Sunday, 30 August 2015

Genesis album by album

Needs tidying and links updating to Spotify.   March 2019

Genesis are one of the best selling music artists of all time having sold approximately 130 million albums worldwide. In the Seventies. when Peter Gabriel was their singer they were a progressive rock band. After Gabriel left,  Phil Collins  took over as lead vocalist, and in the Eighties the band became a synthpop band,  gradually becoming more pop-oriented.  It is during this period they achieved their greatest commercial success, though it is the Peter Gabriel records that are most critically admired and discussed.

For me, Genesis was Peter Gabriel - he was the focus of attention for the music papers I read, and the point of discussion with my friends - regardless of if they liked Genesis or not. He courted attention with his make up, costumes, and stage theatrics, which grew increasingly weird (or theatrical, depending on your point of view). I found him curious, but could never really decide how much I liked him or Genesis. My favourite music paper, the NME, tended to gently mock him - and he was an easy target with his fey manner, fantasy lyrics, and strange make up and hair cut. But there was something about him - he was gentle, interesting, and intelligent. It was just that, as with a number of prog rock bands, he wasn't rock, and he wasn't cool. It was all a little too like Paul McCartney, and not enough like John Lennon. But I can't remember when Genesis were first called prog-rock. One of my first encounters with Genesis was via the sampler album  Wowie Zowie! World of Progessive Music, which was released in 1969 and would suggest that they were considered prog-rock in 1969; but my recollection is that at that time the term "progressive music" was a catch-all term for any music that was "progressing" the basic blues format. So The Rolling Stones wouldn't be progressive, but Led Zeppelin would be. Genesis were sometimes thought of and termed art-rock due to the band's arty approach - painted album sleeves, a pastoral sound, song suites, and in particular their increasingly theatrical live shows. They are today, though, regarded as one of the main originators of prog-rock; in particular, a form called symphonic rock or symphonic-prog, in which the song or composition is divided into sections or "movements" which combine or harmonise together. The other band considered a main originator is Yes, and their music does have similarities at times.

The band were formed in 1967 by five pupils at Charterhouse School: singer Peter Gabriel, keyboardist Tony Banks, bassist/guitarist Mike Rutherford, lead guitarist Anthony Phillips and short-lived drummer Chris Stewart. After using a different drummer for each of their first two albums, drummer/singer Phil Collins joined in 1970, along with new lead guitarist Steve Hackett.  Genesis were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2010. The band has had numerous line-ups throughout its history, utilising eleven different musicians as full time members. The most recent formation is Collins, Banks and Rutherford.

Genesis' debut album, From Genesis to Revelation (1969) is whimsical baroque pop, popular at that time particularly with bands like the Moody Blues and the Bee Gees.  They evolved into a progressive rock band with Trespass (1970) and Nursery Cryme (1971), which had longer tracks and more involved song structures than their debut. They developed further with Foxtrot (1972) - which contained the song suite "Supper's Ready" - and Selling England by the Pound (1973) - which contained their first successful single "I Know What I Like (In Your Wardrobe)". Genesis concerts during this time increasingly became more theatrical. In 1975, after touring in support of The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway (1974), Gabriel left the band. Collins took over lead vocals. The single "Follow You Follow Me" from the pop-oriented and commercially accessible  ...And Then There Were Three... (1978) was an international success.

Genesis reached number one on the UK album chart in 1980 with Duke, followed by the same success with Abacab (1981) and Genesis (1983), which coincided with Collins'  popularity as a solo artist. In 1982 Gabriel and Hacket joined the band for a one-off concert, Six Of The Best, to financially assist  Gabriel and his fledgling WOMAD project. In 1986 the band released Invisible Touch, their best-selling album, from which all five singles released entered the top five on the US chart, with "Invisible Touch" reaching number one. After a five-year break, Genesis resumed their mainstream success in 1991 with We Can't Dance, which contained the worldwide hit single "I Can't Dance". In 1996, Collins departed the band - Ray Wilson taking his place on vocals. Wilson, Banks and Rutherford released Calling All Stations (1997), which sold well in Europe, though only reached number 53 in the US, their lowest charting album since 1974. Following a European tour in 1998, the band went on hiatus.

