Steve's era?

  • Inspired by some random comments, the thread the guitar and Genesis and the subsequent discussion over Steve's and partially Daryl's role, I've been wondering whether it its correct to talk about a Steve-Era in Genesis.

    During the years I came across, some fans, mainly guitarists, who claim that the term is an appropriate one and it marks a period in the band in which Steve left a mark in terms of sound and spirit that goes beyond his tenure with Genesis.

    I disagree, without undermining Steve's contribution to the band and most of all his legacy, the way some people who would compare him with Daryl do, I don't believe Steve, with the exception of W&W was confident, prolific, self-assertive and mature enough as a writer and arranger to have a major specific weight in the band, at least nothing comparable to the other 4 and later on 3.

    I would have a much lengthier introduction to the thread but it is pointless at this stage, I am sure there will be an opportunity later on to make my points, right now I am interested in your view on this.

  • For me the era of Steve begins with Nursery Cryme and ends with Seconds Out. I can not judge, whether Steve contributed much to the song writing or arranging. All the credits on the albums include him as co-writer. For me it is clear, that at least his guitar style is completely unique and made the sound of the band change after Trespass and again after Wind And Wuthering. His guitar contributions gave the sound of the band a particular trademark. I find any comparison with Daryl Stuermer futile, because Daryl`s own style is completely different from Steve`s. What Daryl did, when he was playing their material live, was giving Steve` s guitar passages his own texture.


    Yes, there was an era of Steve.

    First we learned to walk on water.

    Then we tried something harder.

    - Red Seven -

  • I personally think comparisons with Daryl are futile because Daryl was never a band member, never contributed any song or played on any album and ultimately he played either Steve's or Mike's part. I appreciate the boost he gave to the band live but that's it.

    So, on top of Peter-era, Phil-era, 5,4&3 man era, prog&pop-era you would also include a Steve era when talking about the band? How is it different from say 5,4, 3- man era or prog era? I ask because they basically overlap, how do we differentiate and tell them from another?

    I obviously don't mean chronologically, that's quite easy: 71-77 but how did Steve, during this period made a mark or influenced the band or steered the direction in a measure comparable to other members or in a way that it is legitimate to talk about Steve era?

    Also, generally speaking the average Genesis fan knows who wrote what and broadly, how much single members contributed to a specific song in terms of chords, harmonies, lyrics and arrangements, as such we have an idea of what Steve might have done. We know for instance that FoF is basically Tony's but I think we all agree it wouldn't be the same without that guitar solo, with that in mind I think we are able to ascertain a couple of things.

    Edited once, last by Fabrizio ().

  • I have no idea, who wrote what, because - as I said - all the writing credits go to all. My approach is, how strongly the members of the band influenced the sound of the band and how good their musical skills are. Had Peter Gabriel never written a single lyric and not composed a single bar, I would still claim, there is an era of Peter simple because of his completely unique and stunning vocals.


    This will probably not satisfy you, I` m afraid, but it is as simple as that for me.


    :)

    First we learned to walk on water.

    Then we tried something harder.

    - Red Seven -

  • There are two ways of considering this. First, on a purely chronological basis, 1971 - 1977 mark the years he appears in the band's regular recorded works, not counting 3SL and the Archive sets. So on that simple basis, that can be said to be the Hackett Era.


    Second would be the notion that the term 'era' in this sense defines something more than pure chronology; the substance and, if you like, value/significance of his work as part of the band. My view is that there is significance to his time in Genesis. From early on, especially his Salmacis solo, he had a distinctive sound that contributed to the Genesis overall sound. As has been said, they've never been an overtly 'guitar band' but his work underlined that the instrument was nevertheless an intrinsic part of their soundscape. That his technique was subtle and economical made him well-aligned to the work of a relatively non-guitary band.


    After he left, their sound gradually then rapidly changed. We can speculate that might've happened even if he'd stayed, but it's moot. The fact their sound changed after his departure is enough for me to accept his presence was materially significant. I'm not bothering to consider the empirical importance of whether he wrote 'enough' in this context, for me that's a red herring. All the above is sufficient for me to say that yes, there was a Hackett Era.


    Ultimately though, enjoyable as it is to discuss this, I find it a largely semantic debate. I could quite happily end my case after my first point - that's when he was in Genesis, so that's his era.

    Abandon all reason

  • I have no idea, who wrote what, because - as I said - all the writing credits go to all. My approach is, how strongly the members of the band influenced the sound of the band and how good their musical skills are. Had Peter Gabriel never written a single lyric and not composed a single bar, I would still claim, there is an era of Peter simple because of his completely unique and stunning vocals.


    This will probably not satisfy you, I` m afraid, but it is as simple as that for me.


