I rarely, if ever, blog about music. For a start, I haven’t got a note in my head and I know nothing about musicianship. But, maybe because I’m in my dotage, I’ve suddenly acquired a strange enthusiasm for the band Genesis, in its original classic form.
Now I recall that I did once own two or three of their albums – these were the days when they came in vinyl and you put them onto a record player. These were also the days before Internet, MTV, YouTube etc. I doubt I could have named the band members at that time. For sure I wouldn’t have been able to tell you, without looking at the album cover, what instruments were being played and by whom. Still I guess I must have enjoyed the music to a certain degree, albums weren’t cheap.
But that was 50 years ago. Why now, for the first time, am I looking at old documentaries and footage from concerts, memorising complex lyrics, enthusing over the band members’ undoubted mastery of their instruments? It’s odd indeed.
You can trace the band from 1967 to the present day. However the ‘classic’ years were 1970 – 1974. That’s not to imply that they were necessarily the best years, just that for me and others that was when they rose from uncertain roots through to being masters of what is now termed progressive rock. The classic line-up consisted of
- Tony Banks, keyboard
- Mike Rutherford, guitar, bass
- Steve Hackett, guitar
- Phil Collins, drums
- Peter Gabriel, lead vocals
All were masters of their instruments, but they originally struggled to attract other than a niche audience. It was only when Gabriel began to introduce theatrics such as masks/costumes into song segments, and telling whimsical stories while the band re-tuned between numbers, did they start reaching a wider crowd. Even to my untrained ear, some of their best-known works border on genius, such as
- Musical Box
- Cinema Show
- Firth of Fifth
- Supper’s Ready
The ‘classic’ period came to an end when first Peter Gabriel then Steve Hackett left for pastures new. It is history now how Phil Collins eventually stepped up front to lead the band into a new era.
What is also remarkable is that, all these years later, all these guys are both still alive and very active in the music business, as are very early band members like Anthony Phillips and Chris Stewart. We are so used these days to popular artistes passing on too early. Even poor old Phil Collins, the cheeky chappie of the band, now prematurely aged and infirm, still gives it his best shot.
And so, to finish, I commend to you Firth of Fifth with Banks’ dazzling piano introduction which moves onto what is probably Hackett’s finest piece of guitar work.