Calling All Stations

To many, even some Genesis fans, Calling All Stations is a very difficult album to defend. However, it features a few traits that, pleasant or not, are rather unique for Genesis, or had not surfaced in a long time. Most notable of these is the exceedingly dark atmosphere and brutal dynamics.

We Can’t Dance had featured louder drumming than previous Genesis albums, and Calling All Stations took this even further, especially when Nir Zidkyahu played. Nick d’Vergilio of Spock’s Beard — a drummer who’d end up taking on a similar role to Phil Collins as lead vocalist and drummer,when Neal Morse left the group (interestingly, after their own two-disc concept album, Snow) — joins up with the group for a few tracks, as well. The typical notes used are lower, as well, to accommodate Ray Wilson’s exceedingly dark timbre.

The songwriting on the album is much darker, which definitely lowers commercial potential anyway, but on the whole the choices of singles for the album were pretty below par; “Congo” was a great choice, but was mutilated as a single. “Shipwrecked” and “Not About Us”, two of the weakest tracks on the album, were also chosen as singles, even while much better material existed on the record, such as the title track, “Alien Afternoon”, and especially “The Dividing Line”. Of course, this is far less commercial, but it proves that such an approach was still a strong suit for Genesis.

While the album is not widely-lauded, fans were still mildly disappointed to find that the set list of the 2007 reunion tour (with Phil back on board) included no material from this album; the reasoning for this probably has less to do with distaste for the material than it does with just the tone. Collins’ voice is not as deep as Wilson’s, which means that the songs will sound (to say the least) odd when readjusted for Phil’s voice; the tracks almost require their deep and dark tone. The album is worthy of re-evaluation by Genesis fans.

Something else to listen for: Take note of all the songs that have rather odd noises at the beginning. Nothing hugely special there, but a very unusual choice nonetheless…

Genesis — Calling All Stations: Track-by-track review

1. “Calling All Stations”
On the opening track, Genesis plows forth with its loudest rock performance in a long time — possibly ever. No keyboard riffs, no fade-ins, no drum machines, just deafening volume.

Just after your ears have adjusted from the fanfare, the background calms down a little bit. We get music that sets everything up for the more angsty atmosphere the lyrics require, as Ray Wilson gives us our first taste of what he can do as he sings about the very moment between life and death, seeing everything flash before your eyes. Just to set the mood even further, the song begins to fade out as he builds up the angst more and more, as if, perhaps, to suggest that he must ponder this forever. This is probably the most efficient use of Wilson’s timbre, and it ushers in this new form of Genesis.

2. “Congo”
The album’s first single possesses a curious lack of commercial potential compared to earlier Genesis singles; “Congo”, opening with a sampled chant over which some percussion and keyboards are played, quickly shoots off to keyboard riffs — harsh, brutal keyboard riffs, again, suitable for ripping apart eardrums. Again, Nir provides harsh, driving percussion rhythms — nothing very adventurous — which gives the song an even greater attack.

The lyrics have noticeably more tension than a typical Genesis song about a failed relationship, but it’s clear that, despite disappointment and a desire to repair the relationship, there is acceptance, and the narrator is satisfied with cutting off the relationship, if it should come to that. Overall, a less-powerful performance, but still with a rather dark air to it. Of course, that may just be caused by the word choice.

The song sounds distinctly incomplete. In the live section, the repetition of the final verse was omitted, and went to a short call-and-response section consisting of Zidkyahu’s drumming and Rutherford’s bass over the sampled chants from earlier with Ray shouting out the first line of the chorus, and the audience responding with the same thing, before repeating the chorus again.

3. “Shipwrecked”
Post-Collins Genesis attempts here to prove that it can still be the same Genesis as it was when Collins was in the band. Unfortunately, this doesn’t work out very well. We’ve pretty much heard this song before, but worded in different ways — many times before, and it would actually have been better-performed with Collins on vocals. Unsurprisingly, when it was released as the second single, it fell flat. Hey, at least the “distant” tone the first twenty seconds take on is interesting!

4. “Alien Afternoon”
One of the many longer tracks on Calling All Stations, “Alien Afternoon” is slightly more interesting than previous songs on the record. It could be seen as a sort of two-part song, divided based on who played percussion; the first part features Nick d’Vergilio delivering a reggae-influenced beat — not at all unusual for prog-rock; cf. Genesis’ own “Me and Sarah Jane” (Abacab) or Rush’s “Digital Man” (Signals) — and the second has Zidkyahu’s more “basic” drumming. It’s worth listening to, yes, but it’s not the best of the longer tracks.

5. “Not About Us”
Another love song, this time with a much quieter beat than earlier Zidkyahu performances and driven primarily by acoustic guitars, that could probably have been much better were it played entirely with acoustic guitars. Otherwise, this track, the third single (which also fell flat) is not very memorable. See the complaints about “Shipwrecked”.

6. “If That’s What You Need”
Another softer song, this time with Nick d’Vergilio on percussion again. “If That’s What You Need” is somewhat more pleasant than “Shipwrecked” and “Not About Us”, and is led by keyboards. This song actually could have probably succeeded as a single!

Electric guitars come in, but never do they overpower the other instruments too greatly, instead adding almost perfect accents while still keeping the rather downbeat theme.

7. “The Dividing Line”
Rising out of the previous quiet songs comes this song, which has almost as much of an epic feel as “Alien Afternoon”, but which is a vastly superior performance, replete with dark lyrics about the suffering of those below you and taking that into account.

After a few lines of Zidkyahu providing his most complex performances on the album, in come the keyboards, again leading this with a mass of power as on “Congo” but perhaps even stronger, with electric guitar to accent them as they go. Easily the best song on the album, with not only the most raw power but probably the most complexity overall to boot, as well as being the song probably best-suited to Wilson’s voice.

8. “Uncertain Weather”
Another softer track, much like “If That’s What You Need”. It opens with some weird keyboard and percussion sounds, provided by Banks and d’Vergilio. Despite this, the song is slightly less memorable than “If That’s What You Need,” but still far ahead of “Shipwrecked” and “Not About Us”. The song is quite downbeat, but is certainly worth listening to.

9. “Small Talk”
Here, we see Genesis returning to familiar territory. Zidkyahu brings back his typical rhythm, and the keyboards take on a tone like that on the title track of Abacab. The lyrics take a somewhat sharper tone, with slightly more bile than anything else on the album (or most of Genesis’ canon) in some places.

The lyrics are not very angsty — one would expect angst of Wilson, being from a post-grunge outfit before Genesis — as compared to the song he co-authored with Rutherford, “Not About Us” (not that that was very angsty at all, either). It softens out near the end and becomes driven mostly by bass and the more atmospheric synths. One of the hidden treasures of the album.

10. “There Must Be Some Other Way”
As the album winds down, the material gets darker and less accessible. The length of the songs has increased. Check out the middle synthesizer part on this track (up to about 6:00) — this part makes “There Must Be Some Other Way” entirely worthwhile.

The lyrics feel darker and angstier here than on any other part of the album, and Ray gives a wonderful performance here on this song. Probably the only real nitpick one could think up for this is that it would benefit from d’Vergilio on percussion.

11. “One Man’s Fool”
Here we go, the familiar 80s-Genesis elements: an electronic percussion rhythm, poppy keyboards… is that a horn section, too? A big shock, yes, but not bad at all. It’s more about how everything comes together, though, that makes this song great.

Unfortunately, despite everything it has going for it (strong songwriting, good cohesion, etc.) it comes up as the weakest of the long songs on the album. However, considering the stiff competition it must endure on the album, this is not at all a shock.

