Genesis

ARTICLE ABOUT Genesis FROM SOUNDS, June 8, 1974

Genesis started their work on one of their most famous albums around this time, the album later known as “The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway”. At this point the strains in the relationship between Peter Gabriel and the rest of the band started to show. He would leave the band a year later.

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Looking for a back seat role

Peter Gabriel tells Jerry Gilbert about radical changes afoot for Genesis

Peter Gabriel returned from Genesis` recent American tour to take possession of a new house in Bath, and with no particular desire to go back across the water in a hurry.
“It seems like we had one US tour running straight into another and we`ve been away about six months in all, which is too long tours. “It`s not so productive; we come up with quite a lot of (Missing a line here? – Blog Ed.) Genesis was formed initially as a songwriting band back at Charterhouse public school, and the original concept has been lost by long tours. “It`s not so productive; we come up with quite a lot of ideas but it`s the actual growth of the ideas that`s stunted, and now it`s pretty well the same situation as we found ourselves in last year.”
So how does Peter envisage this year turning out? “I want to take more of a back seat role,” he said adamantly. “I hope that there will be opportunities to work with other artists this year.
“It`s not so much a rejection of that role, but Genesis has always been more than a live band in our minds and the other side hasn`t had a chance to be developed. For instance in the States people only know us as a performing band.”
The last two years has seen a complete reversal for Genesis – from being the carefully nurtured Charisma babes, the bulk of whose work was done on the drawing board, to one of the most exciting live bands in the country, especially when they are in full flight.
“We hope to get the chance to write for other people.” Peter went on, “There seems to have been a reversal whereby capable artists are using other people`s material, and I still feel there`s a lot we can do. I mean I think a lot of writers enjoy a much wider range of music than their public or press ever give them credit for.”

Whilst in the States, Peter was invited to take part in a TV chat show with John McLaughlin and the Beach Boys` Mike Love, and McLaughlin was voicing the same opinion about the coverage of good material. The result was that McLaughlin and Love ended up playing “California Girls” along with Charles Lloyd. Peter, it should be noted, did not participate. “Being of nervous disposition and totally overawed by the barrage of electric equipment, I made for the nearest corner on my stool….”
Quite how definite are the individual plans of the group remains to be seen. Peter has often spoken of his wishes to write and record with songwriter Martin Hall, and I brought this up again during the interview. “Yes, it`s a strong possibility. We`ve done a few songs together but not recorded anything.”
The idea, he emphasised, was not to extend egos but simply to provide a nucleus for a variation of ideas. Meanwhile Mike Rutherford is planning a project with the old Genesis guitarist Anthony Phillips.
“We`ve been doing the stooge routine for long enough and we don`t really want to be tied. It`s not a case of `Now I`m going to do my own thing` routine but just the desire to be involved with other people. At the same time we are going into our own album with a strong feeling that a change is about to take place. It`s very easy to repeat your former glories if you think your appeal lies in a certain direction so we are going to work towards avoiding that on this album and introduce things that we haven`t tried before. We really want a radical change.”
And so in the Autumn Genesis plan their British return with a concert tour and a completely new stage act, more than likely another piece of theatrical extravagance destined to make them very little money overall when it comes to the final analysis. How much longer do they plan to throw their tour profits straight back into the hat?
Peter admitted to the frustrations that this situation inevitably induces, especially when they see small bands dividing the spoils at the end of a gig. But he feels that it`s all for the best.

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“When Tony (Smith) takes his management percentage then that`s just about break even point. But the amount of money that changes hands is now greatly up, and the next American tour should put us into a profit area.
“The thing about America is that unless you`re very lucky with radio plays you have to go as many places as possible because everything is localised, so now we`re trying to remodel our tours to the point where we shouldn`t really play in any place twice with the same show. Instead we`d like to play medium size buildings and do about three consecutive nights there – several dates in one town, which would enable us to put on a better show, and then that would be it.”
But the band, like most, encountered their fair share of bad taste in the States. Firstly there was the press reception in Boston (“we`re not the kind of band to have a press reception for anyway”) where someone came up with the bright idea of having the group sit amongst the disciples in a painting of “The Last Supper”, the idea being to have the band flash across Christ`s head with the use of a generator and effects.
Then they had six guitars stolen, and although two were brought back there were some very funny stories going round, says Peter. This was at the Academy of Music, and it was there that Peter made his one and only attempt to “take off” Drury Lane style. The result was that the whole thing backfired, the timing was off and Peter was left out on stage, suspended, ignominiously, in mid-air.
“No-one really knew what they were doing,” he explained, predicting the axing of that particular facet from the show. “Flying was a gimmick – it doesn`t have any great aesthetic significance and I probably won`t do it again.”
Right now Genesis are down in Hindhead – close to where it all began for them some years ago. They`re rehearsing material for their new album at Led Zeppelin`s country retreat, and when they`ve completed their writing period they hope to bring in a mobile unit rightaway. “We might then be able to get some of the ideas down while they`re still fresh because we feel that it`s our one opportunity in the year to record and we`d better make it good!”
Not only good, but by the sounds of things thoroughly unique – a complete departure from all that`s gone before.