In 2006, Banks, Rutherford and Collins reunited for the 2007 Turn It On Again Tour, which included a free concert in Rome that was attended by 500,000 people. The future of the band remains uncertain; Collins stated that he was retiring from the music industry in 2011 but has since indicated he is considering a return, whilst Banks indicated that Genesis had come to an end during an interview in 2012. In 2014, Gabriel, Banks, Rutherford, Collins, and Steve Hackett reunited for a BBC documentary, Genesis: Together and Apart.


From Genesis to Revelation  (1969)
Genesis' debut album will sound familiar to anyone listening to pop music in and around 1969. I'm sure my father had it - certainly I listened to it a few times around the turn of the decade and found it acceptable, and one track,  "In The Beginning" - was on the sampler album  Wowie Zowie! World of Progessive Music, which either I had or my dad did. From Genesis... is pop music, of a style sometimes referred to as baroque or psychedelic.  Albums from a range of artists in a similar style include Forever Changes (1967), Picturesque Matchstickable Messages from the Status Quo (1968), Shine On Brightly (1968), The Book of Taliesyn (1968),  The Hurdy Gurdy Man (1968), Nazz (1968),  Head (1968),  The Soft Machine (1968), Odessey and Oracle (1968),  and Wee Tam and the Big Huge (1968). A particular influence on the album, through the insistence of the band's manager and producer, Jonathan King, was the Bee Gees, whose Ideas album came out in 1968, and Odessa album in March 1969, the same month as From Genesis.... Also a considered influence on the band was the Moody Blues whose In Search of the Lost Chord came out in July 1968.

Compared with some of those albums the Genesis debut may appear a little light and whimsical, though it has a naive charm which carries it along and makes it listenable enough. It's not a great album, it's not an interesting album, and it doesn't sound like the debut of a group who would go on to become one of the world's most popular, but I quite like it. Most other commentators are fairly dismissive.

Wikipedia; UltimateClassicRockAllMusic; Genesis-News; RateYourMusic; ProgArchives: Sputnik.

Best song:  In The Beginning; not too bad: In The Wilderness, The Conqueror

Score: 3

Trespass  (1970)

Most regard this as the first "proper" Genesis record, fitting more obviously the style of progressive rock for which they became known, though many also feel it is more of a transitional album, than anything polished and complete.The previous album had 6 or 7 tracks per side, this has six tracks in all. The music is slow and dreamy for the first five tracks, and the lyrics are vague stories which don't relate to me or my life, and are not interesting or well constructed. They're all fairly dreary and boring, but the last track, "The Knife", has energy and variety, with Phillips' sharp guitar work over Rutherford's church organ It's also probably the most "prog" of all the tracks.  The band continued to use the song in their live shows, and it appears on their 1973 live album, with the classic line up; and it appears in a filmed recording of a live concert that same year in Paris, and in a filmed recording of a concert in London in 1980 with Collins doing the vocal.
The album matches the mood and sound of recent work from other contemporary prog (or related) artists - Yes (1969), In the Court of the Crimson King (1969), Moondog (1969), Caravan (1969),  The Least We Can Do Is Wave to Each Other (Feb 1970) - the period 1969/1970 was key  in the emergence of progressive rock

Wikipedia; AllMusicProgArchives; Genesis-News; RateYourMusic; Sputnik; Band interviews;  

Best song: The Knife

Score: 2

Nursery Cryme  (1971)
With Phil Collins and Steve Hackett now in the band, Genesis have their classic line up. The songs are more advanced than Trespass. Though still a bit daft and story based, the ideas are interesting. The result is a little bit Paul McCartney ("Penny Lane", "Lady Madonna") and a little bit Bowie's first album, and a little bit 6th form naive and primitive, such as "Harold the Barrel", a story of a restaurant owner who cut off his toes to serve to customers and then runs away - the story is told from the point of view of various people, the Man In The Street, the Lord Mayor, the British Public, etc. and it's all rather throw away. The songs that folks most focus on are "The Musical Box", which supplied the imagery for the album cover,  and "The Return Of The Giant Hogweed".

