Genesis

Progressive rock, a genre to love or hate.  It originated in the late sixties thanks to heavy psychedelic rock influences and was pioneered by bands that wanted to go beyond the standard verse-chorus  based song structures.  As a result, often complex instrumental songs were bundled on concept albums with epic pretensions. It’s well possible that you once caught yourself asking what the hell one of these bands was trying to tell you while listening to one of their albums. The answers are provided here, in Prog Albums Explained. All you need  is the album, a comfortable couch and some good headphones.

 

 

Year: 1974

Genre: Progressive Rock

Preceded by: Selling England by the Pound (1973)

Followed by: A Trick of the Tail (1976)

Related to: Pink Floyd – The Dark Side of the Moon

 

 

Side 4: (continued from Side 3)

Track 1: The Colony of Slippermen (The Arrrival – A Visit to the Doktor – Raven) + Track 2: Ravine

After an intro full of strange sounds, the propelling keys and drums kick off the closing side, starting with an absolute highlight. After escaping from the snakes, Rael runs into a bunch of mutilated entities called the Slippermen. They tell him that the same thing happened to them with the snakes and that Rael will end up the same way: Don’t be alarmed at what you see, you yourself are just the same as what you see in me. Amongst the creatures Rael recognizes once again his Brother John, who tells him that the life of the Slippermen is devoted to satisfying the never-ending hunger of the senses, which has been inherited from the Lamia.

So we’re getting more and more indications that the criminal activities of Rael have something to do with sexual misbehavior. Certainly when John tells Rael that they’ll have to go to Doktor Dyper to remove the source of the problem, castrating that is. After getting it done, they receive their testicles in a little tube. But the brothers don’t get the time to walk home safely, as a black raven flies by (represented by the haunting synths), stealing Rael’s tube and dropping it in the water below. Rael runs behind it while his brother fears this sign of bad luck, leaving his brother behind once more: Now can’t you see, where the raven flies there’s jeopardy. The track merges into Ravine, an instrumental piece representing the wind across the cliffs of the ravine.

Track 3: The Light Dies Down on Broadway

As the title already presumes, this track shows some similarities with the opening track of the album. But to the contrary of the rest of the album, the lyrics of this track would have been written by Banks and Rutherford and not by Gabriel. However, Rael is searching for his testicles when he suddenly sees a glimpse of reality, as if there was some kind of portal to NYC in one of the cliffs. He sees the streets he’s so familiar with and runs to the way out. But at that point he hears John, screaming for help while he’s drowning in the water below. Rael now has to choose between returning to reality or saving the brother that left him so many times… Hey John!

Track 4: Riding the Scree

So Rael has decided to go after his brother and during this track he’s running along the ravine, chased by the synths. But.. If I want John alive, I’ve got to ditch my fear – take a dive… Here I go!

Track 5: In the Rapids

So Rael’s in the water now, trying to grab his brother. Although the lyrics describe a fairly exciting scene, the track is sung in a very calm way. Rael succeeds to get John out of the water and tries to reanimate him. But then he notices something remarkableSomething’s changed, that’s not your face. It’s mine!

Track 6: “It”

So we arrived at the closing track now, just having discovered that John is actually Rael, in some kind of split personality. As the title of the last track already gives away, it was all the time about ‘it’. It is chicken, it is eggs, it is in between your legs. You should really read the lyrics of this last track yourself, to experience the brilliance of it. And like Peter Gabriel says on the very end of it: If you think it’s pretentious, you’ve been taken for a ride..

Progressive rock, a genre to love or hate.  It originated in the late sixties thanks to heavy psychedelic rock influences and was pioneered by bands that wanted to go beyond the standard verse-chorus  based song structures.  As a result, often complex instrumental songs were bundled on concept albums with epic pretensions. It’s well possible that you once caught yourself asking what the hell one of these bands was trying to tell you while listening to one of their albums. The answers are provided here, in Prog Albums Explained. All you need  is the album, a comfortable couch and some good headphones.

 

 

Year: 1974

Genre: Progressive Rock

Preceded by: Selling England by the Pound (1973)

Followed by: A Trick of the Tail (1976)

Related to: Pink Floyd – The Dark Side of the Moon

 

 

Side 3: (continued from Side 2)

Track 1: Lillywhite Lilith + Track 2: The Waiting Room

Another case of two songs merging into each other, with the second one being another instrumental. Rael is still in the middle of this chaos, when he suddenly hears a blind lady (Lilywhite Lilith) asking him to help her out of the crowd.  In return she will lead him out of this place. So Rael follows her but instead of escaping he’s left behind disillusioned in the darkness:  Then she sat me down on a cold stone, carved in jade. A bizarre noise is approaching now while he stays in ‘the waiting room’. Those sounds originate from unused compositions of the band from 1969, resembling the experimental parts from Pink Floyd’s Atom Heart Mother.

