features additional input from Steve’s flutist brother (and Quiet World bandmate) John Hackett.
“Can-Utility and the Coastliners” (5:45) tells the legend of King Cnut, the 11th century ruler of the North Sea Empire (England, Norway, Denmark) and his imagined ability to make ocean waters retreat. Banks and Rutherford contributed to the music, which starts on a harmonic 12-string figure. The song is in through-composed form: a sequence of ever-changing verses with no recurrent motifs, including a plucked figure with organ overlays (in D minor with falling thirds); a four-chord Hammond passage (Dm… Gm… C… Am…); a compound metered organ–bass trade-off (modulating from F#); and a grand passage (in C) with the lilting outro couplet “See a little man with his face turning red, though his story’s often told you can tell he’s dead.”
“Horizons” (1:41) is Hackett’s acoustic solo contribution, inspired by Bach and English Renaissance music. Potter produced this track amid work on Lindisfarne’s Dingly Dell album. Hackett rerecorded this for his 1983 solo-acoustic release Bay of Kings.
“Supper’s Ready” (23:06) is a group-composed suite comprised of eight sections (seven named) and three recurring melodies. Gabriel’s lyrics combine scenes from the book of Revelation with hallucinogenic trips that he and his wife experienced during a stay at Kensington Palace.
I: “Lover’s Leap” opens with Gabriel greeting his lover after a long absence. The drum-free passage features harmonized vocals (Peter and Phil) with plucked, layered 12-string guitar. Peter takes the “hello babe” refrains alone; the second opens a minor-key sequence (at 1:55) that coalesces (in Dm and Am) with ongoing 12-string filigree and vocables, joined by electric piano runs, faint leads, and flute. The movement crests (in G minor) and blends into…
II: “The Guaranteed Eternal Sanctuary Man” starts on the faint, harmonized line “I know a farmer who looks after the farm” (in A minor), then turns into a medium-slow passage with a thick, swelling keyboard pattern (in A major), onto which Gabriel bellows “Can’t you see he’s fooled you all” with elongated vowels. After his second mention of the sanctuary man, the movement cuts to a children’s chant, then to a flute recap of the “Lover’s Leap” theme, which cuts to…
III: “Ikhnaton and Itsacon and Their Band of Merry Men” opens with “Wearing feelings on our faces while our faces took a rest” over a brisk two-chord acoustic strum (Fma7… D…). The line about “dark skinned warriors standing still below the ground” signals a rise that triggers a fast, full section (in D) with strident fuzz-tone leads and lyrics about a battle scene. Gabriel’s intuition (“Something tells me I’d better activate my prayer capsule”) ushers an instrumental sequence with varied guitar breaks (tapping, oozing). With Collins and Hackett subdued, Gabriel delivers the “order for rejoicing and dancing” line over a brisk strum that wraps on the earlier two-chord pattern. This fades to…
IV: “How Dare I Be So Beautiful?” — a faint interlude with somber vocals over echoing organ drone. This is an eight-line passage that resolves with “We watch, in reverence, as Narcissus is turned to a flower.” That last word begs a question, which opens…
V: “Willow Farm” is a 2/4 music-hall romp that opens with a five-key chordal plunge. Gabriel, who wrote this as a seperate song, dazzles with surreal imagery (“Winston Churchill dressed in drag”) and lyrical whimsey (“we’re happy as fish and gorgeous as geese”) over the burlesque structure. He sings in multiple voices on the “Feel your body melt” cabaret interlude. After the final plunge (at 13:40), a searing drone ensues, followed by an untitled interlude (rooted in A♭m) with plucked guitar and flute over a long-resolving eight-bar theme. Phil enters with snare drum, accompanied by a trumpet variation of the “I know a farmer” melody, which signals…
VI: “Apocalypse in 9/8 (Co-Starring the Delicious Talents of Gabble Ratchet)” opens on the “guards of Magog” line, set to a closed-cadence, jerky rhythmic pattern (in 9/8, as the title indicates) and a tri-tone progression (F#… C…). After Gabriel shouts the jumbled line “You can tell he’s doing well by the look in human eyes” (suffixed with “It won’t be easy”), an instrumental sequence ensures with staccato keyboard fills against the unrelenting rhythmic pattern. Banks spirals upward and signals Gabriel’s shouted “666” verse, which climaxes with “Pythagoras with the looking glass reflects the full moon; In blood, he’s writing the lyrics of a brand-new tune,” followed by a swelling, symphonic chordal descent of lush Mellotron over martial drums. This resolves on a slow, somber passage; followed by a snare-driven “Lover’s Leap” recap with the chorus (“Hey babe with your guardian eyes”) and bridge (“I’ve been so far from here”) of that section, which blends into…
VII: “As Sure As Eggs Is Eggs (Aching Men’s Feet)” — a musical recap of “The Guaranteed Eternal Sanctuary Man” with new lyrics. It opens with Gabriel’s cathartic scream (“Can’t you feel our souls ignite?”) and concludes on a fiery stanza:
There’s an angel standing in the sun
And he’s crying with a loud voice
“This is the supper of the mighty one”
Lord of Lords, King of Kings
Has returned to lead his children home
To take them to the new Jerusalem
The title “As Sure As Eggs Is Eggs” is a tautological wordplay that alludes to uncertainties with the supernatural.
Genesis recorded Foxtrot amid September dates with the yet-unsigned Fruupp (Hastings and Bracknell) and two appearances at the muso-friendly Friars club in Aylesbury. Hitchcock produced the album immediately after the 1972 Deram release Swaddling Songs, the singular album by Irish folksters Mellow Candle. Foxtrot was engineered by John Burns, a soundman on 1970–72 albums by Atlantis, Claire Hamill, Jethro Tull (Aqualung), Keef Hartley Band, Reebop Kwaku Baah, T2 (It’ll All Work Out In Boomland), and Trapeze. “Twilight Alehouse” was recorded during these sessions but withheld for the time being.
Foxtrot features Whitehead’s third and last Genesis gatefold, which draws upon the album’s lyrics for assorted imagery. The front gate shows an offshore woman on a floating ice chunk in a red dress and fox mask (titular reference), the look that Gabriel copied at the Dublin show. On the shore, six men follow a seventh holding a cross, a reference to the “six saintly shrouded men” and “the seventh [who] walks in front with a cross held high in hand” in “Lovers Leap.”
Whitehead’s initial inspiration for the cover was The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, depicted here on the back gate before the tides (King Cnut reference). In the distance, the imagery of Nursery Cryme reappears with a square dugout in place of Coxhill. A drab council estate sits in the background left, invoking the aims of Styx Enterprises.
The inner-gates present lyrics amid a cumulus sky strip, an image Whitehead also used as a wraparound on the gatefold of Pawn Hearts. Amid the b&w medium shots of the five Genesis members is a top-hatted sixth wheel, identified as their equipment and stage soundman (and onetime Anon member)
. The photos were taken by Armando Gallo, a future Genesis biographer who befriended the band on their first Italian tour.
Foxtrot — the name of reed and organ settings on the Mellotron, hence the album’s title — reached No. 1 in Italy, where they toured a second time in January 1973. In the UK, Foxtrot reached No. 12 and catapulted Genesis to rock’s a-list.
1973: Genesis Live
Genesis promoted Foxtrot with 52 UK shows between October 1 and December 8, 1972, starting at Newcastle’s City Hall and wrapping at Plymouth’s Guild Hall. On Dec. 12, they made their US debut at Brandeis University in Boston, followed by a charitable show for the United Cerebral Palsy Fund at the Philharmonic Hall in New York City, where they were photographed in Central Park by Melody Maker photographer Barrie Wentzell. Mid-month, they played back-to-back shows in France.
Genesis opened 1973 with January 6–7 shows at the Roundhouse and the Fox at Greyhound, Croydon. After a round of Continental dates that included three nights at the Palasport in Rome, they did a 16-date UK tour that culminated with shows in Manchester (2/24/73: Free Trade Hall) and Leicester (2/25/73: DeMontfort Hall).
By this time, Gabriel performed in various guises. He shaved his hair down the middle in a hawkmo (reverse mohawk) and wore thick black eye makeup and whiteface. During performances of “Watcher of the Skies,” he donned a bat-wing headpiece and all-black attire, presaging the goth look by nearly a decade. For “Supper’s Ready,” he wore two costumes: a flower headpiece during “Willow Farm” (initiated by the words “A flower?”) and a red geometric “Magog” headdress and black cape during “Apocalypse in 9/8” (a reference to the Pythagoras character).
Genesis launched their first North American tour on March 2, 1973, at Carnegie Hall, NYC. It covered 19 dates across seven weeks and included double-bills with Lou Reed in Pittsburgh (3/13/73: Alpine Arena) and Toronto (4/9/73: Massey Hall). The tour wrapped on April 24 at Boston’s Music Hall.
Genesis spent May–July developing material for their next album. On the side, Collins formed Zox and the Radar Boys, a jam group with ex-Yes guitarist Peter Banks, then part of Capitol recording artists Flash. Collins drums on four tracks (“Battles,” “Knights (reprise),” “Stop That!,” “Get Out of My Fridge”) on the 1973 Sovereign release The Two Sides of Peter Banks, a collaborative effort with Focus guitarist Jan Akkerman. Hackett and bassist John Wetton (then in King Crimson) both play on “Knights (reprise).”
In the meantime, Charisma issued Genesis Live, comprised of four numbers from the February DeMontfort, Leicester show (“Watcher of the Skies,” “Get ‘Em Out by Friday,” “The Musical Box,” “The Knife”) and one from the prior night’s Manchester show (“The Return of the Giant Hogweed”). The performances were taped with the Pye Mobile Recording Unit by engineer Alan Perkins, a soundman on 1972–74 live albums by Curved Air, Rory Gallagher, Uriah Heep, and Morning Glory, a post-bop jam with John Surman and .
Burns did the final mixdown on Genesis Live, which appeared in July 1973 as a budget stopgap between studio albums. The cover shows Gabriel in his Magog getup; the red headdress is the only contrast to the blue-black monochrome. The back features tinted performance pics and a surrealist short story by Gabriel. It tells of a mysterious lady on a stalled tube train who strips from her green trouser suit, then unzips her skin and guts her flesh, revealing only a golden rod, which disappears when an aghast spectator rises in fury. American filmmaker William Friedkin (The French Connection, The Exorcist) contacted Gabriel on the strength of the story and proposed they collaborate on a future project.
In August 1973, Genesis recorded a new album at Island Studios with Burns at the soundboards. Late that month, they played the 1973 Reading Rock Festival, which featured performances by Alquin, Embryo, Greenslade, Stray Dog, Magma (promoting Mekanïk Destruktïw Kommandöh), Riff Raff, Strider, Tasavallan Presidentti, and the Sensational Alex Harvey Band. Genesis played on the third day (Sunday the 26th) along with Ange, Jack the Lad, John Martyn, Lesley Duncan, Medicine Head, Premiata Forneria Marconi, Stackridge, Tempest, and the Spencer Davis Group.
1973: Selling England by the Pound
Genesis released their fifth studio album, Selling England by the Pound, on October 13, 1973, on Charisma. Each side opens with a group-written epic (“Dancing with the Moonlit Knight,” “The Battle of Epping Forest”), both with words by Gabriel, who penned “I Know What I Like” with Hackett, who contributed the instrumental “After the Ordeal.” Banks composed the quasi-classical “Firth of Fifth” with lyrical input from Rutherford, who wrote the acoustic ballad “More Fool Me,” Collin’s second lead vocal number. The latter three collaborated on “The Cinema Show,” which has a lengthy instrumental jam section. At just under 54 minutes, this is their longest single studio album of the seventies.
“Dancing with the Moonlit Knight” (8:04) developed from a series of Gabriel piano etudes and Hackett guitar pieces. The lyrics deal loosely with England’s surrender to American corporate interests (opening salvo: “Can you tell me where my country lies?”) Line eight provides the album title. Gabriel sings the first two lines unaccompanied, followed in succession by Hackett, Banks, and Rutherford, who add muted filigree (in C minor). Banks underlies the third stanza (“Citizens of hope and glory”) with classical piano. After a taut exchange between young man and old, the track flares to a chorus as Gabriel commandeers with “Follow on!” An instrumental maelstrom ensues, anchored by Rutherford’s martial rhythmic figure (F# augmented fifth), followed by a tapping Hackett solo (in A). Another exchange transpires, this time with “a fat old lady.” A second, more diversionary chorus unfolds (“You play the hobbyhorse, I’ll play the fool”). They break again to the F# figure but cut abruptly to a jagged ARP melody. The track climaxes with thunderous descending chords that level off into a quiet, pastoral postlude of Mellotron and harp-like acoustics. (The words “paper late,” which open the second stanza, later formed the basis of the 1982 Genesis song “Paperlate.”)
“I Know What I Like (In Your Wardrobe)” (4:10) fades in with a shimmering low-note Mellotron, joined by a Nigerian talking drum and sitar. The lyrics concern Jacob, a young lawnmower who aspires to nothing more than bench rests and eavesdrops, despite the higher hopes of his elders. The song’s loosely arranged mix of psychedelic exotica and dark electronics provides a missing link between the recent tide of acid-folk and later developments in post-punk, which Gabriel would mine on his third solo album.
“Firth of Fifth” (9:40) opens with a 67-second piano etude: a modulating fugue in 13/16 and 15/16. Gabriel’s grand entrance (“The path is clear”) accompanies a slow, swelling organ–bass progression (in B). Two verses pass where the narrator examines land where feudalism once reigned. The title is a pun on Firth of Forth, the estuary of the Scottish River Forth. Two-thirds in, an abrupt piano refrain cuts to a flute-laden, low-key ostinato; overtaken with ivory runs (in C minor). The opening theme returns, now as a swelling organ solo with sharp rhythmic accompaniment. The group’s instrumental core (Banks, Collins, Rutherford) interlock exclusively for 70 seconds (4:35–5:45). Hackett enters with ghostly sustains — over a modest Rutherford ostinato (in E7 minor) — that wind around to a slow-resolving theme over Banks’ Mellotron. The verse recapitulates for one final go-around, followed by a watery piano outro.
“More Fool Me” (3:13) is a sparse love lament of voice and quiet acoustic chords. A pause occurs every two lines. The track swells slightly on the chorus (“And you’d be the one who was laughing”) but remains an unaccompanied Collins–Rutherford duet. Phil — high-pitched and gritty at this age (22) — sings the title once in the penultimate stanza.