    :)

    It's really not about satisfying me an it bears repeating that I like Steve's playing and I think he was he felt and heard from the get go, I even like For absent friends, go figure. I really feel he was missed when he left but I just don't think it is enough for a musician to simply be in a band to be able to say it was his era. I agree with you actually, it depends how strongly the member influenced the sound of the band. It is in a way, weird to think that Steve himself felt like a junior member on the first records, felt that in the beginning had little to offer as a songwriter, felt that he was often buried sound-wise and in the final mix by the keyboards which is imo true, felt that later on, his input wasn't valued enough in terms of songwriting which again, I think is accurate but imo justified and almost everybody would concede that Genesis were never a guitar based band but we can still talk about a Steve-era. Btw, all those claims are his words, not mine, I just happen to agree with him.

  • It is semantic yes and yes, it could end with the first point but my question would be: how can you tell the Steve era from say the Gabriel era, they largely overlap and during that period, as Peter has said there was no democracy within the band, some members were clearly more equal than others and I think we can agree. So what would be the difference between the Gabriel or 5-man era and Steve-era? At the same time, what would be the difference between the 4-man era, largely dominated by Banks both in songwriting and sound and the Steve-era? There must be some element enabling us to mark a difference, don't you think?

    As for what would have happened after he left, again, you are right, it's rather moot but somehow I cannot imagine Steve taking over and contributing 50% of the material and indulging in minutes long solos.

    Lastly, why is it a red herring to consider how much a member has written and played? And if it is, what would be then the criteria by which we can measure his impact on the overall music?

  • Tend to agree with this. Too much emphasis is placed on songwriting. Take the Moody Blues as an example, a much more democratic band. Ray Thomas and Graeme Edge both wrote songs, but Ray didn't do chords, (He played Flute) And Graeme had even less experience, so Justin Hayward would come up with chords and arrangements. He apparently, on at least one occasion, ran 2 completely different sets of chords past Ray for the same song, and Ray was equally happy with both. So, in effect Justin was a songwriting contributor, but didn't take credit, both Ray and Graeme have confirmed this "arrangement" arrangement with gratitude. Even earlier, when Justin wrote Nights in White Satin, it was Mike Pinder who came up with the mellotron sequence after the first sung line, yet he got no credit.


    My point is, in a band, even though one person may have written the song, the others all end up contributing to the final sound, Firth of Fifth is a classic example. would the flute solo have had as big an impact on the world?


    Steve's impact may have not been huge at the start, as Ant was a good guitarist and the comparison would have been less stark, but when he left, the sound changed immensely, ATTWT is a very lame sounding album after the W&W, even Wot Gorilla stands out in comparison, and it's the second worst track on there. Only 4 tracks are adequate on ATTWT, Motherlode, Many Too Many, Lady Lies and FYFM, the rest really needed a guitarist to lift them. Sadly, he'd moved on, and an era had ended.

    Ian


    Works with chess - Not with life

  • Tend to agree with this. Too much emphasis is placed on songwriting.

    My point is, in a band, even though one person may have written the song, the others all end up contributing to the final sound, Firth of Fifth is a classic example. would the flute solo have had as big an impact on the world?


    Steve's impact may have not been huge at the start, as Ant was a good guitarist and the comparison would have been less stark, but when he left, the sound changed immensely, ATTWT is a very lame sounding album after the W&W, even Wot Gorilla stands out in comparison, and it's the second worst track on there. Only 4 tracks are adequate on ATTWT, Motherlode, Many Too Many, Lady Lies and FYFM, the rest really needed a guitarist to lift them. Sadly, he'd moved on, and an era had ended.

    Surprisingly Ian I disagree, but I also think it depends on the band and the genre. If you told me that too much emphasis is placed on songwriting in, say Weather Report, I might even agree. Ultimately, given the instrumental contribution by Joe, Wayne and even Jaco, who actually wrote the song is really not that important, given that it is based on a sketch of an idea and played almost every night in a different way. Genesis however, were all about songwriting, they saw themselves as songwriters and rarely incurred in the original sin of other prog-bands where noodling took over and form trumped substance.

    Much as I appreciate their instrumentals which have almost always a songwriting element to them, I really like their songs. Steve knew that too, that's why he pushed to have more material on the album, he was growing frustrated because he no longer wasn't content to be only a great guitarist. Phil was at that time, the one who didn't overly care, in fact he wanted to carry on as an instrumental band.

    ATTW3 is the biggest piece of evidence produced by Steve's fans, the premise being that it was their weakest album hitherto. I happen to agree but some fans don't.

