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Genesis Archive - „history lessons” à la Genesis

For three years a rumour was floating around in the Genesis fan community about a project that was finally released on June 22, 1998 after it had been postponed several times: the Genesis Archive 1967-1975. We recount the story up to that release and then take a good look at both the design and the music of the (first) Genesis box-set.


The not so glorious beginnings

It is not exactly clear who actually had the idea to compile a Genesis box set nor do we know when it was brought up. It is said that it was not Genesis who suggested it, but the record company who were interested in such a release. Work on the set would have begun around 1992 or 1993.

Some time after that, in early 1995, to be precise, rumours began to circulate among fans: Several boxes with old Genesis material were being worked on, they said, but what was to be in them was not known yet.

A couple of months later things became more concrete. Though there were no official comments about the box set word got out that it would be called the Genesis Archive and that there would be three boxes of four CDs each. The first one was to cover 1967 to 1975, the second the period from 1976 to 1980/81 and a third one was to cover 1980/81 to the present. These boxes were compiled by Glen Colson, who had been Charisma Records’ PR spokesman in the early 70s. He had also been involved with The Famous Charisma Box that was released in 1993. The first installment of the box set was to be released in time for Christmas 1995. People also found out that one of the CDs would contain early demos, a second disc would have B-sides and live material, while the other two would cover a complete Lamb concert.

In October 1995 we had the opportunity to interview Glen Colson and Tony Banks about the box set. These interviews were printed in vol.17 of the German fan club magazine. The box set, however, was not released in autumn 1995, for legal reasons, it was said. It would be released “sometime in 1996”. Glen Colson was ordered to keep mum by the Genesis management and therefore we did not receive any news about the box set.

Fans assumed that Genesis Archive Vol.1 would be released in the autumn of 1995. In the meantime there were rumours about long-lost and recently re-found old demos that were allegedly to be included in the box set.

By July 1996 Virgin were ready to kick off a promotion campaign for the box set that was scheduled for release on November 11. A new recording of Carpet Crawlers was planned to be released as an advance single on October 29. But less than a month later the release was scrapped again. Completion of the promo video for Carpet Crawl was estimated to take another three months. Since Genesis were to release their new studio album in spring 1997 the box set was moved to autumn ’97.

Fans felt confident that they would be able to buy the Genesis Archive finally in autumn 1997 after two postponements. Virgin, however, changed their plans again. The new Genesis album Calling All Stations was released not in spring, but in autumn 1997, and marketing said that might hurt sales of the Archive, and so release of the boxset was postponed yet again – to autumn 1998. The fans for one thing were busy with the new Genesis record and the ensuing tour.

Genesis kicked off their European tour, and it was announced at that time that the boxset would be released after the tour. Release dates were moved backwards by the week. At first it was May 18, then that changed to May 25. Hardly any fans seriously believed that the set would be published before the summer, but then Virgin started their promotion campaign, the official homepage announced the imminent release of the Genesis Archive. On May 11 all band members of the Gabriel years (except for John Mayhew, Chris Steward and Mick Barnard) met for a press conference in London, and on June 22, 1998 the Genesis Archive finally hit the stores. Who would have thought that?


(... and the booklet)

When the Genesis box set was mentioned first nobody know what it would look like. A box, obviously, is some sort of cardboard thing. Severy bands and individual artists, e.g. Yes and King Crimson, have released very fine boxsets in that style. The Famous Charisma Box is another good example. While the Charisma box and Yes’ Yesyears box were roughly LP-sized and had a booklet of the same size, a booklike format of roughly the width and double height of a jewel case was chosen for the Genesis boxset. It is a more convenient format picked by many artists. The (marketing) advantage over a cardboard box is that it is compact and easier to present in a shop.