“The Battle of Epping Forest” (11:43) fades in with an approximate marching band theme: flute melody + snare drums + tuba-like bass notes. Genesis blast into verse (at 1:13) with Gabriel’s opening line (“Along the forest road”), sung to an energized organ–bass progression (in B with drop thirds) over jazzy drum rolls. Gabriel introduces the two rival gangs — Willy Wright and his boys (Billy’s boys) and Little John’s thugs (the Barking Slugs) — as they descend on Epping Forest to settle a territorial dispute. Hackett cuts in with blazing licks as the windy open-cadence verses pivot to the unison, closed-cadence chorus (same key), where Gabriel declares that the battle is unlike anything seen since the (English) Civil War. On the following sequence (Bridge I: in A minor), a low-voiced Gabriel marks the positions of the fighters: some brave (Georgie); some not (Harold Demure). Bridge II drops in on the accountant’s picnic, led by Sweetmeal Sam. The verse theme resumes with staccato backing as Gabriel voices the exploits of Mick the Prick, fresh out the nick (prison). After the falsetto Gabriel–Collins “got me framed” line, a song-within-a-song commences (in rising D). Here, Gabriel voices several characters in a loosely related dream sequence (5:30–7:45). Hackett overtakes Gabriel’s “They called me the Reverend” vocal melody with a searing lead that pivots back to the Epping chorus. A recap of Bridge I illustrates the battle gore; followed by a “silver cloud” recap of Bridge II. The first verse returns in wind-down mode as Gabriel notes the after-battle carnage. A coin toss settles the “scoooooooore,” Gabriel bellows in his final notes as Hackett takes over with searing recaps of the “Sweetmeal” and “forest road” vocal melodies, climaxing with noodly runs on a grand finale of the main theme.
“After the Ordeal” (4:15) is a classical instrumental, composed primarily by Hackett with input from Rutherford. A four-chord intro (Dm–C–F–C…) heralds a rhythmless tapestry of plucked nylon guitar and running piano. Hackett weaves a sentimental melody over a four-chord sequence (Am–G–Dm–G–Am–G–C–Cmaj7), underscored by Banks’ two-handed allegro. They cross three sections in the first 60 seconds, landing on a blunt tritone refrain (C#–G–B–E). The sequence repeats, resolving a second time at 2:10 with the entrance of Collins, who paces the second half: a slow descending bass pattern overlaid with Hackett’s wailing, high-end electric sustains. This goes through two 16-bar repetitions, then moves to the coda: an ascending lead (in D).
“The Cinema Show” (12:39) opens with a duet of 12-string (Rutherford) and nylon guitar (Hackett), played in plucked descending minors. Thirty-five seconds in, they settle on a plucked figure (D major, alternating fourths) with flute-tone Mellotron. Gabriel sings a tale of Juliet and Romeo, penned by Rutherford and Banks with inspiration from “A Game of Chess,” part II of The Waste Land, the 1922 modernist poem by American bard and playwright T.S. Elliot. Collins harmonizes on the “I will make my bed” buildups to the high-octave chorus. A full-band bridge ensues (in G) where Hackett plays sustained leads amid Gabriel’s introduction of “father Tiresias,” the blind prophet of Apollo in Greek mythology who became a woman for seven years. The bridge twice occurs, bisected by a flute-laden sequence of 12-string/nylon filigree (in D7 minor and G7 minor). After the second utterance of “there is in fact more earth than sea,” Hackett overtakes the “Tiresias” vocal melody with a lyrical solo that pivots (at 5:57) to a four-minute, 40-second jam in 7/8 between the instrumental core (Banks, Collins, Rutherford). It first settles in a jerky F# pattern, then pivots to A major below the light, cascading notes of Tony’s ARP Pro Soloist. He gradually layers choral Mellotron over Phil’s tight, martial drum pattern. The passage crests around 10:00 as Mike’s bass roams then tightens under Tony’s full, shimmering tones. They resolve on a 4/4 acoustic figure that slides into “Aisle of Plenty,” a recap of “Dancing with the Moonlit Knight.” The album fades out on the “Citizens of hope and glory” melody with barely audible descriptions of English market cold cuts and canned goods.
Burns co-produced the album in succession with work on titles by Hemlock, Keef Hartley, and Hanson, a Brit-funk band signed to ELP’s Manticore label. The engineer on Selling England by the Pound, Rhett Davies, also worked on 1973 albums by Free (Heartbreaker), Stealers Wheel (Ferguslie Park), and Silverhead. “Dancing with the Moonlit Knight” and “The Cinema Show” were originally supposed to run together as a 22-minute epic titled “Disney.”
For the Selling England cover art, Genesis contacted British painter Betty Swanwick, who supplied one of her old works, The Dream. At the band’s request, she added a lawnmower to the image, which ties into the lyrics of “I Know What I Like” with Jacob represented by the bench dweller. The album appears in a single sleeve apart from German and Italian pressings, which sport textured outer-gates and brown lyrical inner-gates.
Selling England by the Pound reached No. 3 on the UK Albums Chart. In February 1974, Charisma lifted “I Know What I Like” as a single, backed with the 1972 recording of “Twilight Alehouse.” It reached No. 21 on the UK Singles Chart.
Genesis promoted Selling England by the Pound with an October 1973 UK tour, followed by a 19-date November–December tour of the US and Canada. For performances of “Dancing with the Moonlit Knight,” Gabriel donned a Britannia getup comprised of a Union Jack vest, cape, and helmet.
During a break in their October schedule, Rutherford booked a day at Island Studios with Anthony Phillips, who’d spent the three-year interim studying music theory. While there, they cut their 1969 co-composition “Silver Song,” a folk tune dedicated to drummer John Silver. Collins sings lead on the song, which would have been his debut solo single, but this was blocked by Charisma for unknown reasons.
1974: The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway
Genesis toured the first four months of 1974 with legs in the UK and Germany (January), Italy and France (February), and a 10-week stateside jaunt that wrapped on May 6 at the Academy of Music in NYC.
That month, they commenced work on a double-album based on the story of a Puerto Rican adolescent and his surreal coming-of-age exploits in New York. Gabriel conceived the plot and wrote all the lyrics to music that Banks, Rutherford, and Hackett composed at Headley Grange in Hampshire, the site of multiple Led Zeppelin recordings (Led Zeppelin III, IV [Zoso], Houses of the Holy, Physical Graffiti). Midway through the writing process, Gabriel got distracted by a fruitless screenplay assignment with Friedkin. This and domestic matters caused tensions in the group, which recorded their sixth album between August and October at Glaspant Manor in Carmarthenshire, Wales.
Genesis released The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway on November 16, 1974, on Charisma and Atco. The 94-minute double-album contains 23 songs, mostly in the 2–5-minute range apart from three 7–8-minute epics (“In the Cage,” “The Lamia,” “The Colony of Slippermen”).
Gabriel wrote all the lyrics, barring the album’s four instrumentals (“Hairless Heart,” “The Waiting Room,” “Silent Sorrow in Empty Boats,” “Ravine”) and a reprise of the title-track. He sole-wrote “Counting Out Time” and co-wrote the title-track with Banks, who composed four songs (“In the Cage,” “The Grand Parade of Lifeless Packaging,” “Anyway,” “The Lamia”) and co-wrote other tracks with Rutherford (“Fly on a Windshield,” “Broadway Melody of 1974,” “Back in N.Y.C.,” “Riding the Scree”) and Hackett (“Hairless Heart,” “it”). Rutherford composed “In the Rapids” and co-wrote “Ravine” with Hackett, who contributed “Here Comes the Supernatural Anaesthetist” and co-wrote “Cuckoo Cocoon” with his brother, John Hackett. Collins pitched in on three group compositions (“Carpet Crawl,” “The Waiting Room,” “The Colony of Slippermen”) and wrote most of the music to “Lilywhite Lilith.”
The album’s plot follows the nightmarish odyssey of Rael, a young ruffian from a Puerto Rican street gang in New York City.
“The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway” fades in with spinning ivory runs that stabilize around Gabriel’s flamboyant chorus, followed by verses that chart the opening scene. Rael walks the streets wielding an aerosol can when he encounters a riveting spectacle: a lamb on its side in the middle of Broadway. (In the closing lines, Gabriel ad libs “On Broadway,” the 1963 soul-pop evergreen by The Drifters.) The track segues with:
“Fly on a Windshield” is a dark connecting piece with a swelling Mellotron bridge reminiscent of Boléro by Maurice Ravel. Rael looks up and sees Hollywood films projected on the clouds, which swallow him into a vortex. This track fades into:
“Broadway Melody of 1974” hears Gabriel run a litany of tabloid names and anecdotes. Rael sees recent pop culture history flash before him.
“Cuckoo Cocoon” is a soft, dreamy number with plucked acoustic guitar and vibes. Rael reappears in a cave where he is quickly sedated.
“In the Cage” is a swelling, melodramatic number with pained, urgent vocals that climax on Gabriel’s desperate cries of “let me out of this cage” amid Banks’ staccato Electra piano runs. (In the lead-up to the final chorus, Gabriel ad libs “Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head,” a 1969 Billboard No. 1 pop hit by singer B. J. Thomas.) Rael awakes in a cage of stalagmites, which close in on him as his cries out to his brother, John, who turns the other way as the cage disintegrates.
“The Grand Parade of Lifeless Packaging” is a jerky, closed-cadence number with psych-treated vocals. Rael reappears on a factory floor where humans are being packaged. Rael escapes though a corridor where he imagines himself…
“Back in N.Y.C.” is a slow, swelling keyboard rocker with biting vocals and cocky lyrics. Rael flashes back to his days as a ruffian on the streets of Manhattan. The vocal melody morphs into…
“Hairless Heart” a slow, brimming, minor key instrumental. Rael dreams of his heart being extracted and shaved.
“Counting Out Time” is a quirky, jerky number with music hall accents. Rael retells his first sexual encounter and the research he did beforehand on the female anatomy.
“Carpet Crawl” is a slow, airy number with an angular, harmonized chorus. Rael awakes in a red-carpeted corridor full of people climbing to a wooden floor. He escapes through a spiral staircase that leads to…
“The Chamber of 32 Doors” is a slow, desolate number with a brimming, impassioned chorus. Rael is surrounded by people but is desperate to find someone he can trust.
“Lilywhite Lilith” is a medium-uptempo rocker with a harmonized stop/start chorus. Rael is led by a blind lady from the chamber to…
“The Waiting Room” is a fractious, free-form instrumental that flows into a wash of Mellotron.
“Anyway” is an ivory ballad (in G minor). Rael gets trapped in the waiting room by falling rocks.
“Here Comes the Supernatural Anaesthetist” transitions from a sparse opening with muted guitar and vocals to a jerky section with oozing ARP. Rael, in the face of death, escapes the cave.
“The Lamia” is a slow and quiet yet impassioned ballad. Rael finds himself in a pool surrounded by three beautiful lamias (women with snake-like lower halves). He fornicates with the lamia, which die after drinking his blood.
“Silent Sorrow in Empty Boats” is a quiet, serene instrumental with choral Mellotron. Rael leaves the pool in a boat and arrives at…
“The Colony of Slippermen” is a swelling, mid-tempo epic with syncopated drumming and staccato keyboards. Rael is transformed into a grotesquely deformed creature called a slipperman. The curse effects those who fornicate with the lamia. The song is split into three parts:
“The Arrival” opens with “I wandered lonely as a cloud,” the title and opening line of an 1807 poem by English Romanticist William Wandsworth. Here, Rael discovers that both he and his brother have turned into slippermen. To regain human form, they must pay…
“A Visit to the Doktor” to have their genitals cut off. Once done, Rael and John wear their penises in containers around their necks, but Rael’s gets stolen by…
“The Raven,” which flies away and drops Rael’s manhood into…
“Ravine” is a frosty, ambient instrumental that conjures the underground ravine where Rael descends in search of his missing body part.
“The Light Dies Down on Broadway” is a somber recap of the title-track with lyrics by Banks and Rutherford. Rael spots a portal that could lead him back home to reality.
“Riding the Scree” is a jerky, syncopated number with spiraling ARP. Rael, about to escape, spots John drowning and rushes to save him. The portal vanishes. In his act of bravery, Rael compares himself favorably to stuntman Evil Knievel.
“In the Rapids” is a slow number that builds from quiet beginnings to serve as a prelude to the album’s climactic closing track. Rael drags John to the river bank to revive him. When Rael turns John around, it’s not his brother’s face he sees; it’s his own.
“it” is a brisk, exuberant number with windy acoustic chords and cascading leads. Rael’s conscience drifts between both bodies and soon becomes one with the surrounding scenery.
Genesis recorded The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway at Glaspant with mobile equipment from Island Studios, where they did the final mixdown and encountered Brian Eno, who was there recording his second solo album, Taking Tiger Mountain by Strategy. Gabriel asked him to add “Enossification” (vocal treatments) on two tracks (“In the Cage,” “The Grand Parade of Lifeless Packaging”). In return, Collins drummed on the Taking Tiger track “Mother Whale Eyeless,” his first of six credits with the ex-Roxy Music keyboardist. Vocalist Graham Bell (Skip Bifferty, Bell + Arc) is credited with choral illustration.
Genesis co-produced The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway with Burns, who also produced the eponymous album by Refugee, the supertrio of Swiss keyboardist Patrick Moraz and the former rhythm section of The Nice. This would be the final pairing of Genesis and Burns, who subsequently worked with Dog Soldier, a follow-through to the Keef Hartley Band. The engineer on Lamb, Hutchins, also worked on 1974 albums by Sharks, Trapeze, and the debut solo release by Roxy saxophonist Andy Mackay.
The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway is housed in a gatefold cover designed by Hipgnosis. The outer-gates feature six monochrome images of Rael (played by one Omar) in various scenes from the story, including “The Ravine” (front left). The inner-gates present further images and the story plot. The inner-sleeves contain lyrics and Art Deco illustrations. The front sports a revised Genesis logo by George Hardie, who did a similar logo on Futurama, the 1975 second album by Be-Bop Deluxe.
Charisma lifted “Counting Out Time” as a single (b/w “Riding the Scree”), followed in April 1975 with a single release of “Carpet Crawl” titled “The Carpet Crawlers” (the actual chorus line), backed with a live version of “The Waiting Room” under its original working title, “Evil Jam.” The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway reached No. 10 on the UK Albums chart, No. 1 in France, No. 15 in Canada, and No. 41 on the US Billboard 200.
