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Genesis Buyers Guide

The Genesis' catalogue offers a range of eclectic albums, growing from quaint experimental prog to a more commercial sound over the years. With so many pivotal albums spiring out of the bands enduring career, it is very difficult to pinpoint just which albums define them. Nursery Cryme, Foxtrot, The Lamb, Abacab, Invisible Touch and Selling England By The Pound....the list goes on and on.  The following list attempts to guide you through the long and winding road of Genesis releases, compiled and written by Genesis rock journo Hugh Fielder

Selling England By The Pound (1973)

The ultimate Genesis progressive rock album, developing the style they’d been following over the previous two albums and producing a magnificent quintessentially English album. It’s crammed full of grandiose, majestic themes with lyrics that loosely echo the album’s title, starting with Peter Gabriel’s opening, unaccompanied "Can you tell me where my country lies?” on ‘Dancing With The Moonlit Knight’. There’s a perverse nostalgia for the British Isles where "The sheep remain in the pens” and "The mountain cuts off the town from view” on ‘Firth Of Fifth’ while recognising how faintly ridiculous it all is. ‘The Battle Of Epping Forest’ is a busy tale of gangland squabbles among the bulldog breed while ‘The Cinema Show’ takes a knowing glance at Romeo and Juliet’s intentions from both sides with a bit of Greek mythology thrown in. These four tracks dominate the album, each nudging ten minutes with lengthy instrumental passages that are almost symphonic in construction, building up to imperious bursts from Tony Banks’ keyboards or Steve Hackett’s guitar. Yet there’s still room for the quirky, surreal ‘I Know What I Like (In Your Wardrobe)’ with its glorious lyrical nonsense and a commercial melody that almost gave Genesis their first Top 20 hit.

Dancing with the Moonlit Knight / I Know What I Like (In Your Wardrobe) / Firth of Fifth / More Fool Me / Battle of Epping Forest / After the Ordeal / Cinema Show / Aisle of Plenty  

Abacab (1981)

The pivotal Genesis album that saw the band reducing their sound to the core trio that they had been for the last couple of albums but had not yet fully explored. Abacab is where the die hard Genesis following, that wanted the lamb to lie down forever, began to desert the band. But Genesis themselves knew that they had to redefine their sound for the 80s to remain relevant and give themselves a new challenge. The title track is their statement of intent. The sound has been stripped back to basics with no unnecessary clutter but the song rattles along with urgency, propelled by drums, fuzzy guitars and keyboards. Having set the tone for the album, they maintain it with sparkling rhythmic interplay on the punchy ‘No Reply At All’, featuring a guest appearance from the Earth Wind & Fire horn section (not something you would expect from the Genesis of yore) and the syncopated ‘Keep It Dark’, pushing it to the limit with the skewed, punkish ‘Whodunnit’. There are still plenty of familiar Genesis traits evident on the melodic ‘Me and Sarah Jane’, the restrained pomp of ‘Dodo/Lurker’ and the simple balladry of ‘Man On The Corner’.

Abacab / No Reply At All / Me And Sarah Jane / Keep It Dark / Dodo/Lurker / Whodunnit / Man On The Corner / Like It Or Not / Another Record 

Invisible Touch (1986)

Genesis reached their commercial zenith with Invisible Touch as their innate prog rock flair dissolved into a perfect pop sensibility. The result is a substantial pop album, not just for the number of hits that it produced – five big ones - but for the quality of the music. Just because they’d learnt to trim the number of ideas within a song didn’t mean they were going to short-change on the production. The title track, driven by a powerful synthesiser riff and guitar rhythms, pounds along for over five minutes and is insidiously catchy. The slower ‘Tonight Tonight Tonight’, with its sweeping chorus, is over eight minutes long and includes a sombre instrumental passage with Banks’ keyboards maintaining an engrossing tension. ‘Land Of Confusion’ is a riot of surging chords and clever vocal hooks and that’s just the first three tracks. Elsewhere Genesis bring back a flavour of their traditional pomp to the weighty two-part ‘Domino’ and round off the album with a moody, questing instrumental, ‘The Brazilian’. The emphasis throughout is on creating a blended, synthesised sound where no single instrument ever dominates. Their touch is indeed invisible but it’s all-pervasive.