Track 3: Anyway

This seems to be some kind of stream-of-consciousness experience from Rael in which he’s confronted with his death. Death seems to come much faster than Rael expected  (Anyway, they say she comes on a pale horse, but I’m sure I hear a train) and when the piano-driven song is at its highest orchestrated point, Rael looks Death right into the eyes…

Track 4: The Supernatural Anaesthetist

Death is impersonated by the supernatural anaesthetist. He approaches Rael, but it appears that he didn’t come to claim his soul and as such he disappears again.  This is the reason there are few lyrics in this song, which is mainly driven by Hackett’s guitar playing, including a beautiful outro. However, the anaesthetist left a charming impression on Rael: he’s such a fine dancer.

Track 5: The Lamia (+Track 6: Silent Sorrow in Empty Boats)

This track is really reigned by Tony Banks’ keys. Rael is tired of having this schizophrenic flashes in the middle of the rubble, so when he suddenly smells a strange scent, he decides to follow it to see where it comes from. It leads him to a hole in the wall and he succeeds to crawl through it. Now he witnesses the strangest thing: a pool filled with snakes all having female heads and breasts. The entities are seducing him to join them in the pool. Has this something to do with Rael’s criminal record? However, Rael stands astonished doubting his sight, struck by beauty, gripped in fright. Rael enters the pool and the Lamia start to devour Rael’s body but they end up dying because of his poisonous blood! The track flows over to ‘Silent Sorrow in Empty Boats’, a very calm interlude with a zooming mellotron, a sinister warning of what’s to come on side 4…

-Continue to Side 4

Progressive rock, a genre to love or hate.  It originated in the late sixties thanks to heavy psychedelic rock influences and was pioneered by bands that wanted to go beyond the standard verse-chorus  based song structures.  As a result, often complex instrumental songs were bundled on concept albums with epic pretensions. It’s well possible that you once caught yourself asking what the hell one of these bands was trying to tell you while listening to one of their albums. The answers are provided here, in Prog Albums Explained. All you need  is the album, a comfortable couch and some good headphones.

 

 

Year: 1974

Genre: Progressive Rock

Preceded by: Selling England by the Pound (1973)

Followed by: A Trick of the Tail (1976)

Related to: Pink Floyd – The Dark Side of the Moon

 

 

Side 2: (continued from Side 1)

Track 1: Back in N.Y.C. + Track 2: Hairless Heart

These tracks are also treated as one as the first song smoothly fades into the second instrumental one. As Rael has now seen something and some people he is familiar with, he’s thrown in into a flashback that takes him back to the streets of New York City. He’s contemplating the times he had there together with the gang. How he gained their respect by misbehaving in several ways:  I’m the pitcher in the chain gang, we don’t believe in pain. In this way, this song gives the listener a first glance at the distorted mind of Rael which was discussed earlier in the title track. The music is creating some panic at this point, before fading into the instrumental interlude. No time for romantic escape, when your fluffy heart is ready for rape.

Track 3: Counting Out Time

Despite this warning from the last track, everything is becoming much more brighter in this song where Rael has his first experiences with love. We are now confronted with the softer sides of his character in what’s probably the most accessible song on the whole album. It has a catchy melody with a lot of synths that will stay in your head for days after hearing it, but the lyrics are probably still way too odd to become a mainstream hit (Erogenous zones I love you. Without you, what would a poor boy do?). Perhaps we should be happy about that. In fact, this song is the prelude to the next one, as the album is now reaching its melodic peak. Move over Casanova.

Track 4: The Carpet Crawlers

We are now at another absolute highlight of the album, musically (this would be one of the melodies that Gabriel has written)  as well as lyrically. Rael witnesses a bunch of people that fail to reach the top of a spiral stair, where they can escape from their misery. While the dreamy keys and synths that are producing some harp-like sounds certainly add a great part to the atmosphere, it’s above all the great mix between Gabriel’s lead vocals and Collins’ backing vocals that portray the helplessness of the people so well. Mild mannered supermen are held in kryptonite.

Track 5: The Chamber of 32 Doors

As we learn (after a great guitar solo) in this song, Rael has succeeded to reach the top of the stairs. Pity for our hero, the escape from his misery is still far away as he now ended up in a huge room containing no less than 32 doors (Are you listening, Moody Blues?). The room is filled with a large crowd that are all pointing to different doors, as only one door leads out. Rael is becoming desperate and begs for someone to show the right door. I’d give you all of my dreams, if you’d help me find a door that doesn’t  lead me back again. Take me away.

