The classic 70s lineup. Clockwise from upper left: Mike Rutherford, Steve Hackett, Peter Gabriel, Tony Banks, Phil Collins
Genesis, formed in 1967, is one of the most successful rock bands in history, spanning five decades and selling over one hundred million albums. It has had several member changes during its existence. Both the most commercially successful and the most recent lineup (yet not the consensus "classic" lineup, whose members are bolded) consisted of:
Phil Collins - drummer, lead vocals (and former backup vocals)
Daryl Steurmer - tour guitarist/bassist, 1978-1993, 2007
Chester Thompson - tour drummer, 1977-93, 2007
Nir Zidkyahu - drummer, 1997-98
Nick D'Virgilio - drummer, 1997-98
Genesis has several distinct eras. The first album has some slight Christian themes and has a more relaxed and poppy sound which might be jarring for fans who got interested in the band during their later years; the interim period and their second album have a more pastoral sound occasionally edging into hard rock, both provided by guitarist Anthony Phillips *
When asked about it, Tony Banks and Michael Rutherford once stated that Phillips' departure had a bigger impact on the band's sound than Peter Gabriel's
. The second era starts with the introduction of guitarist Steve Hackett and drummer Phil Collins into the band. The first album this new line up produced was Nursery Cryme as Genesis much like other British bands at the time dived head first into progressive rock. The albums made during this time are arguably the strongest, the band being at their peak of musical talent and creativity. Opinions differ on whether the definitive album of this era is Foxtrot, Selling England By The Pound or the enormous The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway. In 1974 Peter Gabriel left Genesis over creative differences, and after two more albums, Steve Hackett also left, further reducing the quartet to a trio, with Phil Collins slowly taking the role of the Face of the Band.After fumbling to find a new direction, Genesis released Duke, which marked the start of a new era as the they broke into the mainstream. The band gradually recreated itself as one of the most successful pop/rock bands of the era, performing to massive audiences, topping the charts several times and selling albums by the truckload. Most people were introduced to Genesis during this time, and they are most likely remembered for a string of sleek poppy radio hits released between 1983 and 1986 like "That's All", "Invisible Touch", "In Too Deep" and "Land of Confusion". Phil Collins also had a successful solo career during the time that Genesis was having hits, and his continued solo success eventually led to him leaving Genesis in good terms in 1996 as he wanted more free time to work on his own projects. Unfortunately, Genesis took a nosedive in quality following Collins' departure, only releasing one rather disappointing album and going on hiatus as the result.In 2006, Collins, Banks and Rutherford held a massive reunion tour called "Turn It On Again", where they were joined by longtime auxillary members Chester Thompson and Daryl Stuermer as replacements for Gabriel and Hackett who were sadly unavailable.In 2009, Phil Collins revealed that spinal problems accumulated during the Genesis reunion tour, caused by sitting irregularly at the drum kit, led to him recieving back surgery. He is unable to play the drums or piano properly as a result, and had to tape his drumsticks to his hands to play them on his Going Back album. He retired from music in 2011 to spend more time at home with his family.It's impossible to describe Genesis in general terms since the band has always been constantly evolving, but they have a gentle, emotional sense to their music present regardless of era. Genesis has also pioneered several musical techniques during its existence and is often cited as inspiration by other musicians. There are also many Genesis tribute bands, such as The Slippermen, Dusk and The Musical Box, the latter of which faithfully reproduces early Genesis performances, and is the only Genesis tribute act endorsed by Genesis members.They were also one of the early adopters of moving light fixtures, taking some of the very first units on the Abacab tour. They actually invested heavily in the company after being shown the first prototype and their manager Tony Smith even suggested the name "Vari-Lite".
Several songs from Duke was originally part of a suite (see Concept Album) called "The Story of Albert". When the suite was performed live on the "Duke Tour" in 1980, Collins used to introduce it by telling this story. You can read it here.
It's well-known that the relevant songs form a suite, but no way is that string of obvious jokes its intended plot, if it even has one.
Apocalypse How: "Domino" from Invisible Touch; in part 2, a Class 1 or 2 is going on. How it happened is unclear, but it's somehow the fault of the narrator of part 1.
Artistic License - Geography: On The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway, the protagonist Rael comes "out of the subway" at Broadway which is evidently "just like Twenty-Second Street". The New York subway system does not work that way. Averted when performed live, as Phil Collins sometimes sings "just like Forty-Second Street" instead.
The "Twenty-Second Street" referenced in "In the Cage" is actually the location of a mental hospital in which Rael had previously been incarcerated ("where they got me by my neck and feet"). The line does not refer to a subway stop.
There used to be (probably still is) available online, an essay about The Battle Of Epping Forest that has so many inaccuracies and false assumptions as to be unintentionally hilarious. In particular, the author failed to realise that if a song by an English group, about an event just outside London in England, has the lyric "not since the Civil War", it's almost certainly referencing the English Civil War, not the American one.
