How in the world did Genesis produce not just two superstar solo acts (including the drummer!) but become an arena filling act in its own right?

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And I ask that as a fan. I just saw the Musical Box over the weekend, the awesome Montreal (early) Genesis tribute band, and I was reminded just how weird Genesis was at its start, a true cult act whose appeal even to said cult was tenuous at best. Anyone out there in ILM land who was there as it happened - either in the early '70s or the early '80s - remember how this all went down? Did anyone care about Genesis in the early days? Did anyone care about the first Peter Gabriel solo album? Was there any inkling of what loomed for late-'70s Genesis as the new decade arrived? Any hints in old interviews? Was their success sudden and surprising? How long did it take Phil's first solo album to take off? Was its success surprising? Did people pan it (or that era of Genesis) the way many deride it now? How about "So?" How much expectation was there before that album came out? Moderate? Minimal? Did people think of Peter Gabriell the same way some think of, say, Dream Theater? Or was he at least a critical darling?

Man, I'm just full of questions, aren't I?

Josh in Chicago (Josh in Chicago), Tuesday, 21 November 2006 20:22 (fourteen years ago) link

people, they did take acid, even the pros

Dr. Alicia D. Titsovich (sexyDancer), Tuesday, 21 November 2006 20:27 (fourteen years ago) link

What did acid have to do with ... wait, what? What does that mean?

Josh in Chicago (Josh in Chicago), Tuesday, 21 November 2006 20:29 (fourteen years ago) link

The Collins-led Genesis scored hits immediately. "Follow You, Follow Me" hit the Top 40, starting the gravy train. Each album outsold its predecessor. Collins' Face Value did good business but didn't really take off until "Miami Vice" featured "In the Air Tonight" prominently and 1985's No Jacket Required spawned two number ones and four top tens. 1986's Invisible Touch rode that success and made them superstars.

(Fun fact: "Sledgehammer" displaced "Invisible Touch" at Number One, while Phil's "Take Me Home" was in the top ten and Mike & The Mechanics' "Taken In" and that terrible GTR song helmed by former guitarist Steve Hackett were in the Top 40)

Alfred, Lord Sotosyn (Alfred Soto), Tuesday, 21 November 2006 20:30 (fourteen years ago) link

when So hit big most of the public that I knew didn't realize Gabriel had ever been in Genesis. Note that I was in 8th grade at the time, but still. Radio didn't make mention of it; some people remembered Shock the Monkey but that was about it.

kyle (akmonday), Tuesday, 21 November 2006 20:33 (fourteen years ago) link

Don't forget, there were two Collins fronted albums before "...And Then There Were Three," with "Follow You, Follow Me." So it wasn't right off the bat.

Genesis coulc very well have just been riding Phil's solo career, but what of Gabriel? There were four solo albumd pre-"So," and he was still wearing make-up. Was he a cult act? On the rise? Critical darling? Talking Heads-size?

Josh in Chicago (Josh in Chicago), Tuesday, 21 November 2006 20:39 (fourteen years ago) link

Gabriel was a quirky older-statesman of pop figure, in the UK at least, by the time So came out. He'd had a few hit singles before "Sledgehammer", so I don't think it was particularly surprising. As a teen in the mid-80s I think I first thought of Genesis as a pop group. The Genesis album seemed to be pretty big, "Mama" might've been the first time I'd noticed them, but "Follow You Follow Me" and "Turn It On Again" where on the radio regularly before then. Finding out Gabriel had been in the band and then discovering those albums felt exciting and strange, but I was working backwards after getting into the nu-prog bands like Marillion, Twelfth Night, Pallas and IQ so the sound of those early Genesis albums was hardly unprecedented (those later bands ripped off a lot.) Except the Mellotron. I guess Gabriel-era Genesis was my first exposure to Mellotron, and that did sound exotic and spooky and wonderful.

So that's my take, as somebody working backwards from 1983-ish. And they were probably my favourite band, particularly the Gabriel version, for a year or two then. Cos they did seem quaint and unique and from a different planet to me at that age.

Through a twenty deep screen of humourists (noodle vague), Tuesday, 21 November 2006 20:41 (fourteen years ago) link

x-post Wait, that's totally not right, Alfred! "Face Value" came out in 1981. "Miami Vice" didn't even premiere until 1984.

Josh in Chicago (Josh in Chicago), Tuesday, 21 November 2006 20:46 (fourteen years ago) link

So who were solo Gabriel's peers in the UK? Kate Bush (obv.)?

