Genesis (Vertigo)

 

Musiknyt 1983

Den 14. LP med Genesis er lige så sprudlende og veloplagt, som vi husker de tidligere. Det er trommeslageren og solo-stjernen Phil Collins, som i højere og højere grad præger helheden, og det er jo godt nok! Det kendte månedsblad for musik og teknik, High Fidelity, slutter sin meget rosende omtale af Genesis' nyeste indspilning ved at betegne den som "den bedste LP fra dem i lang tid".

Et stensikkert hit af "In The Air Tonight"-typen er nummeret "Mama", som sammen med "Just A Job To Do" blotlægger de mere rå aspekter i Phil Collins ellers meget følsomme vokal. Et andet single-hit er "That's All".

 

 

Redbeard, ? Magazine 1983

Redbeard: Phase 1 of Genesis' career ended in 1975 when charismatic front man Peter Gabriel took his leave from the group, he'd helped form in 1966. Then at the start of the 80's a third phase evolved when Genesis turned down a road that led them in a more concise pop-oriented direction. With the albums "Duke" and "Abacab", Genesis hit the mark with an American audience that in the past had perhaps thought of the English band as purely Progressive. Following the top 10 successes of "Abacab" and the subsequent "Three Sides Live", as well as the surprising parallel career of drummer and singer Phil Collins, it would appear that Genesis faced some interesting choices as they began work on their self-titled album in 1983. Should they honor their past by not straying too far from their progressive side, or should they continue to forge new ground? However as Phil Collins comments, the path was always clear.

Phil Collins: No, we've never thought, "well, should we do this, what would people say, we're supposed to be a progressive rock group, and you know, this would be rocking the boat as far as the fans are concerned". We've always done what we wanted to do and along the line we've lost a lot of fans and friends, and apart from the ones who don't like what you're putting out, you get people that don't buy every album you do, they've got a marriage, they've got two kids, they've got a dog, they've got a house, they're not as interested as they were in music. You know, their interests have widened. So you're gonna lose fans like that. You're also gonna lose fans because they like that surreal sci-fi approach that we used to have, but as we change and the audience change, you hope that you take people with you.

Redbeard: When Genesis went into the studio to record the album that they refer to as "the Mama album", they once again chose to work with Hugh Padgham, the man who had engineered "Abacab" and helped Phil Collins produce his first two solo albums. When asked about Padgham's contributions to Genesis' sound, Collins gave this flippant reply.

Phil Collins: Well, he has the drums loud[laughing]. It's as easy as that. No, it's not quite just that. I was obviously first off very impressed with the drum sound that we got together on Peter Gabriel's third album. And...he came in with Genesis. We have three minds in Genesis that we know exactly what we want to hear. Hugh came in as an engineer, but more like an assistant producer if you like. If you've got to give someone a term, I guess that's better than co-producer or producer. But you know its difficult to label somebody as what they do, 'cuz with Genesis we all know what we want the songs to sound like. But it is a fourth opinion we have available to us if we want to use it.

Redbeard: With 1981,s "Abacab" album, Genesis had returned to the group writing format they had abandoned following Peter Gabriel's departure in 1975. For 1983's "Genesis" album, they wanted to take that a step further.

Mike Rutherford: Alongside getting back to writing together again, in the studio, with no ideas, just to go in and improvise, what comes out comes out, we always had this ambition to be able to record something very quickly. It was one of the main reasons to get our own studio. It was always in the back of our minds. And "Mama" is a good example of a song, it was recorded within days of writing it. I mean, it was really a long song and we turned it into that version. It could have gone for hours. And its an example of how...it would never would have happened if we had taken it and then worked on it for a couple of weeks or longer and gone into a studio. We managed to capture some of that magic that was there literally in the first few hours of playing a song. We got it down. Which I think is a quite important thing for us to capture.

Redbeard: Years after the 1983 release of the "Genesis" album it still holds up as one of Genesis' best. Rife with standout tracks, "Genesis" includes a tale of espionage called "Just a Job to Do". Since the main character in "Just a Job..." seems to be working for an organization such as the CIA or the KGB, I asked the Iyricist, Mike Rutherford if the covert spy mentality intrigues him.

Mike Rutherford: "Intrigues" is the wrong word. It scares me really. There's this amazing kind of mindless acceptance of things. They had some false experiments a few years ago when they actually set up an imitation experiment; A guy was in a chair being given electric shock, and the people in the control room were actually dressed in white coats and it was a very official sort of government type of thing. When they administered a shock, the guy inside acted, but he wasn't really getting a shock at all. And all the time, the subjects were actually the guys not in the chair, but the guys inside turning the knob up. And because the officials organizing it and the doctors and the people there looking very official kept saying "No, it's quite all right, don't worry, this is a medical experiment...", sanctioned by whoever, and they were turning, some people would turn it up to unbelievable levels of pain and didn't question it. Although, one or two actually questioned it, but its just amazing what people will do when they feel its official.