Wikipedia  AllMusic. BBCHead Heritage. Rolling Stone (1972). ProgArchives. RateYourMusic. Genesis-News. Band interviews;

Best song: The Musical Box 

Score: 3

Foxtrot  (1972)
There isn't a huge difference between this album and the previous, except for the song suite on Side Two: "Supper's Ready". There are songs on Supper's Ready that are well constructed and have an attractive energy and movement, which for me makes this album the more appealing. But it's close.

As I'm reflecting more on Genesis' career, and I come back to these early albums, I'm starting to feel that, for me, it's Tony Banks and his organ sound that stops me from liking the band. I suspect he feels that he is creating musical textures, though for me his keyboard playing is often cheerless and cold, with expansive swaths of sound rather than riffs, melodies and harmonies - essentially, he sometimes doesn't play regular patterns (which for me is essential to music), he makes noise.  Other bands at the time who were being experimental with music and sound, which I list below in the Importance section, did make good use of regular and repeating patterns, even when they were deliberately utilising the unexpected and the discordant in search of texture. Once you get so far from pattern in music it starts to cease to be music. The opening to "Watcher Of The Skies" is an example of what the band and their fans at the time felt was good Genesis: long solemn  church organ sounds. The opening notes are just organ sounds unrelated to each other. The organ keys pressed and held, and then a brief sequence, abandoned, and then gradually patterns emerge with some repeated sounds, and a sequence of notes going higher. But this is unremarkable stuff, and it's very dreary. It's on the edge of music, but it's not challenging our concept of music as, say Faust or  Tangerine Dream, were doing, it's just, for me, vaguely unpleasant without any thrill or excitement. Opinions vary, and I understand that others find it ethereal and beautiful, but for me it's dull noise. 

Wikipedia; Band interviews; AllMusic; BBC; Sounds (1972);

Best song:  Supper's Ready

Score: 3 / 4

Genesis Live  (1973)
Most of their best songs to date, played well. This is fresh, tight, electric. The album sold well, and prepared the way for Selling England, for many, their best album. Often overlooked because there is no new material, it is nevertheless, potentially, the best, most accessible, and most representative Genesis album. Their reputation was mostly built on their live performance, and here it is on record - and it's damn good.

Wikipedia; 1974 Rolling Stone review; AllMusic;

Score: 5

Selling England By The Pound  (1973)
This for many Genesis fans and music critics is their best album, or second best to Lamb. I love "I Know What I Like (In Your Wardrobe)", for me this song is the pinnacle of Genesis. It works for me. The rest of the album I can't get into. It's pastoral and pleasant, but leaves me unmoved.

Wikipedia; Band interviewsBBC; ClassicRock; Sputnik Genesis-News; AllMusic

Best Song:  "I Know What I Like (In Your Wardrobe)"

Score: 2 / 3

The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway  (1974)
Let's be frank, most "concept" albums are boring. That an album is a "concept" is more of an indicator that the lyrics are going to be earnest and forced and the music somewhat restrained in an attempt to follow the concept. There are concept albums which are songs arranged around an idea or theme, and there are concept albums in which two or more songs have a related idea, and there are full blown rock operas like Tommy. Lamb is a rock opera. And rock critics seem to  love a rock opera, so they like this. Writers find it interesting, though not entirely successful. Everyone, even Genesis fans, find the story weighty and impenetrable. The lyrics and story by Gabriel were added later to the music that the band had worked out at Headley Grange.  The music is as weighty and portentous as the lyrics, driven by keyboard and drums in a classic prog-rock stylee. I've had the album in my collection at various times (I think I have it still), and have never really been able to get into it. While it has similarities to Yes, it's not as light and magical and musical. It leans too close to Tommy and Quadrophenia. I suppose a blend of Quadrophenia and Tales of Topographical Oceans might be a fair comparison. Often regarded as one of Genesis' best albums, usually in second place to Selling England. Considered today a landmark of progressive rock, reviews at the time of release used various terms to describe the style of music, but none of them used the phrase progressive rock.

