‘Two Albums After the Fall, Genesis Is Weathering Well the Loss of Peter Gabriel’
Written by meek on March 31, 1977
From Circus Magazine issue #152, March 31, 1977.
by Richard Frisch.
They say that only the strong survive, and this assertion certainly applies to the life of Genesis. When the chief frontman of a band departs the aftershock is often shattering, at least threatening. It happened when Rick Wakeman made his departure from Yes, when Leon Russell quit the Joe Cocker Band and when Paul McCartney left the Beatles. It did not happen when Peter Gabriel abandoned Genesis.
On their last LP, A Trick of the Tail (Atlantic), Genesis demonstrated that they were able to make it on their own. But, with the release of Wind & Wuthering, Genesis adds another musical achievement to their list of seven, and should subdue anyone who claims that Genesis was only Peter Gabriel plus four. In reality, the Genesis sound has always been the combination of Tony Banks’ electronic keyboard effects intwined with the versatile guitar tricks of Steve Hackett and Mike Rutherford, aided and furthered by the brilliant drumming and percussives of lead singer Phil Collins.
The LP contains the most mature orchestration to date by the progressive rock group and is much more instrumental than A Trick of the Tail. One listen to their opus “Unquiet Slumbers for the Sleepers . . . in that Quiet Earth” and the intricacies of their sophisticated compositions seem reduced to simple, accessible terms. The song is a cultivated departure from everything the group has done in the past.
Wind & Wuthering is more personal and serious than any previous effort. Guitarist Steve Hackett says, “the production is still a group effort, but it contains more individualistic styles. We each contribute ideas, lyrics, and melodies, but the album was put together differently. In the past, when Peter was with us, he would record all the vocals by himself, now we do everything together. Before, all works were just credited to Genesis, now we each take credit for what we do.”
One thing that will never change, though, is the “Genesis principle.” The conviction will always be to continually evolve and improve a unique style characterized by tight, yet accessible arrangements, magical melodies and life-like, vibrant lyrics. On Wind & Wuthering, the group slightly alters this premise to include more serious subject matter. Of the eight flawless tracks, three are especially earnest: they are the beautiful love songs, “Your Own Special Way” and “After- glow” and the cynical commentary, “Blood on the Rooftops.”
Guitarist Mike Rutherford is assertive: “We tried to get away from some of the fantasy that our albums were full of in the past.”
And Hackett, not one to let up, adds, “we’ve changed direction and are maturing more, so we are changing musically. The album is more of a classical piece, not because of adding a baroque synthesizer over some amplified rhythm tracks, but because of form. The album has a broader spectrum of sound and a more varied composition. You have to listen to it a couple of times to really appreciate it. We experimented more with sound, we tried to avoid certain cliches of mellotron, synthesizers . . . we wanted to try different arrangements.
Mike continues: “Our various musical influences help – Phil has his jazzy style, Tony and Steve have their classical influences and I have my acoustic background – so we kind of complement one another. It does great things for our sound.”
Lyrically, Wind & Wuthering substantiates Genesis’ talents as expert story tellers, no matter what the subject may be. From the mythical voyage of the “Eleventh Earl of Mar” to the humorous anecdotes “All in a Mouse’s Night,” to the luminous lovesong of “Your Own Special Way,” Genesis shows their ability to mix dreamy musical constructions with vivid lyrical designs.
One powerful track is “Blood on the Rooftops,” in which they describe the tedium and repetitiveness of television news and the overall mocking disgust that must sometimes accompany watching the news happen. Meticulous and outstanding is Phil Collins sweet singing – softly juxtaposed with a subject viewed in dim, dire tones.
“All in a Mouse’s Night” is a miniature comedy melodrama of the classic cat and mouse tale, done in dialogue form with the poor mouse losing out wherever he goes. The tale was written by Tony Banks and he doesn’t stop there; Tony goes out of his way through magical keyboard arrangement to reflect the frustrations of the poor mouse. Phil Collins add animation to the track, ingeniously vocalizing both the cat and mouse roles.
Mike Rutherford’s “Eleventh Earl of Mar” is like something out of Tolkien’s “Lord of the Rings” – a mythical journey through time expertly expanded by Banks’ resplendent use of mellotron and synthesizer. “Eleventh Earl of Mar” reaffirms Genesis’ knack for mixing sound sophistication with bright lyrical decorations.
To coincide with Wind & Wuthering, Genesis embarked on a world tour which will cover much of Spring, 1977. It includes 45 cities in the U.S., Europe, Japan and Canada. One eagerly anticipated gig is at New York’s Madison Square Garden – their first solo performance in the “big hall.” The band will again be touring with a temporary drummer. Bill Bruford who was with them on the last tour rejoined Yes. Chester Thompson, formerly with Weather Report and the Pointer Sisters, is touring with another hitmaker.
“We chose Chester,” says Mike Rutherford, “because Phil wanted someone he could look up to and play well with. He found it in Chester.”
The Genesis stage show is also much different this time around: less focus on slides and movies and more concentration on a new light show. Rutherford is enthusiastic. “The lighting adds so much to our music we’re trying to expand its effect.” The laser that no one stopped talking about on their last tour is on again, backed by an amazing stage set up.
Genesis has a lot planned for the future. A live album will be released of their past tour and this one; an album by Phil Collins’ jazz group, Brand X, will be released soon; and, a solo album of former Genesis member, Anthony Phillips, will be released, produced by Mike Rutherford. For a band that critics thought would never make it on their own, Genesis seems to be doing very well for themselves.