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Genesis - Through The Ages, A Pictorial History

von Peter Vickers (2008)

When you have been a Genesis fan for many decades now and your places is slowly but steadily turning into a Genesis museum you may reach the point where you either sell everything, box it up and store it in the attic, or photograph the lot and make it available in some form for the other fans. You can either give people free access and set up a virtual Genesis museum in the internet (as has been done by several people) or publish it in a more traditional way, i.e. offer the photos and the information to it in print.

This is exactly what Peter Vickers has been doing for a couple of years now. The first edition of his collection, Genesis – Collectibles, had some 1,000 A4 pages and listed about everything by Genesis that has ever been released anywhere in the world. It was soon followed by Genesis – Top 200 Worldwide Rarities, which lists on about 500 A5 pages what Peter considers the 200 rarest Genesis collectibles, mainly singles, LPs and CDs. His most recent project is called Genesis – Through The Ages. A Pictorial History. It is about 800 pages strong and offers a new overview over diverse Genesis collectibles.

All of Peter Vickers’ releases have some things in common: They are hand-made by Peter in very small editions – or even only on demand. There were only 25 copies of Collectibles, 200 copies of Rarities, and Through The Ages is a limited edition, too, though it is not yet known how many copies there will be. Peter will produce copies on demand. While the first two books were made on an Inkjet colour printer the new book is in black and white only to save on printing costs. All books have a plastic spiral binding, which is functional and inexpensive though not very elegant.

For the design and layout of his books Peter has found an idiosyncratic style he keeps using in variations. I keep getting lost looking through his books because he mixes so many styles and brings images, text and frames together in a rather uncoordinated way. This is particularly true for his new publication.  Peter may have thought very hard about the layout and spent lots of time making his visual ideas real on paper in every detail, but it seems to me that looking through these pages would make every media designer’s hair stand on end. No publisher would put this book into their program in this form. It would have been so easy to present all those interesting photos and pieces of information in an attractive way that I regret not being able to hand out praise here.

Now for the contents of the new book. After no less than three different title pages we come to the table of contents. It shows that Peter has structured his book chronologically, prefacing it with an introduction and a brief biography of the band. There are individual chapters about different eras from 1967 to 2007. The books ends with a substantial appendix of material Peter, for whatever reason, decided not to put in the appropriate chapters. But anyway, let us see what Peter has to offer.

The introduction links the history of Genesis to Peter Vickers’s passion for collecting Genesis things. He tells about his experiences as a collector and a fan and he gives some advice how to use the book. The biography is a brief summary of the history of Genesis up to their 2007 tour.

