Live Aid, July 13, 1985: Phil Collins appears in London and Philadelphia

Live_Aid_at_JFK_Stadium,_Philadelphia,_PA

On July 13, 1985, Phil Collins was the only performer to appear on both Live Aid shows in London and Philadelphia.

Phil Collins is all over the world

In the mid-1980s, it seemed as if Phil Collins had already achieved everything: As a solo artist and as a member of Genesis he had number one hit singles, chart-topping albums and sold-out world tours. By 1985, his third solo album “No Jacket Required“* had been a massive success and produced hit singles that topped the charts worldwide. Phil Collins’ music was all over the world – and so would he be on July 13, 1985.

Phil Collins made rock history

On July 13, 1985, Phil Collins made rock history. He did something that no-one had done before (and probably not since): He appeared live on television around the world twice in a day from two different continents. And as usual with Phil, this had not been an elaborate act of profiling himself as an artist. It had been for the benefit of millions of starving people in Africa. The two appearances onstage and on television had been part of Live Aid, two shows that had been organized by Bob Geldof. The man of the day however, was Phil Collins.

Live Aid

The famous Live Aid concerts from 1985 were the continuation of the Band Aid single “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” from 1984, in which musician Bob Geldof had gathered many famous pop stars to raise money for the poor starving population in Ethiopia. The concept worked and half a year later, the Live Aid performances were celebrated with the same intention. There were two parallel concerts, one in London, one in Philadelphia, and the whole 80s pop world seemed to participate in the event. Phil Collins had already played drums on the the million-selling Band Aid single “Do They Know It’s Christmas”. He did not sing on it, as he had recently recorded his own solo album and duets with Philip Bailey and Eric Clapton and the record company told him not to sing anymore until his album “No Jacket Required” had come out and he would be on the tour that followed.

So what exactly happened on July, 13, 1985, “the greatest day in the history of pop music”? Phil Collins proved the impossible, playing at both shows. He appeared at Wembley Stadium in London in the early afternoon and played “Against All Odds” and “In The Air Tonight” alone at the piano. He remembers sweating on the white stage and therefore, his finger slipping off the piano on “Against All Odds”. The bum note was not only heard in front of 80,000 people in Wembley, but also by a global telly audience of 1 billion people. Phil thought “Oh God, what a good start for the day this is.”

Then he was joined by his friend Sting on guitar and vocals for “Long Long Way To To” from “No Jacket Required” (Sting had also provided backing vocals for the studio version). Then the duo played “Every Breath You Take”. Phil left the stadium afterwards, crossed the Atlantic with a Concorde, and played his solo songs in Philadelphia the same way he did in London. In Philadelphia, he also joined his friends Eric Clapton and Led Zeppelin. Phil had arrived at the John F. Kennedy Stadium at 7pm, was at the show at ten past, went to Eric to ask what they would play and then went onstage with him at 7.30pm. In between, he also rushed to Robert Plant’s caravan to have a chat with Led Zeppelin about their gig. This pretty much sums up the energy of Phil Collins in the 1980s.

Phil Collins had been an international superstar at this point, but his legendary performances as the only one who appeared at both Live Aid shows, certainly boosted his profile and made him as a solo artist and personality become more famous than Genesis, the band he was part of.

Live Aid – The aftermath

Looking back, Live Aid was a terrible example of using clichés. It is the prime example of “rock musicians trying to help poor Africa”. The intention was certainly good, the realization was maybe good-hearted, but not that effective. The Christmas single with its awful lyrics (“Do they know its Christmas time at all?” – this is colonial thinking at its best) and the Live Aid performances raised a lot of money and made people aware of the problems, but the result was that much, if not all, of the money was taken by the corrupt Ethiopian government. They used it to prop up the brutal dictator Mengistu. Furthermore it turned out that part of the relief donations were diverted by a rebel group to buy weapons. And also, very little food and medicine left the port cities of Assab and Massawa. It was more important to unload military hardware from Soviet ships, leaving hundreds of thousands of tons of food rotting on the docks. Bob Geldof, founder of Live Aid, was seen on TV with Mengistu, smiling and joking around, as he handed over the famine money.

Geldof had actually been warned about Mengistu and his dismantling of tribes, resettlement marches and slaughterings in which 100,000 people died. However, here one can see how the charity for ‘poor Africa’ can turn out and how someone like Geldof, who might have had his best interests, can turn his favours against himself.

