From Genesis to Revelation
Released in March 1969 this album is a record which was obviously made by inexperienced schoolboys.
Their theme was the creation of the world, as told in the Bible, and the subsequent evolution of Mankind.
It was a bit like a local film club remaking Ben Hur for their first movie project.
The album remained an unmentionable topic for many years. Few fans were even aware of its existence. Despite its faults, the album did have considerable artistic merit. It gave an early indication of Peter Gabriel's unique vocal qualities and the musical capabilities of Tony Banks.
It began in 1967 when the band sent a demo tape to Jonathan King, a former Charterhouse pupil, the school they went to.
The first singles both were a flop.
They have just recruited a new drummer (John Silver) replacing Chris Stewart. The material was rehearsed at Silver's home in the country. In London they recorded the whole thing as a concept album at Regent Sound. King added strings by Arthur Greenslade. Those took up one whole stereo channel while Genesis were on the other one.
Released in black cover with golden letters the album was not recognised as it was placed in the religious record racks. Without radio plays it sank without trace.
The only positive thing they got from King was the band's name - GENESIS.
Released in October 1970 this seems to be the first real Genesis-record. Their new manager was Tony Stratton-Smith, who signed them to his Charisma label after seeing them play a gig in March. They also have a new drummer, J.Mayhew, recruited through an advertisement in the Melody Maker. After completing this album in July 1970 guitarist Phillips and drummer Mayhew both quit. TRESPASS was produced by John Anthony. It was recorded at Trident Studios, London during June & July. More confident and dynamic than the first album it included an astonishing 7minute opus 'The knife'
This shows that the band was doing something nobody else has done at that time: extended pieces !! TRESPASS had a distinctive and attractive cover with artwork by Paul Whitehead that depicted two figures peering through a castle window. A jewelled, serrated knife stabbing through the design, added to the air of mystery and intrigue. Despite the superiour package it failed to get into the charts. It sold about 6000 copies worldwide.
Released in November 1971 NURSERY CRIME was a crucial album which saw the band take another step with the arrival of Phil Collins to strengthen the rhythm section as a new drummer, and Steve Hackett to flesh out the guitar sounds. Collins was a good humoured brilliant drummer who cheered the group up when they almost have given up. Hackett's playing combined both melodic charm and outbursts of unexpected violence. Even with the two new members the album sounded surprisingly similar to TRESPASS.
And on "For absent friends" Phil Collins makes his vocal debut.
Production was by John Anthony again, assisted by engineer David Hentschel who would produce later Genesis albums. The album boasted a superb cover designed by Paul Whitehead. Inspired by the opening track 'Musical box' he painted a yellowhued, strangely disturbing scene. A Victorian maiden, resembling Alice in Wonderland armed with a croquet mallet, stands bestride a massive lawn that stretches to infinity and is littered with severed heads.
With this masterpiece released in October 1972 the great trio of classic early albums was completed. It delighted fans finally attracted the full attention of the music press. Packed with innovative ideas, FOXTROT included two of their most celebrated works, 'Supper's ready' and 'Watcher of the skies'. These coincided with Peter Gabriel's increasingly theatrical stage presence, in which he used masks and costumes to act out various roles. FOXTROT was produced by David Hitchcock and recorded at Island Studios, London during August 1972.
With UV light and Peter's make up, 'Watcher of the skies' became a very strong opening for Genesis' live shows.
Selling England by the Pound
Certainly Genesis could not be expected to continue producing elaborate Gothic works like 'Supper's ready', nor 'Watcher of the skies', ad infinitum. Instead they began to devise shorter, more self-contained radio friendly songs, while retaining their musical standarts. The result is another masterpiece recorded at Island Studios during August 1973, produced by John Burns and Genesis. Undoubtedly this was the best produced album so far, with a markedly improved sound quality that elevated Gabriel's vocals out of the mush of overdubs. Also there was a change in artwork with a cover painting by Betty Swanwick, while Rutherford introduced an electric sitar to his armoury of instruments.
The Lamb lies down on Broadway
That's it. Genesis' most ambitious work to date that ultimately led to the shock departure of their much loved singer Peter Gabriel. This record was meant to be the blockbuster that elevated the band to mega star status. However, it was based on such a complicated, demanding story line developed independently by Peter Gabriel, that in the short term it proved hard for audiences to understand and accept and caused friction within the group. Gabriel's comic fantasy stories that had endeared him to fans lost their appeal when taken too seriously and spread over four sides of an album. But nevertheless the work became the basis of an impressive stage show. Peter produced some of the most bizarre costumes for 'The lamb' show, including the lumpen and misshapen 'Slipperman', and weird looking 'Lamia'.The band illustrated the story with Peter as the main character 'Rael' and three projection screens.
THE LAMB was recorded at Glosspant, Wales, with the Island Mobile Studio and was mixed in Island Studios, London, during late summer 1974. It was produced by John Burns with Genesis and engineered by David Hutchins, while the sleeve was provided by Hipgnosis, the design team famed for their work with Pink Floyd. Over 23 songs Gabriel told the story of Rael, the spray gun toting Puerto Rican punk from NYC. Dealing with problems of alienation and split personality, even Gabriel found it difficult to explain the complex story. Even the explanation on the LP sleeve it did not really help.