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I have personally transcribed this from the original paper. Any errors in the text from the original magazine may not have been corrected for the sake of accuracy. If you have a music-related web-page where this fits – please make a link to the article. With credits to the original writer of the article from all of us music fans!

This number of Sounds also contains articles/interviews with these people: Bryan Ferry, Captain Beefheart, Jim Capaldi, Lee Jackson, Uriah Heep, Byzantium, Denny Cordell, Ronnie Lane, Blue, Nutz, Arthur Brown, Harry Chapin, Groundhogs.

The original music paper this article came from (pictured at the top) is for sale!

1. Send me an e-mail if you are interested. Send it to: geirmykl@gmail.com
2. The offer should be 20 $ (US Dollars) to be considered. (This includes postage).
3. We conduct the transaction through my verified Paypal account for the safety of both parties.

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ARTICLE ABOUT Phil Collins (Genesis) FROM SOUNDS, November 3, 1973

This interview was obviously conducted before there was restrictions on what media could print. Later on the marketing departments of the record companies demanded too much control over what was printed. A press officer today would have had a heart attack if he saw an artist being so frank and outspoken as Collins is in this interview. Shame on you, concert goers from Bournemouth and Southampton! LOL!
OK. Here we go.

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Phil: Showing off his colours

Feature by Jerry Gilbert

Three days before Genesis concluded what appeared to be a highly successful British tour, selling out two concerts at the Rainbow and earning an ovation that any artist would treasure, Phil Collins came out with this surprise announcement: “I don`t know if you get blase but we expected a little more from some places and they just didn`t live up to expectations. The Northern gigs were all good but not Bournemouth or Southampton.

WEIRD

“The Rainbow was also weird and I didn`t really enjoy either of those gigs although a tape I heard of the Saturday gig sounded a lot better than I remember playing it”.
He also has reservations about their new album “Selling England By The Pound”, feeling that the numbers are only beginning to find their feet onstage now. But this is a problem Genesis have always had – their cycle of event forces them to take several months off to routine a new album and then go straight into the studios to record it before embarking on a tour to promote it which is usually when those numbers come of age. But if there`s one aspect of the band that this tour has pinpointed, it is their ability to play freely, and for the first time we have seen the band split down into units of three (Tony, Phil and Mike) and two (Phil and Mike). In fact Phil has been coming to the fore more and more recently, combining a display of powerhouse drumming with back up vocals, and now his own feature spot in the programme when he sings “More Fool Me” to Mike`s guitar accompaniment.
“We took three months over the last album, and while we were doing it I was doing my own pub gigs with a band (the legendary Zocks) and we may revive that band again. I`m also cutting a single which came about when I demoed some songs for Mike (Rutherford) and Ant Phillips, who used to be in the band. I was just demoing the songs for them but Strat liked what he heard and decided to put it out as a single although I don`t yet know what name it`ll go out under.”

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Phil admitted that Genesis had finally emerged as musicians rather than a bunch of guys who meticulously work out every arrangement over a period of three months and devise strange costumes, props and slides as expletives.
“Everyone has come out better musically and whether it`s born out of frustration or not I don`t know. I don`t think it was a conscious effort, it was just the way it evolved and we hope to bring a lot more things into the band – there are some more percussion things I want to bring in. I mean the more I can get into the band the better I feel and things like `I Know What I Like`, `Dancing With The Moonlight King` and `Aisle Of Plenty` have given me more pleasure playing onstage now because it used to be that somehow I`d be playing better at the soundcheck than I was onstage. We`ve wanted to sound freer, and now, with only three of us onstage, the time changes are easier to pick up.”
But what role does Phil play in the preparation of new material? “Well I come up with ideas, little riffs and things because I play piano and so ideas come out in various pieces though obviously I`m more into the arrangements and the time sequences than chord patterns and lyrics.
“With the new album I feel that the production is much better because `Foxtrot` had been a farcical situation where we had three producers and it wasn`t until we settled down with John Burns to do `Supper`s Ready` that we realised we were getting into something. He thinks that the feeling should come across more than the technique but technique is important too so this time we`ve found a compromise and shown off a few rough edges.”
Phil`s future plans also include an album with Irish singer Eugene Wallace, although right now he is more concerned with preparing for the States` tour which follows shortly. “We want to make a film of a gig for American use also perhaps a `Whistle Test`, because although this is our third visit to the States it`s only our first real tour. The first time was a gamble with a one off thing in New York and I think it was effective.”

FREAKS

At the beginning of next year the band want to undertake a European tour, but more important, they plan to feature a week of concerts at a major London venue – either Edmonton, Hammersmith or the Rainbow. “We could have sold out four Rainbows this time so that`s what we`ll do instead of the Wembley thing we were going to do, because the show is still maturing.
“The thing is there`s a lot to take in at one show and I`m sure there`ll be some freaks who will come all five nights.”
With such an eccentric show, could Genesis ever hope to make money from the British concert circuit? “No. We had to put our ticket prices up this time which is a sad thing to do, but it`s a vicious circle because we can`t go on playing for nothing and getting ourselves into more debt but at the same time we can`t stop doing what we are doing because that`s what the band`s all about. The financial situation is something we never think about because if we did it would depress us. We`re taking all our own stuff across to America so we`ll lose money there too.”
But Phil is adamant about one thing – Genesis will continue to show off more and more of their colours. “There`s a lot in each of us that doesn`t come out in the band. Steve should play his instrumental `Horizons` and he and Tony should do instrumental things. My song came about because we were all going to do feature spots but I was the only one who actually got it together to do something else in the band.”

