Okay, I know when you guys start pontificating on albums I haven't even reviewed, it's time to get to work, so here's 1973:Live
With not the impact of the bombastic extravaganza of Yessongs
or Welcome Back My Friends to the Show that Never ends.
.., this modest in-concert release is easily their equal and arguably the best live Genesis to be found. Many actually prefer these versions to their studio counterparts and the LP serves as a nice souvenir to a time when the band was still playing smaller venues instead of arenas. And it's live Gabriel-era Genesis, what more do you want? This review will be quick as I've already touched upon all the songs. From our good friends at wiki: "Genesis Live
is the first live album from the English rock band Genesis, released in July 1973 on Charisma Records. Initially recorded for radio broadcast on the American rock program King Biscuit Flower Hour, the album is formed from the recordings of shows at Free Trade Hall, Manchester and De Montfort Hall, Leicester in February 1973 during the band's tour supporting their fourth studio album Foxtrot
Peter Gabriel – lead vocals, flute, tambourine, bass drum
Tony Banks – Hammond organ, Mellotron, Hohner Pianet, 12-string guitar, backing vocals
Steve Hackett – lead guitar
Mike Rutherford – bass guitar, Dewtron "Mister Bassman" bass pedal synthesizer, 12-string guitar, backing vocals
Phil Collins – drums, percussion, backing vocals
All songs by Tony Banks, Phil Collins, Peter Gabriel, Steve Hackett and Mike Rutherford, except "The Knife", by Banks, Gabriel, Anthony Phillips and Rutherford.
1. "Watcher of the Skies" 8:34
Now this is definitely one that I do think trumps the original. From the moment the mellotron starts and the crowd goes crazy in recognition, you can feel the anticipation in the hall. Nice clean sound too, they got a good recording out of these performances. Pete's voice could be a tad more forward in the mix though. "Watcher" is an immense opening number, is it not? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z5NOV0-EH0c
2. "Get 'Em Out by Friday" 9:14
Another song every bit as good as the Foxtrot
version. These cuts so far are just a bit longer than their studio brethren as well, so that's one more plus. Gabriel's tale of a futuristic government controlled rent-increase only gains power being performed in front of an audience. Love it when everything slows down after the five-minute point. The dynamic nature of the songs is something the group did well. Everything with Genesis is that sense of controlled outbursts. Almost a genteel approach to performance. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pFnNXGRGIzQ
3. "The Return of the Giant Hogweed" 8:14
As good as "Watcher in the Skies" really, and a highlight of this record. Did they really cram over 26 minutes of music on side one? Tony would complain about the length of Selling England
, but they did it here too. Still, there's a sense with this LP that it could have been a double, or that maybe they could've waited and released it after Selling England.
You want more, you know? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P4q7-wZmn-Q
4. "The Musical Box" 10:56
I love watching the live videos of this song on youtube. It seems to come alive in an in-concert setting. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AFBY4dvoISc
Wiki: "Starting with a performance in Dublin, Ireland on 28 September 1972, Peter Gabriel wore a fox head and his wife's red dress while performing the last verse, resembling a character on the cover of their album Foxtrot
. The fox costume would be replaced sometime in later 1973 by a mask resembling an old man, as Gabriel would portray the character of Henry, emerging from The Musical Box and apprehending Cynthia. "The Musical Box" was featured in their live repertoire right up to Phil Collins' departure after the We Can't Dance
tour in 1992, albeit with only the closing section being included as part of a medley. Between 1972 and 1975, on stage, Tony Banks plays 12 string acoustic guitar during the 'Old King Cole' section, in duet with Rutherford who plays an electric archtop 12 string Rickenbaker guitar that he will keep until the end of the song. Hackett is playing electric guitar during the entire song. There is no bass guitar part in the entire piece.
The song was played live during the Trespass
, Nursery Cryme
, Selling England by the Pound
, The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway
, Wind & Wuthering
(1984 dates only), and We Can't Dance
(as a medley) tours.
5. "The Knife" 9:47
Perhaps my fave cut on this album. There was always a sense of theatricality to the band in this phase of their existence and if you're gonna pick a number from Trespass
, this has to be it. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WFN5JwUrPqISelling England by the Pound
And here we have it - my fave Genesis album. The culmination of their upward trajectory over five LPs. Pretty much perfect, I mean - I wouldn't change anything or leave a song off. And to my ears, the first time since Trespass
in 1970 where they released a better album than Yes. Peter wrote his lyrics in only two days and the cuts seem to have a loose concept of "looking at Englishness in a different way." Themes of American imperialism, decay, or a longing for times past populate the tracks. It contains their only UK hit in the Gabriel-era, "I Know What I Like (In Your Wardrobe)," and though none of these early Genesis albums sold real well, Selling England
has at least gone gold in both the UK and the US. It's also Steve Hackett's favorite record by the band. More consistent than Foxtrot
, which I feel is dominated by its first and last songs.