 -Continue to Side 3

Progressive rock, a genre to love or hate.  It originated in the late sixties thanks to heavy psychedelic rock influences and was pioneered by bands that wanted to go beyond the standard verse-chorus  based song structures.  As a result, often complex instrumental songs were bundled on concept albums with epic pretensions. It’s well possible that you once caught yourself asking what the hell one of these bands was trying to tell you while listening to one of their albums. The answers are provided here, in Prog Albums Explained. All you need  is the album, a comfortable couch and some good headphones.

 

 

Year: 1974

Genre: Progressive Rock

Preceded by: Selling England by the Pound (1973)

Followed by: A Trick of the Tail (1976)

Related to: Pink Floyd – The Dark Side of the Moon

 

 

Introduction:

Genesis was one of the true pioneers of prog rock during the seventies, together with bands like King Crimson, Yes and Pink Floyd. The band was founded in 1967 by Peter Gabriel, Tony Banks, Mike Rutherford and some others who would be gradually replaced during the following years. Gabriel started as a drummer in his first bands before becoming the lead singer and theatrical frontman of this new band. Tony Banks contributed with his elaborate keyboard arrangements to what would become the typical Genesis sound, while Rutherford became the fanatical bass player of the group. They were joined in 1970 by Steve Hackett and Phil Collins (after having drummed for George Harrison on his solo track ‘The Art of Dying’), replacing respectively the former guitarist and drummer of the band.

In 1974, the band was at the peak of their popular and critical success, having released their epic masterpiece Selling England by the Pound the year before. But something bigger had to follow, so Gabriel designed a great project, just like Paul McCartney had done before with Sgt. Pepper’s and Roger Waters would do five years later with The Wall. At the same time it was the last album of the group with Gabriel, who contributed almost all the lyrics to the album. Those lyrics tell the story of Rael, a delinquent from NYC who is plunged into some surrealistic underground world that derived from Gabriel’s dreaming brain. The other guys came up with the music, but it’s the mind-blowing symbiosis of this music with the lyrics that produced an album that could impossibly ever be outbidden, even if Gabriel would have stayed with the band. Off we go.

Side 1:

Track 1: The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway

A frantic and fast piano-intro launches us right into the album, after which Gabriel officially declares that the lamb lies down on Broadway. However, the title track doesn’t have the goal to clarify the role of this lamb, but to introduce us to Rael. Rael just comes out of the subway, where he sprayed some graffiti on the walls to keep up his reputation with his gang. Not the most outrageous violation of the law, but the ominous distorted bass throughout the song from Rutherford tells us there’s more behind this, but what? He’s forgotten what he did…Lord knows what have I done?

Track 2: Fly on a Windshield + Track 3: Broadway Melody of 1974

I treat those tracks as one as they really merge together perfectly. In a threatening quiet way, Gabriel announces the coming of the ‘wall of death’, which attacks Rael. Totally being in the magic air that’s always above Broadway, the reality dies right there for Rael when the dust settles on his skin and he’s being alienated from other people: They carry  on as if nothing was there. Rael is now captured inside this wall (represented by a bombastic wall of sound, an improvisational idea by Rutherford), where a stream of strange images reaches him as if it was one big psychedelic trip.

Track 4: Cuckoo Cocoon

From the chaos we return to serenity with this track, in which Rael wakes up again. Suddenly he’s captured in some cocoon, where he has never been before. But the panic from a few minutes ago is totally gone, as Rael is at ease on his new location. This is beautifully illustrated by the soft guitar sounds and the fairy-like voice of Gabriel, who proves once again what a splendid vocalist he is. And I feel so secure that I know this can’t be real, but I feel good.

Track 5: In the Cage

However, the serenity is just temporary, as this cocoon has suddenly transformed into a cave in this track. Rael is surrounded by cages formed by stalactites and stalagmites, which are capturing him also. Being caught in this cage, this is the first time that his Brother John appears. Rael cries for help, but John doesn’t seem a bit interested. The marvelous dynamic between the thrilling music (especially the manic keys from Banks and the tambourines from Collins) and Gabriels stressed voice (My headaches charge, my earaches roar. In the pain, get me out of this pain…) makes this song an absolute highlight on the album. Eventually, John leaves and Rael’s cage dissolves at that very moment…  Keep on turning. Keep on turning.

Track 6: The Grand Parade of Lifeless Packaging

Being able to escape from his dissolved cage, Rael finds himself now in a building he seems to recognize from the real world. But how can you be sure that this is reality when you just came from such a surrealistic world? Well, Rael sees how persons are lined up in a Grand Parade of Lifeless Packaging, ready to be used for the consumer society: Stamped, addressed, in odd fatality. That evens out their personality. With profit potential marked by sign, I can recognize some of the production line. Scenario’s like these are too cruel to be made up in some surrealistic dream, so this must be our common reality. As cited, Rael recognizes some people and he even sees his Brother John again, labeled as No. 9! Is this the final explanation for John Lennon’s riddle from 1968?

-Continue to Side 2

Jukebox

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