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I have personally transcribed this from the original paper. Any errors in the text from the original magazine may not have been corrected for the sake of accuracy. If you have a music-related web-page where this fits – please make a link to the article. With credits to the original writer of the article from all of us music fans!

This number of Sounds also contains articles/interviews with these people: Dicky Betts (Allman Brothers), Alvin Lee and Mylon Lefevre, Humble Pie, Wishbone Ash, Michael Chapman, Ringo Starr, Neil Innes, Ken Hensley, Refugee, Steve Tilston, Groundhogs, Mike Heron.

The original music paper this article came from (pictured at the top) is for sale!

1. Send me an e-mail if you are interested. Send it to: geirmykl@gmail.com
2. The offer should be 20 $ (US Dollars) to be considered. (This includes postage).
3. We conduct the transaction through my verified Paypal account for the safety of both parties.

ARTICLE ABOUT Peter Gabriel (Genesis) FROM SOUNDS, March 3, 1973

A lot of people like this version of Genesis a lot better than what they became later. I see them as almost two separate bands, with Gabriel they were sort of a progressive art-rock band, without him they became a more melodic rock band. Both versions of the band are fine in their own right. Enjoy this one, the last from this issue of Sounds – an issue which were full of riches to explore. On to the next one….

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Gabriel – Living out a surrealist fantasy

By Jerry Gilbert

Peter Gabriel personifies first the surrealist evil that lurks within “Clockwork Orange”, and then the sweet bizarre innocence of Lewis Carroll`s Alice.
The whole issue of camped up stage drama in A.D. 1973 is beginning to portend something patholigical, by and large. The credibility gap of the presentation and its inability to tax the real imagination – these are the problems too often encountered and too rarely overcome.
Maybe the Genesis approach has been different – perhaps they`ve gained from taking the slow winding road to the top of the hill without being sidetracked into any of the Messaenic hyperbole that so many of their contemporaries have chosen.

TANGIBLE

The band`s new stage act, I dare say, transcends just about everything that has come under the portrayal of surrealistic art in an eminently tangible rock form. The band live beyond the seven-year cycle that determines the course of rock music fads and their communicative level is on purely a fantasy level, using as its medium tragi-comedy, quasiallegory, and at its most extreme points life and death as humorous transient sequences rather than states of being.
Peter Gabriel`s visions of life and death are paradoxical; his theory is that music provides visual images – and if that music reaches the theatre then those images can be acted out. In short, you are taken on the unknown voyage of 2001 while Peter Gabriel personifies first the surrealist evil that lurks within “Clockwork Orange”, and then the sweet bizarre innocence of Lewis Carrol`s Alice.
Backstage Alice was taking off her final coat of make up, the metamorphosis revealing Peter Gabriel, suddenly the quiet, self-effacing public school boy who would at first seem the vicarious victim of such a vigorous expression as Genesis send forth except for the fact that he can handle it all superbly.
Offstage he dresses soberly and would be entirely unassuming but for the shaved forehead which would seem to indicate that he is affiliated to some weird religious order.

In the light of such a stage extravaganza did Peter feel that the “Foxtrot” album could stand up on its own merits, stripped of all the trimmings, without providing something of an anti-climax?
“Well we`ve never been entirely satisfied with the album and the music relies heavily on capturing the entire atmosphere on record – we didn`t capture the atmosphere we could have done but we can on stage with our visual presentation,” Gabriel explained.
Prior to the tour Genesis spent long hours in the Rainbow, meticulously taking their existing act and moving it slightly off-centre so that it distorts. The revamped act is little more than a series of clever nuances, save for the obvious introduction of headdresses, but the impact is immediate.
“I think we have enough visual links now that once people see the band the imagery will wash over into the record anyway,” Peter went on. “For instance, I think `Yellow Submarine` provided visual images for people listening to those songs afterwards – things like `Northern Song`.”
Does it matter that the audience are by and large unable to grasp the significance of Gabriel`s personal symbolism? He didn`t think so: “For instance, I like some of Eliot`s poetry and you can spend years looking up his symbolism and cross references if you want to and you might end up with quite a lot of assorted information, but I don`t think you get any more pleasure out of it than if you understand any of the references.”