Calling All Stations by Genesis

“Calling All Stations”

“Congo”

“Shipwrecked”

“Alien Afternoon”

“Not About Us”

“If That’s What You Need”

“The Dividing Line”

“Uncertain Weather”

“Small Talk”

“There Must Be Some Other Way”

“One Man’s Fool”

We Can’t Dance

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We Can’t Dance by Genesis

“No Son Of Mine”

“Jesus He Knows Me”

“Driving The Last Spike”

“I Can’t Dance”

“Never A Time”

“Dreaming While You Sleep”

“Tell Me Why”

“Living Forever”

“Hold On My Heart”

“Way Of The World”

“Since I Lost You”

“Fading Lights”

Invisible Touch

NOTE: We’re looking for a knowledgeable Genesis nerd! A review for Invisible Touch hasn’t been published — yet. We need someone who can write a full track-by-track review of this album (at least a couple paragraphs per song); if you know the music, you can submit a review. You’ll be compensated when visitors make purchases through vendor links on their pages — for as long as your review remains on the site. Get more details in the FAQ.

Invisible Touch by Genesis

“Invisible Touch”

“Tonight, Tonight, Tonight”

“Land Of Confusion”

“In Too Deep”

“Anything She Does”

“Domino (Part One-In The Glow Of The Night/Part Two – The Last Domino)”

“Throwing It All Away”

“The Brazilian”

Genesis

Genesis, the band’s only eponymous album, is an interesting work to say the least. Most people would say that the “prog rock” parts of the group’s work ended with Wind and Wuthering, and they’re pretty nearly right. Not 100%, mind, but they’ve mostly stopped playing prog-rock here, with the exception of “Home by the Sea”.

On the whole, the album is something of a transitional piece, transitioning from the prog of Wind and Wuthering to the prog-pop of And Then There Were Three… to, er, the prog-pop of Duke to the — surely you guessed it — the prog-pop of Abacab, into what would end up being the straight-up pop of Invisible Touch. So, it’s a transition off of the transitionals, or some such.

One of the biggest issues with this album is the fact that, when it works, it really works, but when it fails, it truly falls flat. Fans of old-school Genesis should approach with caution; for you there are certainly a few enjoyable songs, but some of it will truly be problematic. Fans of pop music should approach with caution for the same reasons, as well.

Genesis — Genesis: Track-by-track review

1. “Mama”
This song is the testing ground for people if you want to get into the Genesis represented on this album or on Invisible Touch. Can you survive this song? Alright, then you’re ready to venture into the world of way-too-many drum machines and radio pop — the sort of music that might make you forget they ever recorded “The Knife”, or “Dance on a Volcano”, or “Supper’s Ready” or — god forbid! — a concept album.

As such, most Genesis fans will be turned away pretty quickly. It’s not exactly a favorite, either; it’s acceptable, and there is that memorable Grandmaster Flash-inspired laugh somewhere in the middle of the song. There is still the dark, creepy atmosphere that’s popped up before, but not only does this not come across as well as it did on prior songs, but it sounds far too austere, what with those bloody drum machines. You’ve been warned…

2. “That’s All”
Driven mostly by keyboards and an incessant rhythm, “That’s All” is not nearly so forbidding at “Mama”, and is definitely a more commercial song. It features less-forbidding drum machines — really, it seems to be closer to natural drums and one errant v-drum getting a few hits in once in a while. It’s rather nondescript and unexciting, unfortunately.

3. “Home By The Sea”
Suddenly, the volume shoots way up! Is Genesis trying to be hard-rock again?! Well, maybe. The duology of “Home by the Sea” is probably the closest Genesis would ever get to recording an epic as great as “The Knife” or “The Musical Box” until 1997. (That’s right, I said “Genesis,” “great,” and “1997” all in one sentence.)

Ahem! “Home by the Sea,” however, unlike earlier epics like “The Musical Box” or “Supper’s Ready”, actually sounds like it might have some commercial potential. (I didn’t include “The Knife,” because, if you cut out the long midsection, it could probably make it as a minor hit.) “Home by the Sea” has a little more groove to it, and hell, you could probably dance to it. Anyway, the song features lyrics about a burglar who goes in to rob “the home by the sea” — wherever that is. Somehow, everything on this song just works. Well, except that last little keyboard bit at the very end, just before the track it segues into…

4. “Second Home By The Sea”
This second part of the “Home by the Sea” duology is probably the less interesting of the two, where we see drum machines get even more prominent. The instrumental rides — admittedly — a pretty groovy drum machine pattern which, while it sounds alright at first, gets really boring after a while. However, everything else stays interesting, so, it kind of balances out. It’s quite a shame that they didn’t do much with this in concert besides play it.

5. “Illegal Alien”
Commercial suicide at its best or commercial suicide at its worst?

Here, Phil Collins puts on a very dorky accent, meant to sound like, well, an illegal alien. Unsurprisingly, some people were fairly ticked. Out of all the singles on this album (discounting “Home by the Sea” which saw distribution as a single only in France), though, this is probably one of the better, controversy and all. By the time the chorus is repeated for the umpteenth time, you might want to join in on the shouting, too, no matter how peeved you are.

6. “Taking It All Too Hard”
“Takin’ It All Too Hard” recalls a slower “That’s All”; however, where “That’s All” only spoke of hopelessness while feeling happy, the aching tones of “Takin’ It All Too Hard” sound a bit more hopeless, though the lyrics less so. Not to call them happy, either. The song is just flat boring, though, except the backing rhythm. Hm… seems to be a pattern on this album.

7. “Just A Job To Do”
“Just a Job to Do” is one of the most enjoyable songs on the album, also one the lesser-known ones, and one of the only songs on the album not to appear on a single. The song is fast-paced, featuring a fairly prominent horn section, rocking guitar, and shout-along words, this song is probably the most deserving of the pop songs on the record.

Of course, the band didn’t see it this way, so it goes completely unnoticed. Or maybe this was their way of saying “Hey guys, we’re not a straight-up singles band yet, you have to actually, you know, listen to the album!” Either way, who cares? It’s a good song.

8. “Silver Rainbow”
A slow, steady rhythm, sharp keys, and a drum machine driving everything are the main traits of this song, probably the least favorable out of all of the tracks on this album — which is hard to say, since some of the songs on this album are pretty trite. The song was recorded and entirely forgotten, being little more than filler. It’s a shame that this song didn’t go as well as it could have; the concept seems like something that could actually work, however, the band just didn’t do it right.

9. “It’s Gonna Get Better”
“It’s Gonna Get Better” is another of those songs that the band just up and forgot about almost entirely not long after recording, but that’s understandable: this song is something we’ve seen before, really, and would see again and again from this band in the future. However, here it comes off way better than it would on later albums.

Genesis by Genesis

“Mama”

“That’s All”

“Home By The Sea”

“Second Home By The Sea”

“Illegal Alien”

“Taking It All Too Hard”

“Just A Job To Do”

“Silver Rainbow”

“It’s Gonna Get Better”

Abacab

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Abacab by Genesis

“Abacab”

“No Reply At All”

“Me And Sarah Jane”

“Keep It Dark”

“Dodo/Lurker”

“Who Dunnit?”

“Man On The Corner”

“Like It Or Not”

“Another Record”

Duke

Now fully into its transitional period from progressive rock giants to stadium-filling art-pop superstars, Genesis began the 1980s with their most successful album to date.

Duke, like its predecessor, … And Then There Were Three …, attempts to offers something for everyone: Several tracks are unquestionably pop, but many are colored with complex, prog-ish arrangements bathed in keyboards and effect-laden guitars, though the heavy layering of keyboards on … And Then There Were Three … is not as prominent here.

According to interviews given by the band for the SACD version of the album in 2007, Duke had been conceived to include a suite of songs on Side A. After the opening trio of “Behind the Lines,” “Duchess” and “Guide Vocal,” the side was to have continued with “Turn it on Again,” “Duke’s Travels” and “Duke’s End.” The group, however, thought that sequencing the album in such a manner would draw comparison’s to the band’s legendary almost-sidelong piece “Supper’s Ready,” so the tracks were scattered throughout the recording.

Another theory is that the group realized the stronger tracks would be on Side A. Proof is offered in that, on the European tour for Duke, the band performed only the tracks from the suite, in one block, in the middle of the set (“Misunderstanding,” a hit in the US, was added to the American tour).