Harold the Barrel cut off his toes and he served them all for tea
He can't go far. He can't go far.
(Hasn't got a leg to stand on!)
He can't go far.
Blatant Lies: For the first box set, the last several songs from the live Lamb show are dropped and replaced with re-engineered studio tracks. In the liner, this is stated as being due to the tape running out. A full version of the King Biscuit Flower Hour tape used for the box set, with all songs and both encores, is available on the Wolfgang's Vault website.
Bowdlerize: On the live version of "The Knife", this part of the lyrics:
Concept Album: The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway, and to a lesser extent, Duke, which is half a concept album. It was actually originally intended to be divided into an A-side consisting of a suite of related tracks ("Behind the Lines," "Duchess," "Guide Vocal," "Turn It on Again," "Duke's Travels," "Duke's End") and a B-side of unrelated tracks. The band, after listening to this track order, decided it would leave the album with an unnecessarily weak B-side, and also decided they didn't want the A-side suite to be compared to "Supper's Ready", so they split it up. However, the suite of songs was often performed in its entirety live.
Companion Cube: "Turn It On Again" is about a guy falling in love with his tv set. According to the accompanying story (see All There in the Manual), he also fell in love with a walking stick. And he tried to have sex with both objects.
A little bit of this in "The Musical Box" off of Nursery Cryme as well.
Continuity Nod: At the very end of the otherwise instrumental song "Los Endos", one can very faintly hear Phil Collins sing, "There's an angel standing in the sun/Free to get back home". These are lyrics from "Supper's Ready", one of the epic songs of the Peter Gabriel era. "Los Endos" is the last song on the album A Trick Of The Tail, which is the first album to feature Collins on lead vocals instead of Gabriel. The band may have also intended it to be a reference to Gabriel himself, as in the Archangel Gabriel.
The title of "I Know What I Like (In Your Wardrobe)" from Selling England by the Pound also qualifies. Notable in that both "I know what I like" and "in your wardrobe" both appear in the song, but never right after each other.
One week in 1986 saw singles by Genesis, Peter Gabriel, Phil Collins, Mike + The Mechanics, and supergroup GTR (featuring former Genesis guitarist Steve Hackett) dominate the Top 10. And "Sledgehammer" by Peter Gabriel dethroned Genesis' "Invisible Touch" in the #1 singles position.
'80s Hair: Phil Collins' overly permed mullet should have been taken out and shot.
Eldritch Abomination: The Giant Hogweed in "Return Of The Giant Hogweed" on the album Nursery Cryme.
Exactly What It Says on the Tin: Three Sides Live, but only in the US edition; the UK edition is entirely live. In any case, the US CD is actually "1½ Sides Live". Also, from "Supper's Ready," "Apocalypse in 9/8"; it's apocalyptic in sound, and (even to a non-musician) it's very noticeably in 9/8.
Getting Crap Past the Radar: The band's huge hit "Tonight, Tonight, Tonight" is about a drug addict trying to score. It was then used in a beer commercial, which could be interpreted as sending the message that beer drinkers were drug addicts (although I'm not sure whether that was intended on the band's part or not).
Michelob beer were the corporate sponsors of Genesis' Invisible Touch tour, so the company naturally used one of the album's big hits.
"Counting Out Time" from The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway is about Rael reading a book which scientifically describes the key "erogenous zones" needed to sexually arouse women, which he attempts to do on his date. It only succeeds in scaring off his girlfriend.
Greatest Hits Album: Turn It On Again: The Hits and its even more comprehensive 2007 Tour Edition, and the 2004/2005 Platinum Collection box set. The live albums might also qualify. Averted with the other box sets, which are more like a bootlegger's paradise, with rare live shows, demos, and BBC sessions.
Grief Song: Word Of God says that "Since I Lost You" from ''We Can't Dance" is about the death of a child.
Apparently it was written for Eric Clapton, whose four-year-old son Conor had recently died.
Intercourse with You: Genesis themselves have "Anything She Does" and "Counting Out Time". And that seems to be the subtext, under all the Squick in "Lamia."
In The Style Of: In the 2007 interview on the DVD version of A Trick Of The Tail, Phil Collins says that "Squonk" is basically Genesis doing "Kashmir". "Vindaloo" by Fat Les is in the same kind of style as Genesis doing "Match of the Day". "Driving the Last Spike" from We Can't Dance has some people wondering "what is this Gabriel-era song doing on their last-but-one album?". "Misunderstanding" is a Beach Boys type song with a riff almost directly taken from Sly and the Family Stone's "Hot Fun in the Summertime" (and the lyrics are essentially a rewrite of The Beatles' "No Reply"), and "Hold On My Heart" is an attempt at imitating Burt Bacharach*
or, as in an interview on the DVD of The Way We Walk, Tony Banks' attempt at imitating Phil Collins
Jerk Ass: Phil Collins spent part of Duke, as well as four solo albums, whining about how his first wife had done him wrong, while his second wife stood by him patiently and steadfastly. How did he repay her for her years of emotional support? If you guessed by cheating on her, you'd be right.