Coming back to this and listening again and again, I can see the ambition and the intent. There are passages similar to David Bowie, Yes and Pink Floyd, so it seems that the band wanted to emulate what they were doing.   There are elements of  Ziggy StardustTales from Topographic Oceans, and Dark Side of the Moon, There is a growing sense that Genesis are musical followers, particularly of Pink Floyd and Yes, and that their output is inferior to the bands they follow.

Wikipedia; BBC; UltimateClassicRock; TheQuietus; AllMusic; New Yorker; Annotated guide; Trianglos; Genesis-News; Live recording with some photos and film; Sylvain Despretz; ClassicRockReview; SuperSeventies; Band interviews; Sounds (1974); NME (1974); Rolling Stone (1975); NME (1975); Melody Maker (1975);

Best song: "The Carpet Crawlers" - the lyrics are like Nights in White Satin: nonsense, but they sound nice, and create their own significance when part of the dreamy music. 

Score: Try as I might I can't get into this: 2

After Lamb, Gabriel left to pursue his successful solo career, starting with the 1977 album Peter Gabriel and the accompanying very pleasant chart hit "Solsbury Hill". Other chart singles are "Games Without Frontiers" (1980), and "Sledgehammer" (1986) from the big selling album So. What I find interesting is that Gabriel's records sound remarkably similar to Genesis's records once Steve Hacket had left. That Gabriel and Collins have similar voices is part of it, but also that both move into pop territory, with the music being informed by their art-music background. Neither of them seem to wish to further explore "prog-rock" with it's keyboard driven symphonic sound, nor grandiose fantasy lyrics - preferring more human scaled or even personal and intimate lyrics - such as "Solsbury Hill" and "Invisible Touch".

Steve Hacket, feeling that Gabriel's departure might be the end of Genesis, prepared for his own solo career with the jazz-rocky (or prog-rocky depending on your viewpoint) Voyage of the Acolyte (1975), assisted by Collins and Rutherford (but not Banks). He stayed with Genesis for their next two albums, but left in 1977 releasing Please Don't Touch! in 1978 without any Genesis members. He continues to record.prog-rock type albums - his must recent being Wolflight in 2014.

A Trick of the Tail  (1976)
What I am respecting most about Genesis while doing this Kitchen Table Review is their technical ability as musicians. But where I have problems in enjoying and responding to them is that the music they play is overdone - they play five notes when one would do, and indeed when one would be better and make more of a statement. It sometimes feels that they want to impress technically; or perhaps, more appropriately, because they can do it, they enjoy doing it, and for a period there was a mood where such exuberance/excess was appreciated and encouraged. With the growth of pub rock, punk, and revival bands like The Jam, all with a focus on basic r 'n' b, there was a shift of sensibility, and a re-appreciation on the visceral impact of music - its primitive almost mystical ability to generate a range of emotions, to inspire, motivate, drive, create intense moments and memories. Trick of the Tail is an admirable album, well constructed soundscapes, well played and well produced. The drums are crisp and competent - I admire the sound they make. But they don't move me or excite me. And that applies for all the instruments. The end result is a technically competent but viscerally empty album. Better produced and better sounding than Lamb, with a tighter, rockier sound, it ultimately fails for the same reason as Lamb. It's boring, though on the whole tighter, better sounding, and more likeable than Lamb. It also has some good moments like "Ripples"  and "Mad Man Moon". The title song, "A Trick of the Tail", is a bouncy ditty and was understandably released as a single.  And, thankfully, the lyrics are on a more human level. So, patchy, but there are good points among the bad, and signs the band are moving in the right direction.