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DETAIL

Then the serious expression gave way to a grin: “But I do like to have the detail there so that if anyone did want to spend their life rooting around the lyrics, they could find it and it would be like a little paper chase for them, you know, very unnecessary but great fun.”
`Supper`s Ready` is the composition that moves through more physical and allegorical sequences than most – pieced together as a single concept it could parallel a Bosch creation but with the added dimension of time.
“We`ve never taken anything as bulky as “Supper`s Ready` on the road before and we find that when we take things out that we`ve done a lot of work on they are generally such that you can`t hold an audience during certain sections, but what`s pleased us is that audiences on this tour have been willing to listen to all of it.”
I asked Peter whether the band felt comfortable about undertaking such a tour so soon after the one with Lindisfarne, and whether they were affected psychologically by the prospect of returning to the same venues – this time as a headline act.
“It`s only really been strange playing here in Newcastle again, but on the whole we`ve been very, very pleased, because we didn`t know how many places we could fill. We seem to have accumulated much more power than we had a few months ago.”
He explained that the band was used to headlining as they have been broken in on the European circuit. In Italy they are acclaimed as vociferously as they`re ever likely to be in England.
“With our own backcloth now it`s different – there are no speakers visible, we wanted to make the whole thing more personal but strangely very few people have remarked on it although they are usually very aware of the presence of stacks.”
This has helped to levitate the entire credibility of such a creation – the band, shielded by their backprop emerge as though on a dias, and the elimination of such eyesores as speakers assists the audience greatly in accepting their position within Genesis` ephemeral world.
“But people have become much more involved in the fantasies,” insisted Gabriel as though deeming the whole thing worthwhile. “From people who have talked to us they are becoming totally surrounded by it although other people will be left stone cold.”

EYESORES

Then Peter proceeded to outline plans for a new all-embracing project, the concept of which has already been evolved, and when it finds the right environment it`s going to remove its audience totally from any natural habitat and place them in a strange cosmic situation. He was reluctant to divulge the essence of the concept as a venue has not been determined, but the effect it is certain to create is staggering.
“At the moment we are still limited with what we can put across, but with plan x, let`s call it, we will be able to get a lot more across, built out of certain energies, and provide them with the right emphasis.”
“The thing is,” Peter went on, “we`re still not happy with the lighting situation. We had the Who`s lighting guys giving us technical advice and it can be used well as we learn more ourselves about colour.”
So presumably the Genesis road crew would shortly be expanding? “Yes, I do think this will be happening unfortunately. I don`t like the idea of having a touring troupe, but the thing is once we agree on the conception of an idea, then we don`t want to have to worry about the technical difficulties – I think it`s inevitable that the more efficient you become the more organisation you require and therefore more money.”

PLOUGH

But as far as Genesis are concerned their money is already spent. “We want to plough any money we make from gigs right back into the presentation of the show… and we want to do this ad infinitum. We want to do the very best we can on stage and make our money on the records.”
Inevitably this will lead to a dichotomy in the band`s material for they will surely visualise albums and stage productions as entirely different concepts in the future and channel their music accordingly.
“Yes, because we still primarily see ourselves as songwriters which may seem a bit strange – but it`s a writer`s approach to visuals rather than a performer`s.
“What`s important to us now is to do what we`re doing in this country in the States. Unfortunately at first that means taking what you can get including the top band pulling out your power point when they think you`re going down too well. We may decide to just take in towns where the album has done well and do them on our own.”
By May or June Genesis will be back in the recording studios; Gabriel already has some ideas worked out for it (yet to get the affirmation of the rest of the group). And judging from the frame of mind he`s in at present you`d better expect something stunning.

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I have personally transcribed this from the original paper. Any errors in the text from the original magazine may not have been corrected for the sake of accuracy. If you have a music-related web-page where this fits – please make a link to the article. With credits to the original writer of the article from all of us music fans!

This number of Sounds also contains articles/interviews with these people: Darryl Way (Curved Air), Sounds staff analyse David Bowie, Nazareth, Steve Marriott, Average White Band, Elton John, Geordie, Status Quo, Slade, Stackridge, Thin Lizzy, Mike Heron, Jesse Winchester.

The original music paper this article came from (pictured at the top) is for sale!

1. Send me an e-mail if you are interested. Send it to: geirmykl@gmail.com
2. The offer should be 20 $ (US Dollars) to be considered. (This includes postage).
3. We conduct the transaction through my verified Paypal account for the safety of both parties.

ARTICLE ABOUT Genesis FROM SOUNDS, September 9, 1972

Prog-rock fans are one of the most dedicated fans in the world, alongside people listening to jazz and blues, classical and of course rock.
So this early Genesis article may bring the prog message boards into meltdown.
Have fun.

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Genesis doing the foxtrot

By Jerry Gilbert

Peter Gabriel – slightly eccentric or acute schizophrenic?
He cycles to Island Studios to begin a day`s work on the new Genesis album, and unpacks a bottle of throat medicine and a wonder-cure spray rather like a schoolboy would unload his text books.
In fact Gabriel personifies a schoolboy – or the way a schoolboy might be portrayed at some distant point in time. His head is part shaved and his eyebrows bush out which looks a little incongruous when he`s not prancing about the stage daubed with paint and make up like some nebulous apparition.
Suddenly Peter Gabriel and his bicycle are in Basing Street. The singer has arrived. He might have descended in a police box but that`s probably illegal.
Inside, we take a peep at the new Genesis album “Foxtrot” and at the same time sample the strange mechanism of Peter Gabriel`s mind.
He begins to talk, realises he is not quite expressing his feelings satisfactorily, gives a self-efacing shrug and trails off. We wait as he muses on the subject but invariably he fails to take up the point again.
Peter Gabriel is a mutterer and a muser – a man who amuses and minces across the stage when Genesis are in full flow.
He has not climbed on the campwagon since Bowie became beautiful – he has always allowed his latent extrovert side to come out on stage and take him over in what ever way it will.

