We’ve never done a music review before, but this one is fitting. You see, I have two all time favorite bands. One is the Christian Rock band Petra that spanned over thirty years and still occasionally does reunions and such. The other one is Genesis.
Genesis has NEVER been popular. Even among the classic rock crowd or the prog rockers, Genesis has a reputation for being…I don’t know….vanilla. I always chalk that up to exposure. There are some folks who insist that they were fine until Peter Gabriel left the band. I usually hear cries about how they sold out and got too mainstream after Gabriel left the original line up. I don’t really buy it. Gabriel got a lot more mainstream after he left Genesis as well. Songs like “Shock the Monkey”, “Shaking the Tree”, “Kiss that Frog”, and “Mercy Street” all got plenty of radio airplay. It was more assign of the shifts in music than of selling out. I truly believe that too much of the issue is that too many people have only ever heard “Invisible Touch” on the radio, but never gotten the album and flipped it over to the other side and listened to “Domino”.
“Blood on the windows
Millions of ordinary people are there
They gaze at the scenery
They act as if it is perfectly clear
Take a look at the mountains
Take a look at the beautiful river of blood.
The liquid surrounds me
I fight to rise from this river of hell
I stare round about me
Children are swimming and playing with boats
Their features are changing
Their bodies dissolve and I am alone.”
That’s what I’m talking about. For a teenage me who was sick of love songs and wanted some meat to his music, this was great stuff. I’m just as big a fan of the Phil Collins era as I am of the Gabriel era. In fact my favorite point is that really brief period where Gabriel was gone but before Steve Hackett left…
So what happened? Why did the band implode with the release of “Callign All Stations”? was it really that bad without Phil Collins? A lot of people like to point fingers at the failure of that album with glee, but it’s honestly not a bad record. Ray Wilson is a good replacement for Collins on vocals and the new direction works. It feels like Genesis…but a new chapter.
Mike Ruthford and Tony Banks have both gone on record as saying they relate to each other though Phil. He was kind of the filter for their ideas, but I think it’s more than that. When Collins took over the lead vocals, some one else had to take over the drums (trust me. I’ve tried doing lead vocals while keeping time behind a drum set -it’s devilishly hard to do and nearly impossible to do WELL). That was Chester Thompson. When Hackett left, They hired Daryl Sturmer for the lead guitar. Rutherford has actually pointed out that Sturmer is faster than him on the frets, but Sturmer always pointed out that Rutherford was the creative drive behind the riffs.
Thompson and Sturmer were very much a part of the band, even though they were basically employees and didn’t own a piece of the band. They were there for every tour for twenty years.
But they also worked for Phil.
When Collins left, Sturmer and Thompson had their prior commitments to him leaving Banks and Rutherford alone. You see, it wasn’t one member of a trio leaving, it was three members of the band…the majority of them. That’s a lot to replace and rebuild.
I think it still could have worked if they had spent a couple of years touring smaller venues and released one more album with Walston. Quality was really never the issue as much as manpower. Still, Banks and Rutherford made the call, at their age, they were ready to call it a day. I can’t blame them. I was thrilled when they reunited for the “Turn it on Again” tour in 2007. This was the band I knew. There’s always been talk of a Gabriel reunion or some classic lien up, but this, this really is my era’s Genesis and I’m good with it. This band has earned it’s place.
Look, forget about the tripe the radio plays. Grab yourself a copy of the self titled “Genesis” album, or the “Lamb Lies Down on Broadway” or even “We Can’t Dance” with brilliant songs like “Dreaming While You Sleep” and “Driving the Last Spike”. Check out all the stuff that isn’t on the radio because with this band there’s far more than meets the eye.