A Retrospective: 1966-1997
In the history of rock and roll, there aren’t many bands who’ve enjoyed the kind of longevity as Genesis. They were celebrated as one of the premiere progressive-rock groups in their early incarnation with Peter Gabriel on vocals. They created classic albums such as Selling England by the Pound and The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway.
After his departure, drummer Phil Collins stepped up to the mike and the group soldiered on, reaching new commercial peaks and establishing themselves as a classic rock act in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s with the albums And Then There Were Three, Duke, and Abacab, promoted by songs like “Follow You, Follow Me,” “Turn It on Again,” “Misunderstanding,” “Abacab,” “No Reply at All,” and “Paperlate.”
They went on to become one of the biggest bands in the world in the ‘80s and ‘90s with multi-platinum albums Genesis, Invisible Touch, and We Can’t Dance, fueled by songs like “That’s All,” “Invisible Touch,” “Throwing It All Away,” “Tonight, Tonight, Tonight,” “Land of Confusion,” “In Too Deep,” “No Son of Mine,” “I Can’t Dance,” and “Hold on My Heart.”
After Collins left in 1992, the group enlisted Ray Wilson as the lead singer and released one more album before calling it quits. Collins, Banks, and Rutherford reunited for tours in 2007 and 2021. They have sold an estimated 100 to 150 million albums worldwide.
On the Web:
The Studio Albums:
Hover over an album cover to see its title and year of release. Click on the album to go to its dedicated DMDB page.
In 1965, 15-year-olds Peter Gabriel and Tony Banks formed the Garden Wall at Charterhouse School in Godalming, Surrey. Meanwhile, fellow students Michael Rutherford and Anthony Phillips were in a group called Anon. When the two groups merged, they formed New Anon and recorded a six-song demo of songs mostly written by Rutherford and Phillips. BE
A fellow Charterhouse alum, producer Jonathan King, heard their tape and got them into the studio. Now rechristened Genesis – at King’s suggestion – they had their first formal recording sessions in December of 1967. They released their debut single, “The Silent Sun,” in February 1968 and a second single, “A Winter’s Tale,” followed.
“At this time, their music was a form of lyrical folk-based progressive pop, built on lush melodies primarily carried on acoustic guitar and piano, with lyrics that tended toward the florid and trippy, in keeping with the tastes of the time – psychedelia was in vogue, and Genesis…showed an exceptional facility with poetic content as well as gorgeous melodies.” BE
From Genesis to Revelation (1969):
King added more orchestration to some of the band’s earliest material to make them sound more like the Moody Blues and the resulting album was released in 1969. It received little notice from critics or the public. They were “too pop-oriented in its melodies, spirit, and approach to fit in with the heavy psychedelia of the period; but also too complex to appeal to those listeners enamored of the Bee Gees and other pop/rock acts; and not nearly hard-rocking enough to appeal to the fans of the likes of Cream, Jimi Hendrix, et al.” BE
When the band’s contracts with King and Decca Records ended in June 1969, it looked like the members might go their separate ways. Phillips and Gabriel were planning to go to college. Rutherford was already at Farnborough Technical College and Banks was at Essex University studying physics. BE
The group didn’t give up, though. They were signed to the new lable Charisma and recorded their second album, Trespass. It “showed the first signs of the band that Genesis would become – it was still more folk-based than most progressive rock of the period, and some of the songs couldn’t quite carry their length; and they had some way to go in terms of vocal and instrumental finesse. But it had reach if not grasp – most of the album was comprised of extended pieces, sung with dramatic, almost operatic intensity and highly involved arrangements and complex parts for all of the instruments. One number in particular, an extended conceptual piece called The Knife, stood out, and an excerpt from it was issued as a single.” BE
Nursery Cryme (1971):
After losing two members, Genesis brought in Phil Collins, a former child actor turned drummer. Guitarist Anthony Phillips, who suffered from crippling stage fright, was replaced by Steve Hackett. He was new enough to the band that he barely played on the Nursery Cryme album. Mike Rutherford wrote and played most of the guitar parts, including “The Musical Box,” the centerpiece of the album. The song, which originated during Phillips’ tenure and used some material he had composed, told a “Victorian-era story of children, murder, and ghostly apparitions.” BE
The album “was far more exciting than most of the progressive rock of the period. Moreover, it had a daring edge…and while it might not have become a pop culture phenomenon, the album and the song did find an audience among collegiate listeners, principally from the more cerebral members of the public who were lofting Emerson, Lake & Palmer’s and Yes’ albums high up the charts.” BE
Peter Gabriel’s theatrical attributes fit well with the group’s live performances. He began extensively using “masks, makeup, and props in concert…[which] turned Genesis’ performances into multimedia events…Word soon began to spread about Genesis being an act that was worth hearing and, even more so, worth seeing in concert.” BE
“Foxtrot, issued in the fall of 1972, was the flash point in Genesis’ history, and not just on commercial terms. The writing, especially on Supper’s Ready – another conceptual piece, this time taking up an entire side of the LP – was as sophisticated as anything in progressive rock, and the lyrics were complex, serious, and clever, a far cry from the usual overblown words attached to most prog rock.” BE
A live album followed to capitalize on the band’s growing reputation as a stage act.