“You see certain characters I sing about I feel related to in some strange way like the little character in `The Music Box`.” Then he trails off again murmuring some thing about colouration and worrying about a more articulate explanation.
There is no question that Gabriel assumes different identities on stage but in a sense it is indicative of the way in which Genesis have grown organically and in so doing, have not caused the kind of sensation which induces the raising of eyebrows.
Nothing sensational has ever really happened to Genesis which is scarcely surprising when you consider the fact they are a quiet, unassuming bunch of lads who came together as songwriters at public school and started from scratch.
The most remarkable aspect of the group has been their growth rate, and today they find themselves placed among the handful of top bands in Britain.
They were the only band to capture the imagination of the crowds at Reading on the Friday night which is remarkable for a brand of music which depends so heavily on subtleties.
Now things will start to happen – and for a kick off their new album is sensational.
The feeling was already there as we studied the Paul Whitehead designed sleeve on the way over to Island. Bassist Mike Rutherford was explaining how complementary it was to the nature of the album – and again it contains aberrations from a human situation which are so slight as to be absolutely bizarre.

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Gruesome heads are seen on perplexed horsemen and as the hunt arrives at the sea, there stands the beautiful lady with the fox`s head – and hence the title of the album.
Like the new Yes album, one side is devoted entirely to one track, written by Gabriel and entitled `Supper`s Ready`.
“There`s a line in Revelations which says `This supper of the mighty one`… anyway there are very straightforward levels at which you can take the lyrics if you want”, explained Gabriel in typically self-effacing fashion. The song is constructed in several distinct sequences, dipping and soaring from acoustic passages to mighty barrages of sound in much the same way as songs like “Musical Box” and “Stagnation”!
But although they have unleashed twenty-five minutes of sound per side, which can be damaging to the overall sound Genesis have achieved a far more dynamic effect that on “Trespass” and “Nursery Cryme” and it is a far more interesting album.
The band intend to feature the album almost wholesale in their stage act when they go on tour with Lindisfarne next month.
“Watcher Of The Skies”, based around Tony Banks` funereal mellotron opens the album, but one of the highlights is a song by Peter Gabriel concerning the eviction of an old couple by the winklers. The song is called “Get `Em Out By Friday” and Gabriel keeps the battle running by assuming the voices of both factions. The song is an acute protest at an increasingly threatening situation, and according to Mike Rutherford they are the best lyrics Gabriel has written.

Genesis have kept the mellotron largely in the back-ground although it is used predominantly in a track called “Can Utility And The Coastline” which is a play on King Canute, and the stage replacement for “Stagnation”.
“We`ll be rehearsing a completely new stage act because just about all the stuff we`ve done in the studio we can do on stage”, explained Mike. “We`ll probably keep `Return Of The Giant Hogweed` and `Musical Box` but we really need a new closing number to replace `The Knife`. We hope to have this within the next couple of months”.
Although Genesis have not put any overt humour on album, there are plenty of humourous moments to be found beneath the layers of sound – and plenty of effects too. For one sequence of “Supper`s Ready” they sent out for eight children off the streets, four coloured kids and four whites to sing a choral part, and paid them ten bob each for the privilege.
Thanks largely to a far more dynamic drum and vocal sound and a greater studio presence, Genesis have produced a beautiful album, overcoming the unenviable problem of changing producers en route. David Hitchcock is the man responsible for completing what should prove a highly important album.
Summing up Mike Rutherford sees that whereas the group`s style necessarily changed between “Trespass” and “Nursery Cryme” owing to personnel changes, the new album is a development of the same musicians.
“We`ve all had a chance to settle in now and this album is far more dynamic – Phil Collins` drum work gives the sound an overall attack that`s been missing before”, Mike concluded.

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I have personally transcribed this from the original paper. Any errors in the text from the original magazine may not have been corrected for the sake of accuracy. If you have a music-related web-page where this fits – please make a link to the article. With credits to the original writer of the article from all of us music fans!

This number of Sounds also contains articles/interviews with these people: John McLaughlin, Faces, John & Yoko, Eagles, Yes, Nazareth, JSD Band.

The original music paper this article came from (pictured at the top) is for sale!

1. Send me an e-mail if you are interested. Send it to: geirmykl@gmail.com
2. The offer should be 20 $ (US Dollars) to be considered. (This includes postage).
3. We conduct the transaction through my verified Paypal account for the safety of both parties.

 

ARTICLE ABOUT Genesis FROM New Musical Express, May 15, 1976

Quite incredible to think that Phil Collins as a 25-year old was on his fifth American tour. Amazing! Personally, I didn`t even know what to do with my life at that age. But I guess it is easier when you have a lot of talent, meet the right people at the right time and live in exactly the right place. And more. Because there are a lot of stars that need to align for this to happen to anyone.
Certainly an interesting article to read, so enjoy!

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Can little people rock `n` roll?

The Great Sequel to Can Public School Boys Rock`n`roll?

With reference to GENESIS, Prof. STEVE CLARKE answers a question that`s been worrying the diminutive all the world over.