Though he had written music for his jazz-rock outlet, Brand X, Duke is a coming-out party for Phil Collins as a songwriter, even it was somewhat by accident. After the breakup of his first marriage, Collins found himself alone with his thoughts, as Tony Banks and Mike Rutherford recording solo albums while Collins sorted out his personal life. As a result, Collins began to write what amounted to letters to his wife, complete with drum machines and keyboards. He played the tracks for Banks and Rutherford, who took two songs for Duke. The remainder, after encouragement from Ahmet Ertegun, ultimately became Phil’s solo debut, Face Value.

Fans can argue that this is the band’s last prog album or its first pop recording. In truth, it’s both. Though the band never completely shed its darker side, they were now in a position to attack the charts with fresher sound and a rapidly-developing new songwriting voice.

Genesis — Duke: Track-by-track review

1. “Behind The Lines”
Genesis introduces itself to the decade with a long introduction that harkens back to its full-on prog days, but the sound is clearly contemporary.

Phil’s drum sound almost gets lost in the mix of keyboards and drums — not to mention a busy Rutherford bass line — but it hints of the beginning of Collins’ use of the “gated drum” sound he became famous for (he began working on the sound with Peter Gabriel while recording the latter’s third album, which took place at about the same time as Genesis recorded this album).

The vocal sections have almost a soulful feel, as we’re introduced to an obsessed fan who seems to be lamenting the fall of his “duchess” …

Whatever happened to you it’s too late to change now
There’s nowhere you can run to, no place to hide
Ah you let me down!

Collins re-recorded the song for Face Value, speeding up the tempo and adding a horn section.

2. “Duchess”
A quick fade-out of “Behind the Lines” leads into the band’s first use of a drum machine on record. Piano, guitar and synth textures build throughout another long intro, until Collins launches into a tale of a diva who reaches the top and tries in vain to stay there before the inevitable fall.

Oh but time went by
It wasn’t so easy now, all uphill, and not feeling so strong.
Yes times were hard,
Too much thinking ’bout the future and what people might want.

Collins — who had gone through a recording process of sorts with his solo material — delivers his strongest studio vocal to date. It’s also a personal favorite of Banks, who called Duke his favorite Genesis album.

3. “Guide Vocal”
A short Banks-penned link has Collins singing ambiguous lyrics — “I am the one who guided you this far,” though we don’t know who guided whom — with just Banks providing piano and synth background. These verses are repeated, with slight variation, at the end of the record.

4. “Man Of Our Times”
Rutherford contributes this song — not to mention a droning bass line — about a full-fledged member of the rat race.

He brings another day another night, another fight
Well there’s another day done and there’s another gone by
He’s a man of our times a man of our times

Again, Collins contributes a heavy drum sound and a Gothic-like vocal. No one would think twice if this had appeared on, say, We Can’t Dance, but it must have a shock for Genesis fans at the time to hear this.

5. “Misunderstanding”
A solid, albeit standard-issue, pop song, Collins borrows the chorus from “Hot Fun in the Summertime” for his lyric about a fellow who gets stood-up, only to find that the object of his affection has other intentions …

I rang your house but got no answer
Turned to my car; I went ’round there
Still don’t believe it
He was just leaving

Collins has also cited Toto’s “Hold the Line” and the Beach Boys’ “Sail On, Sailor” as influences, and all of these songs share the same driving, 12/8 beat.

The 2007 remaster offers what is far and away the best-sounding version of the track, although a brief guitar line from Rutherford at 2:38 is inexplicably edited out of the mix.

6. “Heathaze”
Side A concludes on a melancholy note, as Banks delivers a typically fatalistic lyric about a man who is dreaming of a more idyllic world but still “feel(s) like an alien” in his. Still, one must remain realistic …

Now the light is fading fast,
Chances slip away, a time will come to pass
When there’ll be none,
Then addicted to a perfumed poison,
Betrayed by its aftertaste,
Oh we shall lose the wonder and find nothing in return.
Many are the substitutes but they’re powerless on their own.

The dream sequence here is not dissimilar to “Mad Man Moon” from A Trick of the Tail, though this song seems to deal more with general depression than that of a lost love, as “Mad Man Moon” does.

7. “Turn It On Again”
Starting with a basic eighth-note rhythm, the band launches back into the Duke “suite” with the main character still longing for his Duchess, courtesy of his television …

You’re just another face that I know from the TV show
I have known you for so very long I feel you like a friend
Can’t you do anything for me, can I touch you for a while
Can I meet you another day and we will fly away

This song has been a fan favorite almost from the moment of its release, as well as a hit single — strange for a track with a main riff in 13/4 and an even more complicated pre-chorus (check the rhythms on the “I, I get so lonely when she’s not there” sections).

Collins is credited by Banks and Rutherford for suggesting that the track be played at a faster tempo. Also, Banks said the track was to be another link in the suite and that it was to have been played just once through, but the band decided to double the length of the tune because of how powerful it sounded.

8. “Alone Tonight”
It sounds for all the world like a Collins song, but this is Rutherford’s baby all the way. Consider this the antithesis to his “Your Own Special Way” from three years earlier. There is hope for our lonely soul once a new day begins; it’s just a matter of getting there. …

On my own tonight, alone again tonight
Oh I’m alone again, alone again tonight
Oh I’m alone again, and it seems to me that everytime I try to change
Say that you’ll, say that you’ll
Help me reach the other side

This track wouldn’t have seemed out-of-place in the suite. For that matter, it wouldn’t be a stretch to propose the band actually tried to treat the entire album as a song cycle. In any case, Phil could relate to the lyric, and one can imagine him singing this to a picture of someone he’s lost (“I touch your face and I don’t know why/I call your name but you’re going by”).

In the interviews for the 2007 remastered version, Banks said the band rejected this song as a single in favor of “Turn It On Again.”

9. “Cul-De-Sac”
Another dark, lyrical tour-de-force from Banks, this expansive, majestic track starts off with images of an army preparing for a climactic battle, not unlike “The Knife” from the early Gabriel era. …

Far below, where shadows fester as they grow,
An army thousands strong, obsessed by right and wrong,
They sense their time is coming near. …

But in this case, victory seems far from assured …

You know you’re on the way out,
It’s just a matter of time.
You thought you’d rule the world forever,
Long live the king, and don’t spare the loser.

The last verse indicates that this is going to be very bad day for the troops. But perhaps there’s another allegory here. Is it about the extinction of dinosaurs — or perhaps a dinosaur 70s prog act?

Now the host emerges, and a shadow starts to fall.
Not one knows what hit them, none can see at all.
Even as the end approaches still they’re not aware,
How can you fight a foe so deadly
When you don’t even know it’s there?
And now that the job is almost done
Maybe some escape, no, not even one.

Rare for an up-tempo song on Duke, the piano is center stage here. Collins also keeps busy in the background with aggressive hi-hat work, if there is such a thing.

10. “Please Don’t Ask”
On a record full of ambiguous lyrics, this is as direct as it gets. Phil is singing directly to his ex, in this case it’s in the form of reconnecting at a lunch date or some other informal get-together.

Though he seems willing to have another go at things, the song is loaded with apprehension …

But y’know, I can remember when it was easy to say I love you
But things have changed since then, now I really can’t say if I still do
But I can try

This is Phil’s most emotive vocal yet. Producer Nick Davis brings special attention to that point on the 2007 remaster at the expense of some keyboard textures. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but there’s no doubt that the overall sound of the track is from the period.

11. “Duke’s Travels”
The album’s climax begins with Banks playing “Watcher of the Skies”-esque synth chords over some splashy cymbal work, which eventually fades into another example of what would become Collins’ signature reverb drum sound.

The main theme of this mostly-instrumental track bounces along in 6/8 for several minutes before abruptly changing to a driving 4/4 beat, which ultimately leads to a furious reprise of the lyrics to “Guide Vocal,” before slowly drifting away to a circus-like figure from Banks.

12. “Duke’s End”
The album ends with a short reprise of “Behind the Lines” and a variation of “Turn it on Again.” On the 2007 reunion tour, the band opened the show with this track, preceded by the intro to “Behind the Lines.”

