Where The Sour Turns To Sweet (1969) – Genesis

In June 1969, Genesis’ third single “Where The Sour Turns To Sweet”/”In Hiding” was released on Decca. It was released to raise interest in the LP “From Genesis to Revelation”, but to no avail.

From Genesis to Revelation

By 1969, Genesis had released two singles on Decca Records: “The Silent Sun” and “A Winter’s Tale“, both in 1968, both produced by Jonathan King. King had then produced their first proper album “From Genesis to Revelation“*. At this time, the band consisted of Tony Banks (keyboards), Peter Gabriel (vocals), Anthony Phillips (guitars), Mike Rutherford (guitars and bass) and John Silver (drums). The album became a sort of concept album about the history of mankind, but the music was still far from being progressive. To the band’s disappointment, King added a string arrangement in the production which made the whole album sound very soft.

The album got about the same interest as the previous singles – not very much at all. So it was decided that a single off the album should be released. “Where The Sour Turns To Sweet” was chosen.

When The Sour Turns To Sweet

The song itself had been in the band’s repertoire for quite some time. They had already recorded it among three other songs in a one-hour session at Regent Studios in London, where many rock legends had recorded, in 1967. Jonathan King had taken them there to record a tape that was sent to Decca Records. The label had been impressed and signed them and King went into the studio with them again, this time to Advision Studios, to produce a reprise of “Where The Sour Turns To Sweet” for their debut single.

The session was disastrous, the band (and the producer) were unexperienced and the idea was abandoned. Then, in 1968, the two other singles were released and finally, in June 1969, the long-delayed “Where The Sour Turns To Sweet” was set to release.

So on June 27, 1969, the album version of “Where The Sour Turns To Sweet” was released as a single, backed with “In Hiding”. It was their third single on Decca Records and also their last, as it was a unsuccessful as its predecessors. There were however, thoughts about releasing a remixed version of “In The Beginning” as single, too, but these plans were never realized.

“Where The Sour Turns To Sweet” begins with a bluesy piano phrase and the snapping of fingers, giving it a jazzy swing feel. The added strings by Arthur Greenslade really get in the way of this powerful song. The lyrics are already a bit humorously and Peter Gabriel knows how to emphasize the words and use his voice. It definitely is one of the outstanding tracks of the album and has its charm, only the fade-out seems a bit uninspired.

Tony Banks accosted Tony Blackburn in the street

Tony Banks remembers that he was sent to disc jockey, singer and TV presenter Tony Blackburn to accost him in the street and tell him to play the single on his show. Tony Banks said “Well, don’t play the A-side, play the other side” (“In Hiding”). It was an embarrassing situation for both of them, but Blackburn was important enough for the band to risk it.

The end of their relationship with Jonathan King

After the album and all the single releases failed to chart and the band moved into a different musical direction than King, their ways parted. They went to the country to think about their future and write new music. Jonathan King however, had given them one lasting legacy: Their name Genesis.

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Archive I 1967 – 1975 (1998) – Genesis

In June 1998, Genesis released their first of two “Archive” box sets: “Archive 1967 – 1975” covers the era with Peter Gabriel as lead vocalist.

The plans to release “Archive” box sets dated back to 1994

After the release of their last studio album “Calling All Stations“* in 1997, Genesis began putting together unreleased material from their history. The idea dated back to 1994. Originally there were plans to release three box sets. The first would have featured the Gabriel years, the second the period from the mid 1970’s to the early 80’s and the last the period from the mid 80’s to the early 90’s.

But over the years, there were delays and plans were changed. The recordings were released on two box sets, the first one being “Archive 1967-75“* , released in 1998, the second one being “Genesis Archive 2 1976-1992“*, released in 2000, which covers the era with Phil Collins on lead vocals. Both sets feature unreleased live performances, studio tracks and demo songs.

A complete live performance of “The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway”

“Archive 1967 – 1975” is a box set that includes four discs. The mixing was done by Genesis producer Nick Davis. The first two discs feature a complete live performance of Genesis’ magnum opus “The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway“*. When the band toured the concept album in 1974/75, they played the whole double album. After this tour, Peter Gabriel left the band. The live performance in the box set comes from The Shrine Auditorium, Los Angeles. Unfortunately, Peter Gabriel’s stories between songs about the adventures of Rael were left out.

Peter Gabriel re-recorded his vocals at Real World Studios in 1995

Also, it is not a completely “live” recording. Peter Gabriel and former lead guitarist Steve Hackett re-recorded some of their parts in 1995. You can hear the difference in Gabriel’s voice if you compare the studio versions from 1974 to the “live” version on “Archive I”. Gabriel recorded his vocals at his Real World Studios. Also, the last song “It”, fades out because the tape machine at the Shrine ran out halfway through the song.

The live performance in general sounds more powerful than the studio version and the crowd seems to be enthusiastic. Apart from that, the songs are almost identical to the studio versions. The only exception is “The Waiting Room (Evil Jam)”, which was an instrumental with lots of space for improvisation that was therefore played differently every night. Apart from that, especially the title track, “Fly On A Windshield” and “Carpet Crawlers” stand out.

