Top 10 Genesis tracks

  • #4 Dancing with the Moonlit Knight - SILVER-GILT


    “Can You Tell Me Where My Country Lies"


    In Medieval times, minstrels would travel from place to place entertaining their listeners with stories sung acapella so that their story was not drowned out by any accompanying instrumentation. So begins ‘Dancing with the Moonlit Knight’, a song whose strength resides in the blending of the gentle medieval sounds of ‘olde England’ with the frenetic powerhouse of the new world. It is well documented that Selling England By The Pound takes its name from a Labour Party document and the song is essentially a pastoral yearning, lamenting the loss of the old order. The early 70s were tumultuous times which witnessed the rise of the impersonal supermarket chains and the early decay of community life as exemplified by the demise of locally owned shops. This dramatic shift towards consumerism was to find its ultimate expression a decade later with the Friedman policies of Thatcher that ravaged communities in favour of individual freedoms. So, where does my county lie? Gabriel's cry is clearly an early warning but even the uncertainty of the direction of travel was not enough to stop ‘the trade’. ("It lies with me- cried the Queen of Maybe. For her merchandise, he traded in his prize.")


    Contrast now the poignant passing of the old world ("Old man dies - the note he left was signed 'Old Father Thames' - it seems he's drowned. Selling England by the pound") with the corpulent new world. ("There's a fat old lady outside the saloon. Laying out the credit cards she plays fortune") Credit cards were relatively new back in 1973 offering easy credit and displacing those personal arrangements that one had with local tradesman and which helped bond a community together. With community centred transactions being replaced by faceless corporate credit, is it any wonder that it resulted in a mindless consumption of commodified products with a little bit of old England disappearing with each fast-food Wimpy (1) meal ordered? ("Chewing through your Wimpy dreams. They eat without a sound. Digesting England by the pound") Gratifying individual wants are what matters in these times not the social perceptions valued by their elders ("Young man says you are what you eat - eat well. Old man says you are what you wear - wear well")


    Yet, this is a dance none can escape. The Arthurian legend of the Holy Grail is quintessential English heritage that is both romantic yet moribund, set in a mould like the sun that sets in the sky before sinking at the onslaught of the night sky. Yet is the rampant march towards consumerism so unstoppable? Few would choose to turn away from paths of gold even though gold is a cold metal offering little of the emotional succour that the nostalgia for past times can provide.


    " - join the dance

    Follow on! Till the Grail sun sets in the mould

    Follow on! Till the gold is cold

    Dancing out with the moonlit knight

    Knights of the Green Shield stamp and shout"


    This clever juxtaposition of the Arthurian legend of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight with the supermarket Green Shield stamp (2) saving schemes, so popular in 1970s England, gives way to a tussle as the two worlds 'stamp and shout' and a frenetic surge of electronic modernity displaces the delicate medieval arrangements of before. The vocals underscore this by lauding the arrival of the corpulent new world. To a powerful rhythmic backing we are introduced to the fat old lady with her credit cards and her world of anonymised credit as mentioned earlier. The narrative finally ends with Gabriel lamenting the changes. There is a sense of the inevitable in his line, "With a twist of the world we go!" before the modern powerhouse is allowed to play itself out. When the dance is finally over we find that what ultimately prevails is the medieval arrangement we started with. This quietly reasserts itself in a delicate ambient coda which lasts a full two minutes; a full quarter of the song. Yet it is barely noticeable. It's almost as if it's been there all along, playing quietly in the background; temporarily drowned out by the clamour of modernity yet marking, in its own quiet way, the timeless endurance of the past.


    (1) Wimpy was England's first fast-food burger chain, pre-dating McDonalds who didn't open their first restaurant until 1974; a year after SEbtP was released. Ironically, it was in a Wimpy bar that Peter Gabriel first met his wife Jill.

    (2) Collins recounts that back in the days of gigging around England in their van, fights would often break out over ownership of the Green Shield stamps that they would get when buying petrol from filling stations.

    ~ My talents may not be obvious but they are always...always...delicious! ~

    Edited once, last by Gabble Ratchet ().

  • #4 Dancing with the Moonlit Knight - SILVER-GILT


    ..the song is essentially a pastoral yearning, lamenting the loss of the old order. The early 70s were tumultuous times which witnessed the rise of the impersonal supermarket chains and the early decay of community life as exemplified by the demise of locally owned shops.

    Another example of how complex the themes were that these kids chose. Gabriel is 23 when this comes out.

  • #4 - Los Endos


    I actually think that the opening bit, taken directly from "It's Yourself", is one of the most beautiful passages from the Genesis catalogue. I wonder how "Los Endos" would have opened if "It's Yourself" had been included on the album.


    Anyway, I love the entire track and did so long before I ever heard "Dance on a Volcano" or "Squonk", let alone "It's Yourself"(!), and it's just one of those tracks that always packs a massive punch for me, despite its almost complete lack of lyrics.

    Was it you or was it me? Or was it he, or she?