Word Of God was that Collins met up with an high school girlfriend around the time of Both Sides during a mid-life crisis. They grew closer and closer as he and Jill were growing further apart, one thing led to another, and it became an affair. Collins claimed that the FAX he sent Jill asking for a divorce came after a gradual period of growing apart, and was not much of a surprise for her or Phil, but more of a shock to the public in general.
New Sound Album: Duke, where they almost entirely abandoned their prog roots and went pop.
Except for the concept suite spread throughout the album (see "Concept Album" above), which still had pretty strong prog elements (especially the final two, mostly instrumental tracks). The prog sound was more fully abandoned on the next album, Abacab, although the title track and "Dodo/Lurker" still had trace elements of the band's prog roots. Indeed, a few tracks on each "pop" album still display elements of progressive rock (Genesis: "Home by the Sea"/"Second Home by the Sea"; Invisible Touch: "Domino"/"The Brazilian"; We Can't Dance: "Driving the Last Spike"/"Dreaming While You Sleep"/"Living Forever"/"Fading Lights").
Trespass might be the most straightforward example of this trope, since it was much closer to the progressive sound for which Genesis eventually became famous than the folksy light psychedlic pop of From Genesis To Revelation.
Nightmare Face: Phil in the video for "Mama" when he does the Evil Laugh. Also repeated in live performances of the song as well.
Songs on Duke and Abacab written by Phil reflect on his first marriage crumbling. They were written around the same time period as Face Value.
Religion Rant Song: "Jesus He Knows Me" (a critique of televangelists) falls under Type 3.
Rich Idiots With No Day Job: Though the founding members came from wealthy/upper class backgrounds and met at the prestigious public school they all attended, this is an averted trope.
Riddle Me This: In "Dodo/Lurker" from Abacab (In the linked video, the riddle is heard at about 5:13, and unlike the album version, it is not repeated.):
Clothes of brass and hair of brown
Seldom need to breathe, don't need no wings to fly
Ooo, and a heart of stone
And a fear of fire and water, who am I?
Answer: A nuclear submarine. "Hair of brown" = seaweed. "Seldom need to breathe" = unlike a diesel-engined sub, a nuclear one doesn't need oxygen as part of its power. "Don't need no wings to fly" = submarine crews refer to its motion through the water as "flying". "And a heart of stone" = the fuel rods which power the reactor. "A fear of fire and water" because leaks and fire are both feared on a submarine. Leaks for obvious reasons, and fire because there's nowhere to go to escape.
Actually, that's not the offical answer. Tony Banks, who wrote the lyrics, had this to say in an interview: "I'm afraid to say really that there is no real solution. You can search for your own one if you like. It was a bit of a joke. When I was writing it I honestly didn't really have a specific idea in mind. If you can find out what the answer is, perhaps you can tell me!"
But the demo of the song is called " Submarine".
Rock Opera: "Supper's Ready," The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway, and the suite from Duke (see "Concept Album" above) are the band's most extended forays into this trope, but they never really stopped doing it - see "Driving the Last Spike" and "Dreaming While You Sleep" on We Can't Dance for latter-day examples of mini-rock operas.
Shaggy Dog Story: In their prog rock era, it would take a long time for everyone to retune for each piece. While the rest of the band tuned up, Gabriel would recite poetry or tell a long story, which never had anything to do with the next song in the set.
Take That: The Peter Gabriel solo song "Solsbury Hill" is about his departure from Genesis. Word Of God confirms this.
Peter Gabriel, again. He refused to attend the group's induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and referred to them disparagingly as "my old band from school".
Given that all the bandmembers are very subtle humor-wise, we may be missing something here. When he declined to be a part of the reunion tour, Collins made a quip that Gabriel wouldn't do something just for the fun of it.
Many fans also feel that way about Ray Wilson following Phil Collins as lead singer.
Uncommon Time: "Turn It On Again" is in 13/8 time. Beyond that, bizarre meters were used liberally during their prog rock days.
Again, the solo in "Cinema Show" which is in 7/8, as is (almost) all of "Dance on a Volcano."
"Apocalypse in 9/8" is in, well, guess, as are "Riding the Scree" and the first half of the instrumental "...In That Quiet Earth". The instrumental midsection of "Robbery, Assault and Battery" is in 13/8 (subdivided into a bar of 7/8 followed by a bar of 6/8).
The Tony Banks piano intro to Firth of Fifth switches between 2/4, 13/16 and 15/16.