Redbeard: That song is a good example of the narrative Iyrical form Genesis has been so good at over the years. For at least two members of Genesis, however, one type of Iyric hasn't come quite as easily.

Phil Collins: Mike and Tony have always had problems saying "I love you" in a word, in a Iyric. And I've never had a problem doin' that. You know, it's part of me; I'm very honest and direct. And them, because of their upbringing, because of the kind of school they went to and because of the family...you know, this is a purely honest critical look at them, they've had trouble dealing with showing their emotions. It was drummed into you at the school they went into that men didn't do this. They were being bred for officer and gentlemen material. And I came from a totally different background so I am a totally different person than Tony and Mike. Tony and Mike have loosened up incredibly in the last 10 years.

Redbeard: While keyboardist Tony Banks won't exactly refute Phil's observation, he will stand up in his own defense.

Tony Banks: I think that I was the first person to use the words "I love you" (Phil and Mike heard hooting and booing in the background. Tony speaks up and changes to somewhat exasperated tone) on a Genesis Iyric! (Phil still laughing) I have to quote here from a song I wrote in 1976 called "Mad Man Moon" which says "Oh, how I love you I once cried long ago." But the rest of the song was nothing about it at all (Phil and Mike laugh and make unintelligible comments in the background). It was just... (to Phil) you're absolutely right. I certainiy used to find it difficult to express a sort of genuine feeling through a song, and I tended to always try to hide through the third person, perhaps dress myself up as someone else. And I probably still find it easier to do that, but I have over the years written a few things where I think you go into the love Iyric. I mean, because I think there's something about it. When I was a teenager there was nothing like a good quite straightforward love Iyric to actually sort of move you. It's much easier to actually move a person with that kind of Iyric in a way than it is with a deep philosophical statement. But its nice to have a little bit of both to be honest, but I think Phil's point is right.

Mike Rutherford: Yes, I think it is very true. I think the other thing is that he was talking, really, Iyrically about a thing as we probably all have a bit as people, Tony and I have definitely changed.

Redbeard: As we discussed earlier, Genesis made a conscious decision for the "Abacab" album to go back to writing together, meaning they would bring no pre-conceived song ideas into the studio. This approach also meant that Phil Collins, Tony Banks and Mike Rutherford would have to change the way they recorded together.

Phil Collins: It's only really since "Mama" that we've started to record differently. We'd go into the studio with nothing written, we'd get this blank sheet of paper, the equivalent of a blank sheet of paper. We'd get bits, we'd get arrangements, and then we'd decide on the arrangement of a song like "Home By the Sea", the first half of that song. I'd put the drum machine down, Tony would put the rough keyboard part down at the same time as Mike's puttin' the rough guitar part down; a compromise of all their parts and I would play, I would sing, whatever the melody was and if there were any words. Like "Home by the Sea", that phrase, "home by the sea" was improvised and Tony went away and wrote a whole Iyric about it. Like as a ghost, ghost story. And once we've got the arrangement down, and we've recorded the arrangement, we say, "Right, let's go and listen to it." We listen to it and we agree that that's the arrangement. Then we'll start going in and replacing everything. So we do a backing track, which we don't keep anything of. I go in and play drums to the rough keyboard and rough guitar part, and then they come in and put a keyboard part down and another keyboard part down and Mike will put a guitar part down and they're your building bricks, so...

Redbeard: By the time the "Genesis" album had reached its peak, it had become their second American top 10 album. It reached the million sales level quicker than any previous Genesis album and produced "That's All", their first top 10 single in the US. Still, in retrospect, Mike Rutherford of Genesis has mixed feelings about the album.

Mike Rutherford: Well, my feelings looking back on this album are very clear. It's interesting, at the time I liked it all as always I do, but its funny, you know. Side 1 is great. Side 2 is not so great. And I never understand why at the time I couldn't see that. But that's just the way it always works. I mean, side 1 has really stood up, 3 songs, "Mama", "That's All" and `'Home by the Sea", and they're great songs. Side 2 just uh you know, hasn't really lasted. It's kinda...they've all fallen by the wayside and it always amazes me how its not until you get a couple of years distance from an album, maybe a year, that you can tell what's good and what's not so good. But I think that some of the best stuff we've ever done is on side 1 of that thing. It's very strong.

Redbeard: I'd like to thank Phil Collins, Tony Banks and Mike Rutherford of Genesis for exploring their 1983 album. Special thanks also goes to Tony Smith of Hit & Run Management.

 

Til startsiden