The Lamb Tour
The tour behind The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway was set to launch in the UK two weeks before the album’s release. Genesis postponed these dates when Hackett — triggered by nearby party gossip of the band’s future prospects should Gabriel exit — crushed a wine glass in his hand and severed a tendon.
Genesis commenced the tour on November 20, 1974, at Chicago’s Auditorium Theatre. The setlist featured The Lamb in its entirety, followed by encore performances of “The Musical Box,” “Watcher of the Skies,” and “The Knife.” Gabriel now sported short hair and a leather jacket in emulation of the Rael character. During performances of “The Colony of Slippermen,” he donned a large costume of the warted, goidered creature. For the climactic sequence where “In the Rapids” segues into “it,” they’d set off an explosion, followed by the appearance of two Rael’s (Gabriel and a dummy) standing as identical bookends. Each show was accompanied with 1,450 slides of sequential settings to the story. Due to budget limitations, the tour had various technical mishaps and was not captured professionally on video.
On the fifth night of the US leg (11/25/74: Allen Theatre, Cleveland), Gabriel informed the other members that he would leave Genesis at the end of the tour. This remained a close-guarded secret as Genesis played another 99 shows over the next six months. They returned to Chicago for the last North American date (2/4/75: Arie Crown Theatre) and followed with legs on the Continent (Feb. 19, Oslo—April 12, Brussels), the UK (April 14, Wembley—May 2, Birmingham), and a final round of dates in Germany and France. When their scheduled Toulouse show was cancelled due to low ticket sales, their May 22 date at the Palais des Sports de Besançon became their final show with Gabriel.
Gabriel Leaves, Hackett Solo, Collins Emerges
Peter Gabriel promised to stay silent about his exit so Genesis could reorganize and make their next album free of press and public scrutiny. However, word leaked by August and the UK music press had a field day. Gabriel responded with an open letter titled “Out, Angels Out,” where he addressed the matter in vague, flowery terms; quipping that he wished to “do a Bowie… do a Ferry [and]… do a ‘Furry Boa round my neck and hang myself with it.”
Gabriel retreated for a year to spend time with his family. His first post-Genesis appearance was on the soundtrack to All This and World War II, a 1976 musical documentary that pairs Beatles covers with WWII newsreel footage. Gabriel sings “Strawberry Fields Forever” on the double-album soundtrack, which also features Beatles covers by Ambrosia, Bee Gees, Bryan Ferry, David Essex, Leo Sayer, Lynsey De Paul, Richard Cocciante, Rod Stewart, Roy Wood, and Tina Turner.
In February 1977, he released Peter Gabriel, his first of four eponymous solo albums.
Meanwhile, Hackett debuted as a solo artist with the 1975 Charisma release Voyage of the Acolyte, comprised of new material and stockpiled pieces, including one (“Shadow of the Hierophant”) that he initially pitched to Genesis during the Foxtrot sessions. The album features musical backing by Rutherford and Collins, who makes his fourth appearance as a lead vocalist on “Star of Sirius,” which alternates pastoral and frenzied sections with poetic metaphors about the brightest star in the sky.
One Voyage track, “A Tower Struck Down,” features ex-Liverpool Scene bassist Percy Jones, a bandmate of Collins in Brand X, a jazz-rock operative that recently demoed material for Island Records. They recorded their debut album, Unorthodox Behaviour, during September–October 1975 at Trident. For Collins, this was an outlet for the Buddy Rich-influenced side to his drumming, which was underutilized in Genesis. In advance of their album, Brand X appeared with singer Julie Tippett and members of Colosseum II on the 1975 RSO release Peter and The Wolf, a jazz-rock interpretation of the 1936 children’s symphonic fairy tale by Russian composer Sergei Prokofiev.
Collins also proliferated as a session drummer during 1975 with appearances on albums by John Cale (Helen of Troy) and American guitarist Tommy Bolin, recently of Deep Purple. He also plays on three tracks (“Sky Saw,” “Over Fire Island,” “Zawinul/Lava”) on Another Green World, Eno’s third solo album. For Argent, he deputized an ill Bob Henrit on most of Counterpoints, their seventh and final studio album.
Elsewhere, Rutherford held on-off sessions with Anthony Phillips for what would become The Geese & the Ghost, the ex-Genesis guitarist’s debut solo album, recorded over a 25-month period (Oct. 1974—Nov. 1976) and released in March 1977 on Charisma. Collins sings on two tracks, “Which Way the Wind Blow” and “God If I Saw Her Now,” both quiet, acoustic, rhythmless numbers that bookend the first side.
The four-man Genesis convened in July 1975, just after sessions wrapped on Voyage of the Acolyte. New material flew quickly and Collins, a proven ballad singer, was tapped to sing “Ripples…,” a quiet, acoustic Rutherford–Banks composition with drummerless verses. For the busier, rhythmic numbers, they placed an ad in Melody Maker stating “vocalist wanted for Yes/Genesis-style group.” It drew more than 400 replies, including some applicants who sent photos of themselves in costume, ala Gabriel. None proved satisfactory, so Collins stepped to the mic for “Squonk,” a heavier Rutherford–Banks piece. Impressed with the results, Genesis realized that Gabriel’s replacement was already in the band.
Sessions for the first post-Gabriel Genesis album commenced in October 1975 at Trident with Nursery Cryme engineer David Hentschel, who months earlier issued Startling Music, an instrumental remake of Ringo Starr’s 1973 third solo album Ringo. Collins drums on half of Starling along with his guitarist friend and onetime Flaming Youth bandmate (and Genesis applicant) Ronnie Caryl.
1976: A Trick of the Tail
Genesis released their seventh studio album, A Trick of the Tail, on February 2, 1976, on Charisma and Atco. It features the two new Rutherford–Banks numbers and further Banks co-writes with Hackett (“Entangled”) and Collins (“Robbery, Assault and Battery”). Banks sole-wrote the frosty, symphonic epic “Mad Man Moon” and the jaunty title track. The album opens and closes with group-composed pieces: “Dance On a Volcano,” a theatrical, multi-sectional number; and “Los Endos,” a smoldering instrumental with themes from earlier numbers.
“Dance On a Volcano” opens with a staccato two-note guitar figure, overlaid with shifting bass–keyboard, open-cadence root notes. The intro resolves on B with a heavy, medium-slow proper theme (six notes over B–F#–E–A). The syncopated “Holy Mother of God” verses are capped with the thematic refrain “better start doing it right.” After the second refrain, the theme crescendos on D, then crests on F for the “on your left and on your right” middle-eight. The narrator urges the subject to perform a lava dance. A demonic command (“let the dance begin”) triggers a hurricane-like 7/8 section of speedy interlocking runs. Everything halts once, then permanently, for a spinning sound (in D) that signals a heavenly, eight-note closing theme.
“Entangled” is an ethereal, rhythmless acoustic number. It starts as an interlocking 12-string duet (in D). Plunges to the farthest chord (A♭) for the “Mesmerized children are playing” bridge. Strummed, harmonized chorus (CSN-like). Swelling choral Mellotron and theremin-like ARP envelope the instrumental final third.
“Squonk” is slow, heavy number with a trebly guitar figure (Dm with alternately dropped 3rds) over a deep-pocketed, foreboding bassline. The lyrics deal with the squonk: a mythical creature from Pennsylvanian folklore that, when corned, dissolves into a pool of tears. Phil sings in a high, airy tone, rendered transparent by the swelling bass–keyboard sound layers. He keeps a steady 4/4, unleashing misty cymbal spray on the bridges. The coda (“All in all you are a very dying race”) appropriates the DOaV theme.
“Mad Man Moon” starts with a gentle, arching ivory theme. The first verse is unaccompanied voice and piano. On the “Oh how I love you” bridge, Tony adds icy Mellotron. Slow drums enter on the line “Though I’d heard it said just birds could dwell so high.” A steady tempo carries through the swelling chorus, followed by a flute-tone refrain. Middle-eight: medium-tempo, staccato piano–marimba figure in 7/8, followed by a classical piano cadenza, overdubbed with synthesized filigree. An intense section with torrential drum fills (“Hey man, I’m the sand man”) presages a reinstatement of the proper song, which concludes on a De Vorzonian piano etude in C# minor.
“Robbery, Assault and Battery” starts with a silky ARP theme that glides over piano sustain. Phil narrates the tail of a bank robbery over a tight mid-tempo rhythmic cadence with nervous clickety hi-hat. He enacts the robber (“Hello son, I hope you’re having fun”) and the after-hours bank cleaner on the bridge, which ends in point-blank gunfire. Phil lays sliding hi-hat over the chorus and instrumental refrains. The middle-eight is a sequence of brisk passages with shifting key centers in compound time. Two ARP solos (echoey, then bubbly) is followed with icy layers of Mellotron and subtle Hackett bends. The track climaxes just after the getaway (“God always sides… on the side… of the bad man!”) Along with “Battle of Epping Forest” and “Counting Out Time,” this is one of the jerkier, more staccato numbers in the Genesis catalog.
“Ripples…” is the album’s other 12-string acoustic number. Intro-bar vocals (“Blue girls come in every size”) commence a metaphorical spin on pre-sail talisman. Drums enter on the airy “Sail away, away” chorus: a moderate four-chord passage with lush major-sevenths. Everything fades as Banks plays a lighting-fingered cadenza; soon overlaid with Hackett’s ghostly bends. The instrumental passage resolves on a 12-note theme (a variation of the vocal melody) that returns to the chorus.
“A Trick of the Tail” is a sprightly music hall number (in F#) with dancing piano and clipped guitar. It tells of a talking beast who wanders outside his kingdom, only to be captured and used as a sideshow attraction. They don’t believe his story, as bemoaned on the 2/4, oom-pah chorus (“They don’t even know of our existence”). On the middle-eight, the beast “broke down the door of the cage and marched on out” as the band plays a burlesque shuffle. The beast leads them to his kingdom of gold, only to vanish the moment a spire appears. Banks wrote this song in 1972 (some sources say 1969) but felt it wouldn’t suit Foxtrot.
“Los Endos” fades in with misty, wintry sounds, achieved with echoey processing. A brisk hurricane ensues at :50 (in A) that swallows the initial four-note theme (from the album-extra “It’s Yourself,” a later b-side). A flurry of drums and swelling keyboards cut to a Mellotron crescendo at 1:47, where the DOaV main theme reappears. As drums reenter, the IY theme reasserts over a brisk passage akin to “Nuclear Burn.” A second crescendo cuts to the DOaV intro (in A) with choral Mellotron. A muted, marching sequence comes forth with faint appropriation of the DOaV main theme, which spills into the final passage: a swelling reinstatement of the “Squonk” theme, overlaid with spiraling ARP. On the fading notes, Phil recites lines from “As Sure As Eggs Is Eggs.”
Genesis co-produced A Trick of the Tail with Hentschel, who engineered the album with Trident’s Nick Bradford, a soundman on 1975/76 albums by Charlie (Fantasy Girls), Curved Air, Headstone, and the Island Records release Go, a collaborative effort between Stomu Yamashta, Steve Winwood, and Michael Shrieve (Santana, Automatic Man) with Klaus Schulze and Al Di Meola.
A Trick of the Tail is housed in a gatefold sleeve designed by Hipgnosis with illustrations by Colin Elgie. It shows a lineup of Dickinson-like characters that reappear on the lyrical inner-gates, matched to select songs (including the squonk). The inner-sleeve shows the same characters in different poses. Elgie’s sketches are rendered in brass ink over a faded-yellow background. His artwork also appears on 1975/76 albums by Al Stewart (Year of the Cat), Alan Parsons Project (Tales of Mystery and Imagination), and Renaissance (Scheherazade and Other Stories).
Genesis issued “A Trick of the Tail” as a single with an accompany video where a miniaturized Collins dances on an open piano as the band plays and harmonizes, only to join him miniaturized at the end. They also made a video for “Robbery, Assault and Battery,” which intermixes dark soundstage clips with low-budget vignettes where Phil (the robber) shoots Mike (the cleaner). In the clip for “Ripples,” the camera pans in on a bearded Phil and shows tinted, in-the-rounds footage of Genesis miming in the dark.
A Trick of the Tail reached No. 3 on the UK Albums Chart and No. 31 on the Billboard 200. It also reached No. 1 in France, No. 4 in New Zealand, No. 7 in the Netherlands, and No. 12 in Canada.
Trick of the Tail Tour
Genesis promoted A Trick of the Tail with a spring–summer 1976 tour that started on March 26 in London, Ontario. Now that Collins served a dual role in the band, they hired drummer Bill Bruford for the tour so that Phil could concentrate on vocals.
Bruford played on the first five albums by Yes (up through their 1972 release Close to the Edge) and joined King Crimson for their 1973/74 albums Larks’ Tongues in Aspic, Starless and Bible Black, and Red. Most recently, he backed Roy Harper on the singer’s 1975 release HQ and played on the solo albums of erstwhile Yes colleagues Chris Squire (Fish Out of Water) and Steve Howe.
Genesis played seven shows in Canada and twenty-six April–May shows in the states, including two-night stands in New York (4/8–9: Beacon Theatre), Cleveland (4/14–15: Music Hall), and Chicago (4/16–17: Auditorium Theatre).
Their spring ’76 setlist featured five ATotT numbers (“Dance On a Volcano,” “Robbery, Assault & Battery,” “Entangled,” “Squonk,” “Los Endos”) and three apiece from The Lamb (“The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway,” “Fly On a Windshield,” “The Carpet Crawlers”) and Selling England (“Cinema Show,” “Firth of Fifth,” “I Know What I Like”), plus a medley of “It” and “Watcher of the Skies” and the old favorite “White Mountain.” From the fifth night onward (3/31: Maple Leaf Gardens, Toronto) they performed “Supper’s Ready.”
Though initially mic-shy, Collins adapted to his new role and developed comedic rapport with audiences. On “Los Endos” and the instrumental second half of “Cinema Show,” he got behind a second kit and performed drum duels with Bruford.
In the second week of June, Genesis played six straight nights at the Hammersmith Odeon. The European leg ran five weeks with stops in West Germany, France, Belgium, Netherlands, Switzerland, Denmark, and Sweden. In Scotland, they did a two-night stand at Glasgow’s Apollo Theatre. The tour wrapped on July 11 at the Luton Sports Centre.