For Phil Collins, playing at both concerts helped him gain even more popularity and becoming a proper international superstar. He also helped the event to become even more memorable.

Title photo: Live Aid at JFK Stadium, Philadelphia, PA. Source: Wikimedia Commons, own work. Author: Squelle. / CC-BY-SA-2.5 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0).

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The end of the Invisible Touch Tour at Wembley 1987

On July 4, 1987, Genesis finished their gigantic Invisible Touch tour at Wembley Stadium. It was the fourth sold out night in a row at Wembley.

Invisible Touch

In 1986, Genesis released the album “Invisible Touch“*. It became their most successful album, peaking at #1 in the U.K. and #3 in the U.S. It produced five hit singles: “Invisible Touch”, “Tonight Tonight Tonight”, “Land of Confusion”, “In Too Deep” and “Throwing It All Away”. Songs like the title track, “Tonight, Tonight, Tonight” and “Land Of Confusion” with its famous spitting image video would dominate the radio and music TV stations and the international charts of 1986/1987. Genesis were everywhere and bigger than ever. So of course, the band went on a massive tour through North America, Australia, Japan and Europe before finishing in Britain with four sold-out nights at Wembley Stadium in front of 300,000 people.

The Invisible Touch tour

The tour began in the U.S. in September 1986 and included 112 dates and sold close to two million tickets. It ended in July 1987. In Australia and New Zealand, the five-man line-up was accompanied by a four-piece string section on “In Too Deep” and “Your Own Special Way”. They had to invite the quartet because of local regulations that required them to employ local musicians.

At this time, the band was not only a hit-machine, but a working and brilliant live act. The Vari Lite light show was impressive as always. The band had much material to rely on, but chose mainly new songs from their hit album and the albums before.

The shows were always opened with “Mama” (which sometimes lacked a bit of atmosphere in daylight) and ended with the “Turn It On Again” hit medley that the band had established on the previous tour. The medley included “Everybody Needs Somebody to Love”, “Satisfaction”, “Twist and Shout”, “Pinball Wizard”, “All Day and All of the Night” and “Karma Chameleon”.

Older songs in the set included “Los Endos”, “Home By The Sea” (including it’s meanwhile standard ghost-story introduction) and another “In The Cage” medley. When the tour began, they had played “In That Quiet Earth” and the second half of the epic “Supper’s Ready” after “In The Cage”. However, during the tour Phil had difficulties reaching the higher notes in “Supper’s Ready”, so by the middle of the tour they had gone back to the usual ending of “In That Quiet Earth” and “Afterglow”.

New songs included “Domino” (with another – soon to be famous – introduction by Phil), “Tonight, Tonight, Tonight”, “Throwing It All Away”, where the call-and-response singing developed throughout the tour, and “Invisible Touch” itself.

Live at Wembley Stadium

By the time Genesis got to Wembley, they had performed the set so often that it had become a true piece of fine art and musicianship. Interestingly, only two shows were scheduled at Wembley, but the demand for tickets was so high, that a third and then a record-breaking fourth night were added.

The Wembley shows were filmed and released as video and as DVD in 2003*. Unfortunately the famous “In The Cage” medley was left out of the release because on every night, the tapes had to be changed during that song.

Apart from that, the results and the performance are astonishing. The band truly ended the tour on a high note there. Looking back at the videos and listening to the songs and performances, we can say that Genesis were at their peak at this very point at Wembley Stadium. Afterwards, the fans had to wait four more years for a new Genesis record.

Title photo: Genesis Nancy 1987. Phil Collins, Tony Banks, Mike Rutherford, Daryl Stuermer, Chester Thompson. Genesis en concert à Nancy le 14 juin 1987 au stade Marcel-Picot de Nancy-Tomblaine Source: Wikimedia Commons, Fredamas / CC-BY-SA-2.5 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0).

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Steve Hackett’s last show with Genesis

On July 3, 1977, Genesis played the last show of their “Wind And Wuthering” tour and (unbeknown to them at that point) also the last show with lead guitarist Steve Hackett.

Wind And Wuthering

In December 1976, Genesis had released “Wind and Wuthering“*, their second album since Peter Gabriel’s departure. The band had become a foursome the year before, drummer Phil Collins had taken over the vocal duties. He had proved that he could fill this role easily on the previous album “A Trick of the Tail“* and the following tour in 1976.