It`s all a question of size, really. Seems that almost everywhere you go in America there`s the biggest something or other. Take New Orleans for instance, the deep, deep heart of Dixie, which boasts America`s, or quite possibly the world`s, biggest indoor sports complex, the Super-dome – a building that outsizes Houston`s Astro-dome by several square-feet or whatever.
Move up several states north to St Louis (the `s` is stressed), Missouri, the very centre of America itself, where the old Mississippi (itself high in longest-river chart) seems omnipresent and you`re confronted with what is apparently the world`s largest manmade structure – an absurd arch which straddles the riverfront like the perimeter of some gargantuan disembodied spoon.
The Arch is monstrously pointless, other than being a tourist attraction and symbolic of the city`s geographical position as “Gateway To The West”.
St Louis also has the world`s largest Holiday Inn complex, a minute part of which is being occupied tonight, this Thursday in late April, by Genesis, that most English of English rock bands who`re approximately two thirds of the way through their fifth American tour and not a little knackered.
And just continuing this bit about size, brings us to Phil Collins, whose amazing transformation from Drummer With The Group to Lead Singer on their last album, “A Trick Of The Tail”, represented something of a triumph for the little guy.
Collins` physical stature cuts a radical contrast with the St Louis Arch and everything (and isn`t everything?) big in America.
Moreover he`s no punk, like the other little guys in rock, but a 25 year-old musician with an extremely endearing temperament.

I remember my first, rather uncomfortable meeting with Genesis two or so years back when I wrongly came away with the impression that the boys in the band were, with the exception of Honest Phil, somewhat coldly diffident individuals. Others in the music biz would agree, saying, “Oh Phil, yeah, he`s all right.”
When I bump into Collins in a lift (or should I say elevator?) in the world`s biggest Holiday Inn complex, he`s genuinely friendly and in the absence of an on-the-road publicist (no-one`s trying to hype Genesis, never have and never will) it`s the drummer who hospitalitises me.
But to get down to business, can Phil crack it onstage as a singer, and more pertinently, as a front-man? Like I said, he is a little guy with a likeable, if basically anonymous face. Peter Gabriel, he isn`t.
Moreover, the group`s decision to have Phil sing in front of them was more one of expedience than anything else. Going back to last autumn and the recording of “A Trick Of The Tail”, Collins was down to sing a mere two acoustic songs, and as far as singing on the heavier numbers he was an unknown quantity.
Since joining the group in `71, Collins had always sang back-up to Gabriel on album and onstage – singing along live even when his vocals weren`t miked up to the PA. On Genesis`s 1973 album, “Selling England By The Pound”, he sang lead on his pretty, acoustic song “More Fool Me” which was also featured onstage.
After some 400 applicants for the job of Gabriel`s successor brought no joy, Collins thought it was about time he had a go at singing all of the album. “It was very frustrating,” he says. “I was singing and teaching them and none of them were coming up to scratch. We even went into the studio without a singer. It got to the point where we had to do `Squonk` (the album`s heaviest cut) – and I had a go. Obviously it went okay, so we went through the rest of the album.

“At that point we felt very confident. We knew that as far as the studio went we could exist as a four-piece without any hassle.”
The stage was another thing altogether, but with the encouragement of his wife, Phil suggested to the rest of Genesis that he should take care of all the vocals live. They weren`t convinced, but two months later when there was still no sign of anyone to take over on the vocal front, Collins put it to the band again.
This time they acquiesced, and the search for a drummer was on.
Enter Bill Bruford, one of our finest players, late of Yes, Roy Harper`s excellent Trigger, Pavlov`s Dog and National Health. Bruford had first played with Collins in Brand X as a percussionist alongside Collins` drumming – Collins formed Brand X about a year or so ago to play small clubs and pubs when Genesis aren`t on the road.
It was at one of the Brand X rehearsals that Bruford asked Phil how the search for a drummer was going. When Phil told him it wasn`t going well, Bruford wanted to know why he hadn`t been invited to join.
Says Collins: “I didn`t think he`d be into the gig after playing with whom he`s played with.” But after one rehearsal with Genesis, it was obvious that Bill did fit in.
Meanwhile back in St Louis, it`s just turned six in the evening and the temperature has cooled off to the lower 80s. The local FM radio has been persistently advertising a full day`s programme of Simon and Garfunkel for the coming weekend (they don`t believe in doing anything by halves) and tracks from Peter Frampton`s live album dominate the airwaves.
For Genesis it`s sound-check time and Mike Rutherford drives the band to this evening`s gig which is just a few minutes away from the world`s biggest Holiday Inn Complex. A 3,000 seater, it`s called the Ambassador Theatre, and very English it is too, with the kind of rococco splendour I hadn`t associated with American rock gigs. Suits Genesis down to a `t`, it does. It could have been air-freighted straight from London Towne. And probably was.