  • We're now into GOLD medal territory and at #3 I have

    Supper’s Ready from Foxtrot (1972) GOLD


    I once spent Christmas Day in Italy where we went to the local hotel for Christmas Day dinner. Expecting the usual three courses I was somewhat disappointed at the tiny portions served up and kept jumping up for seconds. A big mistake as I soon discovered: the courses just kept coming and coming. By the time the 12th course arrived, I was stuffed and there were 11 more to come! A total of 23 courses, uncannily reflective of the 23 minutes of musical flavours in Supper's Ready, the garam masala of Gabriel-era Genesis: featuring 7 different sections of contrasting tempos, recurring motifs, and dramatic musical mood swings. Fast-food fans eager for familiar and easily digestible musical hooks move on: you won’t find it here. But If you’re prepared to chew over your food and savour courses of different texture and flavours and try things that may be foreign to your palate, then reach for your napkin: SUPPER’S READY!


    Supper's Ready is feast consisting of 7 courses and served over 23 minutes.


    1. "Lover's Leap" (0.00 - 3.47)

    This is a tale of two lovers merging as one. In terms of storyline this is somewhat reminiscent of Salmacis, though the arpeggiated guitars create a gentler more romantic sound than the magic of the swirling mellotron. Hackett, Banks and Rutherford all play 12-string guitars here and recreate a medieval feel with paired down percussion (the occasional tinkle of the triangle is heard but no drums) and a dreamy background chant of three part vocal harmonies with a playful piano conclude the section. It's a sublime almost semi-religious opening to the suite. The section segues seamlessly into...


    2. "The Guaranteed Eternal Sanctuary Man." (3.48 - 5.43)

    More assertive percussion and keyboards now pick up the pace and the folksy harmonies are exchanged for Gabriel's rousing vocals. This is the wine that accompanies the supper and what a wine to start with. A heady Barolo which swirls delightfully around your head with a stirring melody for the whole of this section. The listener gets his glass topped up with this again in instrumental form at the beginning of section VI, before getting to drain the bottle when it returns to form the body of section VII, with new lyrics. The section cuts abruptly, to a group of children singing "We will rock you, rock you little snakes/We will keep you snug and warm" A brief refrain from Lover's Leap now reappears as a flute melody before making the transition to...


    3."Ikhnaton and Itsacon and Their Band of Merry Men." (5.44 - 9.42)

    This is the course where the meat of the supper is served up and this is no measly burger. This is a boar's head complete with apple stuffed in its jaws. A gallop of drums and a swirl of mellotron at 6.30 ups the pace dramatically before Hackett appears at 7.19 with a biting solo of pure pork crackling which Banks honours with a generous dollop of mellotron sauce at 8.00. At 9.14 the section ebbs away to an almost monastic silence.


    4."How Dare I Be So Beautiful?" (9.43 - 11.04)

    The monastic feel continues here with a series of hanging ethereal chords that allow the listener to sit back, catch his breath and digest the heavy course that he's just consumed before the next one arrives


    5."Willow Farm," (11.05 - 15.36)

    The Marmite* sandwich of our supper.

    Hackett aptly describes this as a cross between 'Teddy Bears picnic' and 'I am the Walrus'. A psychedelic hangover from Gabriel and full of tiresome word plays, Willow Farm was originally a stand-alone Gabriel song which Banks wanted to include in the suite in order to distance the piece from their earlier epic, 'Stagnation.' For the love of God, Tony, what were you thinking of? Marmite may be fine as a stand-alone snack but it is completely out of place in this otherwise grand feast and sadly overshadows its final 2 minutes which is actually bloody good and made up of moody atmospheric synth and a beautifully haunting flute solo. Grateful for the small portion size in this otherwise 23 minute feast, I quickly move on.


    6."Apocalypse in 9/8," (15.36 - 20.50)

    Another heavy course here as pounding rhythm guitars are now served up ad nauseam. In fact, they're so heavy that they end up wrestling with the accompanying synth solo and distracting the listener from its musical accomplishments. Ok, I know this is supposed to be the apocalypse but we are talking of a Tony Banks solo, for Chrissake! And no matter how heavy and atmospheric we want this course of our supper to be, there are only so many dumplings a man can eat. When Gabriel crashes in with his "Six, six, six..." , at 18.53, it's to a sense of palpable release as the incessant clamour is finally given direction. Harnessing those pounding guitars, he sings us out in a climactic fashion before the rhythm falls away naturally to the gentle sound of a flute which then falls further into the sublime with the delicate chiming of three solitary bells.


    7 "As Sure as Eggs Is Eggs," (20.51 - 22.54)

    This is the final course of our supper.

