Thursday, October 20, 2016

Favorites - Favorite Songs From Genesis

You know, I haven’t talked about anything music-related in a long minute. I think I need to change that today. It’s back to Genesis, and yes, I’m a black dude talking about Genesis, a progressive rock/pop/new wave band. I’m allowed to have good taste, right? Right. A few years ago, I did a small list of my favorite songs from both the group and Phil Collins and I think it’s time to update that list. I’ve listened to a lot more of Genesis since then. I don’t know if I’d call myself a big Genesis fan. I’m probably a decent fan. I’ve even listened to the era that doesn’t get played on radio.

For those who don’t know, Genesis started out in the late 60’s and grew over time into a progressive rock group. Collins wasn’t even in it at the beginning. He didn’t come around until their third album. After their original frontman, Peter Gabriel, left in the mid-70’s, the group stayed like that until the late 70’s and 80’s where their music started to become more mainstream. You didn’t come here for a history lesson though. Today, I’ll list off my favorite songs from the group. Since the group’s catalog is pretty sizable, I thought I’d split it up by eras: The Gabriel Era and the Collins Era. That should keep things simple.

The Gabriel Era
10. The Fountain of Salacmis – This is their last song from Nursery Cryme, their third album. The song decides to get a little mythological on us by talking the story of Hermaphaditius and his encounter with Salacmis. While the song’s kind of out there lyric-wise, the music is pretty cool. Tony Banks (the keyboardist) does some cool stuff at the beginning. It makes me want to run in a big forest somewhere. I don’t want to run into Salacmis though.

9. Back In NYC – This was one song that caught my eye on The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway, Peter Gabriel’s last album with the group. The whole album is supposed to be about some dude from New York City. This song is about his times on the streets getting into trouble with the boys. The singing’s good, the lyrics are cool, and the music kicks some major butt. I’m going to say that about the music a lot, ain’t I?

8. I Know What I Like (In Your Wardrobe) – This one is from their fifth album, Selling England By The Pound. Unlike most of their songs, this one’s feels more like a regular, short song of the day. It’s about guy who mowing lawns and likes that simple life. The beginning’s a little weird since someone’s trying to make the sound of a lawnmower. Afterwards, it’s a bit of silly ‘ole time. In the end, it’s a nice, short song.

7. Supper’s Ready – Yes, G-Fans. This song is at this spot. I’ve read this song gets a lot of good vibes and it’s easy to see why. It’s usually at the top of most lists.  It’s 23 minutes (yeah, that long!) of good music and pretty good lyrics. From what I have read, it’s basically a personal journey and bits of the Book of Revelation are used to describe it all. I guess that’s the best way to describe it. Different songs are cobbled together in order to make Foxtrot go out with a big, long bang.

6. In the Cage – This was another song from The Lamb Lies down on Broadway that I really liked. From I can surmise, the song is about a guy going to sleep and having a pretty messed up nightmare. The lyrics are on point and the music rules here. The drumming is pretty noticeable and we get a pretty impressive keyboard solo in the middle where it gets cool. It’s one of the best songs on the album in my opinion.

5. Dancing With the Moonlit Knight - This song is also from Selling England By The Pound. The song is supposed to be about British culture, I believe. I like how it’s starts out with everything building up to this big crescendo. I even recognized this pretty sweet groove from the beginning. It was later used in one of OutKast’s songs (“SpottieOttieDopaliscious”). I especially like the part after the extended music section. I will say I’m not too big on the ending. That soft music kind of puts me to sleep. At least the rest is really cool.

4. Return of the Giant Hogweed – Yes, this is the title of the song from Nursery Cryme. If you’re wondering, it’s not an analogue for the other weed that goes “poof!” It is possible that weed is how this song came about though. It’s talking about how giant hogweed or “heracleum mantegazzianum” would one day spread around the land. It was funny because a breakout occurred a couple of years later in Britain. Of course, the music is one of the reasons I like it especially when we get to the solo parts. The funny lyrics also help me really like this song.

3. The Musical Box – This was their first song off their third album, Nursery Cryme. It’s a song that starts out soft and melodic. Then, about four minutes later, it kicks into high gear with the music knocking down the door and taking the King’s crown or something. I guess that analogy works. Explaining what the song is about would be hard since I don’t even know. All I know is that it’s awesomely put-together song. It’s one of their best songs from this era.

2. Watcher of the Skies – This was the first Gabriel Era song I heard. I even posted something about a live performance of the song years ago. That was kind of eye-opening for someone who hadn’t seen that phase of Genesis. Peter Gabriel was looking weird and Phil Collins even had hair! It has a Mellotron intro that could definitely get one into the Halloween spirit. Afterwards, we get a song about an alien who comes upon a barren planet. Yeah, the song’s a little weird but the music kicks many butts.

