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, all of whom are listed below (with members of the consensus "classic" lineup in bold):
Phil Collins - drummer, lead vocals (and former backup vocals)
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 note 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 ...And Then There Were Three... in 1978, followed by Duke in 1980, 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, although he has since made statements that his medical condition has recovered considerably, and has even spoken of a comeback — potentially with Genesis.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".
Many of the songs on Trespass and Nursery Cryme also have liner notes that help put the meaning of the songs into more context - especially "Stagnation" on the former and "The Musical Box" on the latter.
Animal Metaphor: "Pigeons" very cleverly uses the titular birds to represent immigrants to London, and its excrement as a metaphor for the things right-wingers blame them for. The song is sung from the perspective of a character who doesn't understand them and wants rid of them, and refers to a politician who hires a skinhead group (who drive a white van) to shoot them. The calypso inspired horns make it clear this is referring to the large amount of Caribbean immigrants to the UK in the 70s, who were unfairly criticised in a similar way to the way Polish and Arabic people are today. This song remains surprisingly relevant with the increase in right-wing sentiment towards immigrants post-9/11 (and especially post 7/7 in the UK).
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.
On The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway, the protagonist Rael had previously been incarcerated at "Twenty-Second Street". There is no mental hospital at that location, nor was there ever one there.
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 Genesis Archive 1967–75 boxset, the final song, "It", from the live Lamb show is dropped and faded in to a re-engineered studio track. In the liner notes, this is stated as being due to the tape running out. A full version of the show, used for the King Biscuit Flower Hour radio program, with all the songs and both encores ("Watcher Of The Skies" & "The Musical Box") included, is available on the concertvault.com website.
Bowdlerize: On the live version of "The Knife", this part of the lyrics:
I'll give you the names of those you must kill All must die with their children Carry their heads to the palace of old Hang 'em all high, let blood flow NOW!
Has been changed into this...
I'll give you the names of those you must kill Hang 'em and burn 'em quickly Cover them up in Trafalgar square Hurry to see, you'll see them dead
Usually around 3 to 4 would appear on singles from most albums from 1982's Abacab and after. (Many of them would later appear on the Genesis Archives #2 set.) Spot The Pigeon was a EP released in 1978 with the band's first two songs from the Collins/Banks/Rutherford era, combined with "Inside And Out" - the last track Steve Hackett would contribute to, which was a track left off of Wind & Wuthering. The 3x3 EP included three of the songs left off of the UK pressing of Three Sides Live.
For all of Calling All Stations' faults, some of the B-sides from that CD were well-received, as they also included covers of a few classic-era Genesis songs, which highlighted Ray Wilson's very Gabriel-esque vocals.
Although it was given a re-release along with every other album in their catalog around the same time, except for From Genesis To Revelation, which is a more straight example.
Caps Lock, Num Lock, Missiles Lock: In the video for "Land of Confusion", President Reagan has a panel at his bedside with two buttons: "Nurse" and "Nuke". He accidentally starts World War III trying to get a glass of water.
City of Gold: The Creature from the song "A Trick Of The Tail" comes from one.
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.
"Turn It On Again" and "Anything She Does" is about a guy who falls in love with a pretty face on a tv set and a photo, respectively, then channels his love onto the object.
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.
Pretty much all of "Counting Out Time" from The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway. Also, some people think "Silver Rainbow" from the 1983 self-titled album Genesis fits this trope too.
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.
Any album recorded before 1980, for those who only knew the band through their radio.
Even for fans of the "classic" prog era, the first two albums would qualify, being heavily piano and 12-string guitar driven. The piano songs would be mostly excised from later albums, as electric pianos of the time couldn't do them justice live, and the 12-string would be relegated to rhythm parts, with lead guitarist Steve Hackett mostly relying on his Les Paul.
