This lesson will chronicle the career of Genesis and their various shifts in style and membership. We will explore their most important albums and the respective roles played by their two frontmen in the band’s creative evolution.
Genesis: The Story of Two Frontmen
Genesis was one of the most respected and beloved progressive rock bands of the 1970s.
Progressive rock was a movement that attempted to bring the musical complexity and artistic ambition of jazz and classical music to rock. Key features included complex arrangements, timing changes, virtuosic musicianship, and refined lyrical themes. In the 1980s, Genesis became a highly successful pop band, selling millions of records. This shift in sound, style, and aesthetics can be attributed to their frontmen during these two very different eras: Peter Gabriel in the 1970s and Phil Collins in the 1980s.
Many critics and rock fans have criticized Genesis during their progressive (or prog) period, calling them pretentious and boring. Many others have criticized them during their commercially successful 1980s period for abandoning the artistic aspirations of progressive rock. Today, Genesis is perceived as one of the most challenging British bands of their generation, mercurial and creative.
Genesis: The Peter Gabriel Years
After the departure of Peter Gabriel, who was both the main creative force and the public face of the band, Genesis was unsure of how to proceed. After attempting to enlist a new frontman, Genesis eventually decided that drummer Phil Collins would become the lead vocalist and frontman for the band. Although Collins’ voice sounded somewhat similar to Gabriel’s, this shift would prove momentous for the future of the band.Between 1976 and 1978, Genesis gradually streamlined their sound and dropped most of the dazzling stage antics of their earlier efforts.
Although the first two post-Gabriel records continued in a progressive rock vein, after the departure of Steve Hackett in 1977, Genesis began moving in a much more pop-oriented direction. 1978’s ‘And Then There Were Three,’ which referenced Hackett’s departure, featured shorter songs and much catchier material. 1980’s ‘Duke’ showed Genesis as a very different band, focusing on love songs with straightforward pop arrangements.
Although a far-cry from ‘Selling England by the Pound’ stylistically, ‘Duke’ was a commercial success.The 1980s saw Peter Gabriel’s solo career blossom. At the same time, Genesis would continue to veer towards radio-friendly pop music. Although losing many of their early fans, Genesis gained many more new ones during this period. Genesis toured extensively and released numerous lucrative albums, culminating in their massively popular 1986 hit record ‘Invisible Touch’ which sold over 6 million copies. Phil Collins’ solo career was also hugely successful, offering some of the most iconic pop songs of the 80s including ‘Sussudio,’ ‘One More Night,’ and ‘Another Day in Paradise.’With Collins’ solo career in full swing, Genesis became less of a priority for him.
In 1991, Genesis released, ‘I Can’t Dance’ and toured to support it. Afterwards, Collins left the band to focus on his solo projects. Tony Banks and Mike Rutherford soldiered on for one more album, 1997’s ‘Calling All Stations.’ Although critics praised its reemphasis on progressive rock, audiences mostly ignored it. ‘Calling All Stations’ proved to be the final Genesis album.In 2007, Collins returned for a reunion tour with Genesis, which was well received.
In 2010, Genesis was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
|This allowed vast numbers of progressive rock bands