The Guitar and Genesis

  • Inspired by a discussion elsewhere, I thought I'd devote a thread to that unsung instrument of Genesis, the guitar. While Genesis never seemed to showcase the guitar as much as, say, King Crimson, Yes or Pink Floyd, they still had their moments and it would be nice to discuss them, positively, here.


    Ant Phillips was the first axe man in the band and his delicate twelve string playing is all over the first two albums like beans on toast. Phil has favourably compared the sound of early Genesis (specifically the sound the band had on Trespass) to one of his favourite bands, The Byrds. I've never heard anyone make that comparison before but listening back to some of the softer numbers, I can see what he means.


    Striving beyond existing stagnant music forms, Steve Hackett single-handedly created sweep picking and two-handed tapping (something that would become prevalent in the rock bands of the eighties) as well as introducing an element of aggression to the band's music. On The Musical Box, The Return Of The Giant Hogweed and The Fountain of Salmacis he puts his stamp on the music of Genesis, giving the band a distinctive guitar sound. And he crowns Supper's Ready with a beautiful and restrained solo.


    He continued to make significant contributions to the music of Genesis in his own inimitable style, crafting a Beatlesesque riff for I Know What I Like and reinterpreting Tony's lines on Firth Of Fifth into a sobbing solo. And while The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway didn't exactly find favour with him at the time, Steve's solo on The Lamia and his quirky playing on Counting Out Time remain stand-out moments.


    Perhaps buoyed by the success of his first solo venture, Steve upped his game on A Trick Of The Tail and his playing is much more prominent on the record. Although he claims in the documentary Sum Of The Parts that he was finding less and less for the guitar to do in the music, it's hard to imagine Wind And Wuthering without his playing, whether it be in mimicking Tony's keyboard sound on The Eleventh Earl Of Mar or in the weird sounds he conjures up during In That Quiet Earth. He even throws in some shimmering lines during Wot Gorilla and who could ever overlook the acoustic guitar introduction to Blood On The Rooftops (for me, Hackett's finest hour with Genesis)?


    Obviously, that's only part of the story but I despise lengthy posts!

  • The general feel of Trespass has always reminded me of the romantic tracks from the Notorious Byrd Brothers album, which of course includes Going Back.

    First we learned to walk on water.

    Then we tried something harder.

    - Red Seven -

  • the early genesis sounds close to a classic 70s rock band to me, which is funny because there was only one guitarist. i guess that tony's intricate keyboards, mike's bombastic bass and phil's jazzy drums helped creating that sound.


    steve was a very good guitar player, but he wasn't as good a songwriter, or maybe he wasn't allowed to show his skills. ant phillips was a key songwriter in the early genesis days, and mike evolved into an important songwriter too.


    i feel sorry for the members of other bands who do nothing else than playing bass or some additional guitar or keyboard, like andy fletcher from depeche mode or john mcvie from fleetwood mac. that's not mike's case in genesis. he contributed a lot to genesis, playing guitar, bass and co-writing songs. you may like or not what he did, but he did a lot.

  • It would have been interesting to see how Ant would have evolved as a Rock-guitarist. Funny to think that he was considered to be the edgier and 'rockier' among the guys back in the days. He seems to have lost interest in playing that, practically immediately after leaving the band and adopted a mellower, acoustic sound.

  • It would have been interesting to see how Ant would have evolved as a Rock-guitarist. Funny to think that he was considered to be the edgier and 'rockier' among the guys back in the days. He seems to have lost interest in playing that, practically immediately after leaving the band and adopted a mellower, acoustic sound.

    He may of still been in Genesis had it not been the fact he was scared of being involved with live concerts and was a very shy person. Not sure how Steve Hackett would of evolved had that happened. Maybe Steve's solo works would not have happened either.

  • One thing I love about Genesis is their interplay of 2 and sometimes 3 guitars. This started primarily with Ant and Mike (and Tony) and then transitioned to Steve and Mike (and Tony). Mike made an important contribution here with some of his unusual tunings - the first half of Cinema Show really is based around Mike's tuning. Mike also came up with some great contrasts to stuff that Steve played. Take the intro to Entangled. I'm pretty sure it is Steve doing the initial melodic sequence. Then Mike joins arpeggiating through essentially a different chord. Brilliant.


    After Steve left, Mike primarily focused on repetitive riffs - more of a rhythmic chordal foundation that Tony could wander over. To some extent, Mike had been doing this all along (second half of Cinema Show, second half of ITQE). An exception was the elegant solo he did on Abacab, which is probably my favourite of his. He also does a lovely short solo in Duke's Travel's, just before the reprise of Guide Vocal. His overall shift away from intricate arpeggiated parts to more rhythmic riffs worked well with the band's overall shift to simpler, more pop-based songs.

  • I think they marked themselves out early on as a band for whom the guitar was important for texture and atmosphere, especially with Hackett's arrival. One of the many things I love so much about them is the absence of look-at-me widdly guitar solos; they said, listen - there are other things this instrument can do (the main reason Stuermer's squiggly takes on Salmacis and especially Firth leave me cold).