Phil Collins' drum sound for those early albums would qualify as well; cymbal-driven and heavily syncopated, with nary a noise gate or reverb pedalnote The "Intruder"/"In The Air Tonight" drum sound (invented by Collins and Hugh Padgham on the first one, which was actually a song on Peter Gabriel's third album, and popularized on the latter) is referred to as "gated reverb", and refers to feeding a recording of the drums through these two filters in sight.
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.
Just to point out how over they were in the decade, "Domino" from Invisible Touch (an eleven-minute-long album piece with a lengthy instrumental section) made the Billboard charts despite never having been released as a single or radio promo.
'80s Hair: Phil Collins' overly permed mullet should have been taken out and shot.
The Giant Hogweed in "Return Of The Giant Hogweed" on the album Nursery Cryme. Note that almost everything said about this plant is true in Real Life, except the malevolent setinence (We hope).
Also the alien, parasitic entity that covers the world in darkness in "The Day the Light Went Out."
Peter Gabriel's Slipperman costume was covered in growths and incorporated two balloons on the groin that Gabriel would inflate while onstage. He regrets the costume because the mask was so big and unwieldy, he couldn't get the microphone anywhere near his mouth so the audience couldn't hear what he was saying/singing.
El Spanish O: "Los Endos". The phrase doesn't mean a damn thing in Spanish or Portuguese, and allegedly the closest phrase that does mean something translates to "the entrails".
Three Sides Live, but only in the US edition; the UK edition is entirely livenote The studio tracks that made up the fourth US side had already been released as an EP and two single B-sides in Europe. 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.
The first album after Steve Hackett's departure left Genesis a trio was ...And Then There Were Three...
Peter Gabriel's outlandish costumes played a role in bringing fame to the band during their Prog Rock days. He says that the decision to dress up came from a combination of shyness (so he could pretend to be someone else on stage) and because the rest of the band took too long to retune their instruments between songs, so he had to vamp and tell the overarching stories of their albums to keep the audience engaged.
Phil Collins stepped into the role after Gabriel left because they realized Collins could do Gabriel than Gabriel could, although he always wanted to be primarily known as the band's drummer. Collins has expressed displeasure as being known as the band's face, because they were always very collaborative but he'd be the one credited with the band's successes and failures.
Fanservice: The video for "Anything She Does" features Benny Hill and his usual collection of scantily-clad girls.
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. 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.
Phil Collinshas described "Mama" to be the tale of a younger man's obsession with an older prostitute. He has half-jokingly Jossed on his site's messageboard that "it's getting so hard" is not a Pun, though.
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 died.
Happily Married: Mike Rutherford and his wife Angie have been married for over 35 years; Tony Banks and his wife Margaret have been married for over 40 years.note Meanwhile, among the "classic" lineup, Peter Gabriel has been married twice, and Steve Hackett and Phil Collins have been married three times each. They're also arguably married to the band, since they're the only members who are on every album.
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".
Insult Backfire: In the video for "Jesus He Knows Me", Phil Collins wears a suit and wig and affects a voice similar to those of American televangelist Ernest Angley, making him a specific target for the song's skewering of televangelism in general. Collins revealed in his appearance on Room 101 that Angley was apparently flattered by his "portrayal".
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 The 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 Bacharachnote or, as in an interview on the DVD of The Way We Walk, Tony Banks' attempt at imitating Phil Collins.
The historical drama of "Driving The Last Spike" doesn't really echo any Gabriel-era sounds or themes, except for maybe its longer length compared to other songs on We Can't Dance and a couple of time changes, but the song certainly wouldn't look out of place if it had appeared on 1978's ...And Then There Were Three.
Mohs Scale of Rock and Metal Hardness: An average of 4. The band were known for starting songs quietly and getting into louder rock sections later on. Occasionally the band has a full on hard rock song like "The Knife", and both "The Return of the Giant Hogweed" and "In the Cage" start off sedately and end with proto NWOBHM galloping rhythms. Later on, "Land of Confusion" is almost 80s metal but not quite. The album Calling All Stations shows some influences from alternative rock and grunge in its production, thanks to Ray Wilson's experience in the band Stiltskin, although the song structures are still quite poppy.
