This is comedy gold. A punk-era NME-style music journalist straight out of Central Casting writes about Genesis’ “Selling England By The Pount”.
He starts out dismissing their music using as many tired clichés as a bad Pendragon album.
And Prog Enemy Number 1, chief target for my scorn, were Genesis. Bloody Genesis. At least Pink Floyd had the saving grace of Syd Barrett who seemed pretty cool until he had to take a load of drugs to cope with being surrounded by the rest of Pink Floyd. But Genesis? Hackett, Gabriel, Collins, Rutherford and Banks? Just look at them. Not a saving grace in sight.
Before admitting tthat he’s ever actually listened to them. So he goes and plays the record…
And you know what? It’s not awful, some of it is actually really good and a lot of it, even though Banks tries his best to spoil everything, is genuinely brilliant. It’s sort of Merrie English folk mixed with a Lloyd Webber Musical which I know you think is a genre that you don’t think you need in your life but it is. It honestly is. Look at the end for the mark I give it out of 10 if you don’t believe me.
So this is where I am. I really like an early Genesis album, I really like Selling England by the Pound.
All of which rather reinforces my suspicion that a whole generation of music writers have been dismissing an entire genre of music based purely on other people’s second-hand opinions, and haven’t actually listened to any of the actual music.
I’m reminded of tthe time when The Guardian’s Alexis Petridis reviewed a Genesis box set and was amazed to find it was full of tunes.
If you are a grown adult, and you don’t question every single cultural prejudice you held when you were 17, you not only risk being a fool, but you will also miss out on much great stuff.
No, I haven’t had the chance to see the BBC’s Genesis documentary for myself yet, I was out at a gig when it was screened. Judging from the comments on social media including a lot of retweets from Steve Hackett himself, it seriously downplayed his contribution to the band’s music, and completely ignored his prolific solo career. While he wasn’t airbrushed out of history altogether like the unfortunate Ray Wilson, he surely deserves better.
There are a lot of parallels with AC/DC’s Malcolm Young here. Only the most ignorant dismiss Malcolm Young as an anonymous and easily-replaceable sidesman; anyone who understands their music knows his playing was the heart of their sound. It’s the same with Steve Hackett for 70s Genesis.
If you want proof, listen to “Wind and Wuthering”, Genesis’ last Studio album before Hackett left the band in 1977. Then listen to “Burning Rope”, the best song from the Hackett-less “And Then There Were Three”, and imagine how it might have sounded had Hackett played on it. Mike Rutherford’s workmanlike playing is a pale imitation.
Though not known for his stage presence, Hackett is a hugely talented musician, who managed to invent a completely new language for rock guitar. He took the electric guitar way past its blues roots, and in his way he was as groundbreaking as Jimi Hendrix a few years earlier. And he was also a maestro on classical guitar.
Hackett has been the “keeper of the flame” for the music Genesis made in the 1970s, music which Banks, Rutherford and Collins have sometimes seemed embarassed by. While it was fashionable for many years to claim the 80s stadium-pop Genesis to be the real deal, much of their later output has dated badly, and it’s the music they made while Steve Hackett was in the band which has stood the test of time.
A question for prog fans. What’s the verdict on Steve Hackett’s “Genesis Revisited II”? There’s no doubting the quality of the original songs, but do you think the new recordings add anything to the original recordings?