Fear not people for I am still alive. I have been facing a writer’s block lately. I’ve attempted to force my way through it like I would do when my body would not respond during training for sports, but my brain is refusing to respond.
I have tried all kinds of things that my writer friends have suggested such as journaling (boring!), getting back to my screenplay (I suck!) or just scribbling down ideas (I don’t have any! That’s the issue!). So, I started going through my old playlists on my outdated iPod. Boy! That’s how desperate I’ve become. Anyway, I stumbled upon a playlist entitled “The Genesis Family.” It seems that I had grouped together music by Genesis (from all incarnations), solo Phil Collins, solo Peter Gabriel, solo Steve Hackett, solo Tony Banks and Mike + The Mechanics. It’s an interesting mix of songs and styles, shedding some light on the evolution of this eclectic group of musicians.
You see, Genesis began as a slightly second-rate English Prog band whose eccentric performance artist of a lead singer began to flex his creative muscles to make the band something a vehicle for his vision. Just as the band was gaining a rabid audience across the globe, the lead singer, Peter Gabriel, left the band for a solo career. Immediately, the quintet attempted to carry on as a quartet for one album with drummer Phil Collins becoming the lead singer. But, after that album, guitarist Steve Hackett left for a solo career as well.
What was left was a trio of talented musicians, guitarist Mike Rutherford, keyboard whiz Tony Banks and Collins, who were free to streamline the prog tendencies of the original band and blend it with a pop/rock/soul sound that allowed the band to eventually capture the ears of a whole new generation in the Eighties. By the mid-Eighties, Genesis, along with the solo career of Phil Collins, had become a stadium-filling hit-making machine. This whole transformation was remarkable, though as the band, as well as Collins, reached greater heights, I honestly became less interested in the band. Additionally, Hackett’s solo career lacked any kind of pizzazz that had interested me during his Genesis tenure.
Yet, the artist I was most interested in from the Genesis family was the solo Peter Gabriel. I was totally enamored with his minimalist prog rock vision that he was spearheading in the late-Seventies with the likes of David Bowie, Brian Eno and Robert Fripp. To me, these guys were taking on a punk ethos to their perfectionist tendencies to create some very compelling music. Solo Gabriel’s music was electric and vital even as he ascended to the top with 1986’s So album.
But, the most striking thing about this playlist is that you really can appreciate how you can hear all the different paths the members had taken over the years in the band’s rudimentary sound at the beginning. And, now, nearly 50 years later, I can more fully appreciate this band and all the different paths these men had blazed.
So, today, I am going to sum up this family’s hits with my own list of my 50 favorite songs by this very talented group of musicians. Honestly, this list should convince any music lover of Genesis’ deserving place in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, as well as Peter Gabriel. And, I can now see me backing Phil Collins as a solo artist, though I am still partial to his first two solo albums.
50. “Don’t Lose My Number” – Phil Collins (No Jacket Required, 1985). Everyone like this song better when it was a Steely Dan song. (I only put this song in my Top 50 so I could use this line.)
49. “Do You Know, Do You Care” – Phil Collins (Hello, I Must Be Going, 1982)
48. “Red Rain” – Peter Gabriel (So, 1986)
47. “Take Me Home” – Phil Collins (No Jacket Required, 1985)
46. “Steam” – Peter Gabriel (Us, 1993)
45. “Paperlate” – Genesis (Three Sides Live, 1982)
44. “I Have the Touch” – Peter Gabriel (Security, 1982)
43. “No Self Control” – Peter Gabriel (Peter Gabriel (III: Melting), 1980)
42. “All I Need Is a Miracle” – Mike + The Mechanics (Mike + The Mechanics, 1985)
41. “I Don’t Care Anymore” – Phil Collins (Hello, I Must Be Going, 1982)
40. “Something Happened on the Way to Heaven” – Phil Collins (…But Seriously, 1989)
39. “Another Day in Paradise” – Phil Collins (…But Seriously, 1989)
38. “A Groovy Kind of Love” – Phil Collins (Buster OST, 1988)
37. “Sussidio” – Phil Collins (No Jacket Required, 1985)
36. “You Can’t Hurry Love” – Phil Collins (Hello, I Must Be Going, 1982)
35. “Separate Lives” – Phil Collins & Marilyn Martin (White Knights OST, 1985)
34. “Easy Lover” – Phillip Bailey with Phil Collins (Chinese Wall, 1984)
33. “We Can’t Dance” – Genesis (We Can’t Dance, 1991)
32. “Invisible Touch” – Genesis (Invisible Touch, 1986)
31. “Taking It All Too Hard” – Genesis (Genesis, 1983)
30. “Illegal Alien” – Genesis (Genesis, 1983). A sad attempt at parody.
