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Revelations Into Genesis

Blame this all on Skye Hegyes, who while conversing with me the other day said, “I need a Genesis play list.”  Well, Sweetie, you come to the right place!  (See, you got a Sweetie; usually only Annie gets a Sweetie.)  This gives me an excuse to post about something besides writing, and to show off my obscure knowledge of worthless crap that usually only I care about.  I’m kinda the Queen of Useless Crap, and today you get to see it in full-blown mania.

Back in the day when I was a young lad–and, yes, I did look like a lad–I used to listen to this band, and many others, on the FM stations broadcasting out of Chicago.  This was back in the days when you’d get ten minutes songs, entire albums being played at night, and ever so often, a DJ getting drunk or loaded and needing to be hauled off the air before the FCC came down on their asses.  It was really kind of a glorious time for music, because you could hear everything, from metal to folk to progressive to soft pop all in the course of an hour.  No rules, just music.  My thing was progressive, keyboard laden music, because I’m strange, okay?  That’s why my record collection tended to have a lot of Elton John, Yes, King Crimson, Emerson Lake and Palmer, and Genesis in them, and when one of those would come on the radio I tended to stop what I was doing–which was mostly reading–and listen intently, because this was one of the few escapes I had in live, and I made the most of that escape.

I have stated before that I have a Genesis connection in my novels.  Three characters were named after members of the band:  Mr. Mayhew, the rep who came for Kerry, was named after John Mayhew, the drummer on the Tresspass album, and not to be confused with the dude who plays Chewbacca.  Ms. Bernice Rutherford, Kerry’s case worker, is named after Mike Rutherford, the bass and guitar player, and Mr. Gabriel was named after Peter Gabriel, the first lead singer.  In the third novel, the C Level novel–yes, there should be one baring death–you’ll met someone named Collins, and they will not be regarded as a nice person.

There isn’t a Mr. or Ms. Banks person in my novels, however, because it’s also stated the Tony Banks, the keyboard player, has actually given lectures at the school.  Hummm . . . so if he knows about the school, does that mean . . .?  Nah, couldn’t be.  But we’ll get to him and how he sort of sets something in motion in a moment . . .

All of the videos included are live shows.  I mean, anyone can put on an album and kick back, but with a live show you get to hear not only how the songs sound before the studio engineer gets their mitts on the recording, but in some cases, how it the technology of the time kept a band from sounding the way the did on a record.

One of the terms you’ll read is “soundboard”.  If you’ve ever been to a concert, it’s usually found in the middle of the floor of a show, maybe half-way or two-thirds of the way back from the stage.  This is where the input from the different instruments is gathered and mixed so you can hear a show that doesn’t sound like a hot mess–or maybe it does for various reasons.  This is the best location to get a recording of a live show, and most bands do just that.  David Bowie is supposed to have records of ever live show he’s ever performed, which would be taken off a tape unit getting the final mix from the soundboard.  There is only one of the following recordings that is not from the soundboard, and I’ll identify that concert in the notes.

So . . . the music, and the novel.  How do they relate?

First off, Kerry, who is a geeky music fan due to one of the only influences his father handed down, was told by Mr. Mayhew that Tony Banks has taught at the school–you know, it’s almost as if someone knew what sort of music he liked and threw out that hook, yeah?  He gets to Salem and at the end of the first week Annie and he visit the Keyboard Room and meet with Professor Ellison.  And while there, this exchange happens:

 

All excerpts, this page, from The Foundation Chronicles, Book One: A For Advanced, copyright 2013, 2014, 2015 by Cassidy Frazee)

She didn’t expect what the professor did next. He looked Kerry up and down while he tapped his left index finger against the top of the organ. “Tell me—” He pointed at an instrument about three meters away. “Do you know what that is?”

Kerry answered right away. “Mellotron Mark IV.”

“And the one to the left?”

“That’s a Mellotron Mark II.”

“And you know that because . . ?”

Kerry took a few steps back from Professor Ellison. “The Mark IV has had that same sort of case for most of the time it’s been produced. The Mark II . . .” He glanced over his shoulder, then back. “Two manuals, side-by-side.”

“Correct.” Professor Ellison move slowly towards the instruments. “This Mark II is a bit famous: it originally belonged to the band King Crimson—” He powered up the machine. As soon it was ready, he began playing.

Kerry’s face broke into an enormous smile as the professor held the first chords, then progressed to the second set. “No. You’re kidding.”

Professor Ellison played another ten seconds before stopping. “Oh, yeah. It’s, uh, a gift to the school.”

Though the two males in the room knew this music, Annie certainly didn’t. “What was that you played?”

Kerry answered, and he couldn’t hide his excitement. “The opening to Watcher of the Skies: it was the first song on Foxtrot.” He pointed at the machine. “This is the machine it was recorded on.” He turned back to Professor Ellison. “Right?”