Peter Gabriel – vocals, flute, oboe, percussion
Tony Banks – Hammond organ, Mellotron, Hohner Pianet, ARP Pro Soloist, piano, 12-string guitar
Steve Hackett – electric guitar, nylon guitar
Michael Rutherford – 12-string guitar, bass, electric sitar
Phil Collins – drums, assorted percussion, lead vocals on "More Fool Me", backing vocals
All tracks written by Tony Banks, Phil Collins, Peter Gabriel, Steve Hackett and Mike Rutherford.
1. "Dancing with the Moonlit Knight" 8:04
This exquisite tracks begins with Pete's nuanced and sensitive vocals and Steve's gentle guitar combining to form a nice melody before the rest of the band come in slowly. Not the opening bombast of "Watcher in the Skies," but a more reflective tone. By 2:30 the tempo has increased, and Tony is off riffing by 3:00. Hackett's guitar comes in and the riffing hits hard. This is prime Genesis and by this point they were pretty much unbeatable in the prog rock universe. If Dark Side of the Moon
is the top-selling LP, progressive or otherwise, of 1973, then Selling England
is its equally worthy by less-celebrated brother. The last few instrumental minutes of this cut are beautiful. Some of my favorite music by this group.
Wikipedia: The song was developed from several brief piano pieces composed by frontman Peter Gabriel, which were later combined with some of Steve Hackett's guitar figures to make up the song.
Gabriel contributed English-themed lyrics to "Dancing with the Moonlit Knight", because the music press thought that Genesis were putting too much effort into appealing to the American audiences. He also included some references to Green Shield Stamps in the lyrics. Rolling Stone wrote that the song was an "epic commentary on contemporary England".
The song's ending, which contains a number of 12-string guitar figures, was originally supposed to segue into "The Cinema Show" (another song on the album) to make a song of around 20 minutes in length. This idea was scrapped, because it was too similar in length to the 23-minute song "Supper's Ready" from Foxtrot, the band's previous record.
In an interview, Hackett said of the song:
"That tune started off with the influence of a Scottish song, then it moved into something that I think of in a more elegiac way — something nostalgic and wistful, and common to a lot of Genesis tunes. Then it bursts forth, it fights off its shackles, really takes off like a rocket, into another section, which seems to borrow from something that sounds more Russian in a way. It’s European, but then at times, it turns into the jazz that I liked originally — but big band, with the accents."
2. "I Know What I Like (In Your Wardrobe)" 4:10
I've actually heard this on the radio so it must have made some
kind of impact here, though slight. There's always been Ethel, right? Catchy, with nonsense lyrics in the grand surrealist tradition of something like "I Am The Walrus" or something -I don't know.
Wiki: "The song's lyrics concern a young man who is employed as a groundsman and who says that he does not want to grow up and do great things, being perfectly happy where he is, pushing a lawn mower. Betty Swanwick's painting The Dream, which was used for the Selling England
album cover, alludes to the song; Swanwick added the mower to the original painting at the band's request.
The song, inspired by the Beatles, has a psychedelic rock sound, using hand percussion rhythms and a riff from Steve Hackett that originated from a jam between Hackett and Phil Collins. Keyboardist Tony Banks used a note played on the low end of the Mellotron during the intro and ending to imitate the sound of a lawn mower.
Reviewing the song in The Guardian in 2014, Stevie Chick said "Clocking in at a shade over four minutes, "I Know What I Like" rises with a heat-haze shimmer, before locking into a groove akin to Traffic’s "Hole in My Shoe", a hippy reverie that fits the song’s slacker vibe like a pair of tailored bell-bottoms. The song’s anti-hero is a misfit, like all the others in the Gabriel-era songbook, a drop-out happy with his lawnmowing life, despite the disapproving whispers of his suburban neighbours. His rebellion is soundtracked by a nagging, lazy sitar lick, a woozy singalong chorus, and a flute solo that Pan's People doubtless interpreted through the medium of dance when the song appeared on Top Of The Pops after reaching No 21 in the charts."
3. "Firth of Fifth" 9:40
My fave song from the LP and the longest on side one (Remember what I said about the relationship between long Genesis songs and quality?). Lovely piano from Tony before the song starts proper after the minute-mark with Peter's voice and the rest of the band kicking in. Should we acknowledge what a wonderful singer Peter Gabriel was? Without an operatic approach like Jon Anderson, or the baritone of Greg Lake, his dynamics impress me more than any other progressive rock singer of the time. Equally impressive in louder rock songs and delicate passages, I've always preferred his voice to Phil's - and Collins is a great pop singer as well. One has to acknowledge that. At about the four-minute mark the beauty of this number is in full effect - and it's all Tony Banks. The piano and synth work is in complete harmony with the band (Phil especially acquits himself well here). Then Steve comes in with a David Gilmour-type solo which I love. Steve was rarely a flashy guitar player, but much like Harrison's role in the Beatles, everything he played was perfect for the song. By six-and-a-half minutes he's equalled Tony's contributions to the song. This is literally my favorite song for Hackett's playing. Possibly Tony's too.
"The title is a pun on the estuary of the River Forth in Scotland, commonly known as the Firth of Forth. Though the song is credited to the entire band, most of the music was composed by keyboardist Tony Banks. He had written the bulk of the song by 1972, presenting it as a candidate for the album Foxtrot
(1972), but it was rejected. He redesigned the piece, which the group accepted as a candidate for Selling England by the Pound.