By this point, keyboardist Tony Banks and guitarist/bassist Mike Rutherford were the main songwriters with Phil Collins being more of a player and arranger. Guitarist Steve Hackett felt that not enough of his material was used. He was frustrated about his role in the group and decided to leave Genesis after the 1977 tour.

The Wind & Wuthering tour

The band set out for a huge tour in 1977 that would lead them to South America for the first time and through Europe and the US. On drums, they were accompanied by American drummer Chester Thompson. It was his first tour with them and he would remain with the band as a live drummer until 2007 (with a short interruption in the 1990s).

Genesis reached a new peak in live performances and was voted “Best live group” in 1977. This was captured in the double live album “Seconds Out“*.

The last show

The last show of the tour (and also Steve Hackett’s last show as a member of Genesis) took place in the Olympiahalle, Munich, on July 3, 1977. They opened the set with “Squonk” as they had done throughout most of the tour, then they played “One For The Vine”, a Banks composition from the new album. “Inside And Out” from the recent EP “Spot The Pigeon” was added on some European dates and was also played in Munich. Among the highlights of the show were songs like “The Carpet Crawlers”, “I Know What I Like” and “Supper’s Ready”, some of which had changed a lot since the days when Peter Gabriel sang them. Also, the band had started to play medleys on the tour before and continued to do so on the “Wind & Wuthering” tour. “Dance On A Volcano” and “Los Endos” were combined as well as “The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway” and the closing section of “The Musical Box”. The band also played “Firth Of Fifth” that night in which Steve plays the famous guitar solo. Neither the fans nor the band knew that they had witnessed him playing it live for the last time.

Steve leaves the band

Steve Hackett had been the first Genesis member to record a solo album. There, he included some of the music that was not used on Genesis albums. During the period as a four-piece-band, he wanted to have a certain percentage on each album for his own songs. The others disagreed; they were a democratic band. So he started recording solo albums and felt that his input on Genesis albums became less and less.

Also, when the band mixed the live album “Seconds Out” in July 1977, he could not stand listening to tracks like “I Know What I Like” anymore after having played them for months at this point. Also, he felt that after playing shows with audiences of 20.000 people, there was nothing new to strive for. So one day he phoned Mike Rutherford and told him he wanted to leave. Mike knew that Steve had been unhappy in Genesis for some time, so he did not try to talk him out of it. Later that day or the following day, Phil Collins drove from West London to Trident Studios, where they mixed the live album. He passed Steve on the street and told him to jump into the car. Steve acted a bit oddly, said “Speak to Mike, he’ll explain” and went off. When Phil arrived at the studio, Tony and Mike informed him that Steve had left the band.

The three remaining members then went on mixing “Seconds Out” and afterwards went into the studio to record their next album. They would remain a three-piece-band in the studio for the rest of their career and Steve Hackett would continue his career as a solo artist.

Title photo: Genesis Steve Hackett. Source: Wikimedia Commons, Jean-Luc / CC-BY-SA-2.5 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0). Originally posted to Flickr as Genesis.

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Genesis at Reading Festival 1971

Reading Festival Line Up 1973

On June 26, 1971, Genesis appeared at Reading Festival for the first time.

Peter Gabriel had broken his ankle

On their first appearance at Reading Festival, Genesis were low on the bill. Other artists that performed at the festival were Lindisfarne, Terry Reid, Renaissance and Sha Na Na. There were the usual problems that a festival and its visitors have to deal with: Rain, mud and an unscheduled police squad. For Genesis, the gig at Reading followed the incident at the Friars Club, where Peter Gabriel had broken his ankle.

On June 19th, Genesis had played at Friars in Aylesbury and during the encore of “The Knife”, Peter Gabriel had jumped into the crowd. Unfortunately, the audience parted when they saw him coming and he hit the floor, breaking his ankle. Following the incident, he played at least one show in a wheelchair at the art college in Lincoln. Tour manager, roadie, sound engineer and friend of the band Richard Macphail remembers Gabriel cavorting in the wheelchair on the stage, which was a traditional theatre stage that sloped forward towards the audience. He thought that Peter was going to fall off the stage and break his neck. Luckily, he did not and the band could play Reading Festival at June 26, 1971.

Reading Festival

The 11th National Jazz and Blues festival took place in Reading for the first time that year. Before, the event had taken place in Richmond, Windsor, Sunbury and Plumpton, but each time, the locals had complained, so the festival had to move on. The festival usually takes place in August, so admittedly it is a bit unclear to the author why the festival took place on 25, 26, and 27 June 1971. The ticket names the location as “Thames-side Arena, Richfield Avenue” and the festival is titled “Reading Festival of folk and progressive music”. The ticket for Saturday, June 26, cost £1.50.