Wikipedia; AllMusic ProgArchives; Rhino; Lyrics; RateYourMusic; Band interviews;

 Best Song: Ripples

 Score: 4

While playing with Genesis, Collins also played drums on tracks for others artists, such as Brian Eno and Steve Hacket, and he also joined the jazz-fusion band, Brand X, who released Unorthodox Behaviour in 1975. In 1981 Collins released the first of his solo albums, Face Value, which contained the big hit "In The Air Tonight". He had ongoing commercial success, including the cover single "You Can't Hurry Love", and the mega album hit No Jacket Required. The success of his solo career assisted the band's career, and at times it's difficult to tell the two apart.

Wind & Wuthering  (1976)
Boring. Leaves me cold. Dull prog-rock. Even the prog-rock Genesis fans list this as their least favourite of the "classic" albums (that is, leaving out the debut, the live album, and all the subsequent albums).

Wikipedia; AllMusic; Genesis-News; Donaghue; ProgArchives; Lyrics; Band interviews;

Score: 2

...And Then There Were Three...  (1978)
Though there are more direct pop song structures, and a more human level to the lyrics, the album is still rather overblown and over-wrought. With the departure of Hacket (so now there were just three members left) the opportunity for a reappraisal is taken, but not fully grasped. Largely seen as a transitional album, the final track, "Follow You Follow Me", shows the band completely transformed, and that pop/prog sound is what they would pursue thereafter - particularly as the single was a global hit and set the band up for their subsequent huge commercial success. And fair enough, it's a good song.

Wikipedia; AllMusic; UltimateClassicRock; Genesis-News; Lyrics; ProgArchives; Rolling Stone (1978); Band interviews;

Best song: "Follow You Follow Me"

Score: 2

Tony Banks' keyboards are an essential part of Genesis, and he has played on every Genesis record. He started a sideline solo career in 1979 with the album A Curious Feeling, which contained the theme from the soundtrack to The Shout that he wrote with Rutherford. After three unsuccessful solo albums, he moved into writing classical music, such as Six Pieces for Orchestra (2014).

Mike Rutherford played bass and additional guitars, usually 12 string,  throughout Genesis' prog career. With the departure of Hacket, Rutherford played lead and bass guitar parts. And it is those two instruments that Rutherford plays on his two solo albums,  Smallcreep's Day (1980) and Acting Very Strange (1982), adding vocals and keyboards to the second album. Neither album was critically or commercially successful, and Rutherford preferred being part of a band, so for his next solo project he worked with songwriter  B. A. Robertson, and created the band Mike + The Mechanics which was an immediate and continuing success following the debut album Mike + The Mechanics in 1985. The band's biggest singles have been "The Living Years" (1989), "Silent Running" (1985), "Word of Mouth" (1991), and "Over My Shoulder" (1995). It's interesting that during the 80s and 90s the band Genesis along with three of its members, Gabriel, Collins and Rutherford, were all having hit albums and singles. That is perhaps suggestive of the talent within the band.

Duke  (1980)
Some fans and critics talk of this album as being more "accessible". I'm not sure what that means, as the band's music previously had not been difficult or inaccessible so much as lacking in energy, vibrancy, directness, relevance, etc. I am not finding this album to be any more or less accessible than the others, but it does, for me, sit in an awkward space between proggy and valueless. There's a keyboard and synth sound that fits well into the keyboard and synth sound of the 80s, and that may perhaps have made it more familiar sounding to the music buying public of the 80s. My main issue with the album is that it lacks direction and focus, and is boring. It feels very superficial.  "Misunderstanding" plods along, but Collin's voice has a soulful appeal which echoes that of Hall & Oates early 80s songs such as "Kiss On My List" and "Private Eyes". "Turn It On Again" was a hit single - it has an edgy feel (created by the slightly fast and unusual rhythm), something a number of bands had at the time, either due to similar odd time signature or simply a fast yet syncopated rhythm - "Don't Stand So Close",  "Start", "Ace of Spades", "Golden Brown". The last two tracks, "Duke's Travels" and "Duke's End" are fairly proggy, so are popular with Genesis' prog-rock fans.

