The history of Genesis is not as long or dramatic as that of Yes, nor does it feature nearly as many personnel changes. But we do have to start somewhere, so without further ado:From Genesis to Revelation (1969)
Tony Banks - Keyboards, Vocals
Peter Gabriel - Lead Vocal, Flute, Percussion
Anthony Phillips - Guitars, Vocals
Michael Rutherford - Bass, Guitar, Vocals
John Silver - Drums
Where the Sour Turns to Sweet
In the Beginning
Am I Very Wrong?
In the Wilderness
A Place to Call My Own
In 1966, Peter Gabriel and Tony Banks were 14 years old, students at The Charterhouse School in Godalming, England, and played in various bands with guys from school. One such band was The Garden Wall, in which Peter sang, Tony played the piano, and Anthony Phillips played guitar. The drummer and bassist were schoolmates named Chris Stewart and Rivers Job. Rivers had played in a band called The Spoken Word with Peter, who played drums in that band. Anthony had played guitar in another band with Rivers called The Anon, and Michael Rutherford was the other guitarist in that band.
The group of friends experimented with various combinations of instruments, and eventually, in 1967, they arrived at the relatively stable lineup of Peter Gabriel, Tony Banks, Anthony Phillips, Michael Rutherford, and Chris Stewart. They called the band The New Anon. 15 years old and with stars in their eyes, they recorded a six-song demo tape which caught the attention of Jonathan King, who was himself an alumnus of The Charterhouse School, and currently a producer at Decca Records.
King took them under his wing and became their manager. He convinced them that they had the talent to make a real record, but they would have to get a better drummer. He suggested someone named Chris Stewart. He also suggested the name Genesis for the band. They recorded a single called "The Silent Sun" which did not do very well, and followed it with another single, "A Winter's Tale" which did not do any better. The songs were simple, 60's folk-rock type songs. They weren't bad; they just didn't have much to distinguish them. Also, King did not actually have a lot of clout with Decca, so the singles did not receive much in the way of promotion.
Still convinced of the potential in the band, King told them to keep writing songs, with a grand concept in mind: The Bible. By the time they had an album's worth of songs, and with a bit of arranging by Mr. King, and a little imagination, the first album by Genesis could actually be considered one of the earliest concept albums. He called it From Genesis to Revelation
Bearing the original cover shown above, it was released to record stores in England, who had no idea what to do with it, so most filed it under Religious recordings.
By the time the album was done, yet another drummer had been brought in, a session player named John Silver. King also took it upon himself to add strings and horns to the songs, much to the band's chagrin. But they were teenagers making their first record, he was their manager, and that's just how things were done in those days. It was recorded during summer break in 1968, and released in spring 1969. It did not sell very well. Genesis considered abandoning their dreams of becoming recording stars and concentrating on their studies, but first decided to try one last thing: firing their manager and doing things on their own terms. This turned out to be the best decision that they could possibly make.
To this date, Jonathan King retains all rights to this album, and he has re-licensed it and re-released it many, many times over the years, on countless labels. Often, there are "bonus tracks" included, although sometimes these bonus tracks are just the original mono singles, but there were some unused tracks from the original recording sessions which also appear sometimes.
Genesis themselves never played any songs from this album once they began performing regularly. This is probably because they did not legally own the songs.
It's not a bad album at all. It most definitely has the late 60's "mod" feel to it, similar to early Moody Blues. It isn't really my cup of tea, but if you like this type of music, From Genesis to Revelation
is about as good as it gets.
The lyrics are very sophisticated, especially considering how young the band was when they wrote them. The creation of the earth and beginning of life on the the planet, the arrival of evil, the choices man must make, each of these topics is presented poetically, but shrouded in 60's psychadelic imagery.
Also quite impressive is how well the music flows. There are brief musical interludes at the beginning or ending of many of the songs, but they're actually bridges between the songs. The music is nearly unbroken across each side of the original LP, and the strings and horns, despite the band's objections, really do add a lot to the music, including adding to the overall cohesiveness of the album.
If you happen to find a copy, or one of its many re-releases, From Genesis to Revelation
is well worth a listen.