Apart from the format of the Archive, which was presumably fixed right from the start, the first part of the box set had a design that was completely different from the one it was released in. When Virgin kicked off their promo campaign in the summer of 1996 we received colour copies of the complete booklet. The texts and photos were almost identical but designwise it looked very different from the finished prodcut. If you attended the it meeting 1997 you may remember that we had the colour prints on display. As far as we know the original design was drawn up by Glen Colson. It was a slightly simpler version with more larger images and fewer layout gimmicks. The band allegedly did not like that design so they had Wherefore Art? rework the whole layout.

The box looks like an old battered leather-bound book (as opposed to the Colson version which was black, without any images but with golden print, which would have been more stylish). The CDs are placed digipak-style on the insides of the outer sleeves. This system is a bit shaky and so occasionally a CD may fall out of the box. The CDs themselves do not have any breathtaking artwork. As with many CD-label prints these days they are simpler, using only one or two colours (for technical reasons).

The booklet, which consists of no less than 82 pages, is not stuck to the box as usual, but there is a cardboard holder in the middle of the box. This is a neat idea that facilitates thumbing through the booklet. It is quite a nuisance that on most pages of the booklet texts and images are too close to the binding or actually span two pages. One would have to open the booklet very wide to read comfortably or to take in the whole photo. That, however, is precisely what one should avoid because the glue binding is anything but good. The layout itself seems excessively stylized and confusing in places. The photos themselves are very interesting. There are a couple of famous photos but also lots of new photos that seem to come from the private photo albums of the band or crew members. When before have we seen photos that show Genesis in the studio between 1967 and 1969, or during a jam session or during the recordings of The Lamb in the studio … or Phil and Richard Macphail taking a leak … or Richard and Mike coming out of a lake in their birthday suits? And yet the selection of photos seems a bit unmethodical, they are not in any discernible chronological order and do not fit the essays around which they are placed – in short, an area of confusion. There are almost no captions or foot notes that would explain who took a particular photo or where and when it was taken. Hardcore fans will be able to place them roughly, but why not add a comment by whoever took the photo? That would certainly have pleased the fans. Reproductions of newspaper articles, concert advertisments, letters, record sleeves, tickets and so on add to the design to the point of occasionally overloading it. One cannot help but wish for a bit less, but in better (read: larger) quality. Many of these points could have been addressed by an LP-sized box with a booklet the same size. A pity, really.

The essays in the archive booklet were penned by Tony Banks, Johnathan King, Chris Welch, Richard Macphail, David Stopps, Ed Goodgold, Tony Stratton-Smith and Peter Gabriel.

Tony [Banks] discusses the music that was selected for the four CDs. He also provides some background and explains about the “early years”. A couple of paradoxical points excepted, his “technical tips” are a welcome addition to the music.

Johnathan King reminisces about that Old Boys’ Day at Charterhouse when he was given the first Genesis demo cassette. He never quite ceases to point out his merits in the formation of Genesis. It all seems quite narcissistic, but apparently that is the way he is, and Genesis do owe him something – at least their name.

It is up to Chris Welch, one of the best-known English music critics to tell the history of Genesis on no less than eleven pages. He describes with lots of details the way the members of Charterhouse school bands Anon and The Garden Wall made all the way through to the Lamb tour. If you did not know that part of the story this is a good source for the band’s history, and it does not really matter that Welch moves on beyond the Gabriel years and adds half a page about Genesis from 1976 to 1992.

A man who was very important in Genesis’ early years now takes the word. Richarc Macphail talks about the Anon and the changes Genesis underwent while he accompanied the band as their friend and road manager until 1976.

David Stopps adds his view of the Gabriel era. In the 70s he was a concert promoter and so he links Genesis with a biography of the Friar’s Club in Aylesbury and the gigs Genesis played there in the early 70s and early 80s. His memories of the curiosities and special events at these shows make his essay very worthwhile reading.

Ed Goodgold, Tony Stratton-Smith’s ambassador (i.e. representative of Charisma Records) in the United States in the 70s, tells the story of how he got into Genesis and how the first shows of the band in the US happened.