Over the next few years, the festival would become one of the leading British rock festivals. Not only the greatest bands of the age played there, but it was also the birthplace for future superstars. Organizer Harold Pendleton was allowed to stage the festival in Reading, because the local council wanted to celebrate the town’s 1000th anniversary and really believed it to be a jazz and blues festival, which it had originally been in the 1960s.

Genesis performed on Saturday

In 1971, Genesis was not the only act of Charisma Records that played at Reading Festival. The already mentioned Lindisfarne were there as well as Van der Graaf Generator, and Bell & Arc and Audience. Other notable acts from this year were Arthur Brown, Rory Gallagher, Wishbone Ash, Medicine Head, Osibisa, Ian Matthews and Ralph McTell.

Due to their low billing, Genesis played midafternoon on the second day of the festival. Their performance was highlighted as one of the best of the event, and consequentially, they were invited back for the next two festivals.

During the summer of 1971, Genesis started to appear at outdoor rock festivals. Steve Hackett remembers that it used to rain for the first five years they played at festivals in England or Europe, always resulting in a mud bath. At Reading Festival, the power was fluctuating and the band could not get the organ in tune (and that meant that the Mellotron would be even worse to tune). They also tuned their twelve-string guitars in the dressing rooms and by the time they got on stage, they were already out of tune. Tuning a twelve-string guitar in front of an audience was almost impossible.

Not a festival band

Tony Banks thinks that Genesis were never a good festival group. It was difficult to build a dramatic atmosphere in daylight and most of the audiences did not really understand the long song with lots of chord changes. Also, the sound was mostly rubbish. Nevertheless, they builded a live following and got a reputation of being a good live band for festivals, but the best times were when they could play after dark at the end of a day with their own fans in the audience. However, at their first appearance at Reading, they already got some fans waving their Genesis flag during the gig.

Photo: Reading Festival Line Up 1973. Reading-festivaalin vuoden 1973 esiintyjälista Source: Wikimedia Commons, National Jazz, Blues and Rock Festival. / CC-BY-SA-2.5 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0).

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Genesis first gig abroad in Belgium

Genesis played their first gig abroad in La Ferme, Woluwe St. Lambert, Belgium on March 7, 1971. This is the story of their first gig overseas.

“Trespass” had charted in Belgium

In early 1971, the band had not yet been very successful in the UK. But things looked different on the continent: Trespass* had reached number one in Belgium. So the band with their new members Phil Collins on drums and Steve Hackett on guitar went to Belgium to play their first gig overseas.

The band could not afford cabins on the ferry

They crossed the channel on the night ferry and arrived the next morning. They had not slept, as they could not afford bunks and had therefore sat overnight on the boat with Phil throwing up. Getting through the day with beer and sandwiches, they drove straight to the gig and played.

The setlist

The setlist included a mixture of songs from Trespass, live favourites and two new songs. As usual during that time, they started with acoustic material and then built up to the heavier numbers. Luckily for us, a recording of the gig exists so we can listen to almost the whole gig (some bits are missing). It also includes the only available recording of the famous song “The Light”, which features embryonic elements of later songs, notably “Lilywhite Lilith”.

Starting with acoustic numbers, the first song was their newest one. “Happy The Man” (introduced by Peter as a song about a “man who eats his fingernails, probably”) is based on a Mike Rutherford riff and includes a Lindisfarne-like sing-along chorus. It was another attempt by the band to produce a hit single. The song was played a bit slower on that gig and has a very laidback attitude. “Stagnation” from Trespass follows (according to Gabriel a song about people “with bad breath”) and Phil’s drumming adds a swing to it that the studio version misses.

The Light

Several minutes and attempts to introduce the band follow, then they play the rare track “The Light”. The bass intro later became the verse of “Lilywhite Lilith” on The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway* with Hackett’s guitar parts also being reused. “The Light” then turns into a prog rock song with a long jam between Banks and Hackett until the nice harmony vocals go back into a part that is familiar from the later “Lilywhite Lilith”. In comparison to other songs of the time, “The Light” seems very unusual for Genesis.

