Inside and Out by Genesis: Great B-Sides

Against all odds, Phil Collins made a strong start to his tenure as Genesis’ lead vocalist. Recorded after Peter Gabriel left to pursue a solo career, 1976’s A Trick of the Tail was an impressive record. Collins couldn’t replicate Gabriel’s weirdness and theatricality. But his voice was similar and he successfully fronted a strong set of songs like ‘Dance on a Volcano’ and ‘Squonk’.

Genesis’ second album as a quartet, Wind & Wuthering, was less artistically successful. Pieces like ‘Eleventh Earl of Mar’ and ‘Blood on the Rooftops’ measured up to past triumphs. Mike Rutherford’s ‘Your Own Special Way’ pointed the way forward with its simpler structure and pop hooks. But Wind & Wuthering is inconsistent, weighed down by lesser pieces like Banks’ lengthy messianic tale ‘One for the Vine’ and a surfeit of uneventful instrumentals.

1977’s Spot The Pigeon EP, comprising of three Wind & Wuthering outtakes, might not sound like an appealing prospect. Listening to three outtakes from an uneven record sounds like hard work. But it’s actually fascinating – the two upbeat pieces on the first side wouldn’t have fit onto Wind & Wuthering but showcase a different angle of the band. In particular ‘Match of the Day’ features oddly detached lyrics about football (“So put on your hat and scarf/Have a drink, have a larf'”) and a surprisingly upbeat arrangement.

The real gem from Spot the Pigeon, though, is buried on the b-side. ‘Inside and Out’ is a beautiful seven minute piece that bears all the classic Genesis hallmarks. Layers of 12-string acoustic guitars shimmer in unison, anchoring lovely harmonies and a pretty tune. ‘Inside and Out’ is a gentle song that’s well suited to the slightly tentative vocals of Phil Collins in the mid-1970s. It’s a two-part composition – the first part about a man falsely imprisoned for rape, and the second part about his release. Keyboard player Tony Banks features in a great synth solo in the instrumental ‘Out’ section.

‘Inside and Out’ hasn’t been forgotten – it was included in the Genesis Archive 2: 1976–1992 box-set. Guitarist Steve Hackett featured the song with his Genesis Revisited project. Hackett remains adamant that it should have featured on Wind & Wuthering, and its presence would have helped to shore up a disappointing record.

Wind & Wuthering marked a dead-end for Genesis – Hackett left before 1978’s …And Then There Were Three, and the remaining three members gradually streamlined their sound and headed for pop domination in the 1980s.

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  1. Sorry but I have to disagree here that Vine is a “lesser” piece here. It’s merely the centerpiece that the entire album hangs on. Otherwise yes, Inside and Out is a breathtaking piece of music. Lyrics are a tad clunky which possibly belies its “B side” status, but hey Mouses Night ended up on the album. I wonder how much of the tone of the entirety’s changes if Inside was included rather than Mouse.
    Things that make you go “hmmmm”.

    • There are a few songs where I can’t take the Banks lyrics – Firth of Fifth is really good musically, but it’s never been a favourite because of Banks. I think there’s a really good 40 minute album from the Wind and Wuthering sessions – ‘Eleventh Earl’, ‘Blood on the Rooftops’, and ‘Inside and Out’ is most of a very good album already.

    • I think they spend a few years in an interesting zone between prog and pop – Genesis from 1983 has Home by the Sea. 1986’s Invisible Touch is much more blatantly pop.

  2. I enjoy Wine and Wuthering apart from the mouse song. Collins unfairly get blamed for the pop sound and direction, I think Banks had a lot to do with direction. Inside and Out is a great track though, leave off the mouse and go with that.

  3. Yes, good choice again. Strange band, Genesis I could never take them seriously as a pop band. It just seemed like Phil Collins generously sharing some of his solo wealth with his mates. Twilight Alehouse was a good b-side too..

    • They’re actually the first band that I’ve covered multiple b-sides for – I covered Twilight Alehouse a couple of years ago. I quite like the transition phase with Duke and ABACAB – seems like they don’t quite know what they are.

  4. I probably listen to “Duke” and “Abacab” more than any other Genesis albums, with possible exception of “Lamb,” all these years on. I think they are twin masterpieces. They lost me with the S/T album that followed, and never really got me back with their studio work, though I saw the final 2007 (I think that is the right year) tour and it was magnificent. I have grown much fonder of “Wind” after years away from it, too. I really liked “Spot the Pigeon” when it came out, but have not listened to it for ages. Need to remedy that, thanks for the reminder. And thanks for not being a “Phil Genesis is terrible” bore . . . He was so good in so manu ways for so long, and I hate the bitterness of the critical backlash against him after his pop heyday. See also Bee Gees after SNL.

    • I’ve been listening to Duke and ABACAB a lot recently – I’d probably rate them below my 4 favourites from the 1970s (Foxtrot thru Tail) but I like them more than anything else in the discography.
      One good way to appreciate Phil Collins is to listen to Calling All Stations IMO. I’ve never really dug into his solo stuff, but feel like I should try out the early stuff sometime.
      I think they’re planning another tour for next year.

  5. I always thought that the first few albums after Peter Gabriel sounded just like the albums with Peter Gabriel. I couldn’t even tell the difference between Phil Collins and Peter Gabriel until Duke or Abacab.

    • They did sound pretty similar. I feel like a lot of Banks and Rutherfords stuff is pretty cheesy and it needed a special vocalist to make it work – Gabriel and Collins both had a special blend of weirdness and sincerity.

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