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Everytime someone mentions “a bible“ they are talking about an essential book. The bible is the point of reference, every topic, every larger area has its own “bible”. Amongst the Genesis biographies there is the definitive bible by Armando Gallo – which has just one single flaw as it uncovers just one part of the whole picture.
For the first time in many years a serious contender for the “bible” spot has been released that could topple Gallo’s book from its throne. Simply called "Chapter & Verse" in the original version, translations bear slightly clumsy but very self-confident titles such as "The Book of GENESIS".


The book was published because of the big marketing machine that accompanied the reunion of the Genesis core of Tony Banks, Phil Collins and Mike Rutherford. Its release had been announced in March. This is not simply another biography of the band. Genesis themselves have contributed to this book which makes it the authorised version. But it is not really a biography.


Chapter & Verse follows a similar approach like the In Their Own Words series from a couple of years back (a book about Peter Gabriel was released in it). Quotes by the band members and people close to them are the foundation for this book, but it is more than that: it is the legitimation. There is no narrative in this book, the editors have confined themselves to an introduction in which they state that the book does not claim completeness, but “it is all real.”


The book is never objective. How could it? It tells the story of the band as it was – in the words of the protagonists. The book does not sort it all nicely into any sort of context, and if it does, it is through the eyes of the band. Nobody can really check whether everything the gentlemen tell us is really absolutely true. Despite – or because – of that it is an almost comprehensive chronology of the band’s history from the personal view of the musicians. Besides the band some of their companions can be heard, too, e.g. Richard Macphail, Tony Smith and the late Ahmet Ertegun. The book features many photos in black and white as well as in colour. There are also special dossiers about important people in the band history where these people explain how they came into contact with Genesis and talk about peculiar and special things.

The list of people whose words were included in this book is most impressive: First of all, it is Genesis themselves, alphabetically from 1967 to 2007: Tony Banks, Phil Collins, Mike Rutherford, Peter Gabriel, Anthony Phillips, Steve Hackett, Ray Wilson, Chris Stewart, John Silver and John Mayhew.

Then there are further musicians and companions: Ronnie Caryl, Bill Bruford, Chester Thompson, Daryl Stuermer, Nir Zidkyahu, Jonathan King, Gail Colson, Ed Goodgold, Nancy Lewis, Nick Davis, Hugh Padgam and Rusty Brutsche. Only a couple of names are missing, e.g. David Hentschel, John Burns or Nick D'Virgilio.


The reader will notice that there is a slight focus – the early years are given a lot of room. That is no disadvantage at all. The book will have many readers who have discovered Genesis only recently and who will use this book as a tour guide on their “little trip back”.


There is a plethora of details, almost every event mentioned in the book is covered by several statements. An example: Phil plays his Genesis colleagues his own material for the first time (during the Duke sessions). Phil is positive that he also played them In The Air Tonight, Tony disagrees explaining that he would never have rejected such a good song and Mike thinks that the song had not even been written by then.


The individual statements and interjections by the companions are very illuminating. Chris Stewart mentions that Phil once planned to take him on as a tour musician; Bill Bruford looks back at his time with Genesis calmly and merrily suggests “Care to give it another try, guys?”

Producers Nick Davis and Hugh Padgham concur that working for Genesis in the 90s was not very good for their own career – there was a time, after all, when Genesis were not in fashion.


In this manner we are presented with several points of view about crucial moments in the history of Genesis – and it seems that there is no single real truth.


The book tells its story up to the 2007 reunion, right up to the dress rehearsal in Brussels, Belgium, and also features a couple of photos from the tour.

It is a bit unfortunate that a couple of photos from the We Can’t Dance tour were mirrored. This also happened in translated editions of the book.


When the reader has finished this book they will feel slightly disappointed that it ended – the reason perhaps being the odd feeling that the story of Genesis is not over yet…

Publishing this opus magnum of more than 360 pages and many photos as a hardcover is perfectly appropriate. The price is a bit steep (the German translation comes in at €49,90) but you get a lot for your money.


Yes, there can be no doubt – Chapter & Verse is the new standard work, the new bible for all Genesis fans. It is a must have, and hardcore fans will enjoy it as much as newcomers who are only beginning to discover Genesis.


by Christian Gerhardts
translated by Martin Klinkhardt
graphics by Helmut Janisch

 

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