The first chapter covers the years 1967 to 1969. After brief preface there is the first part of a comic about the history of Genesis in the 1970s that is continued in the other chapters (Revolutionary Comics, USA, published in the mid-90s; the drawings are very professional, but one frequently has to know the context to recognize the characters). There are a couple of copies of very early contracts of the band and the first collectibles. There are lots images of the countless versions of From Genesis To Revelation followed by the 7” singles (either cover or labels). All of this is accompanied by information about the catalogue number and where and when this version came out. Peter used parts of his Top 200 book, albeit in landscape format. That does not make things easier: Since the binding is not the best it is hard to handle the 800 page monster.
Chapter two covers the years from Trespass to The Lamb (1970 – 1975). The structure is the same: Preface to the era – comic – album version – single versions. In between there is additional material by and about Genesis from the time: artwork demos, newspaper and magazine clippings, photos and press kits. Then there suddenly is a subheading “The Tours” which breaks through the chronology. After he has covered all albums and singles up to 1975 Peter starts afresh and presents lots of stuff (tickets, ads, posters, tour programmes, bootlegs and so on) about Genesis’ live performances up to 1975. These things are anything but irrelevant, but information what it exactly is we are seeing and when it was released are usually missing. If you have never seen those items before you simply have to guess. Fans who are just starting their collection would have appreciated detailed information about these goodies. Now one frequently notices something, finds it very interesting – and wonders what it really is.
The chapter about 1976 – 1978 is next. At this point one has probably not yet understood the logic behind the unchronological order, but since one knows what is coming next the confusion is reduced to a minimum. The chapter is structured like the others, though why the chapter would end with Wind & Wuthering remains Peter’s secret.
While we are on the topic of little flaws… The chapter after that is entitled 1978- 1979 – but why is Seconds Out from 1977 mentioned only here? Peter has finally managed to confuse me. Fortunately he gets his act together and continues with everything about And Then There Were Three.
The period from 1980 to 1986 is the topic of the next chapter which is structured like the others. Another little flaw: As opposed to its title the chapter ends after the 1983 album and the Mama tour 1984. 1986 is relegated to the later chapter that deals with Genesis’s commercially most successful years up to 1992 (actually 1993 because The Way We Walk – The Longs was included here). 1997-2000 has everything about Calling All Stations, that is, about 1997 and 1998. Why were Genesis Archive volume 1 (1998) and volume 2 (2000) not included here if the chapter is supposed to cover these years? 2006 – Present brings us up-to-date with the band’s history. The chapter also brings up the 2007 reunion and describes the first two 5.1 remaster box sets. It is much more elaborate than the others, and less clearly arranged because it has a wild mixture of merchandise items, newspaper reports, tour programmes &c. and keeps switching between portrait and landscape formats.

The appendix offers information about Genesis books, a Genesis A-Z, the top 50 rarities, Charisma collectibles and the compilation albums … and that is why Genesis Archive is not in the 1998 – 2000 chapter, because they are compilations. Oh well… At this point the book becomes less clearly structured and subjects begin to meld into each other. You thumb through it to see hundreds of images, frequently without any information what you are actually shown here and do not even realize you have moved from the Compilations chapter to the chapter on books. The A-Z offers brief data on B…anks, B…ruford, C…harisma, C…ollins, F…arm, G…abriel and so on, complete with the occasional photo. The information given is very brief at times and long-time fans are unlikely to find anything new here. New fans would have benefitted had Peter gone beyond the “big names” and included other  things from the Genesis universe, e.g. Charterhouse, Nick D’Virgilio and (it is an A to Z, after all!) of course about Nir Z! The Top 50 Collectibles and the Charisma Collectibles are copies of essays Peter wrote for several magazines (I could not find any information on which ones). The last 25 pages are taken up by full-page colour reproductions of assorted Genesis posters and other things – a little bonus at the end.

It is hard to pass judgement on this book and keep it just. Much work has gone into this book (as into all of Peter Vickers’  books) and he brought lots of enthusiasm to bear on producing this work for other fans. Kudos to Peter Vickers for that! The layout and design of his books are a different thing, though. In my opinion it would have been possible to produce something far more attractive with the same amount of work; I am certain that he is an enthusiastic fan, an avid collector and a good writer, but he is not quite as talented a layouter. Perhaps he would be well advised to enlist some professional assistance. As far as the content is concerned this book is stunning, though, and it shows rarities very few people have sitting in their cupboards at home. Those who have been collecting Genesis stuff for years may find the book of limited value because all too often it lacks information on what is actually shown. Peter had to compromise and therefore he has described only those items that are most important in his opinion and also opted for black and white only.  The book is less comprehensive and less expensive, but at the same time less interesting. Which brings us back to the question we asked at the beginning: How do you show Genesis rarities to other fans? If you ask me, websites with photos of Genesis rarities have an advantage over Peter Vickers’s new book because online you can usually see the photos in colour and it is easier to look for particular items there. Since no single web site can show (or have!) everything or be perfect, the team online leads only by a small margin. Peter now has the opportunity to take the lead once more with future editions – and the Genesis web sites should be working hard to improve their material for us fans, too.

By Helmut Janisch
translated by Martin Klinkhardt

If you would like to obtain a copy of this book please contact the author directly at .