It's been a long time coming but finally I have a cool blog that I can call my own. Most people reading will already know who I am. Discussions of hip hop and life will usually take place here when I have things to talk about.

Monday, March 29, 2010

The List.....this week most underrated Genesis songs

I must at this point clarify for my fellow Christian friends that these are not songs about the book of Genesis in the bible, but rather songs by the progressive rock group that was popular in the 70's and 80's and led by Peter Gabriel and later Phil Collins.

Ok, so I love Genesis. Many folks have heard their 80's MOR material and have balked without realizing just how good this band was in their 70's progressive rock peak with Gabriel at the mic-stand. A brief history.

Genesis was formed in 1968 by Peter Gabriel (vocals), Mike Rutherford (bass guitar), Tony Banks (Keyboards), and various members on drums and guitar. The released an album "From Genesis to Revelation" that to their own admission wasn't any good and is reasonably difficult to find (although i'm sure if you looked on the file sharing networks you could grab it). They entered a more progressive rock phase with their second album "Trespass" in 1970, and with "Nursery Cryme" (1971)finally added the missing pieces of their band with Steve Hackett (perhaps one of the most underrated guitarists ever) and Phil Collins (a great drummer).

This lineup was the classic lineup of progressive Genesis releasing in the coming years "Foxtrot" (1972), "Selling England by the Pound" (1973), and their double album opus "The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway" (1974). After the Lamb, Gabriel departed for a solo career and Phil Collins took over on vocals. Two more progressive rock albums followed before Steve Hackett left in 1977. The first album after Hackett's departure was aptly titled "...and then there were three" (1978) and showed the band moving into a more traditional rock format.

With the release of "Duchess" (1979) and "ABACAB" (1980) the band moved fully into mainstream rock charting some big hits like "Turn it On Again", "Misunderstanding", and "No Reply at All". The 80's saw the release of their two biggest albums and stadium drawing tours. First came "Genesis" in 1983 with Illegal Alien, Home by the Sea, Mama, and That's All. Invisible Touch (1985) followed, with a successful solo career by Collins running parallel to it's release. The last album by the classic hit making trio was "We Can't Dance" in 1991 and contained more hits and sold out shows.

Collins left after the tour and Rutherford and Banks (the last two remaining members) made an ill advised decision to carry on with a younger vocalist and record a new album "Calling All Stations" in 1997. It was a critically and commercial flop and the guys ended up calling an indefinite hiatus from the group.

In 2007 the trio of Collins, Rutherford, and Banks re-united for a tour of Europe and North America culminating in a massive live show at Circus Maximus in Rome. The past month has seen the group be honoured by induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (only the second progressive rock group to be inducted).

So now that you've got the history let's look at the songs. I'm not gonna go on about the hits because, chances are, you've heard them before or don't particularly like them (Genesis' clearly has two sides to it). I'm gonna focus more on the lesser known Gabriel work of the 70's with some notes on the 80's material.

First up we have The Fountain of Salmacis that closes the album Nursery Cryme. The song sees Gabriel going on with Greek mythology, whatever. In progressive rock really it's pretentious as hell. What to listen for is his vocal delivery over the track that builds over smart keyboards, interesting time signatures on the drums, and guitar work that was years ahead of what Van Halen was doing with his "tapping" technique. Really this is a high point of Genesis' progressive work.

Next Up is Watcher of the Skies which is one of the two songs Phish played in tribute of Genesis at the RnR HoF induction this past month. Perhaps my favourite Genesis song, this comes off of "Foxtrot" (1972). The intro might be the best build for a song this side of U2's "Street Have No Name". Pastoral keyboards swirl around before the rest of the band slowly fade in with Earnest intensity. The rest of the song is a roller coaster of a ride that is over far quicker than it's almost 8 minute length (be it known it is prog rock and that means long songs).

Dancing With the Moonlit Knight opens up "Selling England by the Pound" (1973) which is regarded by many their best album. Moonlit Knight is a hecka pretentious title, but the lyrics describe England at a place in the 70's selling their soul for commercial gain (hence the album title Selling England by the Pound). Moonlit Knight is extremely important for the record as a whole because it sets the tone for the whole record, and it's theme echoes across the whole length of it. The last two minutes of this song are absolutely beautiful.

It is the closing song on "The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway" (1974) and it was a song that they would frequently play long after Gabriel had left the group. At this time the songs are becoming a little shorter and more focused, and the energy that is in this track makes sure that the double epic that is Lamb ends on a high note. Gabriel riffs on the Stones "It's Only Rock and Roll" instead of rock and roll saying knock and knowall. The track here contains the previous song on the record as well. It starts about 2:15 in.

Peter Gabriel leaves and Phil Collins is now the vocalist on Entangled. This is a nice quiet acoustic track with lovely 12 string guitar work from Steve Hackett. Again the guy is flat out amazing. This song comes from "A Trick of the Tail" (1976).

It's been a few years and albums later, which means that Genesis didn't change overnight but with Dodo/Lurker from "ABACAB" (1980) you can clearly seen the change. This song is heavily keyboard driven, with an industrial hard rock approach to it (also throwing in hints of reggae in the middle bridge and new wave). Although it is clearly different, it has some nice hooks and drives ahead with power. Probably my favourite song of the more mainstream material. I can't find the original album track to post, so I've posted the live vid from "Three Sides Live". It's a very worthy live rendition of it.

Lastly, and a song I really like, from an absolute mess of an album is Shipwrecked from "Calling All Stations" (1996). I'm not sure if the purists would even consider this Genesis due to the different lead singer and such (then again some purists don't consider Collins led Genesis as Genesis either) but it is a nice song (probably the best on it).


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