''COR, saw this ace band the other night," said a friend of mineduring that sunny day that was the summer of 1971. "I've never seen anythingquite like them. "
The friend, known by many as Harry Laughing Trousers, wentan to describe the band who turned out to be Genesis. I muttered somethingabout never having the pleasure to have heard them and strolled off tothe local for a few pints.
A few weeks later Genesis were in town so I thought I'd strollalong and find out what they were all about. It was a strange evening.It was a small gig and Genesis were regarded as a small time band, buttheir mu,sic was something else.
Every song was a masterpiece. I lovingly nurtured a high respectfor the group as months rolled by and I lost track of them for a while.Were they dead, had they left the country? l had expected them to havebecome ginormous by this summer, but alas they were still doing those nervewrackinglittle gigs and were still being treated as a small time band.
Then came Reading. Genesis stole the show on the Friday and theywere beginning to emerge. Their bread and butter is still the club andcollege circuit and although they don't draw huge crowds every person thatgoes to see them knows what to expect and loves every minute.
Drummer Phil Collins and singer / flautist Peter Gabriel are probablythe two men in the band whose personalities come over strongest on stageand Gabriel is one of the strangest showmen on the scene right now.
While others have their hair done green, silver and other assortedcolours, Peter has cut a wedge of hair from the front of his scalp.
"There are various reasons for having done this," said Peter in hisusual wry way.
"The first is that it was done so that one can see the lights, jumpingfrom one side to another. Secondly it is a symbol of the desert that lieswithin, and finally it could also be translated by the fact that my razorslipped. "Who's a cheeky boy, then?
You can decide for yourself which version is true — if any are —but the little tale gives one an insight into the serious yet humourousway Genesis look at life.
But is Peter just jumping on the glam rock bandwagon, after all you'vegot to be pretty strange to get attention these days. "I've been tartingmyself up for years — since we first started in fact. It's all part ofcreating a fantasy for the audience to enjoy. "
What makes Genesis different from most bands who are looking fortheir place alongside the big guns in the business is their presentation,which is as entertaining as their music. In between numbers Gabriel enhancesthe fantasy by taking the audience on an excursion through a make believeworld where people tend to get smashed to pieces in violent croquet matches.
One of my favourite Genesis horror tales tells of a lady dressedin a trouser-quite who boards a tube train in London. Looking around atthe blank faces in the car-' riage she decides to liven things up a bitand reaches to the top of her head where she finds a zip which runs aroundher body, cranium to crotch, and peels off her skin, her flesh fallingto the floor of the carriage with a "plop. "
"A few- months ago I decided to cut my stories down a bit," saidPeter. "We were playing a lot on the Continent and the audiences just couldn'tunderstand what I was going on about. They just fell flat.
"I am going to work on my stories again, though, because the Europeanthing meant tbat I neglected them a little. I started telling them justto fill in in between numbers so that the rest of the band can swap instrumentsand get ready for the next song. "
The new Genesis album, Foxtrot, is their fourth album, although theirfirst LP, on Decca, is rarely talked about by the band or their followers.Since they joined Charisma Genesis have boldly tried to progress in theirown field and have always gone where others may have feared to tread.
"This album will make or break us," said Phil "but we say that wheneverwe bring out a new album. We always think the public will hate it and pushus into oblivion. The first side of the new ablum is like four songs thathave been arranged, but the second side really is a natural progressionfrom what we were doing on Nursery Cryme. "
"In the studio there is always the temptation to put a lot of extrainstruments and sounds into the songs which we couldn't possibly hope torecreate on stage, but nevertheless we still take a lot of time gettingan album together. Nursery Cryme took over 10 weeks to get together.
"We'd never do a live album because of this. There would be too muchgoing on to make a good live recording. "
Like many of today's musicians Peter admires the work of David Bowiewho he thinks is one of the best Iyricists around. "Bolan? " asked Peter,"He's blown it. "
One can usually get close to what makes a band tick by finding outwhat their musical tastes are and it may not shock you to know that InThe Court Of The Crimson King, the first King Crimson album, was one ofthe strongest influences on Genesis in the early days alongside some ofProool Harum's work, but both Phil and Peter are pop feaks on the quiet.
''There are plans for Phil and I to get some of our friends intoa studio to cut a few pop-type singles," said Peter. "But I don't thinkwe'd release them under our names. "
What about those stories, would they be going on record. "Oh, no,"said Peter. "The spoken word gets boring very quickly and people wouldget sick of them after a few plays; "