Banks, who worked on the lyrics with Mike Rutherford, later dismissed them, saying they were "one of the worst sets of lyrics [I have] been involved with."
This leads into a flute melody played by Peter Gabriel, followed by a synth-driven instrumental section which restates the opening piano theme. Hackett then plays the flute melody using violin-like guitar tones. Peter Gabriel sings a brief section of lyrics before Banks concludes the song on piano". - Wikipedia
4. "More Fool Me" 3:13
Phil's moment in the spotlight. Sometimes I think he sounds like Peter, but not here. He's reaching for the higher notes in this love song. Nice melody but it still is my least fave track so far. The shortest cut on the original album as "Aisle of Plenty" was appended to "the Cinema Show."
Wiki: "More Fool Me" is the second of two songs, the other being "For Absent Friends" from Nursery Cryme
, to feature Collins on lead vocals before he became the band's lead singer in 1975. Uncharacteristically for the group's output at the time, the song was a tender, romantic ballad. It was written quickly by Collins and Rutherford while sitting on the steps outside the recording studio. Gabriel considered the pair's contributions "quite a breakthrough".
5. "The Battle of Epping Forest" 11:43
The longest song on the record gets flak in some circles for some reason. It's another great Genesis epic to me, but I've read that some take issue with the plot line or something. Kind of a Clockwork Orange
vibe to the gangs (droogs?) in the story, I just chalk it up to Peter's imagination and you can't miss the humor in the situation. Regardless, I don't feel it mucks up the proceedings and when Tony's synth starts filling in the sound at around 3:30 I'm in heaven. Another one where Gabriel tries out different voices for his characters.
Wikipedia: ""The Battle of Epping Forest" was inspired by a news story that Gabriel had read several years previously about the territorial battles by two rival gangs in the East End of London that would fight in Epping Forest. He placed an advertisement in The Times and looked through library archives in attempt to find more about the story, but was unable to find any further information, so he created his own fictional characters, including "Liquid Len", "Harold Demure" and "The Bethnal Green Butcher". Upon hearing a rehearsal take of the song in July 1973, reporter Chris Welch wrote: "'The 'Battle' has a catchy march theme with typical Genesis drum and bass lines, clean and precise". The lyrics have since been praised for their humour and wit, but the band later said they did not gel well with the music and made the piece complicated for the sake of being so. Gabriel thought its ending, which had each gang settling the issue over the toss of a coin, tied up the story well but is too much of an anti-climax."
6. "After the Ordeal" (instrumental) 4:15
Another pretty melody with a medieval feel. I love Peter Gabriel's voice but like Yes, it's the instrumental passages I dig the most. Here's wiki: "After the Ordeal" is an instrumental written by Hackett; the song originated as more of an electric piece but neither he nor the other band members could adapt it into something that they felt worked, so it was transformed with an acoustic introduction with an electric guitar solo to finish. Hackett mentioned in a homemade video capsule that this was the first Genesis track on which he ever used a nylon guitar. Banks and Gabriel did not want to include the song on the album, but Hackett insisted it should be kept; Banks expressed little interest in its "pseudo classical" style. It was ultimately left on after Gabriel and Banks argued about the length of "The Cinema Show", which meant everything was included as a compromise. Banks later said the compromise led to the album overrunning its desirable length on vinyl, resulting in a sound quality he thought came out as "pretty rough".
-Ouch! Don't listen to Tony, folks, it's great. But I'm not playing the vinyl version either, so there's that.
7. "The Cinema Show" 10:41
Another perfect song to bring an almost-perfect LP to a close. This has some of the phantastic feel of "The Musical Box" to me. One thing that really opened up the sound of these old Genesis albums for yours truly was getting the 1970 - 1975
SACD box with the 5.1 mixes. Progressive rock was tailor-made for surround sound, and I was never impressed with the sound of '70s Genesis on CD in stereo. The 5.1 mixes, while not demonstration-worthy, are still preferable to the CDs. Can't speak for the vinyl. Some more of Tony's best work is on this track. In fact - this is my favorite LP for his playing. Did I already say that?
"The Cinema Show" is divided into two sections. The first section is a 12-string guitar-based piece, featuring vocal harmonies between Gabriel and Collins, as well as a short flute and oboe solo. The song concludes with a four-and-a-half-minute keyboard solo on the ARP Pro Soloist, with Rutherford and Collins playing a rhythm in a 7/8 time signature. The lyrics, written by Banks and Rutherford, draw much of their inspiration from the T. S. Eliot poem 'The Waste Land'."
8. "Aisle of Plenty" 1:58
This was combined with "The Cinema Show" on original LPs as the eighth track, so you may remember it that way. This really should be attached to the previous cut as it's clearly part of the same song. Wiki: "The album closes with a segue from the end of "The Cinema Show" into "Aisle of Plenty", a reprise of "Dancing with the Moonlit Knight" which gives the album a book-end effect. The track uses word play such as "Easy, love there's the safe way home" and "Thankful for her fine fair discount, Tess co-operates", referring to British supermarkets."