After the tour, Bruford briefly drummed in National Health, a follow-through to Virgin avant jazz-rockers Hatfield and the North. He played on albums by Absolute Elsewhere and Pavlov’s Dog, then formed his own band Bruford with guitarist Allan Holdsworth. They released the albums Feels Good to Me and One of a Kind and partook in the supergroup project UK with John Wetton and Eddie Jobson.
In June 1976, Unorthodox Behavior hit shelves with seven group-credited originals, including “Euthanasia Waltz,” which features Collins on vibraphone. He partook in the sessions for Marscape, a spacey jazz-funk instrumental album credited to Brand X keyboardist Robin Lumley and onetime Blodwyn Pig saxist Jack Lancaster. In September, Collins and Brand X played a show at Ronnie’s Jazz Club in Soho. Their set included two numbers (“-Ish,” “Isis Mourning (Part 1 & 2)”) that appear on their 1977 third album Livestock. Collins also played on 1976 albums by Nova, Jakob Magnússon, Thin Lizzy (Johnny the Fox), and Pilot member William Lyall.
Wind & Wuthering
Genesis released their eighth studio album, Wind & Wuthering, on December 17, 1976, on Charisma and Atco. It opens with two symphonic-rock epics: “Eleventh Earl of Mar,” a lavish Banks–Rutherford opus with a middle composed by Hackett; and “One for the Vine,” a ten-minute suite that Banks conceived a year beforehand. Banks also contributed “All In a Mouses Night,” a quirky Tom & Jerry-style melodrama; and “Afterglow,” a lush, droning song of contentment that Tony wrote within minutes.
Hackett asserted himself as a writer with “Blood On the Rooftops,” a ballad with a classical guitar intro and fragmentary lyrics. He also conceived the pastoral instrumental sequence “Unquiet Slumbers for the Sleepers…” and “…In That Quiet Earth” with input from Rutherford, who lone-wrote the love ballad “Your Own Special Way.” Collins took a middle portion from “One for the Vine” and spun it into “Wot Gorilla?”, a whirling jazz-rock instrumental that closes side one.
Musically, Wind & Wuthering combines the sonic layers and production of A Trick of the Tail with the epic scope and newfangled, multi-movement structures of Selling England By the Pound.
“Eleventh Earl of Mar” opens with slow, silvery Hackett leads over a glistening Roland RS-202 pattern (in F maj7). Mellotron and piano herald a fanfare (in F#) that signals the verses (in D). The opening line, “The sun had been up for a couple of hours,” is the first line in The Flight of the Heron, the 1925 Jacobite novel by D. K. Broster. The song concerns John Erskine, Earl of Mar (1675–1732), who led a failed Jacobite uprising in the 1715 Battle of Sheriffmuir. The refrain, “Daddy! Oh Daddy, you promised,” is sung from the point of view of his 10-year old son Thomas Erskine, Lord Erskine (1705–1766), who believed his father would prevail. Each verse talks about their procession (“Out on the road in the direction of Perth”). Each bridge (in G) starts with searing Hackett leads, followed with characters that greet the Earl (“See the Stewart all dressed up”). The bridge is followed by a five-bar refrain where a two-note ARP melody glides over classical piano and shifting bass notes. Hackett wrote the mid-section: a calm, pastoral sequence with classical guitar and airy vocals (from the Thomas character). After a final go-around of the bridge and verse, the opening Hackett–Banks figure reprises and modulates to the song’s resting key (B minor).
“One for the Vine” begins with a six-note, high-pitched guitar figure over light piano in 5/4. Mellotron heralds the verse, where Phil softly sings of ancient tyrany (“Fifty thousand men were sent to do the will of one”) over classical ivory. He slowy drums the second verse as the veneer fades (“Though many there were believed in him, still more were sure he lied”). Phil takes a melodramatic tone on the rising bridge (“Then one whose faith had died”), where a nonbeliever flees up a mountain and slips down an ice slope. Upon landing, witnesses believe he’s the third coming and follow his command, which he first embraces (“Follow me, I’ll play the game you want me”) until realizing that he’s become the same tyrant he despised (“This will be all that I fled from”). A piano etude (after “let me rest for awhile”) gives way to a desolate stretch where the protagonist “talked with water, and then with the vine.” A soft passage of ARP over Mellotron concludes with the 5/4 intro, which lands on a louder section of frenetic piano and percussion. This leads to a swelling, sliding hi-hat sequence that lands on C for a marching fanfare movement. This breaks to a tight piano motif, where Phil acknowledges the predicament (“I must lead them to glory or most likely to death”). Hackett plays a descending eight-note melody that resolves on the 5/4 intro, followed by a final verse and bridge. After the “Stood up, and vanished into air” line, Hackett plays wailing leads over cloudy Mellotron. Banks ends the song with an ivory variation of the descending eight-note melody. His lyrical inspiration for this piece was Phoenix in Obsidian (aka The Silver Warriors), a 1970 fantasy novel by English sci-fi writer (and Hawkwind associate) Michael Moorcock.
“Your Own Special Way” opens with a dual strummed guitar pattern in C with rising fifths. Faint ARP and Roland RS-202 fill the sparse, drummerless verses. Hackett adds autoharp to Rutherford’s acoustic chords. The chorus swells with the arching title line, followed by a sliding guitar lick. Banks plays the unaccompanied middle-eight: a sequence of vibe-like Fender Rhodes notes over faint Hammond organ. The final verse is fuller with drums.
“Wot Gorilla?” enters with sparkling chimes. Collins fades in with a fast-paced drumroll, soon overlaid with an ARP melody that appropriates the C major fanfare section from “One for the Vine.” Banks plays a tocatta that resolves in D.
“Unquiet Slumbers for the Sleepers…” is a faint, drummerless, fast-fingered instrumental that opens on low E with clean, plucked classical guitar; then shifts to A for a distant, theremin-like ARP melody. A modulated sequence lands on G, where the piece segues into…
“…In That Quiet Earth” — a lively instrumental (in A) with rapidfire drums, misty cymbals, full bass–keyboard textures, and a soaring seven-note guitar melody. At 2:45, Hackett plays a variation of the six-note “One for the Vine” intro (in G). This resolves in a slow, heavy, closed-cadence sequence (ala “Squonk”) with deep bass, thick rhythm guitar, spray-metal percussion, and noodly APR. A brisk, descending APR run drops into…
“Afterglow” — a thick, swelling ballad with a slow, droning pattern (rooted in G). Phil, in the aftermath of chaos and destruction, lets go of the “meaning of all that I believed before” as he experiences “the warmth of new life.” His vocals are layered to choral proportions over lush Mellotron. The song shifts to F for the chorus, resolves on C for the climax and descends as he closes with “I miss you more.”
The titles “Unquiet Slumbers for the Sleepers…” and “…In That Quiet Earth” are lifted from the final nine words in Wuthering Heights, the 1847 Emily Brontë novel that also inspired the album’s name.
Sessions took place during a 12-day period in September–October 1976 at Relight Studios in Hilvarenbeek, Netherlands. Genesis co-produced Wind & Wuthering with Hentschel, who engineered the album with Relight soundman Pierre Geoffroy Chateau, who also engineered recent recordings by the Dutch bands Alquin, Finch, Fungus, and Kayak. Bradford did the mixdown at Trident.
During the sessions, Genesis recorded three additional songs (“Match of the Day,” “Pigeons,” “Inside and Out”) but held them over because they didn’t fit the overall sound of the album. They also rehearsed “Please Don’t Touch!”, a Hackett instrumental that was ultimately vetoed by the other members. Between the album’s completion and release, Collins and Brand X convened at Trident to record their second album.
Elgie painted the monochrome Wind & Wuthering cover art over a three-week period. It shows a lone, leafy tree on a desolate valley under dark clouds (front) and stripped of its leaves amid a swirling bird murmuration under white overcast (back). The cloudy sky theme carries over to the lyrical inner-sleeve. The cover has a leaf-flaking cross logo where the name Genesis shares its “N” with the word Wind. This was their first album since Selling England by the Pound housed in a single sleeve (third overall). Select pressings feature a textured sleeve. Elgie did subsequent covers for Moody Blues frontman Justin Hayward, 10cc (Deceptive Bends), and Gabriel’s second solo album, titled Peter Gabriel.
Genesis lifted “Your Own Special Way” as a single, backed with “It’s Yourself,” an ethereal, rhythmless ballad recorded during the Trick sessions.
Wind & Wuthering reached No. 7 on the UK Albums Chart, No. 3 in France, and No. 26 on the Billboard 200.
1977: Wind & Wuthering Tour
Genesis opened 1977 with their second post-Gabriel tour. This time, they found a permanent drummer for live shows in Baltimore native Chester Thompson, a onetime O’Donel Levy sideman who was recently one of two drummers (along with Narada Michael Walden) on Black Market, the 1976 sixth album by Weather Report. Collins took note of Thompson from his work on Frank Zappa‘s 1974 live double-album Roxy & Elsewhere. Genesis hired Thompson without an audition. (Thompson is not to be confused with Tower of Power and later Santana keyboardist Chester Thompson, who cut the 1971 solo album Powerhouse on Black Jazz Records.)
The tour kicked off with a January UK leg that covered 18 dates in 10 cities, starting with a three-night stand at London’s Rainbow Theatre (1/1–3/77). The first night featured a medley of “Lilywhite Lilith,” “The Waiting Room,” and “Wot Gorilla?” Genesis used an elaborate lighting setup that included Boeing aircraft landing lights. This tour marked the first appearance of Rutherford with a beard. Collins sported his most hirsute look on these shows with long hair and a thick, long beard.
They played two-night stands in Birmingham, Liverpool, Manchester, Edinburgh, Newcastle, Southampton, and Leicester. In the first two cities, the setlist featured 12 songs from the two recent albums (everything except “Entangled,” “Ripples,” “Man Mad Moon,” “A Trick of the Tail,” “Blood On the Rooftops,” “Unquiet Slumber for the Sleepers….”) plus “Supper’s Ready,” “Firth of Fifth,” “I Know What I Like,” and a medley of “The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway” and “The Musical Box.” As on the prior tour, Collins got behind a second drum kit on the instrumental numbers.
The North American leg commenced on February 2 in Boulder, Colo., and covered seven stops in Canada and 33 cities across the US, including a three-night stand in Chicago (2/15–17: Auditorium Theatre) and a show before 20,000 fans at Madison Square Garden. On March 29, Genesis mimed “Afterglow” and a shortened “Your Own Special Way” on The Mike Douglas Show. They wrapped this leg with three Northwest shows (April 1–3) in Portland, Vancouver, and Seattle.
During a one-month break from the road, Collins appeared with Brand X at London’s Marquee Club (4/23). Their performance of “Euthanasia Waltz” appeared five months later on Livestock. Meanwhile, Brand X issued their second album, Moroccan Roll, on Charisma. Side one features two Collins instrumentals — “Why Should I Lend You Mine (When You’ve Broken Yours Off Already)…” (11:16) and “…Maybe I’ll Lend You Mine after All” (2:10) — that show his love for the spacious sounds of Weather Report. On the album’s opening track (“Sun in the Night”), Collins sings in Sanskrit, an ancient Indo-European language.
On May 1, Genesis resumed with one US show at the Starlight Bowl in Burbank, where they premiered Hackett’s unreleased “Inside and Out.”
On May 10, Genesis started their first (and only) round of dates in Brazil, where they did two-night stands in Porto Alegre and Rio, followed by four straight nights in São Paulo, including double-show nights at the Ginásio do Ibirapuera (May 21–22). These would be their only shows in South America, where audiences greeted Genesis with Beatles-level adoration.
On June 4, Genesis launched the European leg at the Olympiahalle in Munich, West Germany. They touched down in Benelux, Sweden, Switzerland, and West Berlin. On the 11th, they played their first of four straight nights at the Palais des Sports de Paris. They returned to London for a three-night showcase (June 23–25) at Earl’s Court before wrapping the tour on July 3 with a second Olympiahalle show.
Spot the Pigeon
Genesis released their first EP, Spot the Pigeon, on May 20, 1977, on Charisma. It features the three leftover songs from the Wind & Wuthering sessions. “Match of the Day” and “Pigeons” are melodic pop songs credited to Banks–Collins–Rutherford; presaging the trio’s sound in the upcoming decade. “Inside and Out” is an epic vocal-ballad-turned-instrumental-rocker credited to the band but written primarily by Hackett.
The EP appeared in the UK, Europe, Oceania, Brazil, and Canada, but not the US. Original Canadian copies (on Atlantic) appeared on 12″ blue vinyl. Irish and New Zealand (Philips) pressings appeared on white vinyl.
Genesis released their second live album, the four-sided Seconds Out, in October 1977 on Charisma and Atlantic. It collects numbers from their recent Palais des Sports de Paris shows (June 11–14) plus one number (“The Cinema Show,” not performed on the Wind tour) from a June 13, 1976 show at the Pavillon de Paris.
Sides one and two include one number from Wind & Wuthering (“Afterglow”) and two apiece from A Trick of the Tail (“Squonk” “Robbery, Assault and Battery”), The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway (“The Carpet Crawlers” title-track), Selling England By the Pound (“Firth of Fifth” “I Know What I Like (In Your Wardrobe)”), plus the closing section of “The Musical Box.” They extend “I Know What I Like” to 8:43 with a lengthy jam sequence that interpolates the climactic theme of “Stagnation.”
Side three (24:41) features the post-Gabriel lineup’s rendition of “Supper’s Ready” in its entirety. “As Sure As Eggs Is Eggs” is lowered a full step (A to G) to accommodate Phil’s vocal range.
Side four contains three instrumentals where Phil drums alongside the band’s touring drummers: “Dance On a Volcano” and “Los Endos” (both with Thompson) and “The Cinema Show” (the only track with Bruford).
Genesis recorded the Paris concerts with the Manor Mobile, a transportable studio tied to the Manor, the Shipton-on-Cherwell mansion studio owned by Virgin Records co-founder Richard Branson. The Mobile was also used for Livestock and 1976–78 live albums by Ange, Dr. Feelgood, Gong, Kursaal Flyers, Little Feat, Man, Soft Machine, and the EMI release The Roxy London WC2 (Jan – Apr 77), a document of new acts who performed at the Convent Garden venue (The Adverts, Buzzcocks, Slaughter & the Dogs, Wire, X-Ray Spex).
