Friday, November 10, 2006

Yet another tiresome reading from the Book of Genesis

Genesis - the not so holy trinity of Collins, Rutherford and Banks - please don't turn it on again

No, this isn’t a rant about fundamentalist Christians who refuse to accept the theory of evolution or the Big Bang, but a reaction to the news that Genesis are about to go on tour again. Their shows will inevitably be a sell-out given that Collins, Rutherford and Banks the most successful of the band’s many line-ups are to reunite for the first time in 15 years, but I for one won’t be present. The idea of middle-aged rockers reforming to dwell on their past glories is not a particularly palatable one for me, even though the Rolling Stones have made it their stock in trade.

To his credit, Peter Gabriel, the original frontman with Genesis was “unavailable” for the tour. Unlike Phil Collins who based his solo career around vomit-inducing radio-friendly pop songs, Gabriel has gone from strength to strength as a serious artist and quality musician. He has experimented with a range of styles and helped bring world music to a new audience, draw attention to previously unknown artists such as as Senegalese musician Youssou N’Dour as well as campaigning for third world and human rights causes without the self-righteous arrogance of Bono or Geldof. While the remaining members of Genesis made their fortunes by selling out, Gabriel has refused to sacrifice his artistic integrity for the sake of money or popularity.

I suppose I’m being harsh on the Collins era Genesis here, but to be fair to them they did manage to produce the odd decent album like Invisible Touch. However in my opinion their finest hour was under Gabriel. It is remarkable that Gabriel left the band while still in his mid-20s, yet recorded four classic albums, Nursery Cryme, Foxtrot, Selling England by the Pound and The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway which inspired a whole generation of bands, notably Marillion. Gabriel’s Genesis belied a quintessentially English world of whimsy and eccentricity, a world explored by a number of other artists of the time, such as the late Syd Barrett of Pink Floyd, Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull and Ray Davies of the Kinks. Gabriel’s tales of giant killer plants, unscrupulous property developers, cockney gangsters fighting in forests and parallel worlds inhabited by strange creatures beneath the New York subway provided an early exposure of the creative genius he would later be renowned for. Some of these songs will no doubt be performed by Genesis on their forthcoming tour, but it just won’t be the same.


Caroline said...

It's not surprising that Peter Gabriel opted out although if he hadn't it would have been bedlam to get a ticket. I'm sure it'll be a good enough show for what it's worth. I enjoyed some of the post Gabriel stuff but Phil Collins, no matter how talented, became too annoyingly there all the time if you know what I mean... He seemed to be on everybody's and anybody's latest album hired in as the session musician to be had. I just grew weary of his omnipresence.

CW said...

I think Gabriel made the right decision, Caroline. Despite the brilliance of his Genesis material, I don't think the idea of a 55 year old man prancing around in a dress with a fox mask on or dressed as a flower would be good for his dignity or credibility as a "serious" artist, an accolade which Collins never managed to achieve.

Perry/Chicago said...

I don't think that would have been an issue. As a once fit 20 something Rael, he could pull it off.
But I do think multi media backgrounds of the themes that were once the costumes could add quite the bit of drama, without dressing up a chubby 55 year old bald guy in a red dress and foxhead . . .

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CW said...

An interesting thought Perry - a remake of The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway using multimedia technology that was unavailable back in the '70s. Computer generated slippermen would certainly solve some of the technical problems which besieged the original LLDOB tour and allegedly played a major part in Gabriel leaving the band. It was Gabriel's intention to make the LLDOB into a film, a project he would be unlikely to return to now, but if a major Hollywood producer took up the idea, who knows what might happen...a cinematic masterpiece in the making - a modern version of Fritz Lang's "Metropolis" - which was presumably one of Gabriel's inspirations for "The Lamb"?

Perry/Chicago said...

It has been bandied about that the reason PG has even considered the idea of resurrecting TLLDOB was his regret that it had never been filmed.

Personally, I'd prefer to see a more rounded performance of the bands "classic" material from "From Genesis To Revelations" thru the first two Collins led efforts "Trick Of The Tail" and "Wind and Wuthering."
In my eyes, it was the departure of Steve Hackett, not Peter Gabriel that was the turning point stylistically for Genesis.

However, a recreation of "The Lamb . . ." would certainly be an occasion for celebration . . .

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CW said...

The departure of Steve Hackett, I suppose marked the end of Genesis as a progressive rock band and heralded the transition to a more mainstream pop approach. While "Trick Of The Tail" and "Wind and Wuthering" were decent efforts, I think they lacked the creative imagination and whacky surreal humour of Gabriel's input as demonstrated by tracks like "Willow Farm" from "Supper's Ready" and "Harold the Barrel".
I saw the tribute band Re-Genesis perform "The Lamb" live and do quite a good job of it. Their frontman manages to sound uncannily like Peter Gabriel.

Perry/Chicago said...

"Willow Farm" actually was a Mike Rutherford bit that "experts" believe was a bit of levity thrown in to a very serious intense piece of work.
I saw The Musical Box perform the Lamb and this weekend will see them perform "Selling England By The Pound."

In a case of life imitating art or art imitating life, rumors are the PG character is set to "retire" from The Musical Box after this round of shows and guess what the band is planning next ?
Yup, you guessed it. The drummer will take over as singer and they will begin to recreate "Trick Of The Tail" and "Wind and Wuthering."

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Perry/Chicago said...

As an addendum to the above observation on The Musical Box, if they do recreate "Trick Of The Tail" tour, I'd be more interested than anything to see who gets to play the Bill Bruford character !

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CW said...

It's all in the lyrics.."play me my it comes again..."

Prophetic irony perhaps?

By the way, can anyone out there in the blogosphere or beyond the furthest reaches of cyberspace confirm or deny the rumour that Fish is about to rejoin Marillion?

Now that would be a tour to remember.

To quote from the unofficial Book of Genesis:
"in the beginning the word was made Fish"

Antonio from Italy said...

I published a post on Genesis reunion on my blog too.
They're my favourite band and the news they could be on stage again filled me with joy. I waited for this news for days only to be let down by the announcement that Peter was unavailable for the tour.
I bought the ticket for the concert in Turin in July 1992, but that date was cancelled due to a truck drivers' strike that halted the band's crew and stage material in France.
This time the closest place to my home where they'll perform is Rome and it's way too far for me.

Anyway, though I agree with Ciaran and Perry about first four albums being the best, I can't deny that "A Trick Of Tail" and "Wind & Wuthering" still have good atmospheres. Even after Hackett's departure they were able to produce good music. "And Then There Were Three" is as good as the previous two LPs. And the album "Genesis" (the Shapes Album) have some very astonishing pieces ("Home by the sea" over all).

I don't know if you know, but during the whole 2007 all their albums will be re-printed in SACD/DVD versions.