Not an album for me. Rather bitty and superficial, with a tinny electric sound.

Wikipedia; Lyrics; RateYourMusic; ProgArchives; Sputnik; Genesis-News; AllMusic; Blog;

Best song: "Turn It On Again"

 Score: 2

Abacab  (1981)
A hard, bright, simple, stylish, bold and modernist cover marks this album as the real transformation of the band. The music inside is also hard, bright, stylish, bold and modernist. For me the sound is hollow, echoing, with too much space. The drum sound is mechanical rather than organic. There is less of the richness of the early Genesis. The sound is polished, professional, very 80s, and empty. It's a different sound to previous records, but for me it's neither a better nor a worse sound.I don't really object to it. I can play it as background music. But there's nothing here to catch my attention, make me dance or weep, or make me think. It lacks emotion, the magic musical touch, drive, energy, excitement. It is, as with much of Genesis, rather boring. 

Wikipedia; AllMusic; Lyrics; ProgArchives; AV Club; Genesis-News; Band interviews; RateYourMusic;

Best song:  "Abacab"

Score: 2 / 3

Three Sides Live  (1982)
A double live album, which when first released had one side of studio recordings, the three tracks from the extended single "3X3", plus a few B-sides.  Subsequent releases replaced the studio tracks with more live material. There are plenty of films of Genesis live concerts during the 80s, such as this one, in which you get to see the band as well, which makes an audio only collection of live performances less worthwhile.


Score: 2

Genesis  (1983)
Boring album title and cover, but Mama, which was released as a single, is possibly the most imaginative and exciting piece of music the band have ever done. It combines several musical ideas and combines them well to make something quite unique, and very effective. Great drama. Great atmosphere. Here the coldness of their electronic instruments works well as shards of light against a compulsive driving and primitive rhythm, and Collins' screeching lyrics. The "ha-ha" chorus line, taken from Grandmaster Flash's "The Message", makes a great counterpoint. The whole thing is awesome. I remember when I first heard it, I thought - That can't be Genesis, that's so modern, so strong, so brilliant.

"That's All" is a pleasant chugalong song. It's undemanding and works well.Seems an overall reasonably attractive album.

Wikipedia; Band interviews;

Best track: " Mama"

Score: 3
Invisible Touch  (1986)
By now the band had moved firmly into Eighties synthpop and are little different to other Eighties bands, they are little bit Duran Duran, a little bit Spandau Ballet, and a little bit Human League, OMD, Ultavox, Depeche Mode, etc.  There is little evidence of their prog-rock origins. "Land of Confusion" was one of the hit singles from the album, and is probably the best track. Though musically polished, bright, and of period, there is little here to attract me or hold my attention. It's an OK album while it's playing, but it's not one I'm interested in hearing again.

Wikipedia; Band interviews;

Best track: "Land of Confusion"

Score: 2 / 3

We Can't Dance  (1991)
A fairly standard Eighties album. Bright and clean, cold and empty. Background music.

Wikipedia; Band interviews;

Best track: "I Can't Dance"

Score: 2

Calling All Stations  (1997)
The band's last album, recorded with the singer from Stiltskin after Phil Collins had decided not to continue. It sold poorly. It's a poor album.

Wikipedia; Band interviews;

Score: 1



Though they come from different backgrounds, Gabriel and Collins have similar voices. They both have a reedy British sound and use a restrained scream for impact and emphasis and seek a higher range for singing delicate parts. I don't find either voice that attractive, but neither do I find it offensive. The voices are OK.
Score: 4/10


Most prog rock bands don't have a good image. They most they can hope for is that they project intelligence and musicianship and don't appear too nerdy. Genesis do appear to be nerdy - and being associated with a public school doesn't help. As with many prog rock bands, the members don't project themselves on stage or in interview very well, though Gabriel and Collins are better than most: Gabriel comes over as intellectual and interesting, while Collins  has a very approachable cheeky chappy demeanour that has proved very popular.


