Monday, June 28, 2010

The Genesis of Genesis

GENESIS-"From Genesis To Revelation" U.K. Decca LK4990 1969

1. Where The Sour Turns To Sweet
2. In The Beginning
3. Fireside Song
4. The Serpent
5. Am I Very Wrong ?
6. In The Wilderness

1. The Conqueror
2. In Hiding
3. One Day
4. Window
5. In Limbo
6. Silent Sun
7. A Place To Call My Own

Most of you, if not all of you are familiar with Genesis. Most of if you are also perhaps familiar with their debut LP.  If not sit down and read on...

Formed at the Charterhouse public school (that's "private" if you're an American) in 1967 the band were discovered during an alumni day by former Charterhouse student and pop personality Jonathan King. Their line up comprised of: Peter Gabriel (lead vocals), Anthony Phillips (guitar), Tony Banks (keyboards), Mike Rutherford (bass) and Chris Stewart (drums).  King christened them "Genesis" and secured a deal for them with Decca records.  In  February 1968 they released their debut single, the Jonathan King produced "The Silent Sun" b/w "That's Me" (Decca F 12735) which failed to register any impact.  Undeterred King sent them back to the studio and in May of 1968 their second single, "A Winter's Tale" b/w  the curiously titled "One Eyed Hound" (Decca F 12775) was launched, again failing to generate any activity.  Strangely despite two unsuccessful singles King urged them to begin work on an LP, which began in the fall of 1968 with a new drummer (John Silver) replacing Stewart.  King again handled production with help from arranger Arthur Greenslade who handled the album's lush orchestration (strings, brass, etc).

In March of 1969 their debut LP "From Genesis To Revelation" appeared. The album sank without a trace.  It has been suggested that with it's black cover with small gold letters many shops placed it in their religious section, regardless the public weren't buying.  The band later went on record after their luck and persistence provided them with fame as being unhappy with King's production and the orchestration (like The Moody Blue's "Day's Of Future Past", they recorded their basic tracks and had no idea what to expect).

The LP, regardless of the band's criticisms, is actually an amazing collection of orchestrated pop that falls somewhere in between the first three album's by The Moody Blues Mark II and The Bee Gee's and The Zombie's "Odyssey and Oracle".  It's basic backing tracks are heavily reliant on the piano which leads them through a great deal of melodic adventures, all lushly wrapped in strings and brass and sometimes offset by distorted guitar and the band's angelic harmonies.

    The pre-debut LP line-up 1968

"Where The Sour Turns To Sweet" opens the album with it's choral pop, swirling symphony and horns. "In The Beginning" bursts forth with a barrage of feedback and is characterized by some mindbending phlanging guitar, one of my faves on the LP. My absolute favorite track is next. "The Serpent" takes a more biblical slant on the old concept of "the evil one" and "temptation" with a nice repetitive riff and a chorus of Moody Blues style backing vocals and lyrics obviously inspired by too many theological discussions after too much kiff:

"and god created man from dust with a soul inside his mold, and god created womankind the vessel of Satan's hold.  Creator made the serpent wise, evil in his tempting eyes, but man is wonderful, very wonderful look at him.  Beware the is my world and it's waiting for me, paradise before my eyes..."

The next track, "Am I Very Wrong?" sounds positively Zombies-like with it's piano led melody and holiday cheer-like chorus augmented by some carefully placed trumpet and flute.  Eerie.  "The Conqueror" is a full on excursion into archetype British 60's psych pop balanced by some solid piano and the LP's trademark Moody Blue's Mark II style harmonies. 

Side Two's "One Day" is another one that stands out more than the rest (really there isn't an unlistenable track on the whole long player if you ask me). The trumpet lick and sweeping strings mesh perfectly with the deluge of choral voices that sing behind it all which almost sound as if they're phlanging together. "In Limbo" has a brass/orchestration with acoustic guitar and bar room piano tinkling that brings to mind The Pretty Thing's brilliant (and often unjustly panned) "Emotions" LP.   Their Bee Gee's like debut single"Silent Sun", is next, recalling  The Brother's Gibb at their finest on their untitled debut album.  It's closed by the somber "A Place To Call My Own" that has a distinct "West Coast" feel to it. Of course like many other brilliant Decca LP's (The end's "Introspection" the LP did not make a blip commercially and is now highly collectible.

It was followed up by one more Decca single culled from the album ("Where The Sour Turns To Sweet" b/w In Hiding" Decca F 12949) in June of 1969 which followed the path (or lack thereof) of it's predecessor's which meant the band would have to wait another two years for stardom to finally arrive in it's prog glory in 1971.

Since Jonathan King owns the rights to all of the band's Decca material the LP (with all their singles as bonus cuts) has received numerous reissues over the years on CD and is readily available.

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