Seconds Out is housed in a black gatefold sleeve with a Boeing-lighted performance pic (front) and a foggy, star-lighted image of Phil’s silhouette (back). The inner-gate collage features tinted performance pics of each performer. The layout was conceived by A.D. Design with art director Frank Sanson and photography by Alkatraz, Groundhogs, Patrick Moraz (Out In the Sun), and Van der Graaf Generator (World Record). Gallo’s photography also appears on PFM’s 1977 release Jet Lag. , , and Genesis biographer Armando Gallo. A.D. designed recent covers for
Genesis co-produced Seconds Out with Hentschel, who engineered the album with Neil Ross, a soundman on Moroccan Roll and 1977 titles by Alphonso Johnson and The Valves. The tracks were mixed at Trident, where the band gathered to hear the final edits.
One day in August, while en route to the studio, Collins spotted Hackett on a London street corner and stopped to offer him a lift. Hackett politely declined the offer. When Collins arrived at the studio, the others informed him of Hackett’s resignation. The guitarist — energized by the Voyage experience yet stifled by his under-representation on Genesis albums — decided it was time to launch a full-time solo career. His second album, Please Don’t Touch!, appeared in 1978 with vocals by Steve Walsh (Kansas), Randy Crawford, and Richie Havens. The titular instrumental, pitched to Genesis during the Wind sessions, is the side-two centerpiece.
As an instrumentalist, Hackett’s departure (more than Gabriel’s) impacted the sound of Genesis. The remaining three — Banks, Collins, and Rutherford — quickly decided they could survive this latest loss. They were the band’s musical core on many key passages, including “Apocalypse in 9/8,” the second half of “Cinema Show,” and the mid-section of “Firth of Fifth.” As with Gabriel, Hackett’s replacement was already in the band. Rutherford, an accomplished 12-string acoustic player, would now assume electric lead and rhythm duties in addition to bass.
In the weeks between Genesis band activity, Collins played on 1977 recordings by Elliot Murphy, John Cale, and the Scottish trio Cafe Jacques (Round the Back). He also played on two songs (“No One Receiving,” “Energy Fools the Magician”) on Before and After Science, Eno’s fourth solo vocal album.
Along with drummer Jon Hiseman, Collins plays on the January 1978 MCA release Variations, an album of classical–rock versions of compositions by playwright Andrew Lloyd Webber; performed by the recent Colosseum II lineup (Electric Savage, War Dance) with guitarist Gary Moore, plus Rod Argent and saxist Barbara Thompson (Hiseman’s life partner).
Genesis commenced sessions on their first album as a trio in September 1977 at Relight.
1978: …And Then There Were Three…
Genesis released their ninth studio album, …And Then There Were Three…, on March 31, 1978, on Charisma and Atlantic. It features eleven songs, bookended by the explosive “Down and Out” and the love ballad “Follow You, Follow Me.” Banks composed two ballads (“Undertow,” “Many Too Many”) and two epics (“Burning Rope,” “The Lady Lies”).
Rutherford contributed the seasonal ballad “Snowbound,” the drunkard’s lament “Say It’s Alright Joe,” and the folkloric “Deep In the Motherlode,” one of two songs — along with the group-written “Ballad of Big,” a cowboy’s tale with lyrics by Phil — with a Wild West theme. Collins also lyricized Banks’ “Scenes from a Night’s Dream,” inspired by the 1900s comic strip Little Nemo in Slumberland.
Genesis co-produced …And Then There Were Three… with Hentschel during September–October 1977 at Relight. He spent the subsequent three months at Trident producing A Song for All Seasons, the March 1978 release by Renaissance. ATTWT was engineered by Relight’s Pierre Geoffroy Chateau and mixed at Trident by Steve Short, who also worked on ASfAS in succession with Gabriel’s second self-titled solo album and International, the second album by Cafe Jacques, once again with Collins on guest percussion.
…And Then There Were Three… (named in reference to the group’s revised member count) is housed in a gatefold designed by Hipgnosis co-founder Storm Thorgerson. It shows three shadowy men in a valley under torrential dusk clouds. One waits at the wheel of a nearby car while the other two have a smoke, having just dumped the body of an offed fourth character. The lighter sets off a wave that extends to the deep forest. The logo appropriates the angular typeface first seen on The Lamb. On the lyrical inner-gates, a pre-dawn spread of the vacated setting shows the name GENESIS formed from the light wave. Thorgerson also designed 1977/78 covers for Be-Bop Deluxe (Drastic Plastic), Neil Ardley, and Pink Floyd (Animals).
At Atlantic’s insistence, Genesis issued “Follow You, Follow Me” as the album’s lead-off single in a b&w sleeve that appropriates the light-wave logo. It reached No. 7 on the UK Singles Chart, No. 16 in Australia, and No. 23 on the Billboard Hot 100 and Cash Box Top 100.
…And Then There Were Three… reached No. 3 on the UK Albums Chart, No. 2 in France and Germany, and also made the Top 10 in the Netherlands, Norway, and New Zealand. It peaked at No. 11 in Canada and No. 14 on the Billboard 200. In the US, “Deep In the Motherlode” was issued as a second single, retitled “Go West Young Man (In the Motherlode).”
In non-American territories, “Many Too Many” was lifted as the second single, backed with two non-album songs from the ATTWT sessions: Banks’ “The Day the Light Went Out,” a theatrical number about the July 1977 NYC blackout; and Rutherford’s “Vancouver,” an acoustic ballad with personal lyrics by Collins.
And Then There Were Three Tour
Genesis rehearsed the setlist for the …And Then There Were Three… tour during February 1978 at Shepperton Studios, Surrey, where they filmed the video to “Follow You, Follow Me.”
For live performances, Rutherford wanted to replicate his primary role on studio recordings: guitar on ATTWT songs and bass on the Hackett-era numbers. They approached bassist Alphonso Johnson, who interacted with Thompson on Black Market and used the drummer on Yesterday’s Dreams, his second solo album. Johnson, ill-suited for Hackett’s parts, recommended guitarist Daryl Stuermer, who played on the 1976/77 Jean Luc-Ponty albums Aurora, Imaginary Voyage, and Enigmatic Ocean. Stuermer, along with Thompson, completed the trio’s touring lineup that would last 14 years.
Genesis launched the tour on March 28, 1978, at the Broome Country Arena in Binghamton, NY. The first North American leg covered 18 cities in the Northeast and Midwest, concluding on April 22 at the Forum in Montreal.
Their ’78 setlist featured five ATTWT numbers (“Follow You, Follow Me,” “The Lady Lies,” “Say It’s Alright Joe,” “Burning Rope,” “Deep In the Motherlode”) and three apiece from Wind (“Eleventh Earl of Mar,” “One for the Vine,” “Afterglow”) and Trick (“Los Endos,” “Ripples,” “Squonk”), plus the Gabriel-era numbers “In The Cage,” “I Know What I Like,” “The Cinema Show,” and the Nursery epic “The Fountain of Salmacis,” which they reintroduced after a long absence.
They performed “Dance On a Volcano” in a medley with “Drum Duet,” a Collins–Thompson duel. The now clean-shaven Collins play-acted “Say It’s Alright Joe” as a trench-coated lush. Select dates included “Balled of Big” and “Down and Out” in the set.
The first European leg commenced on May 14 in Cologne. They covered Benelux, Scandanavia, Switzerland, and played nine shows each in Germany and France, including a four-night engagement (5/26–29/78) at the Palais des Sports.
On June 24, Genesis played their only UK show of the tour at Knebworth Park, where they appeared as part of A Midsummer Night’s Dream: a Saturday festival with sets by the Atlanta Rhythm Section, Devo, Jefferson Starship, and Roy Harper. Brand X appeared with drummer Chuck Burgi, who plays on their 1978 third studio album Masques. Collins interacts with Brand X members on the concurrent jazz-rock album Pleasure Signals by Wilding / Bonus.
Genesis launched a second North American leg on July 10 at the CNE Exhibition Stadium, Toronto. This leg included two-night stands in Detriot (7/15–16: Cobo Hall), Columbia (7/25–26: Merriweather Post Pavilion), and a three-night engagement at Summerfest Grounds, Milwaukee. On July 29, a head-shaved Gabriel joined them on stage at Madison Square Garden for a performance of “I Know What I Like.” (Gabriel’s summer–fall ’78 concerts included punked-up renditions of “The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway.”)
On August 18, Genesis launched a second European leg at Stadthalle in Vienna, Austria. This leg covered 10 cities, including four German dates, three Dutch stops, and a September 9 show at Fete De L’Humanite in La Courneuve, France. A third and final US leg commenced on the 29th at the Sportatorium in Hollywood, Florida, and covered 18 southern and Midwest cities, concluding at the Summit in Houston, Texas.
Genesis wrapped the ATTWT tour with a six-date leg in Japan, including three shows at Sun Plaza Hall in Nakano, Tokyo.
1979: Solo Projects, Brand X, Collins Side Work
Genesis took a break during the first quarter of 1979. In April, Collins reclaimed his slot in Brand X from Burgi, who subsequently worked with Hall & Oates, David Bendeth, Balance, and Rainbow. Brand X convened at Ringo’s Startling Studios, where they cut enough tracks for two and a half albums. Collins also partook in the sessions for The Pentateuch of the Cosmogony, the Lumley-produced instrumental double-album by keyboardist Dave Greenslade, the onetime namesake of Greenslade.
Around this time, Collins demoed numerous originals on piano with the rhythmic aid of the Roland CR-78 drum machine. Some of these songs dealt with personal demons (“In the Air Tonight”) and romantic woes (“Please Don’t Ask,” “How Can You Just Sit There?”).
Meanwhile, Collins played unspecified percussion on I Can See Your House from Here, the 1979 seventh studio album by Camel and their first without co-founder Peter Bardens, replaced here by keyboardist Kit Watkins, recently of Happy the Man, a DC symphonic band named after the 1972 Genesis single. HtM made the 1977/78 Arista albums Happy the Man and Crafty Hands after turning down Gabriel’s offer to be his backing band. ICSYHfH was produced by Rupert Hine, a rising soundman (recently of Quantum Jump) who worked on the two Cafe Jacques titles and Anthony Phillips’ 1978/79 albums Wise After the Event and Sides.
Rutherford reunited with Phillips on Smallcreep’s Day, the bassist–guitarist’s first solo album, recorded in late 1979 with Brand X percussionist Morris Pert, session drummer Simon Phillips (Chopyn, Duncan Brown, Gordon Giltrap, Jack Bruce, Pete Townshend, Phil Manzanera), and ex-Moon frontman Noel McCalla. Smallcreep’s features a seven-part titular suite (24:41) and five medium-length songs akin to Mike’s recent Genesis contributions, including the “Squonk”-like “Moonshine.” The album appeared on Charisma in February 1980, accompanied with the single “Working in Line” (part II of the suite) and the non-album b-side “Compression.”
Hentschel produced that album at Polar Studios, Stockholm, in succession with A Curious Feeling, the debut solo album by Tony Banks. ACF features swelling epics in the Trick/Wind vein (“You,” “Somebody Else’s Dream”), ballads in the ATTWT mold (“For a While”) and piano etudes, including the opener “From the Undertow,” originally intended as the extended intro to “Undertow.” Banks largely self-performed the album (keyboards, guitars, bass, percussion) with help from Chester Thompson and Scottish singer Kim Beacon, the late-period frontman of String Driven Thing. A Curious Feeling appeared in October 1979 on Charisma.
Meanwhile, Brand X issued Product in September 1979 on Charisma and Passport. Collins composed “…And So to F…,” a climactic instrumental that segues into John Giblin’s fretless bass postlude “April” on Passport copies. Two songs, the Goodsall rocker “Don’t Make Waves” and the Phil co-write “Soho,” feature Collins on vocals. He uses his Roland CR-78 on “Wal to Wal,” a minimalistic instrumental.
Collins appears on all but two Product tracks, “Dance of the Illegal Aliens” and “Not Good Enough – See Me!,” which feature American drummer Mike Clark, formerly of The Headhunters, the breakoff backing band of Herbie Hancock. Clark, in turn, appears on five of the seven tracks on the 1980 release Do They Hurt?, the second batch of material from Brand X’s prolific April 1979 Startling sessions. Collins appears on five–sixths of the third batch collected on the shorter album Is There Anything About?, released in 1982 after the group’s initial demise.
Elsewhere, Collins partook in sessions for Exposure, the 1979 debut solo album by Robert Fripp with vocals by Gabriel, Hammill, and Daryl Hall, who collaborated with Fripp on the 1977 recording Sacred Songs (released in 1980).
The title track to “Exposure” (vocals here by Terre Roche of folk sister-trio The Roches) first appeared on Gabriel’s Fripp-produced second solo album, which signalled both musician’s turn toward minimalist post-punk rock, a sound carried over to Gabriel’s third self-titled solo album, recorded in the summer of 1979 with input by Fripp, Collins, Giblin, Larry Fast (aka Synergy), Kate Bush, and members of The Jam, XTC, Morrissey Mullen, and Random Hold. Collins drums on four tracks (“Intruder”, “No Self Control,” “Family Snapshot,” “And Through the Wire”) and plays the surdo, a Brazilian bass drum, on “Biko,” the Joy Division-esque closing track about the martyred South African freedom fighter. At Gabriel’s command, Collins refrained from using cymbals; a discipline that led to the echoed drum effects on “Intruder,” the first appearance of a Collins trademark dubbed the “gated drum” sound.
Collins convened with Banks and Rutherford after each finished their solo albums to begin work on a new Genesis album, recorded in November–December 1979 at Polar, the Stockholm facility opened the prior year by ABBA and recently used by Led Zeppelin for their eighth studio album (and unintended swan song) In Through the Out Door.
Genesis released their tenth studio album, Duke, on March 28, 1980, on Charisma and Atlantic. It features a set of thematically connected group-written numbers interspersed with solo compositions by each member.
The first three numbers — “Behind the Lines,” “Duchess,” and “Guide Vocal” — form the first half of the “Duke Suite,” which picks up on the side two opener “Turn It On Again” and the album’s climactic sequence: “Duke’s Travel” / “Duke’s End.” The suite, developed in group jams and intended to run together on one side, was fragmented to contrast the individual songs by Banks (“Heathaze,” “Cul-de-Sac”), Collins (“Misunderstanding,” “Please Don’t Ask”), and Rutherford (“Man of Our Times,” “Alone Tonight”).
