Saturday, 15 September 2012

Get 'Em Out By Tuesday

The date in the unspoken lyric in the classic Genesis song Get 'Em Out By Friday "18/9/2012 t.v. flash on all dial-a-program services" comes around on Tuesday, and this has the effect of making me feel really quite old indeed, as Foxtrot was the first Genesis LP I bought new, aged 14, some two years after its release, and the date "18/9/2012" seemed unbelievably far in the future at the time...ho-hum.

As if an excuse were needed, my good DPRP colleague and student of the prog, one Mr Basil Francis, thought this would be a good time for a small but perfectly formed feature on the most quintessentially English of the prog originals.

What we're going to do is list four key Genesis songs and a fave album each, because...well, because we can.

These are Baz's:

Stagnation (Trespass) - One of the key songs from this oft-underrated album (I believe Roger has the other one covered). One of Genesis' first 'musical journey' songs, Stagnation taps into many moods and dynamics throughout its nine-minute length. The opening three-minutes are incredibly beautiful and relaxing, yet still maintain direction. The rest of the song, sometimes bombastic, other times subdued, is also very evocative.

The Musical Box (Nursery Cryme) - Starting once again with an acoustic intro section, involving the flute work of Peter Gabriel, this track is perhaps the definitive Genesis track. Only a very talented bunch of songwriters could know how to reserve themselves for three and a half minutes before delivering a very satisfying wallop in the rest of the track. Despite (or perhaps because of) its storyline depicting a fantastical old man ravaging a young girl, The Musical Box stands as one of progressive rock's most powerful and best realised statements.

The Cinema Show (Selling England By The Pound) - Once again, this song has another extended 'acoustic' bit. My tastes are getting a bit formulaic right now. However, I'm not here to talk about Romeo, his basement flat or his chocolate surprise. On Foxtrot, I think the boys let themselves down a bit when they attempted to play in a certain odd time signature (see below), but here, in the second half of the track, Genesis fully redeem themselves by rocking out in 7/8. And this time they do it properly, and keep to the time signature, rather than have messy keyboards and drums everywhere whilst Steve and Mike can be audibly heard counting to nine on their guitars. As a drummer, I've found this track to be exceptional fun to play along to, along with Dance on a Volcano, also in seven. What a Jolly Good Time it is!

One for the Vine (Wind and Wuthering) - Ooh, controversial; I've gone for a post-Gabriel track. This was really getting to the end of Genesis' 'classic' era, but this track, clocking in at exactly ten minutes, proved that the band still had their songwriting chops at this late stage. Simply put, this track is as succinct and pleasant as storytelling prog ever got. I say 'storytelling', because the lyrics make complete sense once you can hear what Collins is babbling on about, and a damn good story it is too! A very beautiful and concise track, the closing piano notes recall the glory of Firth of Fifth (see below).

Now, choosing a favourite album is bloody difficult, because I simply can't put my hand on my heart and say that any of their albums are perfect. Genesis have some astonishing standalone songs, but consistency isn't really their thing. Even the revered Selling England by the Pound has it's share of dull and cringeworthy moments (Wha? - Ed). However, based crudely on the amount of what I deem to be 'enjoyable material' I suppose this album would have to do. I'm just ashamed that if I were to go to a desert island with just one Genesis album, that I'd be taking I Know What I Like (In Your Wardrobe) with me. I'd certainly miss a lot of other tracks!

And these are mine:

The Knife (Genesis Live version) - The power and exuberance of this song showed a peak of energy this usually rather studious band rarely reached again. Even Mr Hackett must have wanted to stand up playing this. Bonkers and brilliant!

Supper's Ready (Foxtrot) - May be here for sentimental reasons as it was the first prog epic these old lugholes ever experienced first hand as it were, but Pete's Biblical tale still hits the spot some 407 years later; although according to Baz, Tony doesn't know how to play in 9/8, not that I care in the slightest.

Firth Of Fifth (Selling England By The Pound) - Any song from this album could have made it to this list, even More Fool Me, but I'll stick with this, as it sums up the band in its nine and half minutes: Pete's strange proclamations, some stunning Banks keyboard work, and Steve plays a truly lovely solo. And Phil keeps schtum! Wahey!

Back In NYC (The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway) - A difficult album to pull one song from, as they don't all work out of context, but it might as well be this. The fact that Eno had a hand in the production is all over Tony's Roxy-like keyboard sound. A tune you can idiot-dance, or indeed, dance like an idiot to.

And my favourite album is Selling England By The Pound, a succinct distillation of the progress the band had made up to that point, and as perfect a prog album as you're ever likely to get.

Oh, and so there's no doubt, Genesis ceased to exist as any kind of prog force when Steve left after Wind And my 'umble opinion, of course. The less said about what followed the better.

Well, there you have it...over to you...

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