1. Firth of Fifth – Guess what? Here’s another song where the music soars into the third Heaven or something. I guessing the song is about going on a journey of importance where few dare to tread. If I was going on that journey, I’d definitely have this song on my iPod. We can also call this “The Song of Awesome Solos.” We get a cool piano solo at the beginning, another keyboard solo in the middle, and quite possibly the best guitar solo I’ve ever heard towards the end. It’s definitely my favorite song from this era.

The Collins Era
10. Eleventh Earl of Mar – None of the songs from Genesis’ early albums post-Gabriel really grabbed me. This one from Wind & Wuthering is pretty cool though. The beginning really grabs me with that weird, otherworldly sound.  What comes afterwards is pretty cool too. The song is actually talking about John Erskine, Lord of Mar (the 11th one). Apparently, he kind of sucked. The song acts like Genesis’ beginning songs act: fast, loud, and pretty memorable.

9. Mama – Here is one from their 12th album, Genesis. “Mama” is apparently about a guy trying to get with a “lady of the night.” The term “mama” is apparently another name for them and that is just weird to me. At least the song is pretty cool and makes me thing about that less. It’s pure 80’s with a lot of synth being thrown around. It kind of reminds me of “In The Air Tonight” since the drums come in hard at the end.

8. It’s Gonna Get Better – This one is off also off their self-titled album, Genesis. It’s pretty much about holding out for hope even when stuff ain’t looking so good. I liked the music to it and the lyrics are nice. There’s not too much to it, but it’s one I don’t skip over when I got my iPod out.

7. Man on The Corner – This one is from Abacab. Yeah, it’s a weird name for a album. Anyway, this is one of the songs I remember most from that album. The song’s about a man on the corner waiting for something. Whether it’s about the homeless or something else, I don’t know. I do know that I really like the music to this one. The lyrics and Collins’ singing are also a highlight here. This also reminds of “In the Air Tonight.” I guess this would have been the prototype to that song or something.

6. Duke’s Travels/Duke's End – These two songs from Duke are pretty much an combined instrumental piece. After a weird synth-thing on the keyboards, the drums come in. Just guess why I really like the song. It’s pretty much a music-fest with some vocals from a previous song being used toward the end. Yeah, I like it and I’m not ashamed to admit it. 

5. Turn It On Again – We’ve got one from Duke, their tenth album. I don’t know what the song’s about but it sounds like a guy who finds comfort in TV or something. Anyway, I like the song mostly for the music. I especially like the beginning with everything coming in.

4. Behind the Lines – “Behind the Lines” comes in like most intro songs: hard and fast. It’s just one part of a three-song set.  It’s pretty much music for the first two minutes. Then, Collins chimes in something about a book. I have to say I’m not sure what the song is about. It could be about Reading Rainbow for all I know. Either way, the song’s awesome. All of the music is cool especially the drumming. It just keeps everything pushing until the next song, “Duchess” which is another good one. Duke might be my favorite album from this era.

3. Land of Confusion – Now we get to something pretty familiar from Invisible Touch. I included this on the original list. This song is about something pretty topical today:  Politics. Well, it’s talking about the politics of the 80’s since stuff was going on back then too. I’ve always liked the music to this and the lyrics are kind of timeless. No matter what era, there’s usually something going on in the land of politics.

2. Just a Job To Do – This lesser known song from Genesis somehow made it up the list. Whenever it comes on, it’s something to listen to especially when driving. From what I’ve heard, it’s about a hitman or a P.I. doing his thing. It sounds like it anyway. I like the lyrics and I especially like the music. It sounds like it needs to be the theme to an 80’s crime show. In fact… it actually was that for a show called The Insiders. It’s definitely a song to listen to if you like the group.

1. Tonight, Tonight, Tonight – This is another holdover from the original list and it gets the top spot. I guess this was their way of doing progressive new wave or something. I mean, the song’s pretty long. They also did this with another song on Invisible Touch: “Domino” (another good one). The song seems to be talking about something the person has a problem with. The music is pretty cool and drenched in the 80’s especially the middle music section. It sounds like it came from a Sega Genesis game. It’s funny because I found a remix of the song that uses sounds from the Genesis console. Anyway, it’s an awesome song to me.


Well, those are my lists for the group. Lastly, if you’re wondering which era I like the best, I do have to say the Collins era. While I’ve grown to like early Genesis, I still like the later stuff a little better. I was exposed to the group through the later stuff. I will say that the music in the Gabriel Era kicks some serious butt though. It’s just a matter of likeness there.  If you have any favorite songs of your own or you want to berate me for liking the Collins Era more, comment below. Peace, God Bless, and be careful out there.

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