Throughout their nine-year history, Genesis has approached their live performances with as much care for presentation as they have exhibited in their artfully crafted vinyl outings. As their unique fantasy universe took shape, and parallel with their growing musical and Lyrical sophistication, the group began to develop a highly original stage presentation to reinforce it all. With meticulous attention paid to sonic detail, a level of lighting and staging previously unseen in a rock context, the on-stage Genesis creates a total dramatic environment. As a result, they have earned something of a reputation as the live band's live band.
After cloing a number of dates as support act in England (circa 1970), Genesis quickly came to the point where they had to do their own shows in order to perform with the sophisticated staging essential to their presentation. Thus, they became one of the only headlining acts that "no one had ever heard of" As a result, the Genesis audience grew slowly hut steadily and loyally as the word of their stunning concert performances spread throughout England and Europe. Similarly from their headlining stateside debut in 1972, Genesis has never opened for anyone in the U.S., building their now-considerable following as they did at home. And for the record, their audience doubles every time they return to any given city
"SECONDS OUT" is the vinyl documentation of the landmark Genesis World Tours of 1976 and 1977, their most successful years ever. Spearheaded by the chart-topping LPs "A TRICK OF THE TAIL' and "WIND & WUTHERING:' the lengthy (and sro) itineraries literally traversed continents (from North & South America to the U.K. & Europe). With percussionist extraordinaire Phil Collins also handling the lead vocals (a dual role he had assumed with Peter Gabriel's departure in mid-'75), the band introduced the concept of the "temporary drummer' allowing Phil to devote his energies. in the live situation, to those sparkling windpipes. Thus, "SECONDS OUT" (released in November '77) preserves for posterity the work of tour-only drummers Bill Bruford ('76) and Chester Thompson ('77) including some thunderous duets with Mr. Collins.
"SECONDS OUT." recorded in Paris (with production by David Hentschel & Genesis). finally captures on vinyl those special live versions of Genesis classics, including tunes spanning nearly the whole history of the band (thus also making this double-album a perfect primer of the extensive Genesis catalog). The tenth Genesis LP overall, it ranges from a segment of '71's "THE MUSICAL BOX" to '77's "AFTERGLOW." The collective sound of Collins, Tony Banks (keyboards, 12-string, backing voices), Mike Rutherford (12-string & basses, bass pedals, backing voices) and Steve Hackett (lead & 12-string guitars) is showcased in 12 selections, with the masterwork of "SUPPER'S READY" occupying all of Side Three. From "I KNOW WHAT I LIKE" to "THE LAMB LIES DOWN ON BROADWAY" to "ROBBERY ASSAULT & BATTERY," "SECONDS OUT" is a living testament to the on-stage magic of Genesis.
Eight years have elapsed since an embryonic. still teen-aged songwriting collective calling itself Genesis made its first appearance on vinyl. Nine albums later, the music of Genesis. for all its sophistication, is still based on the original premise that the group would be a vehicle for the songwriting of its members such that band sound and composition would be far more important than irrelevant technical display To that end. Genesis has been continually developing and refining an unmistakable style characterized by complex, yet highly accessible and carefully controlled instrumental arrangement, a natural melodic sense, and fantasy-oriented story lyrics. With each succeeding album, the brilliance of that original premise has become more evident. It has also become apparent that each new work must be taken on its own terms, because Genesis will never be caught standing still.
AND A GLANCE AT THE PAST
In 1966, England's exclusive Charterhouse School had on its rolls four budding songwriter/musicians by the names of Tony Banks, Peter Gabriel, Michael Rutherford and Anthony Phillips. Banding together in a writers' collective, they aimed their sights at creating pop hits for othen; to perform. But it would ultimately become clear that only Genesis themselves could do justice to the unique style that was emerging from their joint efforts.
The year is 1968, and the brilliant pop eccentric/producer Jonathan King, also a Charterhouse alumnus, brings a still teenaged Genesis (with the addition of new drummer John Silver) into the studio for British Decca. The resultant LP, "FROM GENESIS TO REVELATION' consisted of 13 songs, and while not exactly revolutionary, it was an inspired suggestion of what was to come. Retiring to the proverbial country cottage, the group began to formulate the combination of elements that would characterize the unmistakable Genesis sound.