Duke by Genesis

“Behind The Lines”

“Duchess”

“Guide Vocal”

“Man Of Our Times”

“Misunderstanding”

“Heathaze”

“Turn It On Again”

“Alone Tonight”

“Cul-De-Sac”

“Please Don’t Ask”

“Duke’s Travels”

“Duke’s End”

…And Then There Were Three

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…And Then There Were Three by Genesis

“Down And Out”

“Undertow”

“Ballad Of Big”

“Snowbound”

“Burning Rope”

“Deep In The Motherlode”

“Many Too Many”

“Scenes From The Night’s Dream”

“Say It’s Alright Joe”

“The Lady Lies”

“Follow You Follow Me”

Wind & Wuthering

Released December 27, 1976, Wind & Wuthering is the second album of the post-Peter Gabriel era of Genesis. It also was the final Genesis studio album for guitarist Steve Hackett, who believed his compositions were not being adequately represented on the records.

Drummer Phil Collins, who had effectively served as interim lead singer for the previous release, A Trick of the Tail, was now firmly entrenched as the group’s front man. Though Collins exhibits more confidence behind the mic on this record, he’s still getting used to his expanded role. For Collins fans, the 2007 remastered edition is preferred. His voice is so far up in the mix on some tracks, you might think he is singing in your kitchen.

The album’s title is derived from two sources. The “Wind” part is from a Hackett composition titled “The House of Four Winds,” used here as the bridge section of “Eleventh Earl of Mar.” The “Wuthering” is from Emily Brontë’s novel “Wuthering Heights.” The two-part instrumental “Unquiet Slumber for the Sleepers …” and “… In That Quiet Earth” is taken from the novel’s closing lines.

A songwriting showcase for keyboardist Tony Banks, Wind & Wuthering is as lyrically and musically complex as any album in the band’s history. While unquestionably progressive, it also is quite romantic (even “feminine,” as Mike Rutherford put it). There also are elements of fusion, no doubt inspired by Brand X, Collins’ jazz-rock side project of the era. Regardless, this is an album that demands repeated listenings before one can pass proper judgement.

For live performances (which included Hackett, who departed after the tour), the group hired ex-Weather Report and Frank Zappa drummer Chester Thompson, who remained with the touring band through 1992 and returned for the 2007 reunion tour.

Genesis — Wind & Wuthering: Track-by-track review

1. “Eleventh Earl Of Mar”
Most likely the only rock song ever written about an early 18th century Jacobian rebellion, the album opens amidst flourishes of Mellotrons and atmospheric guitar before Collins tells the story of John Erskine.

Erskine was a Scottish Earl of Mar — though if he actually was the 11th is up for debate. In any case, Erskine left England for Scotland and made himself the head of an army seeking Scotland’s independence from England and to install “The Old Pretender” James Francis Edward Stewart (or Stuart) as the Catholic king of England and Scotland, only to fail catastrophically.

Out on the road in the direction of Perth,
Backwards and forwards in a circle they went.
Found a city half open and ready to greet,
Those conquering heroes, with blisters on their feet.

So, it starts off well if not spectacularly, as the Earl captures a poorly-defended city. But here, Erskine waits for Stewart and reinforcements, which are late in arriving, thus destroying the element of surprise.

Waited a week, still they hadn’t appeared,
That glorious timing that everyone feared.
So they’re riding along on the crest of a wave.
They’re headed for London, and that will be their grave.

Well, they didn’t get that far. The Earl battled the British government forces at Sherriffmuir, Scotland. Thought it basically was a draw, the Jacobite’s morale was destroyed, and by Stewart’s arrival, the rebellion was all but crushed.

Muscially, this is as strong an opening track Genesis would produce — certainly, it’s better than anything which followed. Hackett’s middle section balances his acoustic guitar work with a lovely piano figure by Banks. This relative calm is shattered by crashing overdubbed chords before Collins drives us back to the “Daddy you’ve got to go!” section and the ending.

2. “One For The Vine”
This epic track might be Banks’ finest songwriting moment. Certainly, it shares a place with “Supper’s Ready” and the whole of The Lamb as the most-discussed Genesis lyrics.

Here’s one take: A soldier in a massive army loses faith in his leader (“the chosen one”) and flees up a mountain, but he falls, landing in a “wilderness of ice.” The simple inhabitants of this other world, who are looking for someone to lead them, think they have found their guy …

This unexpected vision made him stand and shake with fear,
But nothing was his fright compared with those who saw him appear.
Terror filled their minds with awe.
Simple were the folk who lived
Upon this frozen wave.
So not surprising was their thought,
This is he, God’s chosen one …

Well, that’ss why he left the “chosen one,” so he balks at the notion of leading these folks. But, after some quiet reflection — not to mention lots of wine (hence the “vine” bit), he has a moment of clarity. And, after a middle instrumental section complete with duck calls and a disco-like pulse, he proclaims ..

They leave me no choice.
I must lead them to glory or most likely to death.

They head through the ice and over the mountains, but then suddenly our hero witnesses another lost soul who descends into the same icy wilderness.

Then, on a distant slope,
He observed one without hope
Flee back up the mountainside.
He thought he recognised him by his walk,
And by the way he fell,
And by the way he
Stood up, and vanished into air.

So, who is this guy? Is he a young, naive fellow who loses his nerve — or smells a rat? An older dude who is cynical enough to realize the chosen one’s plans are doomed to fail, so he bails? Is it all some biblical allegory, and our hero is Jesus himself? And what about the guy who “vanished into air?” Is he actually our hero, whose descent restarts the cycle? All of these questions are left unanswered.

Banks — who had mapped out the entire song before presenting it to the band — and Hackett start the tune with a simple 5/4 riff, followed by Collins singing in his most tender voice. Again, the Mellotron is utilized throughout the verses, though it’s not as dominant here as on other tracks. The middle section provides needed comedic levity, as Collins threatens to turn the whole piece into a Spike Jones project. Hackett almost steals the show with solid, understated guitar playing in the penultimate section before Banks ends it with an unaccompanied piano solo.

3. “Your Own Special Way”
The Rutherford-penned ballad gave the band its first American chart success, and it can be retrospectively viewed as a critical turning point for the band from a songwriting perspective. While future ballads were more straightforward, this song fits in with the overall mood of the album. Rutherford’s 12-string guitar is a highlight throughout the track, as is Banks’ quite keyboard interlude.

The second verse borrows from the poem “Who Has Seen the Wind” by Christina Rossetti (1830-94) …

Who’s seen the wind; not you or I.
When the ship moves, she passing by.

Despite its popularity, the band rarely performed the song live on future tour, though it was dusted off, with the help of a symphony orchestra, for the Australian portion of the Invisible Touch tour.

4. “Wot Gorilla?”
The sound of wind chimes welcomes us to the first of the album’s three instrumental tracks, a short exercise in fusion worthy of Zappa. Indeed the title comes from a reference to Thompson on Zappa’s One Size Fits All album.

The standouts here are the track’s authors, Banks and Collins. The former’s synth lines dominate the proceedings, while Collins, in full Brand-X mode, thrashes away with an incessant rhythm.

Is this the track that ended the Steve Hackett era of Genesis? It’s possible. The guitarist claims Collins “(couldn’t) get behind” a Hackett song called “Please Don’t Touch” (later used as the title song for Hackett’s second solo release). This track became the replacement. I’ve often wondered if Hackett’s impersonation of a dive-bombing Sopwith Camel about 90 seconds in was his way of venting frustration over the substitution.

5. “All In A Mouse’s Night”
A Banks’ “playwright song” — the lyrics in the liner notes assign different verses to the characters — features a furry protagonist who wants nothing more than to make to the bread bin and back without meeting his demise at the paws of the family cat.

It doesn’t look good for our hero about halfway through …

Suddenly he bumps into fur, that’s very unwise,
A cat is much quicker than men and their eyes.
The chase that ensues can have only one end,
Unless outside help steps in for our friend in need.