A mixture of songs from Trespass, live favourites and new songs

It is getting a bit quieter when “Twilight Alehouse” begins, a live standard at the time in which Tony dominates on the dramatic organ passage in the end. Peter then introduces the other new song “The Musical Box” in English and French and the version is slightly different to the album version. There is some extra music before the “And the clock” part, which is sung twice. Tony’s solo is longer and Steve’s shorter as he had only been in the band for two months. Even the iconic ending of this classic Gabriel-era tune is sung a bit different by Peter.

The Trespass-classic “The Knife” is introduced in French and the whole band rushes into the song. Tony’s organ leads them, Mike’s bass is the driving force, Steve still seems to have some trouble with the guitar solos, but is shining at the end. Peter’s flute part from the middle is unfortunately missing from the recording. The audience seems to have loved it; they applaud enthusiastically. The live classic “Going Out To Get You” is the encore, described by Peter as “A very old number about passion”. Again, Tony leads the band and Steve seems to be non-existent on the track. It even sounds as if he is not playing with the rest of the band on this last song.

It is interesting to listen back to the recording as it not only consists unreleased songs, but also songs that were still being created lyrically and musically. And of course it features the only known recorded version of the rare track “The Light”.

An important gig in Genesis history

The show was a success and a very important gig in Genesis history. At the end of this trip, they too the ferry back home, completely exhausted with Phil limping home, almost collapsing.

Photo: FOH PA mixing desk 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 “Turn It On Again” reunion tour

On 11 June 2007, Genesis started their “Turn It On Again” reunion tour in Helsinki. It saw the return of Phil Collins on vocals.

Genesis announced their reunion in 2006

On 7 November 2006, Tony Banks, Mike Rutherford and Phil Collins announced that they were reuniting as Genesis to play a series of shows in Europe in the summer of 2007 and in North America in autumn. Phil Collins had left Genesis in 1996. Although he had appeared with his former band members in the past, this was his official return. The reunion also included Genesis’ long-time live members Chester Thompson on drums and Daryl Stuermer on guitar. Both had not played with the band since 1992.

The first proper gig was planned for 11 June 2007 in Helsinki. With no new album to promote, the band had enough time to go through their material and dust off the old songs. Having not played together for 15 years, rehearsals were a bit more difficult than they all had expected.

Rehearsals for the “Turn It On Again” tour

Tony Banks (keyboards) and Mike Rutherford (guitars, bass) not only had to relearn the songs. They also had to change keys so that Phil Collins, whose voice had dropped over the years, could sing the songs.

He had some trouble relearning some of lyrics. But once he did, he struggled less with them than he had in the past. Songs like “Domino” and “Home By The Sea” with lyrics by Tony Banks were always a challenge for him to sing. (For example lines like “Sheets of double glazing” or “Nylon sheets and blankets”). He also listened to live recordings from the past and realized that he had often added some little extras. On this tour he went back to singing the songs the way they were written.

He also had not played Genesis songs on drums for years. On his solo tours, he had done the drum duet with Chester Thompson and played on “In The Air Tonight”. But now he had to get himself back in shape and play things like “Second Home By The Sea”. Luckily enough, Chester Thompson and Daryl Stuermer were there to back them up and help them out. Daryl had to show them how to play their own songs because he knew and had learned them so well.

But the five of them had played for so long that even after a break of 15 years, the chemistry was still there. Also, they got along much better than ever before. Tony Banks and Mike Rutherford had become looser with age whereas Phil Collins had become a bit more serious. They could talk about things they never dared say to each other 15 years before.

The setlist

And what would Genesis play on this reunion tour? They had plenty of material to choose from. Of course, there some inevitable hits that the fans wanted to hear like “Follow You Follow Me”, “Invisible Touch”, “Mama” and “I Can’t Dance”.

They also played their hit “Land Of Confusion” a bit heavier than usual. It sounded more modern, which was a nod into the direction of the band Disturbed. They had done a metal cover version of the song.

A trip down memory lane on the Genesis reunion tour

Apart from the hits, they also played more ambitious songs from their later period like the already mentioned “Home By The Sea” and “Domino”, two of Tony Banks’s favourites. As opener, they decided to do the instrumental intro of “Behind The Lines” from “Duke“. They added a piece of “Duke’s End” and called it “Duke’s Intro”. It was a very strong and powerful opening for the reunion shows and would always make the crowd go wild.

Overall, Phil Collins played much more drums throughout the show than he had in the past. And for “I Know What I Like” he looked at the tambourine dance from 1976 and after a bit of training, was able to do it also on this tour.