    A faint background drum roll and the dramatic tolling of bells accompany Gabriel's first couple of lines before the drums suddenly come to the forefront and he chants out his angst in dramatic staccato. By the time he's sung the line, "Now I'm back again," at 20.36, we can see the champagne being brought to the table as the bottle of Barolo is finally drained. A few more seconds of musical build-up follow. "Can't you feel our souls ignite?" he cries as the cork is eased from the bottle. Suddenly, Hackett is everywhere, spraying champagne over the assembled throng like holy water. Could this get any more emotional? Well: yes; the final verse. As if Hackett's guitar doesn't touch enough of your soul, now it's openly fused with religious allegory ("There's an angel standing in the sun / And he's crying with a loud voice / This is the supper of the mighty one.") Gabriel sings with religious fervour as Hackett swoops around us like an angel topping up our glasses with virtuosic generosity before our supper is brought to a close with the final climactic lines from the Book of Revelation. (ch.19, v. 17)


    "Lord of Lords, King of Kings

    Has returned to lead his children home

    To take them to the new Jerusalem."


    The lyrics over, Hackett is released once more to swirl in ecstasy for a final minute before fading out as the table is cleared.


    Banks was once asked why nobody makes music like this any longer. “Well…,” he pondered, “you’re not allowed to."


    (*Marmite is a yeast extract spread similar to Vegemite)

    ~ My talents may not be obvious but they are always...always...delicious! ~

  • ^^^ I suspect SR is going to be up there somewhere in many of our top 3's!!


    My choice for number 3 is Dance on a Volcano


    This is the track tha really got me into Genesis. I knew very ittle about the band, until Tommy Vance played this tune and inspired me to explore their work further. I was instantly sucked in by the melodies, and the energy of that great 7/4 vibe. It's a classic album opener and bold way to come back after PG's departure. Classic Genesis to my mind, and one of my faveoutites from the Collins fronted band. Trick is also my favourite Genesis album.

  • At #3 - Blood on the Rooftops from Wind and Wuthering.


    If I were ranking Genesis albums Wind and Wuthering would not be on the podium. Much of its material I struggle with. Afterglow would make a general playlist, YOSW would not, Mouse would not, Mar dips in and out of the reckoning, as does the Quiet Earth suite.


    The album does however contribute two classics to the canon. One for the Vine has been listed by other contributors - in my list it's snapping for an 11 - 15th place. But the shorter Blood on the Rooftops is the masterpiece on this album. It contains what I consider to be their best ever chorus, the music for which was written by Collins, with Hackett writing everything else, including the thoughtful lyric. We have three highly contrasting components. An intricate acoustic guitar intro, the delicate verse and then two doses - the second a double helping - of that wonderful crashing chorus. Banks and Rutherford rate Rooftops as Hackett's finest contribution to the Genesis catalogue but this rather understates Collins' contribution.


    It's a complex piece of music. Never one for easy time sigs, Hackett's intro must be a nightmare for guitar enthusiasts to master. Just try humming verse and chorus, let alone singing along - you need quite a vocal range to make it to the end. In short, if you had to do a Genesis song at a karaoke evening, you wouldn't choose this one. Steve certainly doesn't attempt it at his gigs, hunched over his guitar, muttering along to his masterpiece while his session staff do the hard bit.


    So I guess I'll go make that tea..

  • It's a complex piece of music. Never one for easy time sigs, Hackett's intro must be a nightmare for guitar enthusiasts to master. Just try humming verse and chorus, let alone singing along - you need quite a vocal range to make it to the end. In short, if you had to do a Genesis song at a karaoke evening, you wouldn't choose this one. Steve certainly doesn't attempt it at his gigs, hunched over his guitar, muttering along to his masterpiece while his session staff do the hard bit.

    Love the song but I would dispute is a tough one to sing. Genesis have much more difficult songs for vocalists both in the PG's and PC's eras. It requires expression and color more than range, the verse is quite easy to deliver and the chorus doesn't strike me as particularly hard, in fact, I would argue it is probably the easiest song to sing on that album, barred perhaps Afterglow. Steve cannot sing it obviously, but that's really no measure.

  • No. 3

    Firth of Fifth

    I love the story behind the song as explained by Tony, how he envisioned that middle instrumental part being played on piano and flute. And then Steve suggested one day trying it this other way, and Tony played along, going full mellotron – “it was almost like a joke” – Tony thinking it sounded too much like King Crimson. But ultimately in the end, he said, “it sounded so good, we couldn’t ignore it.”

  • #3 - Blood on the Rooftops


    This must be my most regularly-played Genesis song. Beautiful music and probably my favourite lyric by the band. Sublime!

    Was it you or was it me? Or was it he, or she?

  • #3 - Blood on the Rooftops


    This must be my most regularly-played Genesis song. Beautiful music and probably my favourite lyric by the band. Sublime!

    High five! Your and my #3 placement will likely give this masterpiece a place in the overall listings!

  • No. 3

    Firth of Fifth

    I love the story behind the song as explained by Tony, how he envisioned that middle instrumental part being played on piano and flute. And then Steve suggested one day trying it this other way, and Tony played along, going full mellotron – “it was almost like a joke” – Tony thinking it sounded too much like King Crimson. But ultimately in the end, he said, “it sounded so good, we couldn’t ignore it.”

    This is my favourite along with the Cinema Show. 2 great tracks.