Selling England by the Pound (1973):
Selling England by the Pound “featured Gabriel’s strongest vocal performance and transcendent work by the rest of the band, especially Tony Banks’ keyboards, which took on a light yet fiercely lyrical profile.” BE “They were still a cult band in the United States…but thanks to a lot more FM radio play their music was getting heard beyond the ranks of the cultists, and finding new listeners.” BE
The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway (1974):
The double album The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway “marked the culmination of the group’s early history. A concept album with a very involved story and a large cast of characters, its composition had been difficult, involving a story outlined and written (along with most of the lyrics) exclusively by Gabriel.” BE Division began to form in the band. Gabriel was dealing with personal problems, such as his marriage, and the group thought his costumes were starting to distract from the music. BE He announced his departure from the group in May 1975.
A Trick of the Tail (1976):
After auditioning potential replacements for Gabriel, Genesis ended up turning inward to drummer Phil Collins as their new lead singer. They returned to the studio in October 1975 to work on what became A Trick of the Tail. It wasn’t a huge departure from earlier albums, but they did make more of an effort to make the music more accessible.
Wind and Wuthering (1976):
Another album followed by year’s end. “Like its predecessor, the album fit into a progressive rock mode, but even the extended pieces…had a lighter texture and tone to much of its length and was typical of most art rock of the time.” BE The single, “Your Own Special Way,” gave the band their first taste of chart success in the U.S.
And Then There Were Three (1978):
On the eve of the band’s release of live album Seconds Out, Steve Hackett announced his departure from the band. Genesis used Daryl Stuermer in concert, but Rutherford stepped up to cover guitar parts in the studio. The trio “released the appropriately titled And Then There Were Three, which abandoned any efforts at progressive rock in favor of a softer pop sound.” BE The album gave them their first full-fledged taste of success in America with a gold album and a top-40 single in “Follow You, Follow Me.”
Genesis returned in 1980 with Duke. “Gone were all of the progressive rock elements that had been present in their music since 1970, and in their place was a slickly commercial pop/rock sound. The public responded in kind by lofting it to the number one spot in England, a first for the band, while it reached number 11 in America.
Phil Collins released his first solo album, Face Value, in the early part of the year and Genesis came back with Abacab at the end of the year. It was a “stripped-down pop/rock album that even had the three core members interacting musically with the Earth, Wind & Fire horn section. Like its predecessor, it topped the charts in England and easily made the Top Ten in the United States.” BE Phil Collins also released his first solo album, Face Value, that year. Another concert album, Three Sides Live, followed.
Phil Collins released another solo album in 1982 (Hello, I Must Be Going) and reached the top 10 with a cover of “You Can’t Hurry Love.” That set the stage for even more commercial success for Genesis. Their self-titled 1983 release gave the band their first top-10 hit with “That’s All.” The album became the second platinum seller for the band.
Invisible Touch (1986):
Phil Collins roared back with another solo album, No Jacket Required, in 1985 and became one of the biggest sensations in pop music with #1 hits “One More Night” and “Sussudio.” Meanwhile, Mike Rutherford helmed the side project Mike + the Mechanics in 1985 and landed two top-10 hits with “Silent Running” and “All I Need Is a Miracle.” It all set the stage for Genesis’ greatest success yet. Invisible Touch gave the band five top-5 hits in the U.S., including the #1 title cut. The band had “a string of sold-out arena shows that cast the group in the same league as concert stalwarts like the Rolling Stones and the Grateful Dead.” BE
We Can’t Dance (1991):
In the seven years before the next Genesis album, the members continued with side projects. Phil Collins hit #1 again with two songs from the Buster soundtrack and released another hugely successful solo album, But Seriously, in 1989. It featured four more top-10 hits, including the #1 hit “Another Day in Paradise.” Mike + the Mechanics also released the top of the charts with the title cut from their 1988 Living Years album.
When the band reconvened, they once again churned out multiple hits from a mega-platinum album. It was, however, another ending for Genesis as it was Collins’ last studio effort with the group.
Calling All Stations (1997):
Tony Banks and Mike Rutherford enlisted Ray Wilson as the new singer for one more studio effort. Calling All Stations “recalled their art rock roots in some respects” BE but “neither the critics nor the fans warmed to the album – it sold relatively poorly…the accompanying tour was equally unsuccessful.” BE They have yet to release another studio effort, although Banks, Rutherford, and Collins did regroup for tours in 2007 and 2021.