Did Phil tour solo before "No Jacket Required," or was he too busy with Genesis? Did he tour solo at all until after Genesis? I can't remember.

Josh in Chicago (Josh in Chicago), Tuesday, 21 November 2006 20:49 (fourteen years ago) link

Kate Bush yeah. Bowie, I suppose, in some ways. I'm finding it hard to think of anybody else, but I'm only thinking in terms of my own perspective, and I guess the attitude of DJs on the radio or Top of the Pops.

Through a twenty deep screen of humourists (noodle vague), Tuesday, 21 November 2006 20:53 (fourteen years ago) link

The Floyd too, maybe.

Through a twenty deep screen of humourists (noodle vague), Tuesday, 21 November 2006 20:54 (fourteen years ago) link

Were Peter Gabriel and/or Genesis really spoken of in the same breath as Pink Floyd by then? I mean, Pink Floyd were huge!

Josh in Chicago (Josh in Chicago), Tuesday, 21 November 2006 21:29 (fourteen years ago) link

Note that Peter Gabriel wasn't a superstar stadium filling act for very long, and "Sledgehammer" is hardly very typical of his solo work.

Geir Hongro (GeirHong), Tuesday, 21 November 2006 22:10 (fourteen years ago) link

Peter Gabriel's first solo album was a moderate US hit; it was the third self-titled one (melting face) which secured him the critical support that would buoy him for most of the decade. So's success, like Invisible Touch's, was paved by almost a decade's worth of incremental achievements.

Alfred, Lord Sotosyn (Alfred Soto), Tuesday, 21 November 2006 22:12 (fourteen years ago) link

The third self-titled one (his best solo work IMO) also gave him a UK hit whose peak position was the same as "Sledgehammer". In retrospect it is still obvious "Sledgehammer" (a US number one amongst other things) was a way bigger hit than "Games Without Frontiers" though.

Geir Hongro (GeirHong), Tuesday, 21 November 2006 22:20 (fourteen years ago) link

Gabriel's pre-"Sledgehammer" singles got radio play out of proportion to their chart positions tho.

Through a twenty deep screen of humourists (noodle vague), Tuesday, 21 November 2006 22:25 (fourteen years ago) link

Good question and discussion.

The first Gabriel solo album had a solid (and unconventional) radio hit in "Solsbury Hill" - it was well-respected in my camp, even if the entire album didn't knock you out. Hell, even though we thought Genesis to be primarily a vehicle for Gabriel, the subsequent Genesis (and solo PG) albums certainly demonstrated how significant and broadly the input from "the rest" the band was.

Over the next few years, both acts softened and further distilled their respective sound, but those were the times and that's how most bands maturing through those years were evolving. So was a sellout. At least, that's how i felt at the time; pussified and slickafied radio-ready schmaltz. Phil Collins had steadily dragged Genesis closer and closer to the mainstream which culminated between the Miami Vice "No Jacket Required" days (anybody remember the half-great Phillip Bailey work-up "Easy Lover")?

Invisible Touch was highly anticipated and was eventually awash up-and-down the radio dial. Save for a couple of side-two tacks, the Genesis album was quickly eviscerated of all merits through massive FM and MTV airplay and it seemed they'd never stop running these tracks. Sledgehammer usurping Genesis at the top spot on Billboard was a sweet and satisfying revenge, and even though they played the shit out of it too, i think most would agree that even the Gabriel "pop" tracks have aged better than most of the Collins-era drivel.


christoff (christoff), Tuesday, 21 November 2006 22:30 (fourteen years ago) link

"Shock the Monkey" and "Games Without Frontiers" received lots of U.S. airplay.

Heh. I find So one of the best compromises between commercialism and art ever recorded; and Invisible Touch has my favorite Collins-helmed Genesis crap, although none of it is as lovely as "Easy Lover."

Alfred, Lord Sotosyn (Alfred Soto), Tuesday, 21 November 2006 22:52 (fourteen years ago) link

Alfred, i didn't like it then, i've since also come to find So to be pretty unique indeed. Invisible Touch only still holds my interest for "The Brazillian" and "Domino" - even though that damnable "Land of Confusion" sported those hella-cool Spitting Image puppets.

christoff (christoff), Tuesday, 21 November 2006 23:27 (fourteen years ago) link

Were Peter Gabriel and/or Genesis really spoken of in the same breath as Pink Floyd by then? I mean, Pink Floyd were huge!