Duke, where they almost entirely abandoned their prog roots and went pop. This is also the point where Tony Banks abandoned the Hammond organ and Mellotron for an entirely synthesizer-based sound, and Rutherford switched from mostly 12-string guitar work to a more conventional David Gilmourish tone. 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.
"The Return of the Giant Hogweed" and the title track of "A Trick of the Tail".
The Slippermen, again.
Poor Communication Kills: Part and parcel of the inital members' boarding/public school upbringing. It took until the recording of Foxtrot for Peter, Tony, and Mike to point out that things were working very well with Phil and Steve — this was after they had toured together for a year and recorded an album together. Similarly, Tony and Mike never really sat down and talked to each other about whether or not to do a post-Phil Collins Genesis album; neither one really wanted to do it, but assumed the other one did. The half-hearted effort is probably the main reason Ray Wilson doesn't have many nice things to say about either one of them these days.
The live album Seconds Out is a boxing term referees give announcing that round one is to end and that round two will begin, possibly a reference to a new era beginning post-Wind And Wuthering. It also refers to their second official live album being released (Genesis Live was released in early 1973), and the second member from their classic five piece lineup (Steve Hackett) having left the band by the time of Seconds Out's release in 1977.
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.
As does "Throwing It All Away" on Invisible Touchnote The lyrics for this one were actually written by Happily Married Mike Rutherford. The move towards more personal songs is something people have criticised the Phil Collins era for.
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.
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.
Self-Deprecating Humor: A running joke among the band (at least in interviews and such) is that the main reason Daryl Stuermer was hired with the band as road guitarist was so that he could teach Mike Rutherford how the songs went and they could go on tour. Not too far off the mark, as Rutherford is blissfully musically illiterate, and the band has had to drop at least part of one song (the vocal part of "Cinema Show") because he couldn't remember the tuning he used for it.
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.
Phil is singing "There's an angel standing in the sun, free to get back home" in the end of "Los Endos", a shout out/tribute to Gabriel, paraphrasing "Supper's Ready".
The band rehearsed "Dancing With The Moonlit Knight" for the 1981-82 Abacab tour. Phil took the line, "'Paper late,' cried a voice in the crowd" and used it to title the much shorter and funkier 1982 Three Sides Live studio track "Paperlate".
Shown Their Work: Most of the facts about the Giant Hogweed are accurate. Well, apart from its invulnerability, sentience and desire for revenge...
The Peter Gabriel solo song "Solsbury Hill" is about his departure from Genesis. Word of God confirms this.
Many fans also feel that way about Ray Wilson following Phil Collins as lead singer.
"Jesus He Knows Me" gives voice to Phil Collins' utter contempt for money-grubbing televangelists.
"Land of Confusion" isn't particularly subtle given that the video contains unflattering caricatures of Ronald Reagan by the creators of Spitting Image. The lyrics themselves are more subtle but still, if you read between the lines, make it pretty clear that the band aren't too pleased with Reagan or Margaret Thatcher.
Many of the We Can't Dance songs are attacks of one form or another: "I Can't Dance" ridicules stylistic, male model-heavy Dada Ads selling blue jeans (Phil felt the backing track sounded like an artsy/trendy Levi's ad, and the illustration shows a man wearing blue jeans, taken from his backside); "Living Forever" mocks self-help trends, new age philosophies and fad diets; "Tell Me Why" criticizes wealthy governments for doing too little to help poverty and hunger.
Half of the video interviews on the 2007 box set consist of bandmembers (particularly Peter and Tony) "good-naturedly" taking potshots at each other's playing and songwriting style. Gabriel in particular still seems raw about the rifts that opened up between him and the band when recording The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway.
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.