“You are.” He patted the machine. “Tony says he has a mellotron in storage, but he’d rather not dig it out because the new tech is better . . .” He chuckled. “Or he doesn’t want to fly across the ocean to get this.” He pointed to another keyboard on the other side of the room. “Do you know that one?”

 

The intro to Watcher of the Skies is so famous that sound is replicated on modern mellotrons and Memotrons as “The Watcher of the Skies Package”, because it’s that damn bad.  And what did Annie and Kerry hear Professor Ellison play?

Why, it’s right below

The first show was recorded for an audience at Shepperton Studios at the beginning of the Selling England by the Pound tour.  This was the “classic” lineup that was together for four albums:  Steve Hackett on guitar, Mike Rutherford on bass and Taurus bass peddles, Phil Collins on drums, Tony Banks on keyboards, and Peter Gabriel on vocals.  This really gives people an idea of what sort of theatrics the band was into at the time, and they were . . . a lot.  Gabriel was uncomfortable in front of crowds–yes, I know, strange, right?–and that was on of the reasons he loved the costumes, because it insulated him from the people who paid to see him sing.  He doesn’t banter with the crowd:  he tells stories as introductions to the songs and then gets to singing.  The stage is stripped down and pretty bare, and there aren’t a hell of a lot things going on that we sort of take for granted in shows these days.

Of particular interest is Hackett, who is sitting on the left side of the stage from our point of view.  And I do mean “sit”:  he sat on a stool right up through the Lamb Lies Down on Broadway tour, would play his guitar, and often drink beer–lots of beer.  There are many stories about how he’d set his finished cans on top of the speakers around him, and during some shows would knock them off by accident and send them scattering across the stage.   1970s, I know.

The opening of the next two shows is the intro my kids heard, played then as it was in my novel on the infamous “Black Bitch”, a Mellotron Mark II that was prone to acting up and breaking down when it was least expected.  But if you’re a keyboard geek like me, you love these cords . . .

Selling England by the Pound Tour, Shepperton Studios, UK, 30/31 October, 1973:

As the above show was one of the first done on the tour, this one below was the second to the last.  This is a famous performance jokingly called the Selling Equipment by the Pound show, because at some point after the show concluded people broke into the Academy of Music, stole all the guitars, and held them for ransom.  The 5 May show, which was to have been the last, was canceled and moved to 6 May before the band managed to get their equipment back after a bit of negotiation, and the likely exchange of money and/or a few . . . “substances”.  Taylor Swift never had to put up with this shit, let me tell you.

This show is also famous as it’s the last time Peter Gabriel sang Supper’s Ready live.  This is the twenty-three minute song–yes, you heard me right–that closes out the album Foxtrot, and it’s considered the band’s magnum opus and a concert favorite.  The title is also the code that Erywin used to let the kids know things were going sideways during their trip to Kansas City, so there.  It’s also one of the last times Tony Banks played the piano intro–right around the 42:45 mark–to Firth of Fifth live, because he hated playing it on a shitty little electric piano, and after completely blowing the intro a few times in other shows, he stated he’s never try it live again.

Oh, and the ticket prices for this show:  $3 USD.  That included a twenty-five cent service charge.  I actually paid that amount for a few shows at the old Hammond Civic Center.  You could even buy a tee shirt afterwards for five bucks . . .

This is the only one of the videos that came from a fan recording, which means someone was sitting in the audience with a tape recorder getting this all down, and this is what we heard when we spoke of “bootleg tapes” of shows.  The guy who recorded this must have had a hell of a tape deck, because this is almost of soundboard quality.  This is really how one would have heard the show back then, complete with audience approval.

Selling England by the Pound Tour, Academy of Music, New York, 4 May, 1974:

Onward to what was probably, at the time, one of the most well known and nearly mythical tours ever:  the Lamb Lies Down on Broadway tour, done in support of the eponymous album.  The show was basically the whole album replayed, with lots of costume changes, images flashed on screens, and story telling.  It was, however, 1975, and a lot of these things were near disasters:  the videos never seemed to sync up with the music correctly because it was all controlled manually–’cause technology was limited, yo–and a few of the customs were a complete pain in the ass to wear.  The worst was the infamous “Slipperman” outfit, which was . . .

This goddamn thing.

This goddamn thing.

That’s an actual picture from one of the shows, and someone was high as hell when they decided this was a good idea.  Gabriel had about two minutes to get into that outfit, and half the time he’d be out of breath once he was back out on stage, and the other half of the time he couldn’t get the mic close to his mouth.  Either of these meant that while he was in garb you couldn’t hear most of whatever he was trying to sing.  70s, people:  it was a different time.  Now you know why a lot of shows with a lot of costume changes just play a backing vocal of the singer while they dance across the stage.