    There's some truth there, Steve's sound is missing and certainly the album could have used a couple of good songs more but as I said many times, it's quite contradictory to say Steve was shortchanged, suffocated, underused which is all true and then claiming that one album is not so strong because he left. IF ATTW3 is not as strong as its predecessors, it is due imo to other problems plaguing the band in that period. Phil was understandably absent-minded, in fact I don't particularly enjoy his playing and singing on the album. He was starting to be fed up with some of lyrics and thinking about joining the Who. That doesn't bode well for any album. They were starting to think about changing, everything around them suggested that but they had no idea how and clearly they were working with formulas that were becoming stale. The notion that things unraveled because Steve left lacks logic and basis, is far-fetched and doesn't explain Duke: strong material, excellent sound and loads of energy.

  • genesis suffered from steve departure, for sure. i'm tempted to think of 'and then there were three' as a four-member era album with one of the members missing. steve left a hollow that tony, mike and phil weren't prepared to fill yet. it wasn't until 'duke' when they really became a proper three-member band.


    it's funny that daryl played guitar live on the pre-1978 songs. in other words, he played steve's guitar lines, as it's been said above. meanwhile, mike played bass, as he used to do when those old songs were written, he went back to his old bassist role. i don't think mike would have played steve's guitar melodies badly at all, but i guess they had their reasons to do it like that...

    Edited once, last by chema ().

  • genesis suffered from steve departure, for sure. i'm tempted to think of 'and then there were three' as a four-member era album with one of the members missing. steve left a hollow that tony, mike and phil weren't still prepared to fill. it wasn't until 'duke' when they really became a proper three-member band.

    That might be an additional explanation as to why ATTW3 is a bit ''bland''. I find it curious but telling that they never even considered replacing Steve, a mistake in my view but again it gives away how they saw the band and implicitly Steve's role in it.

  • Surprisingly Ian I disagree, but I also think it depends on the band and the genre. If you told me that too much emphasis is placed on songwriting in, say Weather Report, I might even agree. Ultimately, given the instrumental contribution by Joe, Wayne and even Jaco, who actually wrote the song is really not that important, given that it is based on a sketch of an idea and played almost every night in a different way. Genesis however, were all about songwriting, they saw themselves as songwriters and rarely incurred in the original sin of other prog-bands where noodling took over and form trumped substance.

    Much as I appreciate their instrumentals which have almost always a songwriting element to them, I really like their songs. Steve knew that too, that's why he pushed to have more material on the album, he was growing frustrated because he no longer wasn't content to be only a great guitarist. Phil was at that time, the one who didn't overly care, in fact he wanted to carry on as an instrumental band.

    ATTW3 is the biggest piece of evidence produced by Steve's fans, the premise being that it was their weakest album hitherto. I happen to agree but some fans don't.

    There's some truth there, Steve's sound is missing and certainly the album could have used a couple of good songs more but as I said many times, it's quite contradictory to say Steve was shortchanged, suffocated, underused which is all true and then claiming that one album is not so strong because he left. IF ATTW3 is not as strong as its predecessors, it is due imo to other problems plaguing the band in that period. Phil was understandably absent-minded, in fact I don't particularly enjoy his playing and singing on the album. He was starting to be fed up with some of lyrics and thinking about joining the Who. That doesn't bode well for any album. They were starting to think about changing, everything around them suggested that but they had no idea how and clearly they were working with formulas that were becoming stale. The notion that things unraveled because Steve left lacks logic and basis, is far-fetched and doesn't explain Duke: strong material, excellent sound and loads of energy.

    It might be contradictory if you don't agree that his playing and arrangements were an important element, the point is ATTWT is bland due to lack of a couple more good songs AND some major guitar input. As you say, we will never agree on this and neither will legions of other fans, based either side of the argument.


    I'll live with that.

    Ian


    Works with chess - Not with life

  • It might be contradictory if you don't agree that his playing and arrangements were an important element.

    To be clear: my ideal Genesis line-up has Steve in it. I love his playing, you now that and I do think it was important but in trying to give each member their dues, Steve's guitar wasn't the core, the cornerstone or the backbone of the band's sound, it was more the icing on the cake, a cake which was baked by others, nor was his songwriting central and of course we can agree to disagree but those things, dare I say facts? Are really, really hard to dispute.

    Edited 2 times, last by Fabrizio ().

  • To take these points:

    There must be some element enabling us to mark a difference, don't you think?

    why is it a red herring to consider how much a member has written and played? And if it is, what would be then the criteria by which we can measure his impact on the overall music?

    No, I don't think there needs to be something marking a difference between eras. We're not talking about geological epochs or something. His era was the time he was in the band, which overlapped with PG's time or era if you will, and included the "4-man era"'. Anything further is over-thinking it.


    I didnt say it was a red herring to consider how much someone wrote and played, just how much they wrote. I wouldn't expect an introverted new arrival to get much material past a closed shop of schoolfriends. He wrote some stuff, and contributed a distinct playing style that was part of their sound, as I said earlier. There's no set quota of writing that has to be achieved in order to confirm that 'era' can be used.