A live performance of “Supper’s Ready” from 1973

Disc 3 includes live performances from the Rainbow Theatre in London, recorded on the “Selling England By the Pound“* tour in 1973. We finally get to hear songs like “Dancing With The Moonlight Knight” and “Supper’s Ready” live with Peter on vocals on an official release. Here, the stories are included. It also features a 1971 BBC recording of “Stagnation” and b-sides and studio tracks from that era like “Twilight Alehouse” and “Happy The Man”.

The last disc is also the most interesting one, at least for the fans. It features songs from the band’s earliest period, still with Anthony Phillips on guitar. There are BBC sessions and many demo songs. You can hear the band “becoming” Genesis on this disc. Some of the tracks are real gems, from the early version of “Dusk” to the appealing “Hey!”. There is an atmosphere in these early recordings that went missing after Ant Phillips left the band.

Apart from the four discs, there is a 82-page booklet which contains the band’s history and interviews with band members and associates.

So “Archive 1967 – 1975” is a quite interesting box set. We finally get to hear official live versions of Gabriel-era songs sung by him. The only official live release with him had been “Live“* from 1973, which only covers songs from “Trespass“*, “Nursery Cryme“* and “Foxtrot“*. The inclusion of b-sides and unreleased studio tracks like “Twilight Alehouse” make this box set special. Some would argue that disc 4 is only for the hardcore fans, but it also is the most surprising and most interesting of the four discs. Unfortunately some rare tracks and demos that are known to exist did not make it onto the box set. But all in all, “Archive 1967-75” is an extraordinary release. Fans seemed to agree with that: It reached no. 35 in the UK charts in 1998.

The band met at Heathrow Airport to promote the release

To promote the release of “Archive I”, Genesis members past and present reunited for a photo shoot (and a following dinner) at Heathrow Airport in May 1998. There were Tony Banks, Peter Gabriel, Anthony Phillips, former drummer John Silver, Phil Collins, Steve Hackett and Mike Rutherford. The band’s first drummer Chris Stewart only made it to the dinner. Trespass-era drummer John Mayhew did not attend the event.

Genesis’ next “Archive” release would be in 2000. It would be entitled “Archive II 1976 – 1992” and feature the period with Phil Collins as lead vocalist.

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A Winter’s Tale (1968) – Genesis

On 10 May 1968, Genesis’ second single was released. Like its predecessor and its successor, it flopped. Here’s the tale of “A Winter’s Tale”.

In 1968, Genesis were still at school. The four guys from Charterhouse were in their late teens, when producer Jonathan King decided to offer them a record deal. Tony Banks (keyboards), Peter Gabriel (vocals), Anthony Phillips (guitars), Mike Rutherford (guitars and bass) and Chris Stewart (drums) agreed. King decided to produce their first album himself. The name Genesis was chosen for the band, partly because it was also the beginning of King’s career as a producer.

The first singles

The band had started writing pop songs at school, but by the time they got the record deal, they were already moving into a more adventurous direction. Jonathan King preferred the simpler pop songs. So Tony Banks and Peter Gabriel wrote “The Silent Sun“, a Bee-Gees pastiche, which King loved and which became their first single. The song flopped.

A Winter’s Tale

A Winter’s Tale“* was chosen as the band’s second single. It was also written by Tony Banks and Peter Gabriel, just like “Silent Sun“‘. Both songs are love songs, but on “A Winter’s Tale” the band sounds much more confident, especially in the chorus. Just like in its predecessor, the song’s focus lies on Peter Gabriel’s voice. The band is buried under the heavy string arrangement. Gabriel’s young, but strong voice already hints at what he was able to do later in their and his career.

The single also flopped

The single got very little airplay and was reviewed only twice. But the reviews were rather enthusiastic and the New Musical Express praised the “pulsating crescendo” and the lyrics. Mike Rutherford remembers in his autobiography, that the band thought about how to get more airplay. Peter Gabriel suggested to hand the single to radio presenter Tony Blackburn personally. Tony Banks was given the task to wait outside Broadcasing House. Since he was nervous, he got a bit aggressive when Blackburn came out, which must have frightened him a bit.

From Genesis to Revelation

After the release of “A Winter’s Tale”, drummer Chris Stewart left the group. He was followed by John Silver, who would play the drums on their first album “From Genesis to Revelation“*, which is very different from everything the band has ever done. The album became a sort of concept album about the history of mankind, but the music was still far from being progressive. To the band’s disappointment, King added a string arrangement in the production which made the whole album sound very soft.

Another single was released, “Where The Sour Turns To Sweet”. After the album and all the single releases failed to chart and the band moved into a different musical direction than King, their ways parted. What is left is is an interesting, strong selection of songs recorded by a band in their late teens. One of the tunes is “A Winter’s Tale”. Interestingly, there is a story about a cover Rita Pavone’s brother did of that song, but that is another tale.

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Live at the Roundhouse 1970

On 11 March 1970, Genesis played one of their biggest gigs of their early career at the Atomic Sunrise Festival at the Roundhouse Club in London. The event featured artists like David Bowie and Hawkwind and was sponsored by Yoko Ono. A few weeks later Genesis signed to the Charisma label.