Depends on who you asked... I remember that when the third Gabriel album came out, lots of Crimson fans (small in number but way more fervent than others) were all over it because of the Fripp connection.

Elvis Telecom (Chris Barrus), Wednesday, 22 November 2006 00:28 (fourteen years ago) link

The Sledgehammer video had more to do with So's success (at least in America) than anything else--MTV really embraced it as a "Look, someone has finally made a great artistic statement with a music video,
let's play it every ten minutes" moment.

ramon fernandez (ramon fernandez), Wednesday, 22 November 2006 00:58 (fourteen years ago) link

But MTV did it already with "Shock The Monkey"!

Alfred, Lord Sotosyn (Alfred Soto), Wednesday, 22 November 2006 01:10 (fourteen years ago) link

So was a sellout. At least, that's how i felt at the time; pussified and slickafied radio-ready schmaltz.

There is so much more to "So" than "Sledgehammer" and "Big Time". I have never been much of a big fan of those two tracks myself, feeling they lost most of what Peter Gabriel at his best has always been about.

However, already the second single, "Don't Give Up", re-established the Gabriel sound, and the album also contains such gems as "Mercy Street" (one of his best ever solo numbers) and all those lesser known, but just as great as the hits, tracks towards the end of the album.

Geir Hongro (GeirHong), Wednesday, 22 November 2006 01:21 (fourteen years ago) link

(anybody remember the half-great Phillip Bailey work-up "Easy Lover")?

Hey, a co-worker/drinking buddy and myself "sang" a Karaoke version at our office's Xmas party, way back in the mid-90s! It seemed like a good idea at the time, the time being 5 hours after the bar opened. Can't remember who butchered the Collins parts, and who the Bailey parts. Also can't remember what the hell possessed us, going up there! (Probably another colleague encouraged us.)

For the record, I myself liked the song, while my partner hated it.

Monty Von Byonga (Monty Von Byonga), Wednesday, 22 November 2006 09:18 (fourteen years ago) link

"Easy Lover" is being used in TV ads for the new GTA game

probably the best thing Collins has ever been associated with

The Good Dr. Bill (The Good Dr. Bill), Wednesday, 22 November 2006 09:34 (fourteen years ago) link

That would be "Supper's Ready" (or "Against All Odds" if you count Phil solo only). "Easy Lover" is great though.

Geir Hongro (GeirHong), Wednesday, 22 November 2006 11:32 (fourteen years ago) link

I see Michael Eaves is saying "Not Genesis, if Peter Gabriel's not involved"...

mark grout (mark grout), Wednesday, 22 November 2006 11:40 (fourteen years ago) link

Which is obviously ridiculous. Genesis spent more time without him than with him. If he meant "not interested if Gabriel's not involved" then I'd probly agree with him now, as a touring band.

Through a twenty deep screen of humourists (noodle vague), Wednesday, 22 November 2006 13:33 (fourteen years ago) link

Genesis were Genesis as long as Hackett was still in the band and Tony Banks wrote most of the material. After that, they were Phil Collins' backing band.

Geir Hongro (GeirHong), Wednesday, 22 November 2006 13:42 (fourteen years ago) link

As a Platonist, you say this. As an Aristotelean, I say they was Genesis as long as they put the word Genesis on the record sleeves.

Through a twenty deep screen of humourists (noodle vague), Wednesday, 22 November 2006 13:47 (fourteen years ago) link

Not with Ray Wilson on vocals, never ;)

Geir Hongro (GeirHong), Wednesday, 22 November 2006 13:50 (fourteen years ago) link

OK, You have a point :)

Through a twenty deep screen of humourists (noodle vague), Wednesday, 22 November 2006 13:53 (fourteen years ago) link

In retrospect it is still obvious "Sledgehammer" (a US number one amongst other things) was a way bigger hit than "Games Without Frontiers" though.

The importance (and ubiquity) of the "Sledgehammer" video cannot be overstated.

NoTimeBeforeTime (Barry Bruner), Wednesday, 22 November 2006 14:15 (fourteen years ago) link

x-post to Elvis: Fripp is all over the first two PG albums as well as the third. He produced the second and played guitar and banjo (!) on the first. So what took the Crimson fans so long to catch on?

Josh in Chicago (Josh in Chicago), Wednesday, 22 November 2006 16:43 (fourteen years ago) link

In The Air Tonight totally became a big deal AFTER it was used in Miami Vice, and was launched into the classic rock canon as a result.

Prior to that, Phil had seen some top 40 success via his cover of You Can't Hurry Love from Hello I Must Be Going and several Genesis hits (That's All was a huge hit, and Illegal Alien was pretty big, too.)

