On 23 September 2002, Peter Gabriel’s album Up was released.Continue reading “Up (2002) – Peter Gabriel”
After Phil Collins’ departure from Genesis, the remaining two members Tony Banks and Mike Rutherford kept writing music and hired a new singer: Ray Wilson, born in 1968, known as lead vocalist of the band Stiltskin.Continue reading “Calling All Stations (1997) – 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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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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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 on the record 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.
‘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 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 with the band trying 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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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 being ‘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 presented their next demos, he was not impressed with what he heard.
Their producer Jonathan King was a Bee Gees fan
Jonathan King wanted to have a potential hit single from his group. Peter and Tony knew that King liked The Bee Gees, so they wrote a Bee-Gees-pastiche called ‘The Silent Sun‘.*
‘I tried my best Robin Gibb impersonation,’ Peter laughs.
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 a mixture of folk and pop with Tony Banks’ piano (already) being very dominant. The main focus is on Peter’s voice. The strings were added later in the studio by King. ‘The Silent Sun’ is also one of very few official recordings that feature the group’s original drummer Chris Stewart.
‘’The Silent Sun’ came after we’d been drilled in the art of trying to write short pop songs by Jonathan King, which I resisted,’ Ant laughs. ‘I didn’t like ‘The Silent Sun’ at all.’ He also thinks that it was a good thing the single was not successful: ‘If the single had been successful the group would never have developed its proper style.’
Tony Banks agrees but thinks that the song would have made a great hit single. For Peter Gabriel, one of the most exciting moments in his musical career was seeing the name Genesis in the Record Mirror. Mike Rutherford remembers the excitement hearing ‘The Silent Sun’ for the first time on the radio in Ant’s kitchen.
The Decca release list from 2 February 1968 called the single ‘quietly attractive’. The New Musical Express wrote: ‘Competently handled by Genesis, with a beautiful flowing arrangement of violins and cellos. A disc of many facets and great depth, but it might be a bit too complex for the average fan.’
‘The Silent Sun’ failed to chart
Despite their enthusiasm, ‘The Silent Sun’ did not make the charts. The following album From Genesis To Revelation was also a flop and ultimately, the band and King separated ways.
Genesis were able to write and produce more adventurous music and once they were famous, King kept re-releasing his early recordings with the band in different versions over the years.
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Thompson, Dave, Turn it on again. Peter Gabriel, Phil Collins & Genesis. (San Francisco: Backbeat Books, 2005).
In February 1981, Phil Collins’ first solo album Face Value was released. It went straight to number 1 in the UK charts and to number 7 in the US. His debut was his gateway into superstardom and includes his signature track ‘In The Air Tonight’. Let’s take a closer look at the album that turned Phil Collins from Genesis front man into one of the biggest solo artists of the 1980s.
Genesis touring life
By the time Phil Collins wrote the songs for what would become Face Value*, he was a broken man. The drummer of Genesis had become the singer of Genesis in 1976. In 1978, the group released the album …And Then There Were Three*, which included their first big hit single ‘Follow You Follow Me’. The group had become a trio: Tony Banks on keyboards, Mike Rutherford on guitar and bass and Phil Collins on drums and vocals. On …And Then There Were Three, they had moved towards shorter, simpler songs with direct lyrics.
Following the album, the band went on a massive tour that also took them to Japan. Banks, Collins and Rutherford were joined by drummer Chester Thompson, who had played with them on the previous tour, and by Daryl Stuermer for the first time , who became their live guitarist and bassist after Steve Hackett had left the band. This five-piece group would be the Genesis (live) line-up until 2007 (with a short interruption in the 1990s, but that is another story).
Before going to Japan, Phil’s wife Andrea told him that she and the kids would leave if he went on that tour. When Phil returned home, he realized that she had made her promise come true. In an attempt to save his marriage, Phil followed his wife and children to Canada in 1979, but things did not work out and he returned to England alone.
A broken marriage
Phil spent his time alone in his house in Surrey and started to write songs to express his feelings. He sat down at the piano and played along to the drum machine while improvising lyrics. Up to that point, he had not been a songwriter in Genesis . When Tony, Mike and Phil got back together to record their 1980 album Duke*, Phil brought in some demos to Tony and Mike’s surprise. They liked his simpler, more direct approach and chose two of his songs for Duke: The swinging ‘Misunderstanding’ (which turned out to be a big hit in America) and the very personal, heartbreaking ballad ‘Please Don’t Ask’.