But the mouse is saved by happy accident, as kitty is knocked out by a jam jar. The cat — literally not knowing what hit him — has a story to tell, but why let the truth get in the way of a good story …

There I was with my back to the wall,
Then comes this monster mouse, he’s ten feet tall,
With teeth and claws to match.
It only took one blow.

The most notable musical moment comes courtesy of Hackett, who does his best scurrying mouse impersonation on guitar.

6. “Blood On The Rooftops”
With the exception of his solo on “Firth of Fifth” from Selling England by the Pound, this is Steve Hackett’s finest Genesis moment, albeit on a song which chronicles the relative banality of English life.

Aside from Selling England, Genesis never wrote anything this, well, English. And musically, there’s nothing in the catalog that is this hauntingly beautiful. Plus, if any song ever sounded like its album cover, this would be it.

Though the title would make a good tabloid newspaper headline, it is apparently nothing more than a random phrase supplied by Collins, then he and Hackett wrote more such phrases around it.

Hackett begins the track with a long, pensive acoustic intro. From there, Collins sings of a middle-aged (perhaps elderly?) couple who appear to solely live vicariously through the BBC …

Dark and gray, an English film, the Wednesday Play
We always watch the Queen on Christmas Day
Won’t you stay?

The lyrics work independent of one another, as issues of the day are discussed and quickly dispensed. Surely, couldn’t you imagine your Uncle Louie saying the following after a holiday dinner …

Better in my day — oh Lord!
For when we got bored, we’d have a World War. Happy but poor.

But the music is really the star here. Hackett’s playing is top-notch throughout, and everyone shines on the chorus sections. Banks delivers again with the Mellotron and some wonderfully understated grand piano at the bottom of the mix, while Collins and Rutherford keep it relatively simple.

The line “the grime on the Tyne” is a reference to Lindisfarne, an old Genesis label mate at Charisma who had a hit with the song “Fog on the Tyne.”

The band used a similar theme later on “Turn it on Again” from 1980’s Duke.

7. “‘Unquiet Slumbers For The Sleepers…”
This and “Quiet Earth” were split to allow another songwriting credit for Hackett. As such, it’s nothing more than a prelude for the rythmic madness to follow. Hackett’s rolling acoustic guitar work is augmented by sweeping, almost cinematic, keyboard lines.

This track would have been right at home on The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway, as it at least possesses the necessary atmospheric quality to hold an audience’s attention before Gabriel’s next costumed flight of fancy.

8. “…In That Quiet Earth'”
A long drum roll from Collins launches the band into a fusion/arena rock workout. Hackett is turned loose on the lead line while Collins slams out a busy 9/8 pattern. Collins always seemed to have energy to spare during this time, and he uses all of it here. After more spacey playing from Hackett, Banks restates the theme, then Hackett rejoins the party with another run-through of the main melody.

Then, almost as abruptly as it began, the tempo slows, and suddenly we are confronted with a heavy 4/4 rhythm that allows Banks to take off on another series of short solos. The track ends with a quick reprise of “Eleventh Earl of Mar,” before a smooth segue into the finale.

This is quite possibly the “busiest” track in the Genesis catalog. Note especially Rutherford’s descending bass line during the first half, combined with Collins’ glorious overplaying in a meter rarely encountered in rock music.

9. “Afterglow”
While “One for the Vine” took the better part of a year to assemble, Banks is fond of saying that “Afterglow” took about as long to write as it does to play. In fact, it sounds like it was a quick, easy exercise. As a side note, Banks admitted in the 2007 reissue interviews that he thought he had initially written “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” but really the songs aren’t that similar.

Perhaps this is just a romantic ballad, but since this is mid-70s Genesis, nothing is that simple. Are we dealing with something from “The Day After” here?

Like the dust that settles all around me,
I must find a new home.

And then …

But now, now I’ve lost everything,
I give to you my soul.
The meaning of all that I believed before
Escapes me in this world of now, no thing, no one.

The track was a concert favorite for decades, and I have to say I prefer any live version to the original. The song takes on a more anthemic bent on stage, especially in the ending, when Collins and Thompson quote the latter’s bold drum fill of “More Trouble Every Day,” from Frank Zappa’s
Roxy and Elsewhere release.

Wind & Wuthering by Genesis

“Eleventh Earl Of Mar”

“One For The Vine”

“Your Own Special Way”

“Wot Gorilla?”

“All In A Mouse’s Night”

“Blood On The Rooftops”

“‘Unquiet Slumbers For The Sleepers…”

“…In That Quiet Earth'”

“Afterglow”

A Trick Of The Tail

In mid-1975, after the last Lamb Lies Down on Broadway show, Peter Gabriel announced his departure from Genesis, leaving his fellow band members to ponder their careers. Deciding to continue as a four-piece, the band set to work and recorded A Trick Of The Tail, the title describing the back-to front nature of Phil Collins’ emergence from the drum throne to center-stage.

Beautifully recorded by David Hentschel (who would further record the band’s ‘transitional phase’ albums), it is a remarkably cohesive set, every song a world of its own, yet somehow a part of the natural flow of the album.

The stunning artwork by Colin Elgie brings back the Englishness of Selling England By The Pound, and while Gabriel’s surreal influence is absent (especially in the lyrics department), the group’s penchant for fleshing out song ideas with intricate prog-rock arrangements is at its highest point of their entire catalog, the band seemingly much more at ease in the studio without the politics that were the norm in Gabriel’s tenure.

Collins had not yet developed his own vocal style, and seems to be emulating Gabriel’s in a slightly gentler fashion. The subsequent live tour (featuring guest drummer Bill Bruford) was a triumph, and was the beginning of a new era for the band and fans alike.

Genesis — A Trick Of The Tail: Track-by-track review

1. “Dance On A Volcano”
A grand opening track utilizing every prog-rock shock-tactic in the book: odd meters, start-stop syncopation, and false endings (rather reminiscent of “Dancing With The Moonlit Knight” from Selling England By the Pound).

The band seem to hanker for the days before The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway weighed them down with its obligatory conceptualism. The playing is top-notch, and the sound production is a major step up from the band’s previous albums.

2. “Entangled”
An important writing contribution from the normally reticent guitarist Steve Hackett, this beautiful acoustic piece is a return to the twelve-string sound the band made their own on 1970’s Trespass album.

The lyrics describe a possible visit to a hypnotherapist’s couch and the piece draws out a little further, allowing for a theme played by Tony Banks on an ARP Pro Solo synthesizer, which has a distinct vocal-choir sound (again reminiscent of “Dancing With the Moonlit Knight”).

3. “Squonk”
Inspired by Led Zeppelin’s “Kashmir”, Mike Rutherford and Tony Banks were aiming on this track for a big, plodding drum feel, but never really got the sound right!

The lyrics describe a mythological English rodent that cries itself into disappearing in a pool of tears when trapped. This was the first song recorded by ‘new’ singer Phil Collins, and the vocal, more than any other on the album, sounds more like him than Gabriel. A much simpler song than anything else on the album, “Squonk” is the beginning of the immediate post-Gabriel style that Genesis would adopt right up to the Duke album in 1980.

4. “Mad Man Moon”
An intensely beautiful piece by Tony Banks, “Mad Man Moon” is structured more like a suite than a rock song. The opening verse has Collins doing his best Peter Gabriel sound-alike; the second verse is underscored with beautiful soaring guitar wails from Hackett. Then it all breaks down and Banks performs a beautiful piano interlude. This in turn gives way to a masterful c-part in 7/8, gliding gracefully back into the third verse.

The lyrics describe a desert-bound outcast, longing for good old English rain while his friends in England dream of sun and sand.

This is one of the album’s finest moments, and to my ears, one of Tony Banks’ best compositions ever.

5. “Robbery, Assault And Battery”
An off-kilter reggae-influenced beat is the back-track for a silly story about a very English burglar who keeps shooting people. The mid section sounds like a forced re-enactment of sections from “Cinema Show” and “Firth of Fifth” from Selling England By the Pound, and although performed with precision and professionalism, this is the weakest song on the album. It was a live favorite with Collins acting out onstage the different characters in the lyrics, but was wisely dropped after a couple of tours.