Genesis co-produced Duke with Hentschel, who engineered the album with David Bascombe, the assistant on Smallcreep’s Day and A Curious Feeling and the 1979 Renaissance album Azure d’Or. All four albums were mastered at Trident by veteram engineer Ray Staff, who also mastered the Brand X, Greenslade, and Phillips titles plus 1978–80 albums by Adam and the Ants (Kings of the Wild Frontier), Cowboys International, Gang of Four (Entertainment!), Gloria Mundi, Japan (Quiet Life), Judas Priest (British Steel), Judie Tzuke (Welcome to the Cruise), National Health (Of Queues and Cures), Manfred Mann’s Earth Band (Angel Station), Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark (Organisation), Pierre Moerlen’s Gong, Rush (Hemispheres, Permanent Waves), Samson, Siouxsie and the Banshees, and Zed (Visions of Dune).
Duke is the final Genesis album with a gatefold sleeve. It sports outer- and inner-gate art by French illustrator Lionel Koechlin, whose simple, cartoonish style contrasts prior Genesis covers but signals their new preferance for minimal, modernist visuals. The Duke imagery comes from Koechlin’s 1979 children’s book L’Alphabet d’Albert. On the front gate, Albert stands before an open window: an image that conjures the album’s implied themes of solitude, fortitude, and personal change — facing a new day at the start of a new decade and a new phase in life. On the back gate, Albert and the window are silhouetted as one. On the hand-written lyrical inner-gates, smaller d’Albert illustrations (Albert running, playing sax) accompany each song. Koechlin’s artwork also appears on Synthesis, a 1980 album by German electronic musician Claude Larson.
The “Duke Suite” was initially themed on the Albert character, despite no mention of the name in the lyrics. On the subsequent tour, Collins announced the suite (performed in its original running order) as “The Story of Albert.”
“Turn It On Again” preceded the album as the first single, backed with an edited “Behind the Lines (Part 2)” that cuts the extended intro. It reached No. 8 on the UK and Italian singles charts. Genesis mimed the song on the 2/13/80 broadcast of Top of the Pops. In the video, Genesis mime on a back-lit olive soundstage with frequent upshots and hand–face closeups. Phil works the mic during the first half and gets behind the kit for the final moments.
“Duchess” appeared as the second single, backed with the non-album Rutherford ballad “Open Door.” The video starts with a closeup of the Roland CR-78 heard in the opening bars, followed by scenes of Genesis (trench coats and fedoras) in different parts of the Liverpool Empire Theatre, where Phil mimes with varying degrees of facial intensity. (“Duchess” is also the title of a then-recent Stranglers single: a UK No. 14 hit from their 1979 fourth studio album The Raven.)
“Misunderstanding” became the album’s third and final single, backed with the non-album Banks epic “Evidence of Autumn.” “Misunderstanding” reached No. 1 in Canada and No. 14 on the Billboard Hot 100 and Cash Box Top 100. In the video, a bearded Phil drives about Los Angeles and sings inside phone booths in a futile effort to reach his elusive love interest. Mike and Tony appear at various junctures with their instruments, oblivious to Phil’s plight.
Duke is the first of five consecutive Genesis studio albums to reach No. 1 on the UK Albums Chart. The album also reached No. 1 in Canada, No. 2 in Germany, and went Top 10 through most of Europe. In the US, Duke reached No. 11 on the Billboard 200.
The Duke Tour
Genesis promoted Duke with spring–summer 1980 tours of the UK and North America. The UK leg commenced with a two-night stand (March 17–18) at the Festival Hall in Paignton. They played 42 shows throughout England, Scotland, and Wales, including two-nighters in Birminghman (4/4–5: Odeon Theatre), Southhampton (4/10–11: Gaumont Theatre), Manchester (4/18–19: Apollo Theatre), Liverpool (5/2–3: Empire Theatre), Newcastle (4/29–30: City Hall), and London’s Lyceum Theatre (5/6–7). They did a three-night engagement (March 27–29) at the Hammersmith Odeon. All 108,000 UK tickets sold out within hours of the tour’s announcement.
The Duke tour setlist featured “Misunderstanding” and the album’s titular suite in its intended running order: “Behind the Lines,” “Duchess,” “Guide Vocal,” “Turn it On Again,” “Duke’s Travels,” and “Duke’s End.” Genesis also performed four ATTWT numbers (“Say It’s Alright Joe,” “Deep in the Motherlode,” “The Lady Lies,” “Follow You Follow Me”), one from W&W (“One for the Vine”) and four from ATotT: “Squonk,” “Ripples,” and a medley of “Dance On a Volcano–Los Endos.”
From the Gabriel era, Genesis retained “I Know What I Like,” whose dark, shimmery qualities could now be heard as a precursor to “Man of Our Times” and the post-punk style of Peter’s third solo album (an influence on subsequent group and member-solo work). On select nights, they resurreceted “The Knife,” their now-decade-old epic from the Phillips era. The Duke shows also featured three medleys of 1971–76 material: “Dancing With the Moonlit Knight (intro)–Carpet Crawlers,” “In The Cage–Slippermen–Afterglow,” and “Back in NYC–The Musical Box (ending).”
Genesis launched the North American leg of the Duke tour on May 17 at the Northland Coliseum Bowl in Edmonton, Alberta. They played five shows in Canada and twenty-five in the States, starting with a five-city run through California, followed by swings through the South, the Midwest, and the Northeast, culminating with five shows in New York state. On the penultimate night (6/29/80), they played Madison Square Garden, where fans plastered the entryways with a sign reading “NY LOVES GENESIS.” Their US shows now attracted energized mass audiences, including many young fans who didn’t know the band’s pre-trio life. Footage from this tour was spliced and intercut for an alternate video to “Turn It On Again.”
1981: Collins Solo
Genesis paused during the second half of 1980 as Duke road its chart momentum and Collins resumed work on his solo demos. He bonded with John Martyn and played on the singer–songwriter’s October ’80 release Grace & Danger and produced its 1981 followup Glorious Fool. Concurrently, Collins played on two songs (“Taurus 1,” “Sheba”) on QE2, the sixth album by Mike Oldfield; and two songs (“Little Moon,” “Sex Kittens Go to College”) on Red Cab to Manhattan, the third album by American songwriter Stephen Bishop.
Collins took his 1979–80 home demos and overdubbed them at London’s Town House Studio with backing by Bishop, Stuermer, Giblin, Alphonso Johnson, and violinist L. Shankar. He employed the Phenix Horns (the brass section of Earth Wind & Fire) on seven tracks. Collins co-produced the album with Hugh Padgham, the engineer on Gabriel’s third solo album (aka “melting face”) and 1979/80 titles by Bliss Band, Split Enz (Frenzy), XTC (Drums and Wires, Black Sea), and Yes (Drama). Padgham engineered the album with budding soundman Nick Launay, who’d worked with synthpop musician Robin Scott (aka M) and cut a single under the moniker Codek. Orchestrator Gavyn Wright (Penguin Cafe Orchestra) handled string arrangements.
The finished album, Face Value, appeared in February 1981 on Virgin Records. It opens with “In the Air Tonight,” a dark, eerie, Joy Division-esque number akin to “Games Without Frontiers.” The album includes minimalist ballads (“This Must Be Love,” “If Leaving Me Is Easy”) and maximalist instrumentals (“Droned,” “Hand in Hand”). Phil embraces soul-funk on “I Missed Again” and the Duke remake “Behind the Lines,” rendered here as a compact, upbeat number with the EWF horns. Eric Clapton guests on “The Roof Is Leaking,” a roots-rocker indebted to The Band. Collins would bring these influences into his next recording sessions with Genesis.
Face Value was preceded by the January 9, 1981 release of “In the Air Tonight.” With its dark, forboding intro; mysterious lyrics; poignant vocals; echoey sounds; CR-78 pulse; erupting drumroll; and menacing final moments, the song reached No. 1 in five European nations, No. 2 on the UK Singles Chart, and went Top 4 in seven other territories. In the US, “In the Air Tonight” reached No. 19 on the Billboard Hot 100. Face Value reached No. 1 in the UK and Canada and No. 7 on the Billboard 200.
In the video to “In the Air Tonight,” a haunted Phil sits in the dark, surrounded by bleak walls and his own reflection. He then walks slowly through corridors of light as intercuts of his face turn from infrared to monochrome. The clip — an iconic example of early music video — became a staple of classic MTV. It aired five times on August 1, 1981, the channel’s first day of broadcast. Collins also made a video to “I Missed Again,” where he sings into an air mic and mimes on sax and keyboards in assorted outfits against a then-common whitescreen backdrop.
Genesis reconvened at Fisher Lane Farm, a farmhouse near Chiddingfold, Surrey, that they purchased in late 1980 for their own rehearsals and recordings. Upon setup, they commenced work on a new album. During an early soundcheck, Collins sang the second stanza of “Dancing With the Moonlit Knight” (“Paperlate, cried a voice in the crowd”) into a microphone. This led to the creation of “Paperlate,” a new and different song with punchy horns by the EWF brass.
Genesis released their eleventh studio album, Abacab, on September 18, 1981, on Atlantic, Charisma, and Vertigo. It features six group-written numbers and a solo composition each by Banks (“Me and Sarah Jane”), Collins (“Man on the Corner”), and Rutherford (“Like It or Not”). The group-composed songs have lyrics written individually by Mike (“Abacab,” “Another Record”), Phil (“No Reply at All,” “Who Dunnit?”), and Tony (“Keep It Dark,” “Dodo”–”Lurker”).
Musically, Abacab hears Genesis shed the lush, pastoral texures of their seventies output for a sharper, more trebly sound in line with the new decade. Influences on the album include the modern, neon synth tones of The Cars (“Abacab,” “Keep It Dark”); the ethereal, chorused guitars of The Police (“Another Record”); and the futurist quirks of Devo (“Who Dunnit?”). Elements of Face Value carry over on “No Reply at All,” a brassy soul-pop tune similar to “I Missed Again”; and “Man On the Corner,” a dark, poignant number akin to “In the Air Tonight.” Hallmarks of their past work show on “Me and Sarah Jane,” a through-composed number in three parts; and “Dodo”–”Lurker,” a two part epic with swelling chords and instrumental refrains.
Abacab is the first self-produced album in the Genesis catalog. Padgham engineered Abacab in succession with 1981 titles by Johnny Warman, Killing Joke, Landscape (From the Tea-Rooms of Mars…. to the Hell-Holes of Uranus), The Police (Ghost In the Machine), and Spandau Ballet (Journeys to Glory).
In their first use of outside musicians since the orchestration on From Genesis to Revelation, Genesis summoned the Phenix Horns for “No Reply at All” and “Paperlate,” one of five songs from the Abacab sessions left off the album due to space (and presumably its nature as a lyrical in-joke compared to the more direct and musically similar “No Reply”). “Dodo”–”Lurker” was originally conceived as a 16-minute, four-part suite, bookended by the instrumentals “Naminanu” and “Submarine,” both released seperately as b-sides.
Genesis recorded Abacab over a 14-week period between March and June 1981. They consciously refrained from musical traits that the members felt they’d exhuasted, such as epic structures, lengthy solos, and recurrent soft–heavy contrasts. The album’s title derives from the original format of the song “Abacab”: verse, chorus, verse, middle-eight, verse, chorus. By the time they developed the recorded version, the song actually went verse, chorus, verse, chorus, middle-eight, verse, chorus, coda (ABABCABD). Between the start and finish of the album’s sessions, Face Value ascended the global charts and propelled Collins to superstar status.
Abacab sports a modernist image by English art director Bill Smith. It shows slabs of color shaped like paper swaths on a white background with squiggly overlays. Atlantic’s original pressing came in four embossed variants of the color scheme. The inner-sleeve has a monochrome pic of Genesis seated in a ramshackle room at Fisher Lane. Smith also did visuals for albums by The Cure (Three Imaginary Boys, Seventeen Seconds), The Jam (All Mod Cons, Setting Sons), New Musik (Anywhere), Toyah Willcox (Sheep Farming in Barnet), and The Who (Who Are You?). Variations of Smith’s Abacab art appear on the sleeves of its singles.
“Abacab” appeared in August 1981 as the advance lead-off single (b/w “Another Record”). The video, a studio clip, shows each member materialize out of thin air on cue to his first note. They mime the song with blurred and slow-motion effects and dissappear one-by-one as the song fades. “Abacab” reached No. 8 on the UK Singles Chart and No. 11 in Canada and Italy. Genesis mimed the song on the 8/27/81 broadcast of TotP.
“No Reply at All” (b/w “Dodo”) was the lead-off single in North America, where it reached No. 7 in Canada and No. 29 in the US but spent 18 weeks on the Billboard Hot 100. The video, another studio clip, shows Genesis similing in their own roles and incognito on the horn parts.
“Keep It Dark” appeared as the second UK single in October 1981, backed with the non-album “Naminanu.” The video shows Genesis in trench coats and fedoras (a recurrent look during this period) walking about the streets of Amsterdam with scant instruments (drum sticks, hand synth, disembodied guitar neck), intercut with white-clothed scenes on a hilltop. “Naminanu” is an uptempo gallop in G major with dropout refrains and an intensified, punkish final section. The song is instrumental apart from faint chants of the title.
“Man On the Corner” was lifted in March 1982 as Abacab‘s fourth single: the third in both the US and the UK and the second mutual single between the two markets. The video is a live rendition from the Savoy Theatre, NYC, on November 29, 1981. It shows the band (with Stuermer and Thompson) color-lit on the dark stage. The non-album b-side, “Submarine,” is a slow instrumental with a lengthy fade-in, comprised of thick bass–keyboard textures, faint guitar sustain, and cymbal-laden mist, overlaid with a long-resolving, flute-like keyboard melody.
Abacab reached No. 1 on the UK and French album charts, No. 3 in Canada, No. 4 in Norway, No. 6 in Germany and the Netherlands, and No. 7 on the Billboard 200. It was later certified double-Platinum by the RIAA. The videos to “Abacab,” “No Reply at All,” and “Man On the Corner,” were mainstays of MTV’s first 18 months of broadcast (along with recurrent airings of both videos to “Turn It On Again”).
Genesis launched the Abacab tour on September 25, 1981, at the Plaza de Toros Monumental in Barcelona. The European leg covered Spain, France, Benelux, and Germany, where it wrapped on November 2 at Berlin’s Deutschlandhalle. The US leg commenced on the 12th at the Dane County Memorial Coliseum in Madison, Wisc., and finished December 11 at Madison Square Garden. They capped the year with multi-night UK engagements at Wembley (12/17–19) and the National Exhibition Centre, Birmingham (12/20–23).