Also, they dug out “Ripples” from “A Trick Of The Tail” (the first album with Phil Collins as lead vocalist from 1976), which they had not played for years. It was a real surprise in the setlist. The same goes for a bit of “Duke’s Travels” that was incorporated into a medley. The setlist was a great mixture of material from all of their history. They played songs from almost every album since 1973. The last song of the set was the “Lamb”-classic “Carpet Crawlers” from 1974. It was always a very emotional ending for the band and the audiences.

Behind the scenes

The stage set-up for the tour came from acclaimed stage designer Mark Fisher, the lighting design came from Patrick Woodroffe. Behind the band was a huge screen which created a different look and a different setting for each song.

Producer Nick Davis supervised the sound of the band. Also, the band decided to release sound board recordings of each show through an Encore Series.

The first concert in Helsinki

And finally the first gig was played in Helsinki on a warm summer night. The band played flawlessly, the screens showed the right visuals at the right time and the audiences were happy to see Genesis again.

Phil Collins later said that some people expected them to release a new album during this period. But for him, the tour was not only a Genesis reunion tour but also a Genesis farewell tour.

The tour went on until autumn 2007 when the band played North America. After that, it seemed that Genesis had closed the final chapter. When asked what they enjoyed most about the reunion tour, they all agreed that the greatest thing was to be back with old friends and laugh together.

Photo: Genesis, ofwel: Phil Collins, Michael Rutherford, Tony Banks, Chester Thompson en Daryl Stuermer.}} |Source=Maikel Koek, via Wikiportrait |Date= |Author=Maikel Koek |Permission={{Wikiportrait|2008041010026495}} (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0).

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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The last show of “The Lamb” tour

On 22 May 1975, Genesis played the last show of their ambitious “The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway” tour. It was also their last gig with Peter Gabriel as lead singer.

“The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway”

In 1974, Genesis went into the studio to record the album “The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway*”. It was a double concept album, based on a complex story by lead singer Peter Gabriel about a Puerto Rican boy named Rael. Rael lives in New York City and is sucked into a netherworld, where he encounters strange characters on his adventures.

The story and the American setting were a break from their earlier tales of British myth and fantasy. Previous to the album, the band had toured North America and were trying to become successful in the United States. It was also (after the failed attempt on their first record) their first real “concept album”, a trademark for many progressive rock bands.

There were tensions going on inside the band, when they wrote the ambitious album. Peter Gabriel wrote the lyrics and the story separately, while his bandmates wrote all the music. Only the lyrics for one song, “The Light Dies Down On Broadway”, were written not by Gabriel, but by Tony Banks and Mike Rutherford. Most of the music came from jam sessions by the trio Tony Banks (keyboards), Mike Rutherford (bass and guitars) and Phil Collins (drums). Lead guitarist Steve Hackett did not contribute much to the music.

Tensions within the group

There were two main reasons for the split between Gabriel and the rest of the band that overshadowed the making of the album: For one, William Friedkin, director of “The Exorcist*” was interested in working together with Peter Gabriel on a film script. Peter Gabriel was interested and even thought about leaving the band for this project, but Friedkin backed away when he realized that.

The other reason was that Peter’s wife Jill was pregnant with their first child Anna. She was was born in July ’74 and there were some complications in the aftermath. Gabriel started to alienate from the band during that time. He was the first one to have a child and see that there were other opportunities and possibilites in life besides being in a rock band. His inner conflict is also reflected in the story of “The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway”, for example in the lyrics of “In The Cage”: “Get me out of this cage!”

Up to this day, the album divides fans and critics. Upon its release, “The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway” received decidedly mixed reviews and was a commercial failure. Ticket sales did not go as well as planned and they had to cancel several shows. Nowadays it is looked upon in a hazy retrospective because it is Gabriel’s last work with the group.

The “Lamb” tour

Peter Gabriel was frustrated by the failure in terms of success and sales, especially because it was his story. For the tour, the band decided to play the entire album live, often to an audience who had never heard it because the tour began before the album was released.

Having become famous for his use of masks and costumes, Peter Gabriel wanted to use visual aspects to underline the story of the album. This time he overused them. Again, he wore costumes, the most famous being the “Slippermen” outfit, which covered him from head to toe and did not allow him to get the microphone close enough to his mouth, so his vocals could not be heard clearly. The band did not like this exaggeration and felt that the costumes and the performance had become the focus of the show to the disadvantage of the music.