Tony Stratton-Smith himself could not write an updated essay for the box set because the boss of Charisma Records had passed on in 1987. His statement is therefore from the reunion gig in Milton Keynes on October 02, 1982. It sticks to general events and does not go into details of the early days. Had he been around “Strat” would probably have enjoyed the box set and reliving those memories.

The final text in the booklet is Peter Gabriel’s official announcement to the press in 1975 in which he explains why he left Genesis. Fans of long standing are of course familiar with it and it could therefore have been replaced with, say, a couple of additional photos.

After that there is a very compact discography from 1968-1975 that, unfortunately, only mentions UK releases. Then there is a list of all the tracks on the four CDs and their respective credits. Here (and elsewhere) the reader notices a couple of mistakes. Why are Mick Barnard and Ray Wilson not listed as “Genesis band members past and present”? Did no proof-reader notice that Mr Gallo’s real given name is Armando, not Amando? How long will it take them to realize that Richard’s name is Macphail not McPhail? Since when is Supper’s Ready spelt without an apostrophe? These are little things, to be sure, but is shows that three years of development were not sufficient to release a perfect product. This goes for the little mistakes as well as for the overall design and layout. There is no consistent concept in this booklet – and some of the essays are superfluous and could have provided space for, say, detailed tour dates, a brief band bio or an extensive discography.


A closer look at the content of the CDs

Of course all of us have been looking forward to the first archive box, and there can be no doubt that waiting for the music on these four CDs was well worth the wait. Genesis deserve high praise for their decision to release very rare material and lots of previously unreleased material. There are many box sets by many bands that offer almost only material that has been released before. Fans feel cheated in these cases, and they get the impression that all the band was interested in was their money. This impression never arises with this archive. It is a rare thing indeed these days that Genesis did think more about their fans and less about the commercial success of the box.

The material is sorted in a somewhat peculiar way. Usually a release like this begins with the earliest material from the most distant past and then moves on towards the present time. Archive follows the opposite principle. Since the content of the booklet is not really chronological either this shall not irritate us. Perhaps it is part of the Archive concept.

The CDs 1 and 2 feature a complete show that was recorded at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles on January 24, 1975 during the Lamb Lies Down On Broadway tour. More than twenty years ago Genesis released The Carpet Crawlers as a single in some countries. It was usually backed with a live version of The Waiting Room dubbed Evil Jam at the time. Interestingly enough, this live version, too, had been recorded at the January 24, 1975 gig at the Shrine in L.A. This indicates that there are apparently only few recordings from this tour. The members of the band have been stressing the fact that The Lamb has been recorded professionally just one single time – at the L.A. Shrine at the said date.

When one wants to listen to a full  Lamb Lies Down On Broadway show one has to take the time to appreciate every detail of the performance. The release of the Archive set has likely caused many fans to sit down comfortable in an armchair, take out the lyrics and fully enjoy The Lamb. Before you do that, though, you have to think of one thing that has been out in the open for a couple of years now: Peter has re-recorded the complete lyrics for  The Lamb in his studio in Box to use for the Archive box because he was unhappy with the quality of the original recording. When he was wearing the Slipperman costume, for example, he had problems getting the microphone close enough to his mouth. If you check out an original recording from January 24, 1975 and think of the bulky costume you will be able to understand why this was the case.