Mostly daft, though  who listens to them anyway. There's no indication the words have been crafted. It looks as through either Gabriel or Collins has written on a theme or idea, and just put down some words. But they are on a theme, and are vague enough for nerdy people to look into them for stories and ideas. But they are not saying anything.


The music is crafted, and is written by folks who understand and like music. But early on they thought too much about the ideas, and not enough about the appeal of music, of what music is and how it impacts on people. From looking at film of the band live in the days of Gabriel,  the music makes more sense in a live theatre context with Gabriel in costume. The music then becomes part of the theatre experience. Listening to the record at home without that live atmosphere, and without the theatrics and Gabriel's presence, a lot is lost. The music became more focused and directed from Abacab onwards. There are good bits from all periods of the band's career, though taken as a whole, the music doesn't quite work for me.


Genesis are considered one of the main prog-rock groups, particularly of symphonic-prog. Their development was roughly in line with similar groups and with musical fashion. As musical tastes changed, so did the band. I'm unsure how much Genesis have led musical taste and influenced similar bands so much as they followed what was already there, but I should imagine there would have been some cross-over between Genesis and Yes, and that modern progressive groups would take something from Genesis. They don't seem to have had a particularly strong impact as a prog-rock group on events outside their fan-group, but their later commercial success would have drawn attention to the field of progressive music for a whole new audience.


Some fans feel that Genesis were cutting edge, though they seem to be lacking and somewhat trivial when compared to some of their livelier and more interesting contemporaries such as Tangerine Dream (Alpha Centauri  1971 - Phaedra 1974), Can (Tago Mago 1971, Spoon 1972), Brian Eno (Here Come The Warm Jets 1974),  Kraftwerk (Kraftwerk 1970, Autobahn 1974), Faust (The Faust Tapes 1973), Pink Floyd (Dark Side Of The Moon 1973), Todd Rundgren (A Wizard, A True Star 1973), etc. The early Seventies was a fertile period, so there was a lot of playing around with music structure, time sequences, etc. Genesis' experiments were very tame compared to many others, and rarely were they very effective. I'm not seeing that they did anything new or unusual or particularly attention grabbing. As a significant part of the prog-rock movement they deserve some credit, and while the jury is still out on prog-rock, it is getting more serious attention these days.


They have a loyal prog-rock fan base, and their later work has been hugely popular.

Star quality

The only two stars are Peter Gabriel and Phil Collins. Phil Collins is like your mate down the pub. He's like a member of Status Quo. Famous, yes, but not a star. Peter Gabriel is a little more interesting. He has a mystique about him. But he's not really star quality either. The rest of the band, albeit that Rutherford has had success with Mike + The Mechanics, are largely just the "rest of the band".

Emotional appeal

The music is either prog or synth. Neither music tends to be emotional.


The band mostly followed the prevalent music trend; however, they are considered one of the pioneering prog-rock bands, especially of symphonic-prog. They are interesting for the use of media and theatrics in their live shows, so - along with Pink Floyd, Alice Cooper, and David Bowie, they were a significant part of the process of enlivening live shows.




I've enjoyed doing this Kitchen Table Review. Genesis have been a group that's been there in the background from fairly early on in my serious interest in music. They are a group I've been aware of and curious about, but never really got close to. I've had some of the albums in my collection at various times, but not really been grabbed by them, but also not revolted by them. When they were art-rock or prog-rock, they were never quite taken seriously by the music critics and friends that I admired most, and even though these days progressive music is taken more seriously, it still has the air of the nerd about it, and still seems to be more about the idea of music than music itself. It often seems to miss the point. For example, some Genesis fans enthuse that music motifs are repeated in "Supper's Ready". Repeating music motifs is very common in musical composition - it happens all the time during spontaneous jams. It is an essential element of music. Yet the fans think this is impressive because some critics have found a similarity to the use of such repeats in classical music. It's not the use of  motifs in itself that should be impressive, it is how effective such use is - how the use creates a mood, or tells us something about the ideas being explored.  In "Supper's Ready", I'm not seeing a meaningful use of the motifs.