    That's one reason you don't see them feature in those Rolling Stone style top 100s - I believe Hackett to be one of the great rock guitarists but he'll never be featured in "top axe-men" lists beyond more specific prog ones.


    For similar reasons, what seems to me a really key moment on Hackett's first Genesis album also tends to go uncommented on, including by Genesis fans, namely the solo at the end of Salmacis. First, it shows that when he did give us a solo, it wasn't one of those 'look how many notes per second I can cram in' ones that other guitarists went for. It had meaning, sounded like it was telling a story, almost like a voice. I can't think of anyone else doing that back then. So do correct me if I'm wrong, but I think the end of Salmacis was the start of something, maybe something you might call The Genesis Sound. Similarly, the end section of The Musical Box - both featuring clean guitar lines over huge chords.


    Later, the blending of guitar and keyboards would also come to define a big part of the Genesis sound.

    mike's bombastic bass

    'Bombastic'??? Really??????? I'll have to differ from you on that.


    The only bassist who springs to mind who might be bombastic at times is Chris Squire (but in a good way).

    Abandon all reason

  • I think they marked themselves out early on as a band for whom the guitar was important for texture and atmosphere, especially with Hackett's arrival. One of the many things I love so much about them is the absence of look-at-me widdly guitar solos; they said, listen - there are other things this instrument can do (the main reason Stuermer's squiggly takes on Salmacis and especially Firth leave me cold).

    I think the whole idea of texture and sonic tapestry provided by the interplay of the acoustic guitars was laid down already by Ant and Mike and it was really one of the best features of Genesis, already on Trespass. It was then enhanced by Steve, being basically a better guitarist than the two but sharing a love for open tunings, weird chords and those kind of atmospheres. I agree also that all them were basically focused on the music and not showcasing their skills. Peter said that what attracted them about Steve's playing was the fact that he was very removed from the crotch-flashing guitar hero and very much about texture in the music which is what they needed at the time. People say he was a minimalist but I don't really think it's the case, he was almost driven to be that, given the overwhelming keyboards sound and while it is a bit sad, it gave him time to develop and also avoided a Howe-Wakeman situation with two very flamboyant players on occasion playing at each other. Finally and agreeing with all the above, it is also the reason why Daryl's playing, as technically marvelous as it is, sounds out of place to me when he revisits Steve's solos. It's flashy and as such in contradiction with the original spirit of the music.

  • That's one reason you don't see them feature in those Rolling Stone style top 100s - I believe Hackett to be one of the great rock guitarists but he'll never be featured in "top axe-men" lists beyond more specific prog ones.

    And yet he was extremely innovative, inventing at least two styles which would inspire many players, especially in the heavy rock genre. He's often namechecked by more well-known players so, while he might not be as well known as, say Clapton, Vai or Zappa, his influence in music is arguably just as important.


    One of my all-time favourite Hackett moments is from the opening of The Return Of The Giant Hogweed where he and Tony duet on the same riff. It's outstanding and it would go on to inspire Iron Maiden's Phantom Of The Opera, another top tune.

  • And yet he was extremely innovative, inventing at least two styles which would inspire many players, especially in the heavy rock genre. He's often namechecked by more well-known players so, while he might not be as well known as, say Clapton, Vai or Zappa, his influence in music is arguably just as important.


    One of my all-time favourite Hackett moments is from the opening of The Return Of The Giant Hogweed where he and Tony duet on the same riff. It's outstanding and it would go on to inspire Iron Maiden's Phantom Of The Opera, another top tune.

    And yet you said "(poor Steve sounds like he's suffering from arthritis during that much celebrated solo)"????

    Ian


    There is a church bell

    That rings on the hour

    Filling the streets

    Stopping the world awhile

  • No I didn't. And that isn't a solo in Hogweed; it's the opening riff.

    Errrrr…….. Yes, you did!


    Your Own Special Way


    I wasn't referring to the paragraph about Musical Box, I was referring to the other, hypocritical paragraph where you heap praise on Steve: "he was extremely innovative, inventing at least two styles which would inspire many players", a far cry from your past comments about him.

    Ian


    There is a church bell

    That rings on the hour

    Filling the streets

    Stopping the world awhile

  • Errrrr…….. Yes, you did!


    Your Own Special Way


    I wasn't referring to the paragraph about Musical Box, I was referring to the other, hypocritical paragraph where you heap praise on Steve: "he was extremely innovative, inventing at least two styles which would inspire many players", a far cry from your past comments about him.

    You're clearly very confused. I can't help you, even if I wanted to. And I don't.

  • You're clearly very confused. I can't help you, even if I wanted to. And I don't.

    I'm not in the least bit confused: I'm not the one who can't remember one of my own posts, even when shown it. And I neither need nor want you help.