As soon as you have put CD 1 into your CD player and press “play” the show is ready to begin. Applause pours out of the boxes and Peter Gabriel proceeds to welcome the audience before he briefly introduces the story of Rael. Then the music begins, and as soon as Peter comes in one hardly believes one’s ears. Even those who have only recently become Genesis fans will notice the newly recorded vocal track right away. This expression repeats again and again both the first and the second CD. About half of the re-recorded vocals were used on the Archive. Whether it is okay or not to replace major parts of the concert with a recording that is 20 years younger is debatable. Peter’s voice has grown darker and more expressive in many places. Comparisons show that he also stressed the lyrics in 1995 different from the way he did it in 1975. One this is very clear: This is not really a vintage 1975 recording, and it took the reviewers quite some time until they had got used to it. Banning these two CDs from the CD player forever for these reasons would be a mistake, though, because the Lamb show included in the Archive has so much more to offer. First of all, the sound quality is breathtaking. The instruments sound perfect, offering the fan the best in audio enjoyment. The crystal sound brings out musical details to a degree that has never before been heard on any live recording from the Lamb tour – not even on the best bootlegs. Just listen to Fly On A Windshield, Hairless Heart, The Carpet Crawlers, Anyway, The Chamber of 32 Doors, The Colony Of Slippermen, The Lamia or In The Rapids, to name but a few.
Peter was actually not the only one who redid his parts. The other band members added or swapped the odd bit here and there. Most of these replacements (e.g. Steve Hackett's on Hairless Heart) are unobtrusive and difficult to make out. The live atmosphere was preserved and so the listener can hear the audience gasping with surprise and celebrating the “birth” of the Slipperman during the instrumental introduction to The Colony Of Slippermen. These are minor details, certainly, but they are what makes up a live experience. The last song of the show is something very special. A sound technician was inattentive, and so It was not recorded. To preserve the illusion of a complete show “a new version of the album recording of the song” was created, as Tony put it. What the listener does not hear, though, is the creation of the It / Watcher Of The Skies medley that would be played as an encore on the Trick Of The Tail tour. Tony would insert the first chords of Watcher Of The Skies into the closing part of It. The fact that the re-recording was used for Peter’s part in this song helps to hide that It is not from the live concert on Januars 24, 1975.

CD #3 contains songs that were recorded between 1971 and 1973. More than half the material on the CD was recorded live. Five songs on this CD were preserved for eternity during the Selling England By The Pound tour. Unfortunately neither the booklet nor the large sticker with a table of contents that should be sticking on every Genesis Archive box offer information about the show. Fortunately we can help you out: These songs were recorded on October 20, 1973 at the Rainbow Theatre in London. Track 1, Dancing With The Moonlit Knight, is a fantastic opener for the CD. The sound quality is absolutely spot-on and could hardly be any more brilliant. It is a great thing to be able to enjoy the musical details and the quality of the performance by Phil Collins, Steve Hackett, Tony Banks, Peter Gabriel and Mike Rutherford down to the smallest note. This is also true for tracks 2 to 5 which are also from October 20, 1973: Firth Of Fifth (which has the band playing in perfect harmony), More Fool Me (with Phil’s vocals), Supper’s Ready (the cult song) and I Know What I Like (their attempt at a hit single… alright). Older reports and current interviews reveal that the Lamb Lies Down On Broadway double album and Supper’s Ready have a very special meaning for Peter Gabriel. That is perhaps the reason why Peter took particular care for his “pets”. He has re-done his Lamb vocals, and the version of Supper’s Ready on the Archive has parts that Peter has recorded in 1995. The details are not known, but apparently major parts of Lover’s Leap, The Guaranteed Eternal Sanctuary Man and Ikhnaton And Itsacon And Their Band Of Merry Men have new vocals. Whether the vocals were replaced beyond that it not known. The Apocalypse In 9/8 (Co-Starring The Delicious Talents Of Gabble Ratchet) was changed, too. The vocals of the first verse had some echo added, perhaps in order to add some drama to this part. Why Apocalypse… and the vocals of Supper’s Ready were re-done is absolutely unclear, though. The original (and there are several good quality recordings of it) was very good in the first place. Peter and the other band members of Genesis seem to have a different take on it, though. The next piece on CD3, Stagnation, has not been changed as far as we can tell. Genesis recorded Stagnation twice at the BBC in England. The first version is from February 22, 1970, while the second version, which can be heard on the Archive, was recorded on May 10, 1971 and first broadcast on May 31, 1971 in the “Sound Of The Seventies” programme. Both BBC recordings of Stagnation have been circulating on bootlegs before. The BBC version does not differ much from the version on Trespass, except that it was performed by a different set of musicians. One can clearly hear how well Steve and Phil, who had been in the band only a couple of months at the time of this session, blend into the musical structures of Genesis.
Twilight Alehouse was released in 1973 on a flexi-disc and again as the B-side of I Know What I Like. This non-album track is really worth to be re-born, as it were, on the Archive box. Just listen to old concert recordings to find out how powerful this song was live. Unfortunately some of this power is lost on the single version. The song after that is another non-album track. Happy The Man is one of very few songs that were released as the A-side of a single though they were not published on any album. The single is a much-coveted collectors’ item and so Happy The Man was justly included in the Archive. Happy The Man, like Twilight Alehouse, was a staple in the band’s early years’ live set, and it was probably a good choice for a single because at that time it was a Genesis song that could almost be described as “easy listening music”. Watcher Of The Skies, the last track on CD3, is labelled “unreleased single version 1972”. That is not quite right because this version is anything but unreleased. It appears on several 7” singles of the time that were released outside the UK as well as on the official sampler Rock Theatre (Virgin 610468-225, also on CD) in the mid-80s.  It is still remarkable, though, how Genesis managed to shrink this giant opening song of their Foxtrot album to a version that is only 3 ¾ minutes long. It also includes elements not used on the album version and has a completely different ending. Definitely worth listening to!