1982: 3×3, Three Sides Live, Six of the Best
Genesis issued their second EP, 3×3, in May 1982. It features the three missing songs from the Abacab sessions that weren’t released as b-sides: “Paperlate,” “You Might Recall,” and “Me and Virgil” — all group-written numbers. The picture sleeve, which catches the jumping trio midair under bold fonts, is modelled after the sleeve to The Beatles’ 1963 Twist and Shout EP. 3×3 reached No. 10 on the UK Singles Chart.
Genesis released their third live album, Three Sides Live, in June 1982 on Charisma (UK), Atlantic (North America), Vertigo (Europe), and WEA (Japan). As the title indicates, it contains one LP and an additional side of live material, mostly taken from their Nov. 29, 1981, show at Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, NY (“Turn It On Again,” “Behind the Lines,” “Duchess,” “Me & Sarah Jane”) and the Dec. 20 National Exhibition Centre show (“Dodo–Lurker,” “Abacab”, “Afterglow,” “In the Cage–Cinema Show–Slippermen”). It also features a number apiece from the Nov. 28 Savoy show (“Misunderstanding”) and the May 7, 1980, Duke tour show at London’s Lyceum (“Follow You Follow Me”).
On Atlantic, Vertigo, and WEA copies, side four contains on the contents of the 3×3 EP and the two Duke b-sides, “Evidence of Autumn” and “Open Door.” On UK Charisma copies of Three Sides Live, the fourth side contains three earlier live numbers: “One for the Vine” (May 5, 1980: Theatre Royal, Drury Lane), “Fountain of Salmacis” (1978: location unkown), and “‘it.‘/”Watcher of the Skies” (July 8, 1976: Apollo Theatre, Glasgow).
Three Sides Live was accompanied with a 131-minute concert film, taken from Nov. 28–29 NY shows at Savoy Theatre and Nassau Coliseum. It appeared on VHS and Betamax and was later rereleased on DVD and Blu-ray.
Genesis commenced another round of dates on August 1, 1982, at the Civic Center in Peoria, Ill., followed by a two-night stand at Poplar Creek Music Theatre in Hoffman Estates, Ill., and a three-night engagement at the Greek Theatre in Berkeley, Calif. The tour ran through Sept. 30 and included legs in the Northeast, Europe, and the UK. In London, they made a suprise appearance on the 27th at the Marquee under the Charterhouse name The Garden Wall. On this occasion, they performed the entire “Supper’s Ready.”
On Saturday October 2, 1982, Genesis staged a one-off open air reunion with Gabriel at the Milton Keynes Bowl under the name Six of the Best. The event was to help Gabriel cover debts he incurred as the organizer of the inaugeral World of Music, Arts and Dance (WOMAD) festival. Fans flew in from around the world to see the event, where Genesis performed six numbers from The Lamb, six earlier numbers (including “Supper’s Ready”), plus one Gabriel solo song (“Solsbury Hill”) and one modern-era cut (“Turn It On Again,” with Gabriel on drums). Though intended as a full reunion of the classic five piece, Hackett arrived late from South America and only performed on the two encore numbers, “I Know What I Like (In Your Wardrobe)” and “The Knife.” The concert, marred by rain, featured John Martyn, Talk Talk, and The Blues Band (with Paul Jones) as opening acts.
Second Solo Albums
Mike Rutherford released his second solo album, Acting Very Strange, in September 1982 on Atlantic and WEA. It features eight originals, including two (“Maxine,” “Couldn’t Get Arrested”) co-written by Pete Bellotte, the assistant producer to Giorgio Moroder; and two (“Halfway There,” “Who’s Fooling Who”) co-written by Florrie Palmer, the writer of “9 to 5 (Morning Train),” a 1980 hit for Sheena Easton.
Rutherford self-produced and performed most of the music (bass, guitar, keyboards, vocals) with select backing by Stuermer, saxophonist Gary Barnacle (The Clash, Positive Noise, Visage), keyboardist Peter Robinson (Quatermass, Sun Treader, Brand X) and Police drummer Stewart Copeland. Acting Very Strange consists of nervy, kinetic new wave rockers (“Acting Very Strange,” “Halfway There”) and bubbly mid-tempo numbers (“A Day to Remember”) with forays into blues-rock (“Couldn’t Get Arrested”) and lavish balladry on the closing “Hideaway,” which features strings conducted by Martyn Ford. McCalla appears on backing vocals along with onetime Rare Bird frontman Steve Gould, recently of Runner and Alvin Lee’s backing band.
Acting Very Strange reached No. 23 on the UK Albums Chart and spawned four singles in different territories, including the Canadian Top 40 hit “Maxine.” In the video for “Halfway There,” a plain-clothed Rutherford makes his way through the London Underground amid clusters of zombie-like suited, hatted men (Magritte style) and an elusive, bespectacled business woman. Barnacle appears recurrently with a giant sax. The clip aired briefly on MTV.
Phil Collins released his second solo album, Hello, I Must be Going!, in November 1982 on Virgin and Atlantic. Like its predecessor, the album was inspired by personal events and plies a similar mix of brassy soul-pop (“I Cannot Believe It’s True,” “It Don’t Matter to Me”), dark post-punk (“I Don’t Care Anymore,” “Thru These Walls,” “Do You Know, Do You Care?”), tender piano ballads (“Don’t Let Him Steal Your Heart Away,” “Why Can’t It Wait ‘Til Morning”), and instrumental jazz-rock (“The West Side”). “Like China” explores new ground with its mod-rock riff and echoey, spacious refrains.
Collins’ cover of the Holland–Dozier–Holland classic “You Can’t Hurry Love” (a 1966 Billboard No. 1 and UK No. 3 for The Supremes) reached No. 1 on the UK Singles Chart and No. 10 on the Billboard Hot 100. In the video, a sharp-suited Collins mimes in a spotlight, backed with two harmonizing duplicates of himself. In the video for “I Don’t Care Anymore,” Thompson mimes the tom rolls (played by Collins on record) as Phil twitches and gesticulates at the mic. Both clips received high MTV rotation during 1983.
Collins recorded Hello in May–June 1982 at The Farm and Town House, where he co-produced the album with Padgham. Three months earlier, they co-produced Something’s Going On, the English solo debut of ex-ABBA singer Anni-Frid Lyngstad (aka Frida). It features her take on songs by Stephen Bishop (“Tell Me It’s Over”), Bryan Ferry (“The Way You Do”), Rod Argent (“Baby Don’t You Cry No More”), and the Face Value ballad (“You Know What I Mean”). The titular “I Know There’s Something Going On” — a bleak, martial number written by Russ Ballard — was an international hit. Frida and Phil duet on “Here We’ll Stay,” an upbeat, brassy track submitted by Jean Roussel and Tony Colton (Heads Hands & Feet).
With two albums of material, Collins launched his first solo tour in November 1982 with backing by Stuermer, Thompson, and the Phenix Horns. Hello, I Must be Going! reached No. 2 on the UK Albums Chart and No. 8 on the Billboard 200.
Tony Banks made a batch of 8-track home recordings and overdubbed them at The Farm with backing by Stuermer, bassist Mo Foster (Affinity, Fancy, Sonny Worthing, Yellow Dog), and three drummers, including Andy Duncan (The Planets, Zaine Griff, Hazel O’Connor, Linx) and ubiquitous LA sessionier Steve Gadd.
The finished album, The Fugitive, appeared in June 1983 on Charisma and Atlantic. It features two instrumentals (“Thirty Three’s,” “Charm”) and seven Banks-sung numbers, including the fuzzy mid-tempo rocker “At the Edge of Night,” the psychedelic ballad “Say You’ll Never Leave Me,” and the stately piano-driven epic “Moving Under.” He made a video for “This Is Love,” a piece of light reggae pop lifted as the lead-off single. Banks also performed the piano themes on the first side of The Wicked Lady, the soundtrack to the 1983 period drama starring Faye Dunaway.
By the time The Fugitive hit shelves, Banks reconvened with Collins and Rutherford at the Farm to begin work on a new Genesis album.
Genesis released their twelfth studio album, simply titled Genesis, on October 3, 1983, on Charisma and Virgin. It features nine group-written numbers developed through jam sessions at the Farm. Side one features “That’s All,” an angular slice of music hall pop that became their first Billboard Top 10 (No. 6). The side is bookended by longer, more intense numbers: “Mama,” an eerie goth–industrial track with a menacing laugh; and “Home by the Sea,” a swelling supernatural tale that segues into a high-tech instrumental jam.
Side two covers multiple styles, including synth-driven new wave (“Illegal Alien”), adult-oriented balladry (“Taking It All Too Hard”), neon-powered modern rock (“Just a Job to Do”), and industrial pomp (“Silver Rainbow”).
Collins wrote the lyrics to “Mama” (about a young man’s unrequited love for a middle-age prostitute) and “That’s All” (about tension in a co-dependent relationship). Banks lyricized “Home By the Sea” (about a burglar who invades a house of ghosts who hold him captive) and “Silver Rainbow” (a dramedy about adolescent sexual anticipation). Rutherford wrote the remaining lyrics. “Illegal Alien” deals with the plight of undocumented Mexican migrant workers in the US. The closing ballad, “It’s Gonna Get Better,” concerns hope in the aftermath of tragedy.
“Mama” opens with a factory machine rhythm, overlaid with Numan-eque coldwave synths, jittery keys, and Collin’s breathy, melodic vocals. The song maintains a spacious open-cadence throughout yet intensifies with Phil’s enraged singing. The video, set in an off-hours hotel lounge, turns from sepia to color in tandem with Phil’s intensity, illuminated in red-lighted closeups. “Mama” — a huge hit across Europe, where post-punk found greater acceptance — reached No. 2 in Switzerland, No. 3 in Norway, No. 4 in the UK and Germany, and Top 10 in additional Continental territories.
“That’s All” starts with a tight piano theme over a 2/4 music hall rhythm. Open bass notes pace the first verse and bridge, where Phil sounds calm but firm. He flies into rage on the second verse, where the cadence tightens with rhythm guitar. Mike and Tony, fresh off their lead vocal debuts, assert their harmonies on the bridge. Phil’s message, loaded with domestic allegations, reverses on the spacious, slower middle eight, where he reminds the subject of his love addiction. The video has Genesis dressed as homeless men in an abandonned factory where a soot-smeared Phil — clad in flatcap, scarf, and trench coat — walks about his bandmates and warms himself beside a fire. Mike, who plays a countryfied finger-picked outro, mimes on a standup bass in early scenes.
“Illegal Alien” sports a wavy keyboard line over a perky rhythm with taut, motor-mouth vocals. The middle-eight has a mariachi arragement with a plucked, staccato refrain. In the video, Genesis — clad in mod suits and mustaches (Phil and Tony) — try in vain to secure a border cross. In the mariachi part, they don sombreros and play Mexican instruments.
Genesis co-produced the album with Padgham, who also engineered Genesis with Geoff Callingham, a recent Farm hiree with credits on Acting Very Strange, The Fugitive, and the 1982 Mercury release Lead Me to the Water, the second solo album by former Procol Harum frontman Gary Brooker. Padgham also worked on 1982/83 albums by The Call, Kate Bush (The Dreaming), The Police (Synchronicity), Split Enz (Time and Tide), XTC (English Settlement), Hall & Oates, and The Waitresses. He and Collins were among a team of producers on Strip, the 1983 second solo album by Adam Ant. Collins shares drum duties on Strip alongside another co-producer, Richard James Burgess (Easy Street, Landscape). Burgess co-created the Simmons electronic drum pad, an instrument Collins uses on “Mama.”
The yellow–black cover scheme to Genesis, another Bill Smith design, shows an assortment of three-dimensional geometric shapes. On the back, each shape corresponds to the track number of a song: some accurately (triangle = track 3; pentagon = track 5), some not. The yellow lyrical innersleeve features pics and doodles that align to certain songs, including a rear silhouette of seated young lovers (“Silver Rainbow”) and a comic profile of Dick Tracy (“Just a Job to Do”), plus screen caps from the “Mama” and “Illegal Alien” videos.
Genesis reached No. 1 in the UK, Finland, and Germany; No 2. in Canada, Norway, New Zealand, the Netherlands, and Switzerland; No. 4 in Italy; and No. 9 on the US Billboard 200, where it acheived quadruple-Platinum certification.
1984: Mama Tour, Against All Odds, Band Aid
Genesis promoted their self-titled album with the Mama Tour: a four-month round of North American dates that commenced on November 6, 1983, at the Horton Fieldhouse in Normal, Ill., and wrapped on February 20, 1984, at the Oakland–Alameda County Coliseum Arena. They capped the tour back home with a five-night stand (Feb. 25–29) at Birmingham’s NEC Arena.
From Genesis, they performed all of side one and the bookends of side two (“Illegal Alien,” “It’s Gonna Get Better”) and two songs from the prior album (“Abacab,” “Keept It Dark”), plus “Turn It On Again,” “Afterglow” and a medley of “In the Cage” “The Cinema Show”, and “…In That Quiet Earth.” In late 1985, the final NEC show appeared on home video as Genesis Live: The Mama Tour. They open the show with “Abacab,” where Phil plays duel drums with Chester during the jam section. Phil — dressed in a red tie, suspenders and white pleated trousers — humours the audience with between-song banter.
“That’s All” reached its Billboard chart peak in February 1984 and codified the group’s (and Phil’s) status as transatlantic superstars. “Taking It All Too Hard” followed as a fourth single from Genesis in the US, where it gained extensive airplay on Adult Contemporary radio and established Collin’s voice as a mainstay of the format.
Meanwhile, American film director Taylor Hackford (An Officer and a Gentleman) commissioned Collins to write the theme song for Columbia Pictures’ upcoming neo-noir drama Against All Odds starring Rachel Ward, Jeff Bridges, and James Woods. Collins rearranged one of his unused songs from the Face Value period, “How Can You Just Sit There?”, into the film’s titular ballad, which features string arrangements by Arif Mardin and piano by Rob Mounsey (Steve Khan, Michael Franks, Carly Simon, Aztec Camera).
