Saturday, January 2, 2016

The Genesis Project: An Introduction

I’ve been reviewing music on this blog for over six years. Wow! It seems like a long time. Though sometimes I get bored and pick an artist one year and explore their discography a bit. You may have noticed. Last year I went through the Beastie Boys catalog, the year before it was Tom Petty. However, this year I’ve decided to make it an official thing – pick one band and really make an event of it. I’ll review one album each month and decide if I really am a fan.

After much deliberation I chose Genesis. My experience with them started when I was still in the single digits, age-wise. I’m mostly familiar with their Invisible Touch material – more specifically, the song “Land of Confusion.” It was one of those truly iconic videos that always stuck with me as being surreal and rather frightening. Those strange looking puppets along with the urgency of the song really struck a chord with me. I watched it again the other night and my wife said, “This video is truly horrifying.” I loved the song, though. Still do. I’d also heard the album’s title track and really enjoyed that as well. Peter Gabriel’s videos for “Big Time” and “Sledgehammer” were MTV staples. Back in the day, I’d watch for hours just to see those two clips. I’ve even enjoyed a lot of Phil Collins’ solo songs. Hey, don’t hate - good tunes is good tunes. When I finally had two digits in my age, I’d be glad to see “Jesus He Knows Me” and “I Can’t Dance” pop up on MTV.

I was ignorant of their status as progressive rock legends until much later. I was far too young to have heard any of that material. My music exposure at the time was limited to radio stations and MTV. If it wasn’t played on either of those outlets, I didn’t hear it. In my early twenties, a co-worker let me borrow a copy of Nursery Cryme for me to sample. I remember absolutely none of it. What I do remember was not being that impressed. But, hey, I was young and stupid (Well… stupid at any rate. I don’t ever remember being young). I like progressive rock and I like pop music, Genesis has done both reasonably well. Seems like a good fit to me.

So here I am in 2016, ready to dive down and really dig into this band with whom I’m only passingly, but positively familiar with. The rules will be a little different for this project. I’m going to do a bit more detailed write-ups for these albums. I wanted to really marinate in each piece and take notes before I write up the reviews. I’ll even be…like…revising them and stuff. I want these to be a cut above what I normally do. There will be one Genesis review at the end of every month. I’ll still be doing my informal paragraph-long reviews as well.

The tentative schedule for my experience is as follows:

            Janurary: Duke
            February: Foxtrot
            March: We Can’t Dance
            April: Selling England By The Pound
            May: Invisible Touch
            June: Trick of the Tail
            July: Abacab
            August: Nursery Cryme
            September: Genesis
            October: The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway
            November: …And Then There Were Three
            December: Wind and Wuthering

I say “tentative” because I may change the schedule a little bit or replace an album in the line-up. At the end of each review I’ll let you know which one is next in case I do change.

Okay, I know what you’re asking: why start with Duke?

The answer is… it seems like good middle ground. I’ve heard that Duke is sort of the mid-point for the band’s career, mixing progressive rock with more pop sensibilities. In all honesty, that sounds like my kind of album! It also comes highly recommended. There’s this article that recommends Duke for those who want to get familiar with prog-rock. I also have the whole-hearted endorsement of a movie psycho. If that weren’t enough, there’s this article from a fellow gamer and prog-rock lover, Jeremy Parish. Oh, and don’t forget NolifetilMetal’s Scott Waters likes it too. So it seems like the place to start. I’ve also tried to pick albums from the band’s entire catalog, switching it up each month - one month I’ll do something progressive and another more pop. That way I’ll have palate cleansers and, hopefully, be more objective.

As I said before, I like both progressive rock and pop. I won’t be too worried about questions like “who ruined the band?” and the like. I don’t care. I will be listening to these pieces long after the fact and I will only have one question in mind. Namely, do I like it? I won’t be worried about its history or its placement in the band’s discography. No, each album will be a singular experience and that’s how I will rate it. At least that’s what I hope to do… Oh yeah! That’s the other thing, I’m actually going to give each album rating from one to five (five being the best, naturally).

One last thing, I don’t expect to find the band “ruined.” See, sometimes fans don’t realize that our favorite artists kind of get tired doing the same thing over and over again. Case in point: Deliverance. Deliverance remains one of my favorite bands of all time. They started life as a speed metal band, but gradually become a more melodic, more alternative sounding band. Everyone hated that. They wanted speed metal or nothing. Forget the fact that the band had been doing speed metal for almost ten years. Some artists want to try different things and that’s not wrong.

I suspect something similar happened to Genesis. It’s great to do sprawling epic progressive masterpieces. But I bet it’s just as good to put together a strong three-minute pop song. I can see where all the theatrics might get tiresome after awhile. Playing a ten-minute song probably takes a lot out of you. Also, I would bet pop music pays better. And as someone who’s had to worry about whether or not I could buy toilet paper, financial security is nothing to sneeze at.

So join me, won’t you? It’s should be a fun and enlightening year!


  1. Just found your blog today but I'm enjoying it immensely.

    1. Glad you found it and enjoy it! Always good to see comments on my posts.