Strange interview bit

  • I've been re-reading Richard MacPhail's book; in the end it includes an interview with Steve which has a passage with Steve talking about songs that Genesis played live but never recorded:


    Steve: "(...) I'd be quite happy if someone criticised 'Ghostliners' because we never did it with the band. We did it three times in Italy, we only played it live."

    Richard: "It's such a good song."

    Steve: "It goes places. There are two schools of thought. I know in Phil's book he criticises that and says that about songs like 'Across The River' but it's missing the point. It's a song that goes through many changes. It's prototype prog and we didn't know that what we were doing was prototype prog because there hadn't been a blueprint for it. It was a long tune. (...)"

    What are these songs Steve is talking about? This interview with Steve is interesting but quite unstructured and I can't follow everything Steve says; right before the quoted passage he talks about his difficult relationship with Tony and Mike in the quartet period and how they would reject his ideas; after this passage he goes on to talk about King Crimson and how they used to link bits of songs in live versions. I'm not sure what period of time he is referring here to: still the quartet period, or did he jump back to the earlier years when he just arrived in the band?

    By any means, I have never heard any other mention of songs called "Ghostliners" and "Across The River". Genesis performing unrecorded songs sounds rather like the earlier years, like when they would perform 'The Light', 'Twilight Alehouse' before its recording, 'Going Out To Get You' in its entirely changed-over live version or the pre-version of Can-Utility that was entitled 'Bye Bye Johnny' for some time. So maybe there was more of those obscure songs they performed but never recorded? Both Steve and Richard seem to have a clear memory of "Ghostliners", they don't even feel a need to clarify among themselves what they are referring to.

    Also, I have no clue what passage in Phil's book Steve refers to. "Across The RIver"? I have been reading Phil's book at least twice and I cannot recall Phil mentioning a song named like this at all. Do I just have zero memory, or does Steve think Phil's book says something it doesn't? Can anyone clarify?

  • Not that I'm claiming to be some kind of completist expert on Genesis archive and lost-song details, but no I've never heard of the referenced songs. And just to confuse matters there is of course a PG song called Across The River.

    Also, I don't understand the line in the above quote,

    Steve: "It goes places. There are two schools of thought. I know in Phil's book he criticises that and says that about songs like 'Across The River' but it's missing the point..."

    What's the 'that' he says PC is "criticising"? And how is PC missing whatever the 'point' is?

    It's not like the RM book (which I've never read) is new and given the obsessive nature of some Genesis fandom I'm surprised a speculative buzz about these hasn't already super-spread.

    Abandon all reason

  • I think "Ghostliners" is simply a garbled (Can-Utility and the) Coastliners. Across The River is probably really Peter Gabriel's piece.

    Richard's interview with Steve is ... bits of what they talks about transcribed without any editing to sort the thoughts, as it were. That, and Steve, forgive me for saying that, does meander in his replies.

    ...cried a voice in the crowd.

  • If was coastliner...then this is on an album, so wouldn't seem to fit what was said 🤔

    Well, Steve's statement "we never did it with the band" does not fit his own statement that "we did it three times in Italy, we only played it live", either, so where does that leave us?

    ...cried a voice in the crowd.

  • I wonder if he is actually trying to say that he would be happy if someone criticized the fact that they didn't play Can Utility and the Coastliners live with Genesis? Maybe because he wanted to play it more often and they only played it 3 times? Trying to decipher but that might be what he is going for here and it just gets lost in translation.

    Not sure about the reference to Across The River, just makes me think of the PG song. If so, I agree that it "goes places" 😁

  • Hi,

    I'm quite new here, just subscribed ;-)

    End of last year, I did the french translation of Rich Macphail's book and had some worries about these two songs. I checked everywhere to find their existence but was unsuccesful. Therefore, having some confidence in Rich's writing, I presumed (and translated) that 'Ghostliners' was never recorded by the band and played only live (by the way, it has also been played in UK in 72, not only in Italy). One reader asked me some explanation about that and I was unable to answer correctly. Then, I asked Steve yesterday and, for your information, here's his quote:

    "The first one is a spelling mistake. I was referring to ‘Can-utility and the Coastliners’. Actually, I’m proud of that song, I recorded it with Steven Wilson singing on my Genesis Revisited II album and I have played it live myself! I have no idea what ‘Across the River’ was. It must be another misquote from a tape recording. Very best,


    Hope it helps ;-)


    P.S. I must admit this interview is a strange one and it was a challenge to translate in a fluid and readable form ;-)

  • In the meantime this question seems to be answered. Ghostliners is indeed Coastliners and the last "issue" was that it looked like Steve said "it's a track we never recorded", but he meant something else. They did it three times BEFORE they recorded it. Which was quite common at the time.