In the mid 1980s, Genesis and its spin-off projects – Phil Collins, Peter Gabriel, and Mike and the Mechanics – were enjoying hit singles galore, with hits like ‘Sledgehammer’, ‘The Living Years’, ‘Invisible Touch’, and ‘Sussudio’. But before their mid 1980’s chart dominance Genesis produced some great music in the 1970s, with their very English blend of progressive rock, 12 string guitar folk, and densely humorous lyrics.
Genesis were formed at Charterhouse School by keyboardist Tony Banks, bassist Mike Rutherford, and vocalist/flautist Peter Gabriel, while drummer Phil Collins and guitarist Steve Hackett joined in the early 1970s to complete the classic quintet. They produced a sequence of sublime albums, particularly from 1972’s Foxtrot through to 1976’s A Trick of the Tail. 1974’s The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway was the last Genesis album to feature Gabriel, whose was inspired to go solo after attending a Bruce Springsteen concert, and Collins took over on lead vocals.
The group do have some weaknesses – compared to other progressive rock acts from the era like Yes and King Crimson, they’re short on instrumental firepower, although Phil Collins is a very strong drummer. But their material is often very pretty, and they’re often shooting for beauty rather than virtuosity. Gabriel is a much stronger lyricist than the other members of the group, and his witty lyrics make the others’ efforts look generic in comparison.
Steve Hackett left the group in 1977, and I haven’t covered any of their subsequent albums after they became a three piece – I have covered Gabriel’s solo career on a separate page, and I’ve recently been enjoying Hackett’s solo career. I do recommend 1983’s Genesis as a consistent pop album. Genesis were generally talented at writing memorable tunes, and this served them well throughout their career.
Ten Favourite Genesis Songs
The Cinema Show
Dancing With The Moonlit Knight
The Carpet Crawlers
Can-Utility and the Coastliners
Dance on a Volcano
I Know What I Like (In Your Wardrobe)