6. “Ripples”
Another semi-acoustic ballad, too beautiful for words to describe. The lyrics crystallize the English despondency of growing old alone, of things left unsaid, of irreversible acts.

Collins brings the chorus home with a simple yet effective power ballad beat on the drums (a forerunner of all the ballad-hits of his 80’s career) without slipping into the obvious kitsch. A beautiful mid section has Banks and Hackett dueling while Collins holds down a train-like hi-hat pattern very similar to “The Carpet Crawlers” on Lamb Lies Down on Broadway. The final chorus normally has me in tears, but that’s just me!

7. “A Trick Of The Tail”
Another tale of mythological creatures having a hard time with humans, this song has a very strong Beatles flavor which would reappear years later in “That’s All” from 1983. Cunningly crafted, this Banks tune was written much earlier but was too simple in style to appear on the earlier Genesis’ albums. A welcome relief after the emotional intensity of “Ripples”, this song always brings a smile to my face.

8. “Los Endos”
A stunning piece of prog-fusion (strongly influenced by Collins’ side project Brand-X) driven along by a furious Latin beat that would have done Santana proud, “Los Endos” reprises a number of elements from other songs on the album, rounding off the package with a satisfying finale.

The piece ends with the main riff from “Squonk” and the final lyrics from Foxtrot’s “Supper’s Ready”, reminding us firmly that these are the same musicians that have made us happy in the past.

A Trick Of The Tail by Genesis

“Dance On A Volcano”

“Entangled”

“Squonk”

“Mad Man Moon”

“Robbery, Assault And Battery”

“Ripples”

“A Trick Of The Tail”

“Los Endos”

The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway

The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway

Genesis

1974

Over many years as a Genesis fan, I have changed my mind many times about which is my favourite of their albums. I started in the post-Gabriel phase, and my favourite was Wind and Wuthering, before I really got the chance to take in the additional complexity and atmosphere of the earlier records, and so Foxtrot, Selling England by the Pound and Trespass all had a look-in. Then for a while I favoured the simpler, more cleanly-produced sound and Abacab had its turn in pole position. But again and again, I come back to their longest, darkest, most turbulent, most musically diverse offering, to Peter Gabriel’s swan-song, to The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway.

This was Genesis’s only real concept album. It seems almost strange from this distance of time that they decided, for their sixth album (the fourth for the classic Banks — Collins — Hackett — Gabriel — Rutherford lineup), to make a concept album, even before they knew what the concept would be: but in 1974 “concept album” wasn’t the term of abuse it became in later years. After several years of working on long songs, the peak being of course “Supper’s Ready” from 1972’s Foxtrot, the band felt ready to move on to the challenge of a whole album of connected songs, and decided that a double album would give them the space they wanted to explore their musical ideas.

And so, first of all at writing / rehearsing sessions at Headley Grange — possibly haunted, quite definitely infested by large and alarmingly confident rats — and then with the Island Recording Mobile, they put together a long, complex, idiosyncratic album. In many ways it appears to have been a tense, difficult time, with Banks, Rutherford, Collins and Hackett writing and rehearsing music without Gabriel (spending time with his wife after the difficult birth of their first child, and then working with William Friedkin on an aborted movie project), never quite sure what, or sometimes when, he would be singing. And since the concept they had chosen was Gabriel’s, he insisted on writing all the lyrics: for the band this was a big departure, because lyric-writing had been very much shared between all five members on previous albums, and they rightly doubted that Gabriel could manage the task. In the end he had to ask Banks and Rutherford to help out and they contributed lyrics for a couple of songs.

Despite the circumstances, they managed to achieve what they set out to do: a long, complex, musically adventurous album. In places they went not just further than they had gone to date, but further than they ever would again (“The Waiting Room”, “Silent Sorrow in Empty Boats”). At the same time they produced some songs which were simpler, cleaner, more emotional than anything they had done before (notably “In the Rapids”), and the average track length — although still not in the typical pop single bracket — was at just under 4 minutes noticeably shorter than before (only two out of the 23 tracks breaking the 8-minute barrier and only one other is over 6 minutes). And, an achievement which Roger Waters could not match in Pink Floyd’s concept albums, they managed to keep their sense of humour (“The Grand Parade of Lifeless Packaging”, “Counting Out Time”, “Here Comes the Supernatural Anaesthetist”).

Being a concept album could have excused (or justified) some amount of repetition of musical themes, and although Genesis made a habit in later years of book-ending albums with repeated themes from the opening tracks, and despite the pressure they ended up under to fill their self-imposed target of a double album, there is relatively little recycling of material within the album: the most notable, and again justifiable, being the way the title track turns up again in the intro to Carpet Crawlers and in The Light Dies Down on Broadway.

So what about the album itself then? I still remember being gripped by the cover (this is in the old 12″ LP days of course, when covers really were covers) when I saw it in a record shop even before I was a Genesis fan: black and white photographs on a white background, the figure of a man in jeans and bare torso (Rael, the hero of the story) stepping out of one picture, and looking at two more versions of himself, their outstretched hands gripping between the frames of their photos: on the back more nightmarish images (a man smashes through a window, shady figures in a maze of brick-lined corridors, a mouthless Rael with shadowy faces looming from the blackness behind him).

Inside the gatefold sleeve, we find Gabriel’s slightly loopy story. This tells how Rael, a New York street punk, is caught by a “wall of death” which sweeps through Times Square and propels him onto a bizarre journey, intended to be a modern-day Pilgrim’s Progress, in which he faces his past as a hapless gang member and would-be lover, the pain of confinement and helpless confusion, fear of death, sex and disease, and — several times — betrayal by those he trusts, particularly his brother John. Finally in a rush of cosmic energy he is liberated from his body and dissolves into a haze.

Now, does this story really stand up? Arguably not. Although Gabriel stands by it, the rest of the band seem to regard it now as the weakest element in the album, and probably most fans would agree (Tony Robinson, in his article to accompany the recent Genesis 1969-1975 box set, certainly takes that line). So perhaps in the end it is no more than a peg on which the band hung some great music, and if so it arguably achieved a purpose which lets us overlook some of the vagueness and, perhaps, dream-like pointlessness of which it could stand accused.

That just leaves the music to think about. But before the track-by-track walkthrough, the big picture. Nowadays of course you buy this as 2 CDs, and once it’s on your iPod you can listen to the whole 90 minutes at one seamless sitting. (On the Genesis 1969-1975 boxset DVD you can also listen to it like that, with the added bonus of the slides from their 1974-75 Lamb stageshow and some snippets of cine film from those live shows.) However I still think of this as 4 sides of vinyl, showing my age, and to my mind each ‘side’ has a different character — and here again I’ve dithered over the years as to which is my favourite.

Is it side 1, which although it contains the classic “In the Cage” (one of the two 8-minute numbers, and a stage favourite throughout the later 3-man Genesis years) is somehow dominated by the lighter, simpler sounds of the title track and “Cuckoo Cocoon” and their contrast with one of the dark highlights, the magnificent “Fly on a Windshield”? Or side 2, which runs from the positively rough-edged drive of “Back in N.Y.C.” through the retro pop of “Counting Out Time” to the sweeping “The Chamber of 32 Doors”? Then there is side 3, which sees the band explore dark territory indeed in “The Waiting Room” and closes on the ethereal soundscape of “Silent Sorrow in Empty Boats”. And finally side 4, which takes us from the ‘funny noises’ which herald Rael’s arrival in “The Colony of Slippermen” before leading on through the multiple segments of that song to the off-kilter rhythms and virtuoso synth solo of “Riding the Scree” before closing out on the duo of “In the Rapids” — one of the 5-man Genesis’s most straightforward and heartfelt songs — and “it”, a dynamic send-off to the album which, maybe, points in a direction which the band ultimately didn’t quite follow.

