At an unspecific point in 1979, my dad arrived home from work carrying a long playing record. It turned out to be the new Police album. At this point, ‘Message In a Bottle’ had been all over the radio and I knew I liked this new music. My mum, on the other hand did not have quite the same enthusiasm; she’s a bit put out that this does not have ‘Roxanne’ on it. Presumably, the album – like others – had been purchased at Barnaby’s, a record shop (no longer there) very near my dad’s then place of employment; a giant tin shed in which he worked with dangerous acidic chemicals and little regard for health and safety. That Police album (‘Reggatta De Blanc’) got played a lot. If I think hard, I can still see Dad sitting by his Fidelity stereo system lifting the needle onto the record and playing the title track over and over and I remember thinking how fitting it was that the word emblazoned on the front looked a bit like the word fiddle. That piece of music must have spoken to him: decades later, he would still attract my attention by calling my name to the tune of that track.
The sight of my dad coming home with new music in this way was not entirely uncommon.
Running a second poll for Genesis covering their more commercially sucessful (and arguably more radio friendly) years was always going to divide opinion. Naturally, as Real Gone’s last poll shows, there are many people very keen on the 70s prog side of the band who just never took to the more commercial Genesis. Likewise, the band picked up fans throughout the 80s who just never quite understood the earlier work.
When Steve Hackett left Genesis at the end of the ‘Wind & Wuthering’ tour in 1977, for some of the more dyed-in-the-wool prog fans, that signified too much of a potential change waiting in the wings. The fact that the three-man band of Phil Collins (drums/vocals), Mike Rutherford (guitars/bass) and Tony Banks sounded more commercial upon their return and even scored a genuine hit single with a pop ballad marked the end for some. For those, supper had gone cold. For the fans Genesis lost at this time, their new, more commercial sound gained new fans in droves and although the band became far less prolific – partly due to all three members embarking on extra-curricular recording – it marked the beginning of a very commercially successful decade.
Genesis were an essential part of the 70s prog scene. Along with Pink Floyd and King Crimson, their early catalogue is a complex one that, decades after its original release, just keeps giving. Their albums released between 1969-76, covering their most progressive tendencies are albums whereby it’s almost possible to hear something new, some subtle touch lurking in the back of complex arrangements, whenever listening – the bits that really strike chord changing, dependent on mood and surroundings.
At Christmas 2014, the BBC broadcast an updated Genesis documentary ‘Together & Apart’. It had been some time since the previous feature length document of the band had been pieced together – 1992’s excellent ‘A History’ – and so, any focus on the much neglected Ray Wilson era and the ‘Calling All Stations’ album was anticipated by fans. As well as including interviews with the five members of the classic 70s era in the same room, this was to be event television for the Genesis fan.