Turn It on Again – The Hits
Released: October 26, 1999
Peak: 65 US, 4 UK, 28 CN, 98 AU
Sales (in millions): 0.5 US, -- UK, 4.5 world (includes US and UK)
Genre: progressive rock/classic rock
Tracks: (1) Turn It on Again (2) Invisible Touch (3) Mama (4) Land of Confusion (5) I Can’t Dance (6) Follow You Follow Me (7) Hold on My Heart (8) Abacab (9) I Know What I Like in Your Wardrobe (10) No Son of Mine (11) Tonight, Tonight, Tonight (12) In Too Deep (13) Congo (14) Jesus He Knows Me (15) That’s All (16) Misunderstanding (17) Throwing It All Away (18) The Carpet Crawlers 1999
Tracks (The Tour Edition) – Disc 1: (1) Turn It on Again (2) No Son of Mine (3) I Can’t Dance (4) Hold on My Heart (5) Jesus He Knows Me (6) Tell My Why (7) Invisible Touch (8) Land of Confusion (9) Tonight, Tonight, Tonight (10) In Too Deep (11) Throwing It All Away (12) Mama (13) That’s All (14) Illegal Alien (15) Abacaba (16) No Reply at All (17) The Carpet Crawlers 1999
Tracks (The Tour Edition) – Disc 2: (1) Paperlate (2) Keep It Dark (3) Man on the Corner (4) Duchess (5) Misunderstanding (6) Follow You, Follow Me (7) Many Too Many (8) Your Own Special Way (9) Afterglow (10) Pigeons (11) Inside and Out (12) A Trick of the Tail (13) Counting Out Time (14) I Know What I Like in Your Wardrobe (15) Happy the Man (16) The Knife (17) Congo
4.189 out of 5.00 (average of 6 ratings)
About Turn It on Again – The Hits:
Banks, Collins, Gabriel, Hacket, and Rutherford reunited to record a new version of “The Carpet Crawlers” for this album. Otherwise, everything is previously released. The single disc 1999 release missed some songs, such as “Paperlate,” “No Reply at All,” and “Man on the Corner” and barely acknowledged the Peter Gabriel era. The double-disc tour edition of the album in 2007 largely corrected those problems although the Gabriel years are still under-represented.
Tracks Not on Previously Noted Albums:
Released: November 29, 2004
Peak: 100 US, 21 UK
Sales (in millions): --
Genre: progressive rock/classic rock
Tracks: (1) No Son of Mine (2) I Can’t Dance (3) Jesus He Knows Me (4) Hold on My Heart (5) Invisible Touch (6) Throwing It All Away (7) Tonight, Tonight, Tonight (8) Land of Confusion (9) In Too Deep (10) Mama (11) That’s All (12) Home by the Sea (13) Second Home by the Sea (14) Illegal Alien (15) Paperlate (16) Calling All Stations
Tracks, Disc 2: (1) Abacab (2) Keep It Dark (3) Turn It on Again (4) Behind the Lines (5) Duchess (6) Misunderstanding (7) Many Too Many (8) Follow You Follow Me (9) Undertow (10) In That Quiet Earth (11) Afterglow (12) Your Own Special Way (13) A Trick of the Tail (14) Ripples (15) Los Endos
Tracks, Disc 3: (1) The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway (2) Counting Out Time (3) The Carpet Crawlers (4) Firth of Fifth (5) The Cinema Show (6) I Know What I Like in Your Wardrobe (7) Supper’s Ready (8) The Musical Box (9) The Knife
3.540 out of 5.00 (average of 9 ratings)
About Platinum Collection:
This three-disc set goes deep into the Genesis catalog, covering much more of the Gabriel era (a full disc’s worth) and a fair amount of album cuts. Astonishingly, it omits “No Reply at All” but there are no other glaring oversights. The reverse chronogical order means that the different phases of Genesis are not mixed together, which is more jarring on Turn It on Again – The Hits.
The Last Domino?
Released: September 17, 2021
Peak: -- US, -- UK, -- CN, -- AU
Sales (in millions): --
Genre: progressive rock/classic rock
Tracks, Disc 1: (1) Duke’s End (2) Turn It on Again (3) Mama (4) Land of Confusion (5) Home by the Sea (6) Second Home by the Sea (7) Fading Lights (8) The Cinema Show (9) Afterglow (10) Hold on My Heart (11) Jesus He Knows Me (12) That’s All (13) The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway (14) In Too Deep
Tracks, Disc 2: (1) Follow You, Follow Me (2) Duchess (3) No Son of Mine (4) Firth of Fifth (5) I Know What I Like in Your Wardrobe (6) In the Glow of the Night/The Last Domino (7) Throwing It All Away (8) Tonight, Tonight, Tonight (9) Invisible Touch (10) I Can’t Dance (11) Dancing with the Moonlit Knight (12) The Carpet Crawlers (13) Abacab
About The Last Domino?:
This is a completely unnecessary cash-grab compilation designed to accompany Genesis’ tour of the same name.
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First posted 3/3/2010; last updated 9/21/2021.
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