I was 14 when I first heard Genesis's 1973 opus, "Selling England by the Pound," on vinyl. The year was 2002, and, as an intellectual introvert for whom attracting female attention already felt like a Sisyphean struggle, the fact that I was becoming obsessed with an English progressive rock band while everyone else was losing themselves over "8 Mile" all but guaranteed that I wouldn't be going to the Spring Formal. Not that I cared about such things, of course, but I'd be lying if I said that there wasn't a part of me that wished certain girls in my class had appreciated the intricacies of "The Battle of Epping Forest" as much as I did. The reality is that most of them probably weren't even aware of its existence due to poor parenting and typical Millennial myopia, so the joke was on me when it came to expecting the seeds of a relationship to be sown over a mutual love of the Mellotron. But that's how it goes when you're young and still craving the approval of your peers. You're constantly weighing the pros and cons of conformity until you realize that the people you spent so much time trying to impress were never worth your time to begin with. As Lester Bangs said in "Almost Famous," you'll meet them all again on their long journey to the middle, so the fact that a lot of them believe that their social circle is something to aspire to serves as a reminder of how different you really are. The reality is that Genesis weren't considered "cool" in 1974, let alone in 2002, and, despite being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2010, have never been able to definitively win over the establishment. They weren't as reckless as Iggy Pop or as volatile as the Sex Pistols, but give me the Gabriel, Hackett, Rutherford, Banks, and Collins lineup over the warbling of "Never Mind the Bullocks" any day of the week. They crafted some of the most ambitious rock music of the twentieth century until Gabriel decided that he no longer wanted to be a part of the machine, which, given the subsequent success both he and his ex-bandmates achieved, proved to be a decision that served both camps well. In honor of the band's unexpected return to Buffalo on Nov. 27, I decided to indulge myself and dive into the catalog more deeply than I have in quite some time. I thought about an album ranking, but settled on a breakdown aimed at those who might be looking to get into the band for the first time. While there has been plenty of vitriol aimed at Phil Collins through the years, I firmly believe that all 15 studio albums have something to offer and not even 1997's "Calling All Stations" with vocalist Ray Wilson is as bad as the press at the time wanted you to believe. Rather than disparage the band for embarking on another tour 14 years after we all assumed they were done, I'm just going to be thankful for the opportunity to experience them live one last time. Collins has gone to the depths of physical and emotional despair in recent years, so the fact that he has pulled it together enough to take the stage again is something of a miracle in itself. From Genesis to Revelation (1969) The debut is more akin to '60s pop and pre-disco Bee Gees than anything that would come later on, but Gabriel's vocal performance is still delivered beautifully throughout. "Where the Sour Turns to Sweet," "The Serpent," and "The Conqueror" are tracks worth delving into despite this one being remembered as a commercial failure. Original Decca pressings of the album go for a pretty penny if you can find one. Trespass (1970) The band took a sonic leap forward on tracks such as "Looking for Someone", "Stagnation," and "The Knife," but the reception was still mixed at the time. Nursery Cryme (1971) Here is where the Genesis we all know and love was born. The additions of Steve Hackett and Phil Collins were executed to perfection on "The Musical Box" and "The Return of the Giant Hogweed," while Mike Rutherford was gaining more confidence as a songwriter. Foxtrox (1972) For many, Foxtrot represents the pinnacle of '70s prog. For Robert Christgau, it was nothing more than a "C" album that didn't deserve further attention. For me, it's Genesis's first masterpiece (and Gold record), bookended by epics like "Watcher of the Skies" and "Supper's Ready" that presented all five guys in full-on attack mode. Selling England by the Pound (1973) The first Genesis album that truly floored me is arguably Steve Hackett's finest hour in the band and also gave the band its first charting single in "I Know What I Like (In Your Wardrobe)." The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway (1974) This sprawling double album is a culmination of everything that Peter Gabriel had been tinkering with up to that point and one of my personal favorite albums of all time. A Trick of the Tail (1976) Gabriel leaves and Collins transitions into the lead role, but the sound doesn't really suffer here. "Dance on a Volcano," "Squonk," "Ripples," and "Los Endos" are all prime cuts. Wind & Wuthering (1977) The last studio album to feature Hackett doesn't disappoint. "Afterglow," "All in a Mouse's Night," and "Blood on the Rooftops" are dynamite compositions. ...and then there were three... (1978) There was always going to be a drop-off with Steve Hackett no longer around, so they compensated for his departure by leaning on Tony Banks' keyboard sound and more concise song structures. Duke (1980) They bridged the two eras of Genesis just enough here to please both fans and critics. "Duke's Travels/Duke's End," "Behind the Lines," and "Duchess" are essential listening. Abacab (1981) It's been called their worst album by many, but the transition into a more radio-friendly pop band wasn't the artistic death knell that it's been made out to be. Genesis (1983) "Illegal Alien" is arguably the worst song ever released under the Genesis name, but "Home by the Sea, "Mama," and "Just a Job to Do" make up for that blunder. Invisible Touch (1986) There's a scene in "Uncle Buck" where John Candy is describing how the mere sight of his hat fills people with anger and the same could be said about this album. By this point, the line between Genesis and solo Phil had been blurred by Hugh Padgham's increasingly commercial production, but go watch their 1987 show at Wembley Stadium on YouTube and you'll get an idea of just how massive they had become. I grew to appreciate this album more after reading the memoirs of Phil Collins and Mike Rutherford, and perhaps you will, too. We Can't Dance (1991) "Fading Lights," "No Son of Mine," and the riff on "I Can't Dance" are great, but the rest is largely forgettable. Calling All Stations (1997) The biggest problem with this album right off the bat was the audience, because, besides Rutherford and Banks refusing to let go, who was this album really for? In 1997, "OK Computer" was in and Genesis was definitely out, a reality solidified by the cancellation of the US tour that never was. However, if you treat it as a standalone album that doesn't strive to match the band's previous material, it goes down much more smoothly. Genesis will be at KeyBank Center on Nov. 27
One thought on “In the Red Ochre Corridor: A Dive Into the Past, Present, and Future of Genesis”
Enjoyed this thanks Dave .