29. “Abacab” – Genesis (Abacab, 1981)
28. “The Living Years” – Mike + The Mechanics (The Living Years, 1988)
27. “One More Night” – Phil Collins (No Jacket Required, 1985)
26. “Man on the Corner” – Genesis (Abacab, 1981)
25. “Don’t Give Up” – Peter Gabriel & Kate Bush (So, 1986)
24. “No Reply at All” – Genesis (Abacab, 1981)
23. “No Son of Mine” – Genesis (We Can’t Dance, 1991)
22. “In Too Deep” – Genesis (Invisible Touch, 1986)
21. “Land of Confusion” – Genesis (Invisible Touch, 1986)
20. “Throwing It All Away” – Genesis (Invisible Touch, 1986)
19. “Silent Running” – Mike + The Mechanics (Mike + The Mechanics, 1985)
18. “I Missed Again” – Phil Collins (Face Value, 1981)
17. “Mama” – Genesis (Genesis, 1983)
16. “Misunderstanding” – Genesis (Duke, 1980)
15. “That’s All” – Genesis (Genesis, 1983). This is as country of a sound that Genesis could muster. Still, it fondly reminds me of a pretty great time in my life.
14. “Turn It On Again” – Genesis (Duke, 1980). A great concert opener.
13. “Big Time” – Peter Gabriel (So, 1986). This song just might be an example of Gabriel at his loosest.
12. “Follow You, Follow Me” – Genesis (…And Then There Were Three, 1978). Unfairly, the first release by the newly minted trio version of Genesis never caught on with the public, though you hear it more now than back in the day.
11. “Family Snapshot” – Peter Gabriel (Peter Gabriel (III: Melting), 1980). What we have here is the sound of Gabriel finding how to fully express his alienation in both audio and verbal manners.
10. “Tonight, Tonight, Tonight” – Genesis (Invisible Touch, 1986). Sure, this one was used in a Michelob commercial, but it’s still a killer song. And, yes, it just might be the Son of “Mama,” which was the Son of “In the Air Tonight.” Is that really so bad?
9. “In Your Eyes” – Peter Gabriel (So, 1986). An iconic song used in an iconic scene from one of Cameron Crowe’s most underrated movies.
8. “Against All Odds” – Phil Collins (Against All Odds OST, 1984). I remember thinking that Collins truly had his heart ripped out when he wrote this monster hit. This is a case in which the song was bigger than the movie.
7. “Solsbury Hill” – Peter Gabriel (Peter Gabriel (I: Rain), 1977). It took Americans about 20 years or so before they caught onto this brilliant number, but better late than never. I guess!
6. “Shock the Monkey” – Peter Gabriel (Security, 1982). I’m showing my age, but the video was such a step forward for the medium at the time. Gabriel was the perfect MTV star. On a personal note, back in college, I was watching this video at a party when I got motion sickness and threw up. At least, that’s what I tell myself.
5. “I Don’t Remember” – Peter Gabriel (Peter Gabriel (III: Melting), 1980). Gabriel’s third solo album remains my favorite album from this family to this day. And, this one has been a driving force behind my opinion.
4. “Biko” – Peter Gabriel (Peter Gabriel (III: Melting), 1980). It seems that I learned more about geopolitical issues from rock music and musicians back then than I did from most of my teachers and professors. If it weren’t for “Biko,” I doubt many people would have ever learned about the man.
3. “In the Air Tonight” – Phil Collins (Face Value, 1981). Peter Gabriel had Phil Collins play drums on his third album, which was known for its unique drum sound that included a lack of cymbals. When Collins released this song, Gabriel rightfully cried foul. But, you gotta admit that what Collins did with the sound was a HUGE step forward. Plus, it made for one iconic scene with Mike Tyson in The Hangover.
2. “Games Without Frontiers” – Peter Gabriel (Peter Gabriel (III: Melting), 1980). This is a beautiful allegory to the political climate at the time. Shoot, it still works today. Timeless, absolutely timeless!
1. “Sledgehammer” – Peter Gabriel (So, 1986). The moment when the world finally caught up with Peter Gabriel, “Sledgehammer” is aptly named. The song has a slinky funk sound that is completely rooted in English art rock. This is a nearly perfect song. And, it still remains the landmark video of all videos.