Genesis are not a huge act wherever they go in the States. Their biggest following is in the North-East and over the border in Canada where, after rehearsals in Texas, they opened this 30-date tour. After four warm-up dates in the Ontario area (“They knew us there, but they didn`t know any tunes,” says Collins) the tour started with two shows at Toronto`s Maple Leaf, a 9,500 seater hockey stadium.
An average sized gig for the tour, which ended in Los Angeles earlier this month, would be 3,500 with the vast majority of gigs having been sold out or almost sold out.
Collins opines thus about why Genesis are Big In Canada: “I think it`s because they follow European taste. When you`re there you could well be in Europe. I don`t actually like playing there because it`s like playing Europe. And I don`t like playing Europe.
“As far as album sales go, their penultimate “The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway” made the top 40 and while “A Trick Of The Tail” has done better, going to number 31 on some album charts. They haven`t as yet had a hit album in America.
This tour is very much a consolidatory exercise – “putting the full stop at the end of the sentence” as Collins puts it – and when the band return in October, they`ll be playing bigger gigs in several places.
Genesis might be a popular punters group in Canada, but the gigs there this time didn`t pick up ecstatic reviews. Over to Collins: “I thought we were really good. No way did I think we were bad, but the reviews sounded as if they were written by people who prefered the other show. They called us mediocre. Actually, I had a very down period at the beginning of the tour.
“I thought I was doing right, but I wasn`t sure because the only important feedback, apart from the audience reaction, was that I was weak. They (the press) said the music was okay, but that we`d definitely lost a singer. But in one place we knew for a fact that a paper had sent a gardening expert – I`m not joking. They sent a gardening expert to cover the show because the music correspondent was ill.

“This person reviewed the gig and I kind of started to love the idea of ignoring reviews.
“In the past I`ve always been an avid reader of our reviews. `The Lamb Lies Down` had some bad ones when we started. We played our first date in Chicago and the album hadn`t even come out yet. We got some awful reviews…
“The guy who reviewed us in Montreal this time said he was into James Brown. We expected a bad review from him and we got one.”
The Ambassador apparently isn`t sold-out, but looking around the theatre you could have fooled me. The audience is predominantly white, but there are more blacks than you`d expect for a Genesis gig, and the black guy in his late teens sitting next to me is well excited at the prospect of seeing the band.
Missouri as a state is neither north or south sociologically speaking – in the Civil War they couldn`t make up their mind which side to take and ended up on the fence.
The audience are a mixed bunch, some long-hairs, some short-hairs and there`s one guy who sits over to my left who`s most definitely got it right – with the following printed on his white T-shirt; Fuck the Bicentenary. Easily the funniest thing I`ve seen all week and in welcome contrast to the patriotic banners in the world`s biggest Holiday Inn Complex`s drug store which proclaim 200 years of freedom and democracy.
There is no support act and when Genesis take the stage around 8.30 they stay there for the next two hours and more. Collins has said that Gabriel`s departure has subconsciously lifted a weight off the band`s shoulders and everybody in the band will come over as more of a personality. And no-one is pressuring him to be another Gabriel.
And that`s how it appears as the gig gets under way, even though a little of the natural reserve common to Steve Hackett, Rutherford and Tony Banks transfers itself to the stage.

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Collins, of course, is as different a front-man from Gabriel as Paul Rodgers is from Mick Jagger (no parallels intended), other than in his voice. His phrasing is almost identical to the Big G`s, but his voice lacks the breadth and power. However, the way he makes Genesis a much more human band more than makes up for it.
Phil Collins, quite simply, makes Genesis more accessible – to this writer at least. He has presence – amazingly enough, when you consider the man physically, but whereas Gabriel was always something of an awesome figure (maybe sublime is a better word) Collins is much more touchable.
Like the rest of the band (excluding Bruford, but that`s something else again), Collins is tastefully dressed. He wears sharply pressed cream pants and a tastefully coloured T shirt. Rutherford, Banks and Hackett, the latter of whom, in a loose fitting white blouse and with pants tucked into his boots, comes on like some ever-so slightly degenerate 18th century cleric, are also tastefully dressed.
Rutherford also has stage presence now – his entire visage fixed in a splendid expression of upper-middleclass suppressed sarcasm. There`s definitely something of the John Cleese about this fellow.
What`s more, Hackett no longer sits down all the time. He stands up for at least half the set. He doesn`t move much, though. You don`t expect miracles, do you? But he does come up-front to introduce his song – the very excellent, ethereal “Entangled” from the last album.
Likewise Rutherford, who introduces some song or other.
Collins is a bodyful of energy on stage. He runs, sometimes on the spot in mock keep-fit type movements and sometimes from the mike out-front to his drum-kit, larger than Bruford`s and stage left. He scampers, leaps, scurries, feigns a ballet-dance and pirouettes all over the place. He uses hand-movements and facial expressions to bring over the point of the song.

For “Robbery Assault And Battery” he puts on a cloth cap and an oversized coat and becomes the small-time working class rogue the song portrays.
His only other costume change is a white smock which he puts on for another song, the title of which I`ve unfortunately forgotten.
Visually and musically this Genesis is excellent. Throughout their lengthy set they continually demonstrate the musical and compositional skills that have made them a first division band.
Their melodic flair comes across in songs like “White Mountain”, “Supper`s Ready” (which fulfils all its promise) and so many other songs which got lost in the pure enjoyment of it all.
The dynamics of their music is quite staggering and each musician plays his chosen instrument with a rare degree of technical prowess and taste. Nothing is overplayed or under-done. Everything is constantly creative and imaginative.
Yes, I liked them.
Slides, movies, graphics and cartoons are used throughout and are always totally in sympathy with the music. They make, say, the Floyd`s attempts at similar visual presentation techniques look silly by comparison. Ocassionally the visuals are a little too obvious, but even then acceptably so.
Apart from the numbers mentioned above, Genesis`s set also included “Dance On A Volcano”, “Squonk”, and “Los Endos” from “A Trick Of The Tail”, the title cut from “The Lamb Lies Down”, plus “Carpet Crawler” and “It” from the same album.
The latter segued into “Watcher Of The Skies” for the encore. There`s also the band`s only British hit “I Know What I Like (In Your Wardrobe)”, “Cinema Show” and “Firth Of Forth”.