While trying A For Advanced I spent a lot of time listening to this show while typing away at Panera.  This is also a famous recording as it’s the only professional recording of the tour, done for the King Biscuit Power Hour radio program, and broadcast a month or two after this performance.  I’ve found only one other soundboard recording from the Lamb tour, but this one is one of the best.  And, no:  Peter isn’t out of breath while singing The Colony of Slippermen.

Lamb Lies Down on Broadway Tour, Shrine Auditorium, L.A., 24 January, 1975:

We move on.  Peter Gabriel has left the building, and it was decided Phil Collins would get out from behind the drums and sing, something that made him pretty nervous at the time.  From this point on the band hired another drummer to place the album parts, and for the Trick of the Tail Tour Bill Buford was personally chosen by Phil because they’ll played together in the band Brand X.  This follow is a great soundboard recording, mostly because the band was recording show that would eventually end up on the Second’s Out album, and Phil even makes reference to that near the end of the show.  At this point there were actually two drum kits on stage, as Phil would run back and play drums when a song fell into a prolonged instrumental segment–as it did on a few of these songs, notably Cinema Show, which has a four minute keyboard solo.

Mike Rutherford and Steve Hackett introduce some of the songs because Phil wasn’t comfortable speaking to the audience.  Because he was a drummer, and most of the time they’re nice and cozy sitting behind their drums.  He got better, don’t worry.

Trick of the Tail Tour, Hammersmith Odeon, London, 10 June, 1976:

The Wind and Wuthering Tour was the first to see Chester Thompson on drums, and the last to see Steve Hackett perform with the band.  Steve decides to leave during the recording of the album, and he agreed to go out on tour to help promote the album.  This is one of  their best shows, and it’s a lot of fun to hear Phil address the crowd in Portuguese.  This was also the start of them starting to get big, though the huge stadium tours were still ten years away.  Personally this is one of my favorite tours, and the one I almost saw when they came through Chicago in late 1977.  I say almost because plans fell through at the last minute, and I was unable to procure tickets when they played the International Amphitheater.  This show has them performing Inside and Out, which they did only in Europe and South America, and was replaced by Your Own Special Way once they came to North America.  Inside and Out was found on a twelve inch record Spot the Pigeon, which had three songs that never made it onto other albums.

Wind and Wuthering Tour, Sao Paulo, Brazil, 21 May, 1977:

And then there were three–hence the name of the next album and sorta tour name.  Because there were only three band members now, they hired Daryl Strumer to play guitar and bass while on tour, and continued to use Chester on drums.  These two guys would remain part of the touring group for pretty much the remainder of the band’s existence.

I say this was “sorta tour name”, because fans referred to this tour as the Mirrors Tour due to the placement of six mirrors over the stage–

Like this.

Like this.

Which were used to direct light on to the stage, and could give the audience different views of the stage–

Like this.

Like this.

This tour saw The Eleventh Earl of Mar and Cinema Show being performed in their entirety for the last time, and it was also the last tour where Tony used a mellotron:  after this he started going with digital samples in place of the mellotron’s tape samples, and the probably shipped the keyboard off to a special school in Massachusetts.  The Dijon show is not only a great recording, but hearing Phil tell the Story of Romeo and Juliet–the intro to the song Cinema Show–in French is hilarious.

Should also point out that the intro to the song Burning Rope is the same that Kerry plays in the Keyboard Room with Professor Ellison.  He’s even playing it on the same synthesizer being used in this tour.

… And Then There Were Three/Mirrors Tour, Dijon, France, 3 June, 1978:

I’m including the Chicago show of the same tour for two reasons.  One, this is taken from the live radio broadcast, done by WXRT–the station I used to listen to when I lived near Chicago–at the old Uptown Theater, and two, this was the last time they performed Dancing With the Moonlit Knight in it’s entirety.  This was the song that opened the album Selling England by the Pound, and the band performed the song as a favor to the radio station, who asked nicely if they would pretty please do it for their Chicago fans.  You can also hear how we sometimes heard shows that we couldn’t make, and keep in mind this broadcast was free and not some Xfinity “Bringing you the concert for only $100!” shit.

… And Then There Were Three/Mirrors Tour, Chicago, 13 October, 1978:

And now back into the novel for a bit.  During their walking tour of London–before Young Kerry knew he was a witch and remembered that the girl he sat with at lunch in Russel Square was his soul mate–the kids visited a number of locations, but there was only one that Kerry wanted to see . . .

 

They ate in silence for maybe three minutes before Annie asked Kerry about the one thing that had been on her mind since taking their cab ride to the site he wanted to visit. “Why did you want to see that theater?”

He tapped a finger on the table as he swallowed. “The Lyceum?”

“Yes.”