“Against All Odds (Take a Look at Me Now)” appeared weeks in advance of the film in February 1984, when “That’s All” was in the Top 10. With its arching piano melody, tender verses, anguished pleas, and gripping self-realizations on the swelling chorus, “Against All Odds” shot to No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100. The video intersperses scenes from the movie with footage of a suited, serious Collins against a red–blue waterfall backdrop.
The movie’s soundtrack followed on Virgin and Atlantic with instrumental music by Larry Carlton and Michel Colombier and vocal numbers by Big Country, Stevie Nicks, Peter Gabriel (“Walk Through the Fire,” also released as a single), and Mike Rutherford, who submitted the nervy mid-tempo rocker “Making a Big Mistake,” his last attempt as a lead vocalist. It appeared as the b-side of “My Male Curiosity,” the move’s ritzy, ribald number performed by Kid Creole & the Coconuts.
In November 1984, Collins returned with “Easy Lover,” his duet with Earth Wind & Fire co-vocalist Philip Bailey. The upbeat song — co-written by the singers with session bassist Nathan East (Cold Fire, Bruce Cameron Jazz Ensemble, The Chocolate Jam Co., Starship Orchestra) — appears on Bailey’s second secular solo album Chinese Wall, a Collins production. With its angular melody, jovial vibe, and complementary harmonies, “Easy Lover” reached No. 1 on the UK Singles Chart and the US Cash Box Top 100. The video shows the two singers cavorting on sound stages and mingling with cameramen and crew. It received heavy MTV rotation during the Christmas ’84 season along with hits by Chicago, Don Henley, Foreigner, Madonna, Prince, and Tina Turner.
Collins rounded the holiday season with his participation in Band Aid, a British all-star charitable project assembled by Bob Geldof (The Boomtown Rats) and Midge Ure (Ultravox) for Ethiopian famine relief. Collins drums on the mega-group’s “Do They Know It’s Christmas,” a yuletide anthem with vocal spots by Paul Young, Boy George (Culture Club), George Michael (Wham!), Simon LeBon (Duran Duran), and Bono (U2). Released on December 3, 1984, the song entered the UK Singles Chart at No. 1, where it spent five weeks and raised £8 million for famine relief.
Apart from English legacy rockers Status Quo, Collins (at 33) was among the oldest musicians involved in Band Aid, which largely featured icons of the Second British Invasion, a phenomenon of MTV’s Golden Age that Genesis, despite their pre-existing cult legacy, road to transatlantic dominance.
1985: No Jacket Required, Live Aid
Phil Collins released his third solo album, No Jacket Required, in February 1984 on Virgin (UK), Atlantic (North America), and WEA (everywhere elese). It features a mix of energetic high-tech rock (“Only You Know and I Know” “Who Said I Would”), mid-tempo dance pop (“Sussudio,” “I Don’t Wanna Know”), dark balladry (“Long Long Way to Go”), and heavy, spacious epics (“Inside Out”).
Collins did all the drumming, drum-programming, and most of the keyboards with backing by Stuermer (who co-wrote “Only You,” “I Don’t Wanna Know,” and “Doesn’t Anybody Stay Together Anymore”). LA session bassist Lee Skar (The Section) plays on seven tracks. The Phenix Horns play on “Only You Know and I Know,” “Who Said I Would,” and “Sussudio.”
Phenix saxophonist Don Myrick (Heaven 17, Jean Carn, Keni Burke, Marlena Shaw) plays on “Inside Out” and “One More Night,” a loungy blue-eyed soul ballad issued as the album’s lead-off single in the US, where it became his second No. 1 Billboard hit. In the video, a baggy-suited Collins performs the song to himself on piano in a dark empty lounge after closing time. Myrick appears during the outro sax solo.
“Sussudio” appeared as the second US single and became his third Billboard No. 1 in July 1985. It has a three-note melody over a punctual Roland TR-909 rhythm: an arrangement often likened to “1999” by Prince. In the video, Collins and his band win over the audience at a trendy pub (the Princess Victoria in Shepherd’s Bush, London, owned by Richard Branson). Sklar appears on stage despite this being one of three songs on the album without his bass work. The hirsute bassist became a fixture of later Collins videos.
“Don’t Lose My Number” was lifted as the third US single and peaked at No. 4 on Billboard that September. It’s an uptempo modern-rock track in C minor with a chorus in F. The lyrics suggest an unravelling melodrama between two or more parties. The video shows Collins spoofing recent videos by other artists in an effort to find proper action visuals for the song.
The album’s closing track, “Take Me Home,” was issued as the fourth US single in late 1985 and peaked at No. 7 on Billboard. A percussive choral anthem, the song features backing vocals by Gabriel, Sting, and Helen Terry. The video shows Collins at numerous stops on his spring 1985 solo tour, including New York, Sydney, Tokyo, and Paris.
No Jacket Required reached No. 1 in ten nations and has since been certified 12-times Platinum by the RIAA. As of 2022, the album has sold 25 million copies worldwide. Collins recorded the album with Padgham at the Townhouse between May and December 1984, immediately after his co-production of Eric Clapton on Behind the Sun, the guitarist’s ninth solo studio album with the 1985 rock hit “Forever Man.”
On Saturday, July 13, 1985, Collins partook in Live Aid, an all-star charitable event globally telecast from Wembley Stadium, London, and John F. Kennedy Stadium, Philadelphia. Geldof organized the event as a follow-through to Band Aid. It featured 56 major-league British and American rock, pop, and soul performers, including current stars (Dire Straits, Howard Jones, Nik Kershaw, Simple Minds), legacy performers (Paul McCartney, Elton John, Queen, Four Tops), and legends reunited for the event (Led Zeppelin, The Who).
Collins played an afternoon set at Wembley (15:18 British time), where he performed “Against All Odds” and “In the Air Tonight” and dueted with Sting on “Long Long Way to Go” and the Police hit “Every Breath You Take.” He then hopped on a Concorde to New York and helicoptered to JFK, where he backed Clapton on three songs and played a 20:00 pm (EST) set of the same two solo numbers. He then played drums (along with Chic and Power Station drummer Tony Thompson) for a reunited Led Zeppelin, who played their FM staples “Rock and Roll,” “Whole Lotta Love,” and “Stairway to Heaven.”
That autumn, Collins dueted with American singer Marylin Martin on “Separate Lives,” a quiet piano ballad with a swelling chorus, composed by Stephen Bishop for Columbia Pictures’ 1985 musical drama White Nights starring Mikhail Baryshnikov, Gregory Hines, Helen Mirren, and Isabella Rossellini. It appears on the film’s soundtrack with cuts by Lou Reed, Robert Plant, Roberta Flack, and Chaka Khan.
“Seperate Lives” reached No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Song but lost out to the ballad “Say You, Say Me” by Lionel Richie, also from White Nights but excluded from the soundtrack due to licensing issues. Martin — a little-known backing vocalist behind Stevie Nicks, Joe Walsh, and Kenny Loggins — parlayed this into a two-album deal with Atlantic.
Two songs from No Jacket Required, “Take Me Home” and “Long Long Way to Go,” appear on Season 2 episodes of the American modernist crime drama Miami Vice. Collins plays a corrupt game show host on “Phil the Shill,” the 11th episode of Season 2 (aired December 13, 1985).
Mike + the Mechanics
Rutherford produced the self-titled album by the Bay Area modern rock trio Red 7. One track, “Heartbeat,” appears on an episode of Miami Vice.
Rutherford also formed Mike + the Mechanics, a side band with drummer Peter Van Hooke (Headstone, Group 87, Rock Follies, Scott Walker), keyboardist Adrian Lee (Adrian Gurvitz, Classix Nouveaux, Joan Armatrading, Randy California), and two vocalists: journeyman singer Paul Carrack (Warm Dust, Ace, Squeeze) and ex-Sad Cafe frontman Paul Young (not the solo star).
Their self-titled debut album appeared in October 1985 on Atlantic and WEA. It contains nine originals, seven co-written by Rutherford and producer Christopher Neil. One track, “A Call to Arms,” is based on a riff that originated from jam sessions for Genesis and therefore gives co-writing credits to Banks and Collins.
The lead-off single, “Silent Running (On Dangerous Ground),” is a space-age electro-rock meladrama co-written by Rutherford and B.A. Robertson (Rock n’ Roll Juvenile) and sung by Carrack. The song concerns a future-traveler’s message to his son back home about the Earth’s impending mayhem. It reached No. 6 on the Billboard Hot 100, followed by the No. 5 hit “All I Need Is a Miracle,” a breezy, uptempo Young-sung track with a comedic video in which their tour manager — indebted by the group’s inability to fill a restaurant show — endures a hell-and-back adventure to procure £500 for the band and the tight-fisted restaurant owner. A third single, the airy Young-sung ballad “Taken In,” reached No. 7 on the Billboard Adult Contemporary Chart in July 1986.
Tony’s Soundtrack Work
In 1985, the EP Perform Songs From Lorca and the Outlaws appeared on Virgin and Charisma. It features three Banks compositions for the 1984 sci-fi film Lorca and the Outlaws (a.k.a. Starship): the instrumental “Redwing,” the cybernetic space-age rocker “Lion of Symmetry” (sung by Toyah Willcox), and the power ballad “You Call This Victory” (sung by Bandit and PhD singer Jim Diamond). “Redwing” belongs to a five-part, 17-minute suite that contains “Lorca,” a theme he later reworked for the Bankstatement number “Queen of Darkness.”
The Lorca material comprises side two of Soundtracks, Banks’ third full solo album. The first side contains “Shortcut to Somewhere,” “Smilin’ Jack Casey,” and the three-part, 10-minute “Quicksilver Suite”: all written for Columbia Pictures’ 1986 drama film Quicksilver starring Kevin Bacon and Jami Gertz. “Shortcut to Somewhere,” a brassy high-tech pop-tune with vocals by Marillion frontman Fish, was lifted as a single. (The movie’s theme song, “Quicksilver Lightning,” was written by Dean Pitchford and Giorgio Moroder and performed by Roger Daltery).
In October 1985, Genesis convened at the Farm to commence work on a new album.
1986: Invisible Touch
Genesis released their thirteenth studio album, Invisible Touch, on June 6, 1986, on Charisma–Virgin and Atlantic. It features eight group-composed originals developed through jam sessions. The lyrics were written individually by Collins (“Invisible Touch,” “Tonight, Tonight, Tonight,” “In Too Deep”), Rutherford (“Land of Confusion,” “Throwing It All Away”), and Banks (“Anything She Does,” “Domino”).
Stylistically, the album encompasses upbeat pop (“Invisible Touch,” “Anything She Does”), earnest ballads (“Throwing It All Away,” “In Too Deep”), politically charged rockers (“Land of Confusion”), and dark, sonorous epics (“Tonight, Tonight, Tonight,” “Domino”). The album closes with “The Brazilian,” a high-tech modernist instrumental.
Genesis co-produced Invisible Touch over a five-month period with Padgham, who co-engineered the album with Paul Gomersall, a soundman on 1985–87 albums by Berlin, Howard Jones (Dream Into Action), Echo & the Bunnymen, Twelfth Night, and The Waterboys. The Invisible Touch sessions produced eleven songs, including three reserved for b-sides: the spinning instrumental “Do the Neurotic,” the hopping dance track “I’d Rather Be You,” and the intense, harrowing rocker “Feeding the Fire.”
Invisible Touch sports cover art by Baker Dave of the design firm Assorted Images. It shows a transluscent orange hand before a panel with a faded family outline, overlaid with green, disjointed, overlaping targets, which carry over to the inner-sleeve and LP labels. Dave also designed the cover to No Jacket Required and 1984–86 titles by The Blue Nile, Level 42 (True Colours), Microdisney (Everybody Is Fantastic), and Thomas Dolby.
Invisible Touch reached No. 1 in Canada, New Zealand, and the UK, where it spent 96 weeks on the chart. The album reached No. 2 in Finland, Germany, and the Netherlands and No. 3 in Australia, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, and the US, where it remained on the Billboard 200 for 85 weeks. The album was registered six-times Platinum by the RIAA.
- From Genesis to Revelation (1969)
- Trespass (1970)
- Nursery Cryme (1971)
- Foxtrot (1972)
- Selling England by the Pound (1973)
- The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway (1974)
- A Trick of the Tail (1976)
- Wind & Wuthering (1976)
- …And Then There Were Three… (1978)
- Duke (1980)
- Abacab (1981)
- Genesis (1983)
- Invisible Touch (1986)
- We Can’t Dance (1991)
- Calling All Stations (1997)
Non-album studio sides:
- “One Eyed Hound”
- “That’s Me”
- “Happy the Man”
- “Twilight Alehouse”
- “It’s Yourself”
- “The Day the Light Went Out,” “Vancouver”
- “Evidence of Autumn”
- “Open Door”
- “Feeding the Fire”
- “Do the Neurotic”
- Discogs: Genesis
- English Albums: G
- 45worlds: Genesis
- 45cat: Genesis
- Concerts Wiki: Genesis
- Charisma Package Tour 1971
- Reading Festival 1971
- Genesis-Movement.org: 16-Jan-1972, Festival, Charleroi
- Rock Pop Gallery: Foxtrot by Paul Whitehead
- Musical Brick: Top 9 Peter Gabriel Costumes (1972-1975)
- ArtistsUK.net: “The art of surreal writing” (Genesis Live)
- The Genesis Archive: And Then There Were Three Tour
- Billboard.com: Hot 100 – February 18, 1984
Bethnal were an English hard-rock/punk band from Bethnal Green, Greater London, that released two ...
The Original Mirrors were an English New Wave/modern-rock band from Liverpool that released a self...
Quartet Music were an American jazz-rock band from Los Angeles. Members: Nels Cline (acoustic gu...
Mariavah were a Belgian symphonic/art-rock band that released the album Les Heures Incolores on MD...
Totty was an American hard-rock/boogie band from Tulsa that released two albums on self-press Our...
Bear were an American pop-psych band from New York that released the album Greetings, Children of...
The Fabulous Poodles were an English pop-rock band that released the 1977–78 UK Pye albums Fabulous ...
Vital Information are an American jazz-rock supergroup that has been active on a sporadic basis si...
Frank Marino — aka Francesco Antonio Marino (born Nov. 20, 1954) — is a Québécois guitarist, vocal...
Interview was an English pop-rock band from Bath that released the 1979–80 albums Big Oceans and S...
Ebonee Webb were an American soul-funk band from Memphis that served as a backing act on two 1978/...
The Vapors were an English rock band that released the 1980–81 albums New Clear Days and Magnets o...