Those of you who`ve bought tickets for the band`s sold-out five days at Hammersmith Odeon in June are in for the proverbial treat. Really.
Apart from the back projections, actual smoke belched from the stage for the climax of “Supper`s Ready”. That might have been a little over-done, but, `struth, at least it wasn`t dry ice.
Backstage Rutherford is quite euphoric, explaining that if he seemed a little pissed off earlier it was because the lazer wasn`t working. Laser? Isn`t that old-hat from The Who and Zeppelin? Ah, he says, the Genesis laser is different, and doesn`t merely project a static beam of light (or lights) across the auditorium. It`s much more flexible, and, they say, spectacular.
Hackett is maintaining his seemingly impregnable shyness, but when I tell him I think Genesis are a much better band for Gabriel`s going, he agrees. Gabriel sent the band a well-wishing telegram for the tour`s opening night, but still hasn`t seen them.
Banks and Rutherford are with the ladies. The excellent Bruford (damn, I`ve forgot to tell you how good he was. Still, you probably guessed) is swathed in towels, as is Collins who seems remarkably fresh after such an energetic performance.
The promoter has laid on Chinese food for all and there`s no madness. Genesis are well behaved. Didn`t you know that already? Back to the world`s largest Holiday Inn complex, where each group member retires to his own room. I go and see Phil with tape in hand. His wife and baby are in the bedroom of his suite.
Apparently his biggest worry about fronting the band was being incapable of talking to the audience, but that`s okay now. He does say he`ll keep himself just a shade more together before going on, but his new role hasn`t changed things that much at all.

“I don`t actually find it more tiring,” he says. “I`ve lost a lot of weight on this tour. Actually, I`d rather go back and play the drums than go off stage and have a drink. I`m still a drummer.
“I don`t consider myself the lead singer. I feel I have more leeway to do what I want being a drummer first, because people don`t expect a supercool, super-slick guy. They expect someone who`s just a guy and that makes it a lot easier.
“It makes me feel a lot more comfortable. I`m more excited by Genesis now `cause I can get more out of it. There were always songs that I would have loved to have sung. That`s probably why I sang along with Peter onstage. Some people might think I was sitting there plotting behind the drum-kit to get rid of the lead singer so I can take over, but that`s ridiculous.”
So does he think Genesis are a better band?
He cops out by saying, “It seems to be more musical, but maybe that`s because we`ve got Bill in the group. I have an awful lot of respect for what he does.”
Although Bruford has no thoughts of joining Genesis as a full-time member, Collins hopes he`ll be with them for their October US tour.
“I think he treats us the same way he treated Roy Harper and National Health. Bill appreciates that we`re about songs rather than techniques or solos (onstage there are few solos). I`d like to keep him into it but I realise he hasn`t got much to gain out of it. I want to make sure he`s happy musically. He seems to be.”

Collins onstage definitely becomes something of an actor and it doesn`t surprise me when he tells me that much of his childhood was spent in the theatre as a child-actor. He`s played the part of the artful dodger in Oliver, which maybe accounts for his fine performance during “Robbery Assault And Battery”.
“I`ve been on the stage in one form or other from the age of six until about 16 or 17. I feel quite comfortable in a costume like that. All the other times I feel just like a singer.
“That`s all I want to do – sing. So I try and use as much of the body and face but without actually going as far as putting anything on”.
Regarding the back-projections the group are self-critical, “We get qualms every now and then about them being like French movies, a bit electric cinema.
“Some of the film sequences weren`t as good as we hoped they`d be, things like `Entangled`, which are abstract are probably better.”
It must cost a lot to organise all that, particularly as they`re specially filmed?
“I couldn`t honestly tell you. You become immune to those sort of costs. I wouldn`t know how much a hotel room is. I don`t know how much we earn tonight. When you come to think about it, it must be somewhere between five and ten thousand dollars” – he pauses to re-collect his thoughts – “I`ve no idea… This could be a cheap gig. It could be a real expensive gig. We don`t plan to make money off our live performances. This tour might make a slight profit. Up until `The Lamb` we were writing off a debt.
“No sooner are we out of debt than there`s a tax problem. There`s no inbetween, so in effect we`ll only be as well off as we were three years ago earning 90 quid a week or something.”

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Never heard of “Strapps”, but I like their promotional material.

I have personally transcribed this from the original paper. Any errors in the text from the original magazine may not have been corrected for the sake of accuracy. If you have a music-related web-page where this fits – please make a link to the article. With credits to the original writer of the article from all of us music fans!

This number of New Musical Express also contains articles/interviews with these people: Pink Floyd, David Bowie, Ramones, Ian Hunter, Erich Von Daniken, Eric Carmen, Elton John, Nils Lofgren, Stanley Clarke.

The original music paper this article came from (pictured at the top) is for sale!

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