The Sept. 1970 release of "TRESPASS" marked the first of a remarkable series of albums. With John Mayhew now on drums, the LP's six songs were marked by an original blend of electric and acoustic formats largely within flowing and melodic tone poems. Produced by John Anthony, "TRESPASS" contained "THE KNIFE" the piece which would serve as the band's show closer through 1973. ("WHITE MOUNTAIN" from this LP was also revived for Genesis' 1976 tour.) It is in the following year, though, that the Genesis vision would come fully into bloom. With the subsequent departure of Anthony Phillips and Mayhew, drummer extraordinaire (and ex-child actor) Phil Collins was enlisted. Three months later, guitarist Steve Hackett came on the scene, and Genesis became a full-fledged group of five superb songwriters and musicians.
"NURSERY CRYME" (Sept. 1971), the first LP by the new line-up. met with rave reviews in England and the band's cult following swelled in the U.S. The album contained the Genesis classics "MUSICAL BOX" and "RETURN OF THE GIANT HOGWEED" as the group's fantasy universe took shape. Parallel with their rapidly growing musical and lyrical sophistication, Genesis began to develop a highly original stage presentation to reinforce the music. With the four instrumentalists maintaining a low visual profile, vocalist Peter Gabriel began to integrate theatrical elements, including mime and costuming, along with his unusually variable voice and introductory story-monologues.
"FOXTROT" (Oct. 1972) contained several acknowledged rock masterpieces, including the opening "WATCHER OF THE SKIES" and the epic "SUPPER'S READY," which occupies nearly all of Side Two. The latter. besides being a brilliantly realized musical/lyrical construction, also saw true rock theater demonstrated on stag-e, with elaborate costuming from Gabriel. unparalleled musicianship. and a level of lighting unseen before in a rock context. Genesis chose this moment to confirm the incredible stories that had been leaking across the Atlantic by making their American debut in December of 1972, headlining the WNEW FM annual Christmas benefit show at Philharmonic Hall. The reaction was ecstatic, and the group returned for a headlining tour later that spring, selling out Philharmonic again. Thus, building their audience as they did at home. Genesis has never opened for anyone in the U.S.
"SELLING ENGLAND BY THE POUND" (Nov 1973) was the group's fourth Charisma LP the first under Atlantic distribution in North America, and their best U.S. seller up to that time. (A live set had also been released following "FOXTROT.") Including the English single hit, "I KNOW WHAT I LIKE (IN YOUR WARDROBE):' "POUND" marked a further development of themes from myth, legend. fantasy and satire. The album also hinted at the future. Largely through the expanded instrumental work highlighted by Banks' new work with synthesizer in addition to his other keyboards, the interplay of Steve Hackett's soaring guitar lines with Mike Rutherford's 12-string and bass work, and Phil Collins' best drumming to that point (not to mention his brief lead vocal on "MORE FOOL ME"). As before. the emphasis was on subtle. expert coloring and dynamic change creating contrasting moods to reinforce the story line.
Twelve months after "POUND" came the epic double-LP set. "THE LAMB LIES DOWN ON BROADWAY" (ATCO). Perhaps the definitive concept album. "LAMB" marked a change in the group's fantasy world based as it was, not on legend, but on the surreal contemporary adventures of the hero Rael in the harsh New York City environment. Touring coincided with the international release of the LP and by May 1975 the "musical play" of "LAMB" had been performed no less than 102 times. The band's staging had also expanded to include a rear panorama of projections utilizing close to 2000 slides. Musically, the group was more aggressive than ever, with dramatic instrumental sections bridging the chapters of the story But a whole new phase of Genesis' history was about to begin.
In March, 1976. Genesis brought forth what was to be their biggest album to date. "A TRICK OF THE TAIL:' As the album moved rapidly up the charts, the hand embarked on an sro tour of the States. gaining nothing but rave reviews all along the way. Ironically, this unqualified success story came only months after a few cynics had begui1 to speak of the band in the past tense. Sparking this sort of reaction was the August. 1975 announcement hy Peter Gabriel, in a controversial open statement he wrote and circulated himself, that he had left Genesis (the group had actually lived with this knowledge since Dec. 1974). As the stunningly visual frontman for the band, it was often mistakenly assumed that Peter was also the band's musical leader of sorts. Many observers failed to realize that he was one-fifth of a very democratic venture.
