A week ago this past Monday, prog kids around the world got their wish when Genesis was finally inducted into The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. The list of artists that are not in the Hall stretches for miles and miles, with many kept out as a result of politics and critical disdain for their music. Among those on the list, Genesis have been a group that brought up in conversations past, would often provoke a surprised reaction, upon learning that they were not already among the bands/artists inducted.
But what does it really mean as an artist to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame? I suppose it gives you a little bit of prestige, but what is that prestige worth in the long run? In the short term, perhaps a small bump in record sales. Who cares, right?
And perhaps that is why many of the artists that are currently among the snubbed could care less. They’re going to continue to make money from catalog royalties and touring – they’re not worried about having their “legacy” represented on the walls in Cleveland.
But if you’re inducted, chances are good that you’ll show up to accept the award, and say a few words about your career. You’ll put aside any feuds for the moment, because the alternative is to not show up, and look like an self-absorbed asshole to your fans. The principal members of Genesis (Phil Collins, Tony Banks and Mike Rutherford) looked like they were doing a job – we’ll do this one for the fans, but you can’t force us to look like we’re happy to be here. Collins had a nice enough speech that gave credit to all of the folks that had helped them on the way up. Banks let former guitarist Steve Hackett say his piece, and then walked quickly away from the podium without saying a word. Mike Rutherford had the unfortunate task of apologizing for the absence of Peter Gabriel, and although he called Gabriel’s excuse for absence “genuine,” (Gabriel was rehearsing a tour that started on the 22nd) I’m sure that even he knew that that was bullshit.
Phish did a mighty fine job with “Watcher of the Skies,” which opened the ceremonies. Score one for the hippies. (And here’s a big hell yeah to Trey Anastasio for his awesome speech inducting Genesis!) With the assistance of Collins on vocals, they could have nailed “No Reply at All,” but for whatever reason, the members of Genesis ultimately chose not to play. Bah. As both a huge Gabriel and Genesis fan, I would have loved to see a reunion performance with Gabriel and Hackett, and perhaps that is still possible within the next couple of years, but I’m not holding my breath. Opportunity missed.
For folks like me that missed the chance to see Genesis with Gabriel in their prime, this Concert Vault recording is priceless – a full Lamb Lies Down On Broadway-era show, captured in the midst of Gabriel’s final tour with Genesis. Gabriel had given word of his impending departure prior to the release of Lamb, but his official departure wouldn’t be announced until after the touring for Lamb had been completed. I can’t imagine that Genesis would be able to keep a secret like that these days with the internet – can’t you see the TMZ headline? PETER GABRIEL AND GENESIS: IT’S OVER. JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE TO REPLACE POPULAR FRONTMAN.
It could have happened that way. Aren’t we lucky that this was the ’70s?
In a letter to the fans, Gabriel explained his departure from Genesis, expressing that the “vehicle we had built as a co-op to serve our songwriting became our master and had cooped us up inside the success we had wanted.”
The Lamb tour ran for 102 performances, pioneering the use of lasers, with Gabriel himself holding a hand held laser unit that gave him the ability to sweep the audience with laser light, which had to be quite a trip for any of the audience members experiencing the show with the aid of mind altering substances. More than 30 years later, you have to ask yourself – do I have vision problems because of that laser that Gabriel shot into my eyes, or was it the acid?
Recorded at the Shrine Auditorium in January of ’75, this show eventually was released (with quite a bit of doctoring) on the Genesis Archive Vol. 1 box set in 1998. This particular recording, originally recorded for the King Biscuit Flower Hour with no overdubs, allows the listener to experience a true picture of the Lamb tour (minus of course, the visual of Gabriel’s many costumes). The Lamb rock opera traces the story of Rael, a Puerto Rican boy living in New York City, struggling to find his own identity, and as Collins has shared in interviews, he might have in fact been struggling with a split personality. The album was notable because although it was a double album, the songs on Lamb were much shorter in comparison to the previous epics that Genesis was known for. (The fans still got their money’s worth though with the album clocking in at a hefty 100 minutes plus.) It was the creation of this album that drove a further wedge between Gabriel and the rest of the members of Genesis. Gabriel had been absent from the early writing sessions for the album, while his wife struggled with a difficult pregnancy. The tour itself had quite a few difficulties, not the least of which was band members who were frustrated that the press coverage for the tour focused on the theatrics instead of the musicianship. Gabriel’s growing star power, according to Collins, found Genesis morphing into what he described as a “one man show to the audience.”
Despite all of the difficulties behind the album and tour for The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway, time has been kind, and its legacy has grown. The Lamb remains as one of the most brilliant concept albums ever to be put to disc. With the current trend of album performances, a reunion performance of the Lamb album from Gabriel and crew would be huge. Has that ship sailed for good? Only Mssrs. Gabriel, Collins, Banks and Rutherford truly know that answer.
(If you’re looking for some worthy reading material while listening to this fine show, you might enjoy the Idiot’s Guide to Genesis, resurrected from the technologically mangled archives of Jefitoblog. Surf on over and read it here and here. The missing third part of the Guide falls unfortunately into the “technologically mangled” part of the archives. Console yourself with some additional reading material in the form of this pocket guide to Mike & The Mechanics.)
Listen to this entire show at Concert Vault by clicking here.