I think the stage for Phil's super-stardom (which came with No Jacket Required) was set up by the one-two punch of MV's airing of "In The Air Tonight" and the "Against All Odds" theme.

Brooker Buckingham (Brooker B), Wednesday, 22 November 2006 19:44 (fourteen years ago) link

x-post to Elvis: Fripp is all over the first two PG albums as well as the third. He produced the second and played guitar and banjo (!) on the first. So what took the Crimson fans so long to catch on?

It was during the great disenfranchisement of Crimson fans who didn't care for New Wave Bob's mucking about with Bowie, Blondie, League Of Gentlemen, and (worst of all) Daryl Hall when he really should have been assembling a new Crimson to address Unfinished Business. "Games Without Frontiers" was a weird-enough sounding single to get them to dig the album.

Elvis Telecom (Chris Barrus), Wednesday, 22 November 2006 20:08 (fourteen years ago) link

Do you like Phil Collins? I've been a big Genesis fan ever since the release of their 1980 album, Duke. Before that, I really didn't understand any of their work. Too artsy, too intellectual. It was on Duke where, uh, Phil Collins' presence became more apparent. I think Invisible Touch was the group's undisputed masterpiece. It's an epic meditation on intangibility. At the same time, it deepens and enriches the meaning of the preceding three albums. Christy, take off your robe. Listen to the brilliant ensemble playing of Banks, Collins and Rutherford. You can practically hear every nuance of every instrument. Sabrina, remove your dress. In terms of lyrical craftsmanship, the sheer songwriting, this album hits a new peak of professionalism. Sabrina, why don't you, uh, dance a little. Take the lyrics to Land of Confusion. In this song, Phil Collins addresses the problems of abusive political authority. In Too Deep is the most moving pop song of the 1980s, about monogamy and commitment. The song is extremely uplifting. Their lyrics are as positive and affirmative as, uh, anything I've heard in rock. Christy, get down on your knees so Sabrina can see your ass. Phil Collins' solo career seems to be more commercial and therefore more satisfying, in a narrower way. Especially songs like In the Air Tonight and, uh, Against All Odds. Sabrina, don't just stare at it, eat it. But I also think Phil Collins works best within the confines of the group, than as a solo artist, and I stress the word artist. This is Sussudio, a great, great song, a personal favorite.

I.M. From Hollywood (i_m_from_hollywood), Wednesday, 22 November 2006 21:25 (fourteen years ago) link

"Invisible Touch" is an AOR album. A good one, compared to most of the genre, but still nowhere near the magic of their work during their 1970-1976 heyday.

Geir Hongro (GeirHong), Wednesday, 22 November 2006 22:01 (fourteen years ago) link

How many of you just have that "American Psycho" text ready to be pasted at any given time?


Anyway, I know "Miami Vice" made great use of "In the Air Tonight," but there's no way that song/album, plus its follow up, remained under the radar for three years, esp. with Genesis racking up hits. So was "In the Air Tonight" a steady but minor cult thing until "Vice?" Can't be. Not buying.

Josh in Chicago (Josh in Chicago), Wednesday, 22 November 2006 23:12 (fourteen years ago) link

I mean, why not just say it was the pre-"Vice" use of "In the Air Tonight" for the train-sex scene in "Risky Business" that broke it? (thanks, Wiki, for the reminder. Also, "In the Air Tonight" was the 21st video ever aired [hah!] by MTV.)

This is one of my main questions re: the thread: how is it that Phil's best-known solo hit didn't become a hit (allegedly) until four years (and two albums, and two successful Genesis albums) after it was released? Where did that hunk of pop history go? Who can help me sort this mysterious timeline? When was Phil a huge, capital 's" Star? Circa "Miami Vice?" Before that? Only after that?

Josh in Chicago (Josh in Chicago), Wednesday, 22 November 2006 23:18 (fourteen years ago) link

Melody Maker Readers Poll 1980

http://www.thisdayinmusic.com/cont/awards/awards80.html

Best Single Another Brick In Wall, (part II), Pink Floyd
Best Album The Wall, Pink Floyd
Band Of The Year Genesis
Best Female Singer Kate Bush
Best Male Singer Peter Gabriel
Brightest Hope Saxon
Disco Single Upside Down, Diana Ross
Reggae Act Bob Marley and the Wailers
Guitar Ritchie Blackmore
Bass Mike Rutherford
Drums Phil Collins
Live Act Genesis
TV show The Old Grey Whistle Test

DJ Martian (djmartian), Wednesday, 22 November 2006 23:39 (fourteen years ago) link

I think music videos and Mtv helped out many of the old 70s Brit art rock musicians have a second life. "Owner of a Lonely Heart" (Yes), "Don't Answer Me" (Alan Parsons Project) and "Heat of the Moment" (Asia) were all both big video hits that I remember seeing all the time.