The spectacular stage show also brought along some problems. There were slides at the back of the stage and they never were in the right order or stopped and did not move on. One night, a dummy of Peter Gabriel, which used to mirror him during one of the songs, was replaced by a naked roadie. And once when there had to be a small explosion for one song, the production manager caused a big explosion, so loud that the band stopped playing in the middle of the song. He poked his head round the curtain and said “Sorry!” to which Phil Collins shouted back: “You’re fired!”

Peter Gabriel decides to leave Genesis

During the course of the tour, Peter Gabriel decided to leave. It was no surprise to manager Tony Smith and the rest of the band. Smith only wanted Gabriel to finish the tour and announce the news afterwards.

Peter Gabriel played his last gig with Genesis at St Etienne in France in May 1975. It was a strange last gig, because St Etienne was meant to be the penultimate date of the tour, but the final date was cancelled just the day before. And so, Gabriel’s time with Genesis was over. He had founded the band in 1967 with Tony Banks, Anthony Phillips and Mike Rutherford. When it was announced publicly, the fans were greatly shocked. Many doubted if Genesis could survive without him but we know they did and so did he.

Photo: Peter Gabriel in 1975. Photographer unknown. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File: Peter_Gabriel,_April_1975.jpg. Unknown author / CC0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0).

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Ray Wilson announced as new lead vocalist

On 6 June 1997, Tony Banks and Mike Rutherford of Genesis announce the band’s new lead singer after Phil Collins’ departure: 28 year old Ray Wilson.

When it was announced in March of 1996 that Phil Collins would leave Genesis after 25 years, the public was impatient to know who would become the next lead singer of the band. Genesis had survived the loss of their first singer Peter Gabriel in 1975. And when Phil Collins left the band in 1996, the two remaining members Tony Banks (keyboards) and Mike Rutherford (guitars) decided to survive a singer’s loss once more. The two founding members of Genesis started to write and record new songs and tried to find a new singer. Music media suggested several vocalists, until on June 6th 1997, the band announced that Ray Wilson would be their new lead singer.

Ray Wilson

Ray was born in Dumfries, Scotland, on 8 September 1968. He had previously been in a band called Guaranteed Pure and was a frontman for the band Stiltskin. Their biggest hit was the song “Inside”, used in a Levi’s commercial in 1994. The song had reached No. 1 of the charts. So Ray was not an unknown singer when he joined Genesis, but theirs and Stiltskin’s music was worlds apart. So his fans and Genesis fans were both surprised and suspicious.

Ray remembers on the Songbook DVD: “I was in my little studio writing songs. It was ten in the morning, I was making a coffee, and Tony Smith, the manager of Genesis, was on the phone: “Would you like to come and audition to replace Phil Collins?””

In the last years, Phil Collins’ solo success had created an image of “Phil Collins and Genesis”, as if Genesis was the band behind him. Filling out this role and changing this public image, would be very difficult.

Calling All Stations

Ray, Mike and Tony went into the band’s studio “The Farm” in Surrey and recorded the new album “Calling All Stations“*. Most of the songs were already written by Tony and Mike, but Ray was able to add some of his ideas. The album was very dark and melancholic. Phil Collins’ influence on Genesis music, his energy and cheerfulness combined with Mike’s and Tony’s music, was missing. The Genesis chemistry only worked fully when all three of them worked and wrote together.

Ray’s expressive voice worked with the melodramatic music. He did a remarkable job on the album and the following tour. His voice and style was a bit closer to Peter Gabriel’s, but the music on “Calling All Stations” seemed to be closer to its predecessor “We Can’t Dance“. Like “We Can’t Dance”, “Calling All Stations” was produced by Nick Davis.

Three singles were released from the sombre, dark record: “Congo”, “Shipwrecked” and “Not About Us”. Ray co-wrote the last song as well as the songs “Small Talk” and “There Must Be Some Other Way”. The drums on the album were played by Israeli session drummer Nir Zidkyahu and Nick D’Virgilio from American prog band Spock’s Beard.

The critics were not too kind. NMW wrote that “the world doesn’t care enough about Genesis to make the effort” to buy the album and “like the rest of the population, they’ve forgotten why they were once any good”. Q wrote that the album consists of “just darkness, confusion, individual isolation” and described it as “one-paced and one-dimensional.”