    Abandon all reason

  • I find it curious but telling that they never even considered replacing Steve, a mistake in my view but again it gives away how they saw the band and implicitly Steve's role in it.

    They were going to bring Stuermer in on Duke but apparently this was thwarted by logistics. They then, as they're on record as saying, decided that they worked well as a trio and liked having the space it provided.


    ATTWT has been referred to here as bland. My problem with it is unevenness and tweeness. It's got (for me) two excellent tracks in Down & Out and Many Too Many, Follow and Undertow are good and Motherlode okay, and the rest is either Banks at his most pompous and overbearing, or cringe-inducing dross. It's hard to say what they would've come up with had Hackett stuck around but if those songs are an indication of the sort of material they had knocking about then I'm not sure how much he could've done to improve matters.

    Abandon all reason

  • To take these points:

    No, I don't think there needs to be something marking a difference between eras. We're not talking about geological epochs or something. His era was the time he was in the band, which overlapped with PG's time or era if you will, and included the "4-man era"'. Anything further is over-thinking it.


    I didnt say it was a red herring to consider how much someone wrote and played, just how much they wrote. I wouldn't expect an introverted new arrival to get much material past a closed shop of schoolfriends. He wrote some stuff, and contributed a distinct playing style that was part of their sound, as I said earlier. There's no set quota of writing that has to be achieved in order to confirm that 'era' can be used.

    If the minimum requirement is for someone to be in a band then I agree with you, there was a Steve era.





  • They were going to bring Stuermer in on Duke but apparently this was thwarted by logistics. They then, as they're on record as saying, decided that they worked well as a trio and liked having the space it provided.


    ATTWT has been referred to here as bland. My problem with it is unevenness and tweeness. It's got (for me) two excellent tracks in Down & Out and Many Too Many, Follow and Undertow are good and Motherlode okay, and the rest is either Banks at his most pompous and overbearing, or cringe-inducing dross. It's hard to say what they would've come up with had Hackett stuck around but if those songs are an indication of the sort of material they had knocking about then I'm not sure how much he could've done to improve matters.

    Nothing against Daryl but I am glad they didn't, I think I've already explained why in another thread.

    ATTW3 was personally the first time with a Genesis album, I could have lived without the half of it. It had never happened before, I don't necessarily agree with your list of the songs worth something but I agree it is a mixed bag. Even songs which are potentially good, like D&O seem to miss something: energy, conviction some grit. It sounds like they were itching to change something, didn't know how to do it and resorted to carless editing, like with Undertow which I think is really good. We can venture what would have happened with Steve on board: better guitar sound, perhaps an instrumental or a couple of songs more to make the record better. Co-written songs I guess, I struggle to find a song Steve has written on his own on a G album. We equally can guess what wouldn't have happened: Steve getting 25% of the material or setting the tone of the album.

  • Even songs which are potentially good, like D&O seem to miss something: energy, conviction some grit.

    Funny isn't it. I love that track partly because for me it has precisely those things. When I first heard the album, it was a dispiriting experience of plummeting hopes. It opens with what I think is the best track, by an embarrassing distance. After that, the only way is down.

    Abandon all reason





  • Nothing against Daryl but I am glad they didn't, I think I've already explained why in another thread.

    ATTW3 was personally the first time with a Genesis album, I could have lived without the half of it. It had never happened before, I don't necessarily agree with your list of the songs worth something but I agree it is a mixed bag. Even songs which are potentially good, like D&O seem to miss something: energy, conviction some grit. It sounds like they were itching to change something, didn't know how to do it and resorted to carless editing, like with Undertow which I think is really good. We can venture what would have happened with Steve on board: better guitar sound, perhaps an instrumental or a couple of songs more to make the record better. Co-written songs I guess, I struggle to find a song Steve has written on his own on a G album. We equally can guess what wouldn't have happened: Steve getting 25% of the material or setting the tone of the album.

    I think we can safely say, with Tony on board, no one was getting an equal share of anything, or setting the tone, Even Peter couldn't wangle that!

    Ian


    Works with chess - Not with life

  • I think we can safely say, with Tony on board, no one was getting an equal share of anything, or setting the tone, Even Peter couldn't wangle that

    Well no, not quite. Peter always gave Tony a hard time and ultimately got to pick the story , set the tone and write the lyrics to a whole double album, not a minor accomplishment and a major power move within the band and Mike has always had a way to navigate around those difficulties and get his songs on the album. The main problem with Steve was, as different members have said several times , they were not crazy about his songs. They didn't see him as substantial songwriter.

    Edited once, last by Fabrizio ().