Genesis followed Peter's departure with hardly a bat of an eye. Drummer Phil Collins. who had been singing parallel vocals with Peter for years, slipped effortlessly into the lead vocalist's role. The almost magical similarity of their voices gave even more credence to the notion that the sound of Genesis had always been a collective product. The compositions on "TRICK" (credited for the first time to individual members) did not seek the concept frame a la "LAMB:' An album which effectively showcased the group's ever-widening imagination universe as well as its instrumental prowess, it moved from the wretches portrayed in the title tune and the more earthly "ROBBERY ASSAULT AND BATTERY" to the beautiful melodies of "RIPPLES" and "MAD MAN MOON" to the aggression of "DANCE ON A VOLCANO" and "LOS ENDOS" And, for the 1976 tour they introduced the concept of the "temporary drummer:' allowing Phil to concentrate. in the live situation. on his new role as lead singer.
Following the extensive touring of '76. which included journeys not only through" the U.S., but Canada, England and much of Europe as well, the band began to work on "WIND & WUTHERING:' released in January 1977. With the material written and rehearsed, Genesis and co-producer David Hentschel (who had also worked on the previous LP), adjourned to the country setting of Relight Studios in Hilvarenbeck, Holland to begin the actual recording. Working without a break, the group had the basic tracks recorded in the amazingly short span of 12 days. Three weeks of mixing at Trident Studios in England followed, and the album was in the can. (Despite all this activity, the unstoppable Phil Collins still managed to fit in gigging and recording with his "second" band, Brand X, as well as doing other sessions; and Mike Rutherford produced an album by Genesis' original guitarist, Anthony Phillips.)
As with each Genesis LP "WIND & WUTHERING" is at once recognizable, yet different from the previous effort. Comprised of eight tracks, the pieces are typically characterized by an almost classicistic development of theme. (If Genesis music can even be termed "classical rock:' then it can only be on a basis of form and intention, not because they've slapped a baroque synthesizer run over a barrage of amplified rhythm tracks.) One of the band's fortes has always been the attention paid to the subtle details of instrumental coloring, unusual timings and vocal inflections all this set off against dramatic dynamic shifts. "WIND" marks the most mature use of these elements to date, while also being particularly marked by a sheer density of sound. "Majestic" may perhaps be the best word to describe the fresh orchestral fullness which dominates the album as the band paints its unique sound pictures.
Lyrically the members of Genesis continue to be expert story-tellers, from the mythical journey of the "ELEVENTH EARL OF MAR" to the religious/ leadership parable of "ONE FOR THE VINE:' "ALL IN A MOUSE'S NIGHT" is a humorous melodrama raising the traditional cat and mouse struggle to mock epic proportions. Lyrical strength and beauty are also demonstrated in the lines of "YOUR OWN SPECIAL WAY" and "AFTERGLOW," and social commentary finds its way into "BLOOD ON THE ROOFTOPS:' In something of a departure, Genesis exercises its considerable musical muscle in two instrumentals on the LP the side one closer, "WOT GORILLA?" and the over seven minutes of the opus, "'UNQUIET SLUMBERS FOR THE SLEEPERS...IN THAT QUIET EARTH: "
Coinciding with the release of the album, Genesis embarked on a world tour, the first stop being the re-opening of London's Rainbow Theatre from Jan. 1-3. In February, the group began a massive, two-month solo tour of the U.S. and Canada. For the 1977 dates Genesis carried all new sound and lighting equipment (including their own patented laser system), plus their own specially-designed stage. In addition, highly respected drummer Chester Thompson joined the group for all live shows. As before (Bill Bruford toured with the band last year), there were two drummers on stage, with both Phil Collins (lead vocalist and recording drummer) and Thompson doing solo parts as well as occasional duets.
Now, in November of 1977, Genesis has given us "SECONDS OUT" the tenth chapter in their evergrowing story To be continued.