Outside the Miami Vice connection with "In the Air Tonight", Phil Collins also had a huge hit with "Against All Odds" as a title song of the movie of the same name. I'm sure Peter Gabriel's "In Your Eyes" being prominantly featured in a scene within Say Anything also greatly expanded its popularity.

Earl Nash (earlnash), Thursday, 23 November 2006 00:02 (fourteen years ago) link

Sounds Writers poll

http://www.rocklistmusic.co.uk/sounds.html

1982 both Gabriel [Melted face album] and Collins albums in the poll:

1982
ALBUMS

1. Combat Rock - The Clash
2. Too-Rye-Ay - Dexys Midnight Runners
3. New gold dream - Simple Minds
4. Songs to remember - Scritti Politti
5. Upstairs at Eric’s - Yazoo
6. Imperial Bedroom - Elvis Costello
7. Rock in a hard place - Aerosmith
8. Complete Madness - Madness
9. The wild ones - Cockney rejects
10. Lexicon of love - ABC
11. (3) - Peter Gabriel
12. Juju Music - King sunny Ade
13. Tropical Gangsters - Kid Creole and the Coconuts
14. Scarred for life - Rose Tattoo
15. Miami - Gun club
16. Highway song - Blackfoot
17. Hello, I must be going - Phil Collins
18. Call of the west - Wall of voodoo
19. Love over gold - Dire straits
20. Big science - Laurie Anderson

DJ Martian (djmartian), Thursday, 23 November 2006 00:05 (fourteen years ago) link

correction 1982 was 4 /security not melted face

DJ Martian (djmartian), Thursday, 23 November 2006 00:08 (fourteen years ago) link

fourteen years pass...

I've been reading a bit more about Genesis today, and what stood out was how being in Genesis put a massive strain on Gabriel and Collins's marriages. (I didn't see that much on Hackett, but when he was still with the band, he got divorced in 1974, the same year his son was born and just two years into his marriage.) Even Banks had to cut his honeymoon down to a single day because they were finishing Foxtrot. The rest of the band felt so bad, they paid for his wife's expenses to travel with them on tour. Life as a touring recording artist is obviously tough when you're raising a family, but Gabriel, Collins et al worked especially hard in the studio and on tour.

So to answer the original question, it involved the kind of dedication that can potentially destroy a marriage or two.

birdistheword, Sunday, 21 February 2021 03:42 (one week ago) link

Banks I believe is still married to the same woman. I'm not Internet Marriage Councillor, but Phil Collins has had marriages that have ended poorly well after his time with the band.
In his book, Bill Bruford mentioned that when he played with Genesis in 1976, the entire group, their crew and families went together on a deluxe Christmas shopping trip. Though bored with their music, he was impressed by the dedication to a genteel, family-friendly lifestyle which was still atypical among rock bands at the time.

Halfway there but for you, Sunday, 21 February 2021 04:20 (one week ago) link

Of course, Gabriel left partly because of conflicts around his daughter's birth a couple of years earlier, so maybe this was a new development.

Halfway there but for you, Sunday, 21 February 2021 04:22 (one week ago) link

Ah, got it. One of the two anecdotes that stood out was Gabriel struggling with taking care of his family following a very difficult childbirth and how that pulled him away from the band when they were trying to record the new album. (Combined with a long commute, it sounded like it limited his time with the band, and that allegedly caused more pressure when they complained about it.)

With Collins, I guess it's the well-known divorce that inspired much of his solo debut. Apparently his version is that she was angry that he spent so little time with his family. He refused to compromise on an upcoming tour (I guess she wanted him to pull out of some shows and come home) so she told him she was leaving with their children and moving to Vancouver. After the tour, the band talked it out and agreed to a hiatus so that Collins could move to Vancouver to save his marriage. That didn't last long - months later she still divorced him, and they all went back to the UK. That seems to be the only version of the story that's been repeated over the years, but apparently his ex-wife broke her silence not too long ago and said she left him because of adultery more than anything else.

birdistheword, Sunday, 21 February 2021 19:34 (one week ago) link


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