Does that give the impression of an album of many ideas? It should. This album is full of different styles and ideas, a mix of Genesis’s classic tuneful prog rock instrumentals, corny music-hall-style lyrics, ballads, experiments with sounds and textures which they never really repeated, high drama and low comedy. It’s an album in which old odds and ends finally found a home, in some cases after many years, and yet an album which is a cohesive whole.

Finally a brief word about the new remixes, at the time of writing available only in the 1970-1975 box set. The 5.1 Surround Sound mix is great fun, with voices and instruments moving around you. It is quite recognisably the original album, with only minor changes to the balance in places, but the sound is clear and sharp: there are often complaints that these remixes are overly compressed, but to my ears this isn’t a significant concern on this album. Finally the DVD has a nice bonus — all the slides from the original Lamb stage show, plus some photos and snippets of cine film from the shows themselves. A great way to spend an evening in front of the TV.

Genesis — The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway: Track-by-track review

1. “The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway”
Banks’ tinkling piano introduction sets the scene for the album, as they set off with a pretty straight rock song, powered by Rutherford’s fuzz bass and Banks’ cross-handed piano playing.

The song sets the scene, evoking modern-day Manhattan coming back to life in the early morning:

Night-time flyers feel their pains
Drugstore takes down the chains
Metal motion comes in bursts
But the gas-station can quench that thirst

Into this scene comes Rael, self-styled Imperial Aerosol Kid, heading home from a night of spray-painting vandalism — and, bizarrely out of place, a lamb:

But the Broadway street scene
Finds a focus in its face
Somehow its lying there
Brings a stillness to the air

So the scene is set for Rael’s strange odyssey.

2. “Fly On A Windshield”
“Fly on a Windshield” starts off with a strummed Rutherford riff, which he reportedly introduced to the band with the phrase “Pharaohs floating down the Nile”. It sets a spooky tone for the appearance of the “wall of death” which sweeps across New York.

Then the wall hits Rael, like the fly is hit by “the windshield on the freeway”, and the band breaks into an instrumental based around a heavy stomp with sweeping mellotron strings and Hackett’s classic wailing lead guitar, before rising to a climax and seguing into the next track.

3. “Broadway Melody Of 1974”
A bass-driven riff, with Gabriel leading us through a catalogue of characters from 20th-Century American history. Banks’ mellotron strings dominate the texture, leading on from their significant part in the “Fly on a Windshield” instrumental, while Gabriel reels off a rollcall of early 20th century American culture, from Lenny Bruce via Groucho and the Ku Klux Klan to Howard Hughes, and then, with a nod to the contemporary drug problems of the inner cities,

As the song and dance begins
The children play at home
With needles, needles and pins

4. “Cuckoo Cocoon”
Hackett contributes the closest to a traditional guitar picking song on the album, a gentle croon tells of how Rael awakes swaddled in a bizarre cocoon. A simple song, with vocal harmonies by Gabriel and Collins, is punctuated by some good Gabriel flute in the bridge with Banks’ rippling piano accompaniment coming in on the reprise.

5. “In The Cage”
The centrepiece of the old Side One, and a long-time in-concert favourite, this is perhaps the most traditionally “prog” song on the album (if that makes any sense!). Starting with a heart-beat like bass pulse and Gabriel’s crooning vocals, it develops into a high-energy rocker driven by Bank’s Hammond and some of the dirtiest rhythm guitar playing Hackett ever contributed to the band. Here the time signatures start to get a bit further off the beaten track, with a 6/4 feel to the chorus.

The centrepiece of the song is the searing keyboard solo, played over a bubbling bass riff, and the bridge where Rael, trapped in a mysterious cage, sees his brother John — who promptly abandons him to his fate. Listen to the dramatic bass pedal which underpins this bridge, contrasted to the high-pitched synth line and thunderous drumming from Collins.

The song proper is followed by a short instrumental coda, a chugging barrel-organ riff which just fades in and back out again.

6. “The Grand Parade Of Lifeless Packaging”
The first whimsical music-hall style piece, “The Grand Parade…” tells of Rael’s awakening in a room full of apparently lifeless people, all labelled and priced like merchandise.

It’s a fairly straight song, propelled through its four verses by a continual crescendo as more and more instruments join in — keyboards, bass, drums, guitars, percussion and whistles all make their appearance before the song runs down like clockwork to mark the end of the old Side One.

7. “Back In N.Y.C.”
A pulsing bass intro evokes the opening to “In The Cage”, before the main riff kicks in. A synth-driven riff, it is more angular and aggressive than anything Genesis had done before, or did again until, arguably, “Man of Our Time” from Duke.

The time signatures are getting trickier again here, with 7/4 and 7/8 keeping us on our toes. There’s also some good heavily processed guitar from Hackett, particularly on the bridge.

The lyrics take us back to Rael’s younger days and how he made his way in the New York gangs, apparently not as the most awe-inspiring of gangsters:
You’re only as strong
Yes you’re only as strong
As the weakest link in the chain

8. “Hairless Heart”
The straightest of the album’s instrumental numbers, this consists of two alternating sections: the first is fronted by Hackett’s acoustic guitar picking out the tune while Banks sends synth arpeggios bubbling away in the background, while the other is a classic Mellotron-powered sweep of sound.

The track closes with a casual almost disco-like bass riff which segues straight into “Counting Out Time”.

9. “Counting Out Time”
A complete song which Gabriel had written some time before, which comes in to its own here as Rael remembers his first (not too successful) erotic encounters. A bit like “Harold the Barrel” or the “Willow Farm” section of “Supper’s Ready”, it’s got more than a hint of the McCartney-esque pastiche to it. Hackett contributes a ukelele-like rhythm part and a heavily processed solo.

The star part however is Gabriel, with the clever lyrics finally telling us that without erogenous zones “mankind hand-kinds through the blues”.

10. “Carpet Crawlers”
One of the first musical cross-references sees the bridge of “The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway” make a re-appearance here as an introduction (something which was dropped for live performances in the post-Gabriel period). The song itself is simple and beautiful, based around Rutherford and Banks’ tinkling arpeggios with Hackett’s wailing guitar accents in the chorus.

If you only know the Seconds Out version then this version is a revelation, with a great restrained vocal by Gabriel, gorgeous chorus harmonies between Collins & Gabriel, and the closing “Got to get in to get out” section a masterpiece of intertwining vocal lines. Also in contrast to the Seconds Out version is the flatter dynamic here — the first verse is quiet, but the drums come in full strength for verse two, and it is a mark of the quality of the songwriting and singing that the song then holds very much the same dynamic and tone through the remaining 3 verses.

11. “The Chamber Of 32 Doors”
The last song on Disc One (or Side Two in the old money) is a fantastic collection of disparate pieces, which meld together to create a classic song.

The introduction starts with swelling mellotron strings before drums and guitar burst in, swell to a climax — then stop and start the whole thing again. This leads to the verse, with a simple driving bass-line (Rutherford content to stick to root notes in crotchets when the situation calls for it). This in turn makes way for a chorus based around ringing twelve-string guitar chords and piano, a simple pastoral sound by comparison with most of Genesis’s work. Finally the song breaks again for Gabriel’s impassioned cri de coeur backed by vibraphone and electric piano:

But down here
I’m so alone with my fear
And everything that I hear
And every single door that I’ve walked through
Brings me back, back here again

The song sets Rael in a room full of people, with 32 doors, none of which seems to lead out. Trapped, Rael has to beg for someone to show him the way. A ringing piano and vibraphone chord closes the disc.

12. “Lilywhite Lilith”
This is another song based on an old fragment, in this case a song called “The Light” which was reportedly brought to the band by Collins and played on some occasions in the time around the recording of Nursery Cryme: you can find it on a few bootlegs, e.g. the recording from La Ferme in Belgium. The outro of the song features a reprise of “Broadway Melody of 1974″‘s bass riff.