The fourth CD in the Genesis Archive 1967-1975 takes us back into the earliest days of the band. It is the CD that fits the label “archive” best. The band members really went through their attics and archives and discovered some real gems and treasures. The CD begins with In The Wilderness. The song is known, it was part of the band’s debut album From Genesis To Revelation, but here we get to witness the so-called “rough mix without strings 1968”. The song is free from the string sounds their producer Johnathan King has plastered over too many songs and passages of From Genesis To Revelation, effectively drowning some of them in the acoustic muck. There is probably nobody except for Johnathan King who really likes that effect. In The Wilderness is followed by Shepherd, Pacidy and Let Us Now Make Love, three very interesting pieces that have never been published before. Genesis recorded them on February 22, 1970 for the BBC, who first broadcast it on April 01, 1970. The note in the Archive booklet that claims the programme had first been aired on May 31, 1971 is simply inaccurate. The songs are from the period between the release of the first album and the release of Trespass. It is apparent how the band developed at that time. The three songs illustrate how they moved away from the restrictions Johnathan King put on them and towards the sound that would be Genesis. Shepherd in particular is a special song because Tony sings some of the lead vocals! This is unique in the history of Genesis; in the years to come Tony would only sing backing vocals (in the band, that is). Equally remarkable is the fact that there is a second lead vocalist on Let Us Now Make Love – Peter Gabriel shares the vocal duties with Anthony Phillips. That, too, did not happen again. A deeply buried treasure was lifted in the shape of Going Out To Get You. We get to hear a demo version that was recorded at the Regent Sound Studio in London on August 20, 1969. Throughout the years this song underwent major changes, as Tony Banks once explained. At some point it was even considered as a potential single. Going Out To Get You was still played at concerts as late as 1972 (to be heard on several bootlegs). As far as it has been able to determine, the next song on the CD, Dusk, has never been performed live. The demo that can be heard on the Archive and which was slated for the band’s second studio album is from the same tape as Going Out To Get You (i.e. recorded on August 20, 1969). The song’s title on the Archive should actually be Family because only later was it given the title Dusk. It differs from the final album version in several aspects. A longer instrumental passage was added after the last part of the vocals. The lyrics, however, are exactly the same as on the Trespass version. It is followed by  Build Me A Mountain, one of the up-tempo tracks from early Genesis. Its “rough mix” from 1968 shows how great their songs could already be at that time. Build Me A Mountain is also distinguished from many other contemporary Genesis compositions in that it has an electric guitar. Track no. 8 is Image Blown Out, a nice little tune. Archive has the 1968 version of the song. Image Blown Out had already been recorded in 1967 as a demo that was published on one of the countless re-releases of the debut album (Disky, DC 863092 – one reason to definitely buy this CD). Had it been included in From Genesis To Revelation it would not have stood out very much.
This brings is to a series of songs that can be found on said album though they sound a bit different, viz. One Day (“demo” or “rough mix”, your choice), Where The Sour Turns To Sweet and In The Beginning from 1968. There is not much to say about these songs, other than that One Day and Where The Sour Turns To Sweet come without the string arrangements by Arthur Greenslade and Lou Warburton. It may also be noted that the lyrics are almost identical with the lyrics that would later be used on the album. Peter Gabriel’s voice is already remarkably expressive – at that time he was only 18! Then there is a series of songs which even the avid fans have only read about in books. These are demo versions from 1968 of The Magic Of Time, Hey!, Hidden In The World Of Dawn, Sea Bee, The Mystery Of The Flannan Isle Lighthouse and Hair On The Arms And Legs. The Magic Of Time is a remarkable little jazzy piece on which John Silver plays the brushes on a biscuit tin. Considering the mass of songs at their disposal From Genesis To Revelation could well have become a double album, especially since all these songs fit the mood of their first album.
The last three pieces of CD 4 were taken from Genesis’ first two demo tapes in 1967. These two demo tapes are pure history, and we can be grateful that this material has reached the fans through the release of the Archive. The first one is She Is Beautiful, a song that was included on Genesis’ debut album, albeit with a different title, The Serpent, and completely different lyrics. It is followed by an unknown song: Try A little Sadness is no stunner, but it a lovely little song. The final piece on CD 4 is called Patricia. Anthony Phillips wrote this song when he was only 13 years old! Patricia found its way on From Genesis To Revelation as In Hiding. The 1967 demo has no vocals and therefore sounds very different from the 1969 version with lyrics and strings. It may be noted that the quality of Patricia is a bit worse than She Is Beautiful and Try A Little Sadness. Fortunately for us Genesis decided to finally release this piece after 31 years.