When band manager Tony Smith came to visit Phil and listened to the other demos, he suggested to put them out as a solo record. Mike and Tony had already released solo albums during his time in Canada in 1979. Phil took his demos to producer Hugh Padgham, whom he knew from working together on Peter Gabriel’s third solo record, and they turned them into an album. The album became hugely successful and is considered one of Phil’s best.
In The Air Tonight
The opening track ‘In The Air Tonight’ with its dark, eery chords set the mood for the album. The song builds up tension over an interesting drum machine rhythm that finally bursts when the real drums come in with the famous fill-in. The lyrics were mostly improvised and the drum fill was pure coincidence. Had they used another take, maybe another drum fill would be considered the most famous drum fill of all time. The song went to no. 2 in the UK charts has always been the highlight in every Phil Collins show.
The Phenix Horns
The next single, ‘I Missed Again’ is a funky, up-beat song that features a brass section: The Phenix Horns, who played with Earth, Wind And Fire. The horn sections would become a trademark of many of Phil’s solo hits over the decade.
Apart from the hits, the album shows Phil playing with different styles. The ballad ‘You Know What I Mean’ is only him on piano and vocals. The instrumental ‘Hand In Hand’ plays with influences from jazz and black music and was a great show opener in later years as it showcased the talent of every musician involved.
Everything that would define the solo artist Phil Collins was born on Face Value and is presented there in its purest and rawest form. Maybe that is why many fans consider it one of Phil’s best albums. And unlike some of his other works, it definitely stands the test of time.
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After the ‘We Can’t Dance’ tour in 1992, Genesis released two live albums titled The Way We Walk (1992/93). A ‘typical’ Genesis concert from that period was split in two. The first volume, The Shorts contained the hits, the second volume The Longs contained longer epics. Live – The Way We Walk, Volume Two: The Longs was released in January 1993 . It was their last release with Phil Collins before he left the group and the band’s last no. 1 album in the UK.
The second volume of the live release The Way We Walk
All the songs on the live album were recorded on the We Can’t Dance tour in 1992. It starts with an impressive ‘Old Medley’ which incoporates snippets from ‘Dance On A Volcano’, ‘The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway’, ‘The Musical Box’, ‘Firth Of Fifth’, ‘I Know What I Like (In Your Wardrobe)’ and more. The sound of the album is pristine, Mike Rutherford’s and Daryl Stuermer’s guitars are much more prominent than on previous live releases. This shift in sound came with new producer Nick Davis, who had also produced Genesis’ last studio album We Can’t Dance. Daryl only plays guitar on the ‘Old Medley’, Mike plays guitar on all the other tracks of the album and rhythm guitar on ‘Dance On Volcano’ in the ‘Old Medley’.
The medley is followed by ‘Driving The Last Spike’, ‘Domino (Part I: In The Glow Of The Night, Part II: The Last Domino)’, ‘Fading Lights’, ‘Home By The Sea/Second Home By The Sea’ and the ‘Drum Duet’ between Phil Collins and Chester Thompson.
‘When we came down to the dressing room afterwards the roadies had put down what tonight’s timing was, because it always got a bit longer’, Phil laughs. ‘They put bets on it and see if we were going to break the 10-minute mark tonight. It was definitely the highlight. Tony Banks would debate because he used to go and have a beer, but it was one of the highlights of the show for sure.’1
‘There’s something that happens when you got two drums locked in together’, Chester says. ‘The power is just so amazing. […] Those moments for me were the ones where there was, for a lack of a better word, a majesty to it.’2
Apart from the medley, the other songs come from the most recent albums Genesis (1983), Invisible Touch (1986) and We Can’t Dance (1991).
Their last number one album with Phil Collins
All of the songs sound stronger than on record with Chester Thompson and Daryl Stuermer playing an important part in it. Chester’s drumming and Daryl’s bass lines on ‘Driving The Last Spike’ lift the song up on another level.
‘Fading Lights’ is interesting as it is only played by the three band members Tony, Phil and Mike. It is a typical long song in band tradition with an extraordinary instrumental part (also way better than on record). The lyrics about fading memories were written by Tony and it almost seems as if Genesis were discreetly saying goodbye to their fans. Was it irony or prophecy that the band really split up afterwards?
‘Domino’ and ‘Home By The Sea’ both sound better than on record because the e-drums are replaced by real drums and there is much more energy in the performance. The ‘Old Medley’ songs that would have sounded interesting as standalone tracks are ‘Dance On A Volcano’ and ‘The Musical Box’. ‘The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway’ and ‘I Know What I Like’ would have sounded very modern between the more recent hits.
Many fans do not like the way the band split up the two The Way We Walk volumes. Nonetheless, The Longs is a great compilation with many of the songs presented in their best versions.
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