Invisible Touch / Tonight Tonight Tonight / Land Of Confusion / In Too Deep / Anything She Does / Domino / Throwing It All Away / Brazilian

Foxtrot (1972)

Foxtrot is where Genesis found their prog-rock forte. The band’s "classic” line-up had gelled and there’s a confidence and determination that’s evident from the opening, dramatic Mellotron chords of 'Watcher Of The Skies' that lead into the driving, rhythmic, almost percussive melody.
The purposeful atmosphere establishes a pattern for the whole album. It took a switch of producer and engineer to nail down their sound but the result is remarkably assured, considering that it was not immediately commercial or even conducive to radio airplay. The album’s centrepiece is the 24-minute ‘Supper’s Ready’, a procession of seemingly unrelated musical ideas with several abrupt switches of mood and tempo that gradually bind together before reaching an awesome climax. It defines the distinctive, epic quality that Genesis brought to progressive rock. In contrast to the meandering, theatrical ‘Supper’s Ready’, ‘Get ‘Em Out By Friday’ is a crisp, biting social satire about the murky world of property development with a Dickensian cast of characters parading past. Stuffed to the gills with ideas and energy, Foxtrot is the foundation on which Genesis built their reputation.

Watcher of the Skies / Time Table / Get 'Em out by Friday / Can-Utility and the Coastliners / Horizon's / Supper's Ready

The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway (1974)

Regarded by many as the definitive concept album, The Lamb is a sprawling, dense double album with a plotline that is not easy to decipher even after several listens. Its elliptical quality is central to the album’s appeal. Trying to unravel Rael’s adventures in the Hadean underworld beneath Broadway is an endlessly engrossing task that has evoked more than one scholarly thesis. Despite Gabriel commandeering the lyrics and the band supplying mood music to order – from the grand, languid ‘Fly On A Windshield’ to the eerie jam that makes up ‘The Waiting Room’ – there’s a dynamic harmony between the words and the music. Apart from the sublime, ethereal ‘Carpet Crawlers’ and the sinister pulsating beat and riffs of ‘In The Cage’, few of the tracks on The Lamb shine out as stand-alone numbers. However, the concept album works on a deeper, more addictive level that keeps you fully engaged. Arguably The Lamb took Genesis’ prog-rock style to the limit – which may be one reason Gabriel promptly made his excuses and left.


Disc 1: 
Lamb Lies Down on Broadway / Fly on a Windshield / Broadway Melody of 1974 / Cuckoo Cocoon / In the Cage / Grand Parade of Lifeless Packaging / Back in N.Y.C. / Hairless Heart / Counting out Time / Carpet Crawlers / Chamber of 32 Doors  

Disc 2:
Lilywhite Lilith / Waiting Room / Anyway / Supernatural Anaesthetist / Lamia / Silent Sorrow in Empty Boats / Colony of Slippermen: The Arrival/A Visit to the Doktor-The Raven / Ravine / Light Dies Down on Broadway / Riding the Scree / In the Rapids / It 

Duke (1980)

If Abacab marked the transition between 70s Genesis and 80s Genesis, Duke was the album that set it up. It marks the emergence of a new, fluid style and a range of exciting possibilities. The previous album, … And Then There Were Three… , had been made on the rebound after the group was reduced to a trio but the period of reflection before Duke paid big dividends. The album was a conscious team effort. ‘Behind The Lines’ introduces a funkier side to Genesis that had previously never gone beyond an embryonic idea. The opening track segues into the swirling, surging ‘Duchess’ via a drum machine (another first for the group) and a gradual, atmospheric build-up. Duke’s signature tune is ‘Turn It On Again’, a forceful song with a melody to match that has remained a key number in their live shows ever since. Ironically however, the song that did most to open up Genesis to a whole new audience – ‘Misunderstanding’ – was not a team effort but one of Collins’ first solo compositions.

Behind The Lines / Duchess / Guide Vocal / Man Of Our Times / Misunderstanding / Heathaze / Turn It On Again / Alone Tonight / Cul De Sac / Please Don't Ask / Duke's Travels / Duke's End 

Wind And Wuthering (1977)

Best described as the "deep” Genesis album, Wind And Wuthering unravels the elements that go into Genesis’ style of music. Significantly, the majority of the tracks were written or co-written by Banks, the most retiring member of the band but the one who holds the key to the band’s music. It’s Banks’ keyboard playing – whether on organ, piano, Mellotron or synthesizer – that have remained the most consistent feature of Genesis. On Wind And Wuthering he re-introduces the melodramatic flair that had characterised earlier albums like Foxtrot and Selling England By The Pound but this time with a distinct post-Gabriel slant. His songs range from the complex ‘One For The Vine’ with its different tempo sections to the plain, anthemic ‘Afterglow’ that quickly became rousing peak of the band’s live shows. Of course, it still needs the other band members to complete the Genesis style – Rutherford’s ‘You Own Special Way’ is one of the most underrated ballads in the band’s canon and Collins’ increasingly jazz-influenced drumming raises them above their prog-rock contemporaries – but on this particular album they tend to orbit around Banks whose creative flow is in full spate.

Eleventh Earl of Mar / One for the Vine / Your Own Special Way / Wot Gorilla? / All in a Mouse's Night / Blood on the Rooftops / Unquiet Slumbers for the Sleepers.../...In That Quiet Earth / Afterglow 


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