The lyrics see Rael led out of the Chamber of 32 Doors by the blind Lilith, who leaves him sitting in the dark on a stone throne, waiting…

13. “The Waiting Room”
For the first and just about the last time, one of the band’s jams makes it straight onto record. Known informally as “The Evil Jam”, it is a dark, threatening collage of sounds and textures: Tony Banks has said “We switched off all the lights and just made noises. And the first time it really was frightening.”

From the chaos however order arises, with a bass-driven 6/8 rhythm over which Banks’ howling synth starts to pick out a melody, before finally the beat changes to a solid straight 4/4 and the band rocks into the fade.

14. “Anyway”
This is one of the oldest snippets which made its way onto the album: a complete Tony Banks song, previously played since the Anthony Phillips days, and dusted off, with new lyrics, for The Lamb Lies Down.

A comparison with the version which forms part of the “Genesis Plays Jackson” suite, included on the Extra Tracks album included in the Genesis 1970-1975 boxset, shows that they didn’t do a lot to this song apart from the lyrics, but that’s a testament to the strength of the original writing. It’s a simple but dramatic song, with a great harmony guitar solo by Hackett, the main accompaniment otherwise being Banks’ arpeggio-dominated piano.

15. “Here Comes The Supernatural Anaesthetist”
One of Hackett’s greatest contributions to this album, a quirky song which tells the quirky story of Death’s apparition to Rael as he lies entombed underground. Starting with jazzy strummed chords, a short verse sung by Collins and Gabriel leads quickly into a rhythmic guitar solo, built around repeating figures and building to a climax before breaking off into an atmospheric minor-key interlude with more Hackett guitar work, which in turn dissolves into the next track.

16. “The Lamia”
Perhaps the most “prog” of the songs on this album, “The Lamia” tells the story of Rael’s encounter with strange snake-bodied women who seduce him, die, and are eaten by him. As he leaves, they are reincarnated ready to lie in wait for their next victim.

The song builds from a piano-based verse, with weaving synth lines coming in to introduce the chorus, evoking the snaky bodies of the Lamia. The song ends with a guitar solo from Hackett, and Gabriel joining in on the flute as the song fades.

One of the joys of this song is the evocative and slightly bizarre imagery which Gabriel conjures up in the lyrics: when the Lamia die,

Each empty snake-like body floats
Silent sorrow in empty boats

– the last line being so good it became the title of the following instrumental track; and as Rael leaves, having eaten the Lamia’s bodies, his final despairing cry is

It is the scent of garlic that lingers
On my chocolate fingers.

If that’s not poetry, I don’t know what is.

17. “Silent Sorrow In Empty Boats”
Another experimental soundscape, not as aggressively unusual as “The Waiting Room”, this time just built around a repeated riff of six guitar chords, faded in by volume pedal. Over this background the band builds a panorama of desolate sound, with mellotron choirs appearing and fading away. The track is a triumph in atmosphere building and a haunting epitaph to the Lamia whom Rael mourns. Repeated listening, especially on headphones or in the new 5.1 Surround Sound mix, reveals more and more texture and detail.

18. “The Colony Of Slippermen (The Arrival/A Visit To The Doktor/Raven)”
“The Colony of Slippermen” is the longest song on the album. Apart from the three segments indicated by the subtitles, it also has a long introduction which again is an experimental medley of sounds, before Gabriel’s “Babbity-babbity” introduces the first verse. The verses are based on a simple organ riff, in 4/4 but with the backbeat delayed on every second bar to set up an off-kilter feel. The Slippermen, “covered in slimy lumps”, warn Rael that, like them, he is suffering from disease caught from the Lamia. “A Visit to the Doktor” starts with a faster chorus, where the Slipperman tells Rael the cure: amputation by

Doktor Dyper, reformed sniper
He’ll whip off your windscreen-wiper

Rael, now reunited with John, is prepared to take this drastic cure: but “The Raven” tells how, having been given his severed member in a yellow plastic tube, he then loses it when a huge raven swoops down from the sky to snatch it from his hand. A classic Banks synth solo, which reappeared as part of the “In the Cage” medley through most of the Collins-led years, is another album highlight.

Finally John abandons Rael to search for his stolen organ, and a reprise of the chorus riff from “A Visit to the Doktor” brings us Rael chasing the raven until he drops the goods into a river.

19. “Ravine”
Another haunting soundscape, again based around a repetitive rhythm guitar figure. Whistling synths and finally wind effects build the bleak atmosphere before the fadeout.

20. “The Light Dies Down On Broadway”
Running out of time, Gabriel finally turned to his band-mates to help with the lyrics, and Banks and Rutherford obliged with this, which reuses themes from “The Lamia” and “The Lamb Lies Down…” to build a bridging song to get Rael to the final decision, as he faces a choice between saving his brother John or returning to the New York of his old life.

It’s a good song, and I’ve always really liked it. The old themes are imaginatively re-visited, although it’s the sort of re-hashing you can only get away with in a concept album as a rule. The main weakness is those lyrics: there’s a stiffness to Banks’ and Rutherford’s lyrics which you don’t get in the Gabriel lyrics. They stick to the script and get the job done, but there’s little of the poetry or the off-the-wall imagery which Gabriel can conjure up in half a line — just compare it to “The Lamia”.

21. “Riding The Scree”
One of the hidden gems of the album. It is dominated by a great keyboard solo, played against a syncopated Rutherford / Collins riff in an oddly jarring time signature and with some great off-beat breaks to emphasise key moments in the solo. Gabriel’s vocals do not make an appearance for 2 minutes: his short verse, which tells us he is struggling down a steep scree slope to save John, ends with the line
Evil Knievel, you’ve got nothing on me…. here I go!
– once again Genesis cannot keep a straight face for too long — before a short reprise of the keyboard solo fades the song out.

22. “In The Rapids”
One of Genesis’s most heart-tugging moments: Rutherford again effortlessly conjures up a melancholy atmosphere from his Rickenbacker 12-string before Gabriel comes in with a throaty vocal of true pain, as Rael contemplates the peril of losing his brother in the rapids.

The song builds gently, Hackett’s weeping guitar work and harmonics complementing the tone set by Gabriel and Rutherford, until the Rael rescues his brother only to find that
That’s not your face — it’s mine! it’s mine!
and with this traumatic discovery song segues into the album’s finale.

23. “It.”
Yet again the album changes gear, and an up-tempo tune takes us to the conclusion. Again driven by Rutherford, both his 12-string strumming and his urgent walking bassline (although the live versions use bass pedals rather than bass guitar), this time it’s an up-tempo song in a straightforward time signature, maybe on the verge of a pop song: almost something you could dance to.

Hackett and Banks play their parts here too, with the melody which forms the intro, and also with a great duet which is interleaved between the lines of the first verse: with a great sense for not repeating themselves, the other verses are just sung straight through by Gabriel.

Gabriel’s talent and predilection for word-play is to the forefront here, with a series of images and puns as he tries to hint at what it is:

Any rock can be made to roll
If you’ve enough of it to pay the toll

It is inside spirit, with enough grit to survive

It is here, it is now
It is Real, it is Rael

and finally he admits that

It’s only knock and knowall,
But I like it, like it..

Is all the last hour-and-a-half just “knock and knowall”? Surely more than that, surely more than just “rock’n’roll” too: it may have made us work hard, but at the end of the day, and even after all these years, I like it, like it.

 

The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway by Genesis

“The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway”

“Fly On A Windshield”

“Broadway Melody Of 1974”

“Cuckoo Cocoon”

“In The Cage”

“The Grand Parade Of Lifeless Packaging”

“Back In N.Y.C.”

“Hairless Heart”

“Counting Out Time”

“Carpet Crawlers”

“The Chamber Of 32 Doors”

“Lilywhite Lilith”

“The Waiting Room”

“Anyway”

“Here Comes The Supernatural Anaesthetist”

“The Lamia”

“Silent Sorrow In Empty Boats”

“The Colony Of Slippermen (The Arrival/A Visit To The Doktor/Raven)”

“Ravine”

“The Light Dies Down On Broadway”

“Riding The Scree”

“In The Rapids”

“It.”