My Favourite Band: Genesis



In the first part of this new BTM series, Chris looked at his favourite band, the band he listens to when feeling good and the band he listens to when he's feeling bad. Queens of the Stone Age do it for him and you can read all about it here. In my case, the criterion is quite simple. I have several thousand songs on my iPod, they are all (almost) songs I selected myself. So, the question is "Which band is the one that, when they come on, I don't ever feel the need to press Next" ? OK, a slightly clumsily phrased question, but you know what I mean.

Having thought long and hard about this, the smart money seemed to be on one of Joy Division, Cocteau Twins, The National, The Pogues, David Bowie (and many, many more) but in each case I found a reason or a track that made me skip to the next song. The only band that actually met this criterion was (slightly to my surprise) Genesis, specifically from 1970 to the summer of 1975. For those who know them, that coincides with the Gabriel era and here is my favourite 10 tracks from that period.

Luckily, they released 5 albums during that time so, in true BTM tradition, I'm going to make my own rules and choose 2 tracks from each album and go through them chronologically. Grab yourself a drink, snacks and set aside at least a couple of hours to listen to these - you won't regret it.* *you might.

Trespass was their first proper album, released in 1970. Prior to that the rather unimaginative From Genesis to Revelation was released to a largely uninterested nation. There is some interest from the musicological point of view in terms of following the development of the compositional style and ensemble playing but nothing really stands out. Unlike this track from said album. From the simple piano opening to the frenetic, drum-infested finish it is a thing of beauty.

Ken Wilson

Agreed on Stagnation, but maybe predictably I would pick The Knife.

The pastoral sound is further developed by my second stand-out track from this album. Stagnation. Love those 12 string guitars. Some find the drum sound a bit intense, but I quite like it. Sadly, the drummer John Mayhew passed away a few years back. Both songs foreshadow the more structurally complex songs to come.

At this point, the band was substantially re-modelled - guitarist Anthony Phillips left, along with Mayhew, and new recruits Steve Hackett and Phil Collins joined the Banks/Gabriel/Rutherford core. The third album was Nursery Cryme and there are plenty of cracking tracks to choose from. The slightly creepy Musical Box is a massive fan favourite, and one of mine too.

The other track that I can listen to endlessly is The Return of the Giant Hogweed. For anyone of a certain age, this has memories of the infestations of the early '70's. A great example of maestro Hackett's guitar technique. The chord sequence that ends this is a thing of beauty.

Ken Wilson

Yes, one of my all-time favourites. The live version is particularly good.

Foxtrot was the fourth studio album (Genesis Live having been released around this time if memory serves, you can check with your favourite online encyclopaedia). Famous for having one side of the album (I mean a vinyl long playing record for you youngsters out there) pretty much taken up with a single track, albeit one divided into bit-sized chunks in different time and key signatures. This is the kind of thing that young punks, myself included, used to get riled up about. How times change.

Ken Wilson

Probably my favourite track of all time. Listening to it as I write this.

My other favourite track is a wee instrumental by Steve Hackett.

Ken Wilson

My second fav on Foxtrot is Can-Utility and the Coastliners. Love the way it develops over the length of the track.

So, we find ourselves in late 1973 and this is the point that the band really came to my attention. Prior to this, I was (in my early teens) a bit of a glam rock fan - Alice Cooper, Bowie, Slade all the usual stuff. Then, whispering Bob Harris introduced a clip from this band on The Old Grey Whistle Test. I could not believe what I was seeing - this weird guy miming on stage, with strange costume and make up freaked out this young guy from Dundee.

Ken Wilson