    Ian


    There is a church bell

    That rings on the hour

    Filling the streets

    Stopping the world awhile

  • In the wake of Steve's departure to concentrate on a solo career, Genesis decided to consolidate his loss from within the band and "promote" Mike to lead guitarist. To lessen the strain, they elected to ditch the sprawling instrumental passages and instead focus on some songs that could stand up on their own. This decision highlighted the strengths of Banks and Rutherford as lyricists rather than players. Nevertheless, some very strong musical moments shone through. Rutherford proved a dynamic performer on the guitar and turned in an impressive solo on Burning Rope and Many Too Many. Elsewhere, his flanged guitar gave Follow You Follow Me a distinctive sound and Deep In The Motherlode showed that he could hold his own as a rhythm guitarist.


    When the band went on tour, Mike was initially unsure as to whether Genesis needed a bassist who could play guitar or vise versa. Alphonso Johnson suggested Daryl Stuermer and the rest is history. While Daryl proved adept at taking on the bass parts, it was as a lead guitarist that he truly shone. Having ditched Firth Of Fifth, the band were eager to find a song upon which Daryl could show his chops. They plumped for the hoary old classic The Fountain Of Salmacis and Daryl really went to town on it (check out his performance from Dijon for a truly virtuoso rendition of the tune).


    When Genesis recorded Duke, Mike's confidence as a player had improved somewhat and he proved to have a dynamic and much more direct style than Steve, something which fitted the band's more accessible style of music. Again, when Genesis went on tour the bass and guitar duties were shared with Daryl, who was fast proving to be something of a star in his own right.


    And on it went.


    It's fair to say that when Genesis lost Steve Hackett they gained two distinctive players: the dynamic Mr Rutherford and the fret-shredding Mr Stuermer. All three players have given a distinctive voice to the Genesis sound and while Genesis might not be considered a "traditional" guitar band, it's hard to imagine many of their tunes without the contributions of Messrs Hackett, Rutherford and Stuermer.

  • Stuermer is a very skilled player but where I most appreciated his work was less so on the big set-pieces such as the solos, where I felt he could be a bit too fiddly-diddly for my tastes, but more so in adding bits of colour and texture here and there. Duchess and Misunderstanding were examples of his slipping in little bridges and ascending phrases that worked really nicely and showed what a good feel he had for their music. And he was a great, solid yet fluid and melodic bassist. That was important and much needed as they required a good match for Rutherford's excellent dextrous bass playing on the albums, which I've always felt was under-appreciated outside the core fan base.

    Abandon all reason

  • Rutherford proved a dynamic performer on the guitar and turned in an impressive solo on Burning Rope and Many Too Many. Elsewhere, his flanged guitar gave Follow You Follow Me a distinctive sound and Deep In The Motherlode showed that he could hold his own as a rhythm guitarist.


    When the band went on tour, Mike was initially unsure as to whether Genesis needed a bassist who could play guitar or vise versa. Alphonso Johnson suggested Daryl Stuermer and the rest is history. While Daryl proved adept at taking on the bass parts, it was as a lead guitarist that he truly shone. Having ditched Firth Of Fifth, the band were eager to find a song upon which Daryl could show his chops.

    It's fair to say that when Genesis lost Steve Hackett they gained two distinctive players: the dynamic Mr Rutherford and the fret-shredding Mr Stuermer. All three players have given a distinctive voice to the Genesis sound and while Genesis might not be considered a "traditional" guitar band, it's hard to imagine many of their tunes without the contributions of Messrs Hackett, Rutherford and Stuermer.

    There several bits I agree with some others I don't .

    Much as I like Mike's parts on Many to Many or Burning Rope it is hard for me to define them as ''impressive'', either from a technical or compositional point of view. Perhaps you can explain what you mean with impressive because to me they simply fit the songs, they are adequate but far from jaw-dropping or going the extra mile.

    I think where Mike gave something really original and fresh to the group was with things like FYFM or as rhythm guitarist and obviously his acoustic interplay with either Ant or Steve, certainly not as a soloist.

    I think, I seem to remember and it makes sense that Mike knew right away he needed a guitar player who could also play the bass, because he knew some of Steve's parts were beyond his skillset. I don't seem to remember he being unsure about this. It was 78 and they were still playing a lot of the 5 and 4 man era.

    I can't speak for anybody but I for one, can absolutely imagine any Genesis tune without the contribution of Daryl, it's not really difficult give the fact he hasn't written any.

    While I share your admiration for Daryl's technical proficiency, you wrote yourself that the new course was much more direct, accessible hence not requiring particular chops and Genesis were certainly not a guitar based band, again your words, meaning plenty of guitarists would have done the job equally well and I think it is fair to say and I am sure you won't have any trouble admitting that fans are quite divided over Daryl's treatment and delivery of Steve's bits but most importantly: I don't mean to bring Daryl's down but it perplexes me when I read he was a star in his own right. Really? Fans went to the concert to listen to his bits? No sorry, he was a hired musician, playing somebody's else's parts, some of which not really demanding, some other revered and again argued over. I understand personal preferences but as I said before, history cannot be re-written according to those. This is probably your favorite Genesis incarnation but it doesn't change reality.


    Edited 2 times, last by Fabrizio ().