The listener is left with many good impressions of the music on all four CDs from the Genesis archives. Since this is the first time in the band’s history that they release such a box it is not very difficult to call this an excellent release. The percentage of live recordings is quite high, which is a good thing. Genesis have always proved in their concerts just how great a band they are. Fans never get enough, of course, and so we are left wishing for more of the early material. Another CD (or two or three) with live recordings from 1971 and 1972 and the fantastic BBC sessions would be a great gift for many a Genesis freak. Since Genesis seem to feel they have dealt sufficiently with their history (one sort of gets this impression) it may be doubted whether we will be treated to another release of old material from that period.


Despite the criticism we may be content that Genesis have done this box set at all. The rare photos and interesting song material in this box are very exciting and all, but the nagging impression remains that it could all have been done even better – in this aspect Genesis Archive 1967-1975 follows the recent Genesis releases seamlessly. The Definitive Edition Remaster CDs were not quite perfect and their recent new album fell short of the expectations Genesis themselves had raised in places. Are our expectations too high? Or does someone in Genesis or in their camp lack the ambition for perfection in all dimensions? Who knows…

by Helmut Janisch and Bernd Zindler

translated by Martin Klinkhardt

photos: Hit + Run Music


Archive gallery

As we mentioned above, some of the images in the Archive booklet are hard to appreciate because they are too close to the binding or spread across two pages. Some of them are also simply too small. We had the good luck to be given a couple of highlights from the Archive photo pool, some of which are from Richard Macphail. We are very glad to be able to present them to you on this and the following pages:

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