Genesis in early 1970

At the beginning of 1970, Genesis were writing and rehearsing new music for their second album. Their debut album* had failed to chart and they had quit their contract with producer Jonathan King and the Decca label. The new songs were more adventurous and experimental and far from the pop tunes of their first album. The band consisted of Peter Gabriel (vocals), Tony Banks (keyboards), Ant Phillips (lead guitar), Mike Rutherford (guitar and bass) and John Mayhew (drums).

Genesis opened for David Bowie at the Roundhouse

The band and its members were still very young at the time and far from being famous. So the infamous hippie-festival at the Roundhouse was their biggest gig then. Especially as they were booked to open for David Bowie.

Both Tony Banks and Peter Gabriel were huge fans of David Bowie. Space Oddity* had been released the year before and Bowie was a rock star already. In these days, Bowie and his band appeared on stage in a very theatrical way. Gabriel was impressed and a little later, he used costumes and masks onstage himself. His outfits and theatrical performances leaped Genesis on another level in terms of popularity. Tony Banks on the other hand was a bit disappointed that Bowie and his band put so much focus on the visuals instead of the music. Unbeknownst to them, this gig might have been the beginning of a conflict within Genesis. The conflict grew when Peter Gabriel himself started to dress up and the other band members felt that the stage show distracted from the music more and more.

Yoko Ono sponsored the “Atomic Sunrise Festival” at the Roundhouse

At the festival, the band played songs that would appear on their second album Trespass* later that year. Video snippets exist that show the band performing “Looking For Someone” and “The Knife”. Apparently, “Twilight Alehouse” was also played. Ant Phillips jokingly admits that this footage is the only visual proof that he ever performed with the band.

Althought the gig was a big one for the band, they were not too happy. Peter Gabriel remembers that there were more people onstage than in front of the stage. Ant Phillips was frightened and nervous. His stage fright was one of the reasons he left the group later that year.

Still, Tony Banks and Ant Phillips were both impressed by the professionality behind the scenes. Every gig of the festival was recorded on 8 track equipment and parts of it were filmed. As Yoko Ono sponsored the gig, there might be a chance that the complete film footage still exists in the Apple archive.

A couple of weeks after the gig, Genesis would sign their new contract with Charisma and later in the year release their second album Trespass. Ant Phillips left the same year and a new drummer took over in summer of 1970…but that’s another story.

Title photo: Genesis mixing desk 2 – Revox A77 and associated gear for Genesis at a concert in the Liverpool Empire, 1970s, precise year unknown. Source: Wikimedia Commons, Rodhullandemu / CC-BY-SA-2.5 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0).

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The Silent Sun (1968) – Genesis

In February 1968, Genesis’ debut single “The Silent Sun” was released on Decca Records. Peter Gabriel was just 17 when it came out. Let’s take a look at the band’s first single!

Genesis at Charterhouse

Genesis were still at Charterhouse in 1968. Tony Banks, Peter Gabriel, Mike Rutherford and Anthony Phillips had met at the public school and formed the group Genesis to break away from the oppressing school life. Back then, the group consisted of two songwriting pairs: Tony Banks and Peter Gabriel on the one hand and Anthony Phillips and Mike Rutherford on the other. They had recorded some demos while at school and had passed them on to producer Jonathan King. King was an ex-Charterhouse pupil and had become a successful producer and musician (his famous hit back then was “Everyone’s Gone To The Moon”).

King liked the music, in particular Peter Gabriel’s voice. He signed them at Decca Records and decided to produce an entire album with them. But when the band came with their next demos, he was not impressed with what he heard.

Their producer Jonathan King was a Bee Gees fan

Knowing that he was a Bee Gees fan, Tony Banks and Peter Gabriel then composed “The Silent Sun“*, a Bee Gees-style effort.

Naturally, King liked it, it became their first single and he went on to produce their first album “From Genesis to Revelation“*.

The song is pure pop and the focus is on Peter and his voice. It is very different from everything they would do later. It is a mixture of folk and pop with Tony Banks’ piano (already) being very dominant. The strings were added later in the studio by King. It is also one of very few official recordings that feature the group’s original drummer Chris Stewart.

Anthony Phillips (considered by the band to be best and main writer at the time) did not like the song. He also did not like the idea of “selling out”, of writing a hit single to be able to release more complex music. The song did get some airplay and the boys and their relatives were very excited about being played on the radio. Mike Rutheford remembers hearing it on the radio in Ant Phillips’s kitchen and being convinced that they would be invited to Top Of The Pops. Peter Gabriel recalls the band going to Carnaby Street to buy outfits for the TV appearance. But the single did not chart and the call to appear on Top Of The Pops never came.

“The Silent Sun” failed to chart

The single was a flop as well as the following album and ultimately, the band and King separated ways. Genesis went on to produce more adventurous music (which they always wanted to do) and once they were famous, King kept re-releasing his early recordings with the band in different versions over the years.

Still, it is it is a good pop tune and a remarkable first single. One might wonder in which direction Genesis would have developed if it had been a success. Imagine this song being played by the band and sung by Phil Collins in the 80’s between “Mama” and “Supper’s Ready”!

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