The Sunday Dozen: Genesis

Genesis, 1976 by Robert Ellis.

I have a long history with Genesis. It’s been a somewhat bumpy ride, but I keep going back to them. There’s something special about their music that speaks to me.

I hadn’t heard Genesis the first time I saw them as an opening act for either Yes or Jethro Tull. I was blown away by their musicianship and charismatic front man. I bought Selling England By The Pound the next time I was in a record store and our journey began. I am, however, neither a Duke nor a Duchess.

I saw them live many times  over the next decade. As a high school senior, I bore witness to the awesomeness that was The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway show. It was a school night, but my friends and I dropped acid, saw them in Berkeley, drove home to the Peninsula, didn’t sleep, and still made it to school the next day. I didn’t drive; even then I wasn’t that crazy. It’s a miracle that I’ve lived this long after nights like that.

I recall being apprehensive when Peter Gabriel left the band but was reassured by A Trick Of The Tail and the subsequent tour with Bill Bruford guest starring on drums. That gives me bragging rights with my friend Kyle the Drummer. Bruford is his main man.

I haven’t seen Genesis live since the Invisible Touch tour; unlike the Duke, I rarely travel for shows. Their albums have been inconsistent post-PG but there are always songs that make them worthwhile and they killed it on Trick, Wind & Wuthering, Duke, and Invisible Touch.

Genesis are divisive among my music loving friends. There are those who think they went downhill after Gabriel’s departure. Genesis did, however, become less of a prog rock band after lead guitarist Steve Hackett quit the band. Their post-Hackett output is best described as pop-prog rock. It’s okay by me.

Having said that, I don’t care for much of Phil Collins’ solo output. He lost me with Sussudio, which is the stuff of jokes and nightmares. His Alamo buffery is also a bit creepy, but his work with Genesis has been strong. Phil is a fine singer and was a great drummer when still physically able.

Tony Banks is my favorite member of the band. His playing and songwriting are why I hung in with Genesis lo these many years; certainly not his wooden stage persona. My family had a piano so I took lessons. I was bad, which is why I marvel at Tony’s playing. I wrote about Tony Banks in yesterday’s Saturday Odds & Sods post.

On to the songs. The Genesis Dozen is as complicated as my personal history with the band. I wrote about Peter Gabriel early in this feature’s life, so my focus is on the band’s second and third acts. That will displease some of you but what can I tell ya? I’ve linked to the PG post several times and will do it here again. There will be some lagniappe later for the PG fans of whom I am one.

The list is in chronological order and was the result of massive winnowing. It reflects my own taste, not an algorithm or some such shit. Land Of Confusion was posted at the end of yesterday’s post to make my life easier. It’s a fine song and even better video. Consider it the 13th song.

I’ve shared this post with the Genesis fan groups on Facebook. I don’t know as much about Genesis as some of you lot, so be kind if I get something wrong. I’m a big picture guy. Sometimes the details elude me.

It’s time for me to shut up and let the music speak for itself. That was a half-truth, there will be pithy comments as well.

The second time I saw post-PG Genesis they opened with Squonk. A squonk is a mythical creature, the British equivalent of a snipe. I was briefly a bad Boy Scout and fell for the snipe hunt prank. It wasn’t the reason I quit: camping is dirty. That’s why I call it dirt sleeping.

Tony Banks was in a mythical mood after PG left the band. A Trick Of The Tail combines a deceptively simple melody with literate and fantastic-in the original meaning of the word-lyrics. It’s one of the band’s best story songs.

Eleventh Earl of Mar starts the Wind & Wuthering album with a bang. It has bupkis to do with Mar-A-Lago. I shouldn’t have mentioned that. If it marred the post for you, I apologize but not for the pun. I stand by my puns.

One For The Vine starts quietly then builds to a crescendo of clanging percussion and percussive piano. The last time I played this song, new cat Perry Mason was asleep at the beginning then awakened with a start and commenced zooming up and down the hallway when it got loud. Tony Banks strikes again.

Afterglow is quite simply gorgeous. It’s a great way to end a concert or evening. It was also the theme song for a 2018 Odds & Sods post.

Duke is one of the best records Genesis has ever made. Duchess is a particular favorite of Tony Banks, Phil Collins, and Mike Rutherford. Mike is the tall one.

Turn It On Again is a tricky song with a weird time signature that became a hit and one of the band’s signature songs. Here’s Tony Banks on PG’s reaction to this classic tune:

It’s funny. There was a moment when we did a charity performance in 1982, and Peter came back to sing. We did early Genesis songs and added “Solsbury Hill” for him, but we also added “Turn It on Again” for us. On that song, Peter went onto the drum kit for double duty, thinking, This’ll be easy. He’s playing along. Tragically, no footage from the performance exists. It was the only occasion when Gabriel reunited to play with the band. He would go on to attend Genesis’s final show i,n May 2022 as a spectator. every fourth bar and there’s an extra beat. And sure enough he’s looking at me and saying, “What the hell is going on?” Because it’s not apparent that it’s an odd time signature. It shouldn’t be, really. It’s not like we’re Dave Brubeck trying to do funny time signatures for the sake of it. It’s just what came naturally to us.

Let’s flip the switch:

I listened to the Invisible Touch album often in the early days of the pandemic lockdown. It really spoke to me. Here’s the title track:

I built a political post around Domino, which is one of the band’s proggiest post-Hackett numbers.

I mentioned the pandemic. Throwing It All Away was the title of a post I wrote about lockdown fatigue. I didn’t have it, but many did. I told you Genesis spoke to me.

I dig the clock tick tock metronome thing that kick off No Son Of Mine. The video is pretty cool as well.

Jesus He Knows Me is a sly poke at horny and hypocritical evangelists such as Jimmy Swaggart and Jim Bakker. It’s one of Phil Collins’ finest songs.

That concludes the Genesis Dozen.

I promised lagniappe. It comes in the form of a mini-listicle for the early Genesis and PG fans out there. It, too, is in chronological order.

The Genesis with Peter Gabriel Half Dozen

  1. The Musical Box
  2. Watcher Of The Skies
  3. Dancing With The Moonlit Knight
  4. Firth Of Fifth
  5. The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway
  6. The Cage

I didn’t post the videos because this post loads slowly enough as it is.

The last word goes to Mike Rutherford, Phil Collins, and Tony Banks with the single variation on the Spitting Images/Land Of Confusion theme. Mike is the tall one.