And then they were two...
On September 1, 1997 "Genesis" released their 15th album "Calling All Stations".
This is the last piece of music released under the name "Genesis", but it's a pale shadow of what this great band has produced in the past, even compared to their previous album "We Can't Dance".
Over the years, "Genesis" faced quite a few upheavals, but it seems that each time it actually came out of them strengthened. It started in 1974 when its charismatic lead singer Peter Gabriel decided to leave. The band, which was sure that it was impossible to continue without him, suddenly discovered Phil Collins as a singer and came out with one of its greatest albums "A Trick of the Tail". Then, in 1978, the band suffered the departure of lead guitarist Steve Hackett who contributed significantly to the sound and writing process of the band, but even then, the three remaining members managed to emerge from this departure strengthened with the album "...And Then There Were Three...", which began the "journey" of "Genesis" from the heart of the progressive rock consensus to the bear hug of pop and the mainstream, with the meteoric success they will experience in the 80's. But not this time!
In 1996, Phil Collins decides that his two parallel and successful careers are a little too much for him. After a long and successful tour with "Genesis" he decides to leave what he had for as a second home in the last 25 years and focus on his solo career. And so, "Genesis" finds itself, once again, without its charismatic singer who was also a full partner in the writing. The two remaining members Tony Banks and Mike Rutherford who insisted on moving on, were forced, for the first time in the band's history, to choose an outside musicians to help them record the material they had written for a new album. But unlike the previous times, the current change in the line-up was fateful and violated the delicate balance on which the band's glorious career rested over the years.
The choice of Rutherford and Banks for a singer was quite surprising, to say the least. In the past, "Genesis" has survived tough line-up changes by relying on the band's own members, but this time it was different, because Rutherford and Banks couldn't take on