Anyway. When Genesis were prog-rock they were disparaged, and then when they were commercially successful they were again disparaged, this time for being commercial. There never seemed to be a time when Genesis were truly respected. Getting at the real Genesis was difficult through the fog of attitudes surrounding them, so doing this study has been illuminating. I hadn't previously noted just how technically competent the band are - their instrument skills are admirable; and while their ability to construct interesting musical compositions is dubious, they at least had some musical ambition. Their lyrics, especially in the early days, are dodgy. A little too much fantasy, and not enough grounding in real life. But the music is generally acceptable, and at times interesting. Early on it was a little too loose and indulgent, but from Abacab onwards, it became more disciplined, clearer, more polished, and hence more interesting and appealing. Coming to the end of this review I don't think I'm liking Genesis any more than I previously did, but I am respecting and perhaps understanding them a bit more.

Genesis have two periods: the first is as a prog-rock group in the early Seventies when that style of music was being developed. They are regarded as a pioneer prog-rock group, and two of their albums from that period are regarded as significant examples of the genre: Selling England and Lamb. However, while those albums are seen as worth noting, the general consensus is that they are not fully achieved; so, outside of being an example of prog-rock and what was happening in the UK during the early Seventies, the albums and the band as a whole are not critically acclaimed. The second period is as a globally successful synthpop group during the Eighties when that style of music was highly popular. They were assisted in their success by the unlikely solo success of singer Phil Collins. Though their music was keyboard led synthpop with drum machines, the music was initially informed by their experiences as a prog-rock band, though by the time of Invisible Touch, there was little evidence of this. During their prog-rock period they are mostly associated with singer Peter Gabriel, though they did make two prog-rock albums after Gabrield left and Collins was the singer, and one of those, Trick of the Tail, might be their most musically accomplished album. Overall, the band are fairly derivative, and tend to follow the musical trend rather than initiate anything. During their prog period they appear to be wannabe Yes/Pink Floyd copyists. During their synthpop period they are possibly at their most innovative, focused, bright and accomplished, though for most Genesis fans this period is dismissed as too commercial. 

Genesis sampler (Top Five in brackets)
*In The Beginning
* The Knife
* The Musical Box
*Supper's Ready
* I Know What I Like (In Your Wardrobe) (1)
* The Carpet Crawlers
*Ripples (4)
*Follow You Follow Me
*Turn It On Again  (5)
* Mama (2)
*Land of Confusion
*I Can't Dance (3)

Top albums
* Genesis Live  (1973)
*A Trick of the Tail  (1976)
* Foxtrot  (1972)
*Nursery Cryme  (1971)
* From Genesis to Revelation  (1969)
* Genesis  (1983)


*Official site
*World Of Genesis (fansite)
**WOG album ratings 
*GenesisFan (fansite)
*GenesisMuseum (for collectors)
*Why We Need Genesis More Than Ever
*Album UK chart positions
*John McFerrin
*Robert Christgau

*Inside Genesis 1970 - 1975
*The Genesis Archive Documentary
*The Archive 2 Documentary

*Filmed in Shepperton Studio 1973

Gabriel v Collins debates
* ilxor

Best Genesis songs/albums
*TopTens - Top songs
*The Guardian - Top songs
*What Culture - Top 35 songs

Prog-rock lists
*Rolling Stone

A Kitchen Table Review is my research into a music topic I am curious about. I am not an expert, and the research isn't particularly academic or rigorous. The blog is mainly for me to record my findings and my opinions. I put them into blog form as that is the most convenient, and provides quick link access to on-line resources such as Wikipedia, AllMusic and YouTube. I also like blogging as it makes my findings and views available to others who are invited to comment - correcting my mistakes, making suggestions or observations, or directing me to other resources. While I am writing for myself, I do have an "imaginary reader" who I am talking to, and that is likely to be someone like you, so please do leave me a message at the end

Kitchen Table Music Blogs
Best Of The Best

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