Live on tour 1998

On tour, Ray proved that he could sing songs from all the eras. The setlist covered hits like “Invisible Touch”, “No Son Of Mine” or “Follow You Follow Me” (in a lovely acoustic version), younger epics like “Home By The Sea” and Gabriel-era songs like “Carpet Crawlers” and “The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway”. The new material worked well between these songs and some tracks, like the title track, were even better live. Ray, Mike and Tony were accompanied by drummer Nir Zidkyahu and guitarist Anthony Drennan, who filled the roles of Chester Thompson and Daryl Stuermer.

The album was not as successful as the ones before

But unfortunately the album was not a big commercial success when compared to the albums before. It reached no. 2 in British charts, but only no. 54 in America. Also, ticket sales were not as high was they used to be and the tour had to be minimized in terms of production and venues. The American leg of the tour had to be cancelled completely. So after the 1998 tour, Tony Banks and Mike Rutherford decided to put Genesis to rest.

It was not to be the end of Genesis. But back in 1998 it looked like it. Unfortunately, Ray Wilson, who had been thrown into this situation, was even made responsible by some fans and critics. This is simply not fair. Ray has a unique voice and delivered the songs – his own and Peter’s and Phil’s – in a special way.

After the end of Genesis, Ray took some time to recover and has since started a solo career. He releases solo albums and still plays some Genesis and Genesis-related songs during his live shows.

Title photo: Ray Wilson live in Dortmund in 2017 (Photo: André Wilms of “The Photography Of Mister Ilms)“.

3×3 (EP/1982) – Genesis

In May 1982, Genesis released “3×3”, an extended-play featuring three previously unreleased tracks from their 1981 album “Abacab”.

Three songs from the “Abacab” sessions

Abacab*” from 1981 had brought a change in sound and style for Genesis. They had a new producer (Hugh Padgham) and had bought “The Farm” in Surrey, where they had their own studio and could take time to jam for the new record. When they put “Abacab” together, there was not enough space to include all the songs they liked. So they decided to release an EP with three leftover tracks the following year.

The three tracks were “Paperlate”, “You Might Recall” and “Me And Virgil”. All of them were written by Tony Banks, Phil Collins and Mike Rutherford together. The EP “3 x 3*” was released in May 1982 between two Genesis tours. In the US, they did not release “3×3”. Only “Paperlate” was released as a regular single with “You Might Recall” as b-side.

The songs

“Paperlate” is similar to Abacab’s “No Reply At All”. It also includes the Earth Wind & Fire horn section with which Phil Collins had worked on his first solo album the year before. The song’s title comes from the song “Dancing With The Moonlit Knight” from the band’s 1973 album “Selling England By the Pound*”. During a soundcheck of the song in 1978 or 1980, Phil was repeating the phrase “Paperlate cried a voice in the crowd…” over and over again, which inspired the band to write a song around this term.

“You Might Recall” is a romantic tune, which resembles some earlier Rutherford compositions like “Alone Tonight”. The third track, “Me and Virgil” resembles his “Deep In The Motherlode” (1978) in lyrics. This time it was Phil Collins who wrote a Wild West story. The band tried to create a “The Band”-like song. Phil Collins was so unhappy with the song that it was left off the Genesis “Archive” release in 2000, which featured many non-Album songs on CD for the first time.

The artwork was inspired by The Beatles

Inspired by the Beatles’ EP’s in the 1960’s, Genesis decided to create a cover similar to their “Twist And Shout*” EP. They also called in Tony Barrow to write the sleeve notes. Barrow had been the Beatles’ publicity man 20 years earlier. He wrote the Genesis sleeve notes in the same style (“These cheeky chappies from Guildford…”).

One reviewer was not familiar with the Beatles original and misunderstood the design for being serious. But it was another sign of the band’s humour and the EP was a success for them. With “Paperlate” they appeared on “Top of the Tops” once more. The EP went to number 10 in the British charts.

Three Sides Live

In the same year, Genesis also released the successful live album “Three Sides Live*”. As EP’s rarely charted well in America, they decided to put the “3×3” songs on the fourth side of the live album and not release the EP individually. To complete the fourth side, they added two leftovers from “Duke” (1980): The Rutherford composition “Open Door” and the Banks composition “Evidence Of Autumn”. The UK on the other hand had a fourth side live.

“3×3” was never released as a CD. Instead, “Paperlate” and “You Might Recall” were released on the “Genesis Archive 2 1976-1992*” box set from 2000. It features rare and unreleased songs for the first time on CD. All three songs were included in the box set “1976-1982*” on CD. Even “Me And Virgil” was remixed for this release.

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