“’Cause I wanted to.”

“Yes, but why?” She shook her head. “No one does anything for no reason whatsoever, Kerry. Why did you want to visit there?”

He started drumming the fingers of his left hand lightly against the table. “One of the groups I listen to, they did a few shows there back in 1980—almost exactly twenty years before I was born. It’s like . . .” He shrugged, keeping his eyes on his food like someone was going to steal his sandwich. “I feel like I’m connected to it, you know? There’s also, like—” He frowned before turning his gaze back towards the street once more. “I figured I better do it now while I can.”

 

What he was talking about this show:  the Lyceum show recorded near the end of the English side of the Duke Tour.  The BBC program The Old Grey Whistle Test recorded footage of the band on the nights of 6 and 7 May, and broadcast about an hour of that.  This meant getting soundboard recordings of both shows, and besides the BBC filming, there were a few amateurs filming as well.  Eventually someone put that footage together with the sound, and a DVD of the shows was released.

The video isn’t great, mostly because this was filmed thirty-five years ago.  But what you get from this show is the back and forth between the band and the audience, which was tremendous.  As you can see, there are times when Phil’s about to lose his shit because the crowd is just yelling crap at the stage.  Oh, yeah, and that’s his real hair, and seeing him with a beard can be a bit of a shock.

However, his banter with the audience is good, and we not only get to meet Roland the Bisexual Drum Machine–no, really–you get an earful of The Story of Albert, which is the lead-in to The Duke Suite, which was supposed to show up on the Duke album as performed here, but the band decided too many people would think they were trying to make another Supper’s Ready and scrapped the idea.  The suite consists of six songs:  Behind the Lines, Duchess, Guide Vocals, Turn it On Again, Duke’s Travels, and Duke’s End.  Most everyone knows Turn it On Again, which was the main single from the album.  The first three songs in the suite opened the album, and the last two closed it out.  One of the other reasons it wasn’t included on the album as they play live–as you’ll hear–is Turn it On Again is performed in a different time signature than the other songs, necessitating the stops before and after.

Duke Tour, Lyceum Theater, London, 6 May, 1980:

Abacab, and the album that lost a lot of fans because they’d “sold out” and gone “commercial”–and let’s face it, if you’re an artist and you wanna eat, it’s what you do.  The following show came days after the infamous Leiden, The Netherlands, show, where fans booed the band, and Phil got pissed off enough to yell into the mic, “I’m gonna kick the shit out of the lot of ya.”  This is a great show, though, and it’s the only time Mike Rutherford played drums, which happened during the song Who Dunnit?

Abacab Tour, Festhalle, Frankfurt, Germany, 30 October, 1981:

What about the Mama Tour?  There aren’t any good records of the full concert, soundboard, bootleg, or otherwise.  The person who usually gets the best concert recordings is waiting on a soundboard recording for one show, but that hasn’t arrived yet.

Correction:  it finally came in.  This is an FM broadcast from Phillidelpha taken when they played there in late November, 1983:

We have this as well, and it’s one of my favorites mixes for putting just under twenty minutes behind me.  It’s the In the Cage Melody, and whenever I need a quick writing dash I put this on.  The video also shows the Vari-Lite system, which was used for the first time on this tour, and is pretty much a standard these days.  It’s a computerized light system that controls the color and, for the first time, movement of lights, and before this tour you need to have a special system built for you–like Queen often did–if you wanted fancy moving lights.  The band actually put up a few million of their own cash to build the system, which meant that they made money off other bands who wanted to use the same system.  Now you know one of the reasons why Phil Collins has been able to pay out one hundred million dollars through three divorce settlements and still live comfortably.

Oh, and when look at the display on the video below?  The keyboard Tony is playing with his right hand is the same ARP Quadra that Kerry plays Burning Rope on in the Keyboard Room.  Thanks, Tony!

In the Cage Melody, Mama Tour,  National Exhibition Centre, Birmingham, England, February, 1983:

And down to the last of their final shows where they were pretty much riding the crest of stardom.  First the Invisible Touch tour, which was probably their biggest:

Invisible Touch Tour, Madison Square Garden, New York City, 30 September, 1986:

And The Way We Walk Tour, done in support of their We Can’t Dance album:

The Way We Walk Tour, Earl’s Court, London, 8 November, 1992:

These two shows have their most “radio friendly” tunes, which are the songs they’re probably most known for unless you’re an old bitch like me, or a crazy kid like Kerry.  These last two shows were notable because several of the songs needed to be performed at a lower key to prevent Phil from straining his voice on high notes, and that came in handy during their last tour in 2007, because his voice had deepened with age and hitting high notes was right out of the question.

So there you are, Skye:  a huge playlist for you to hear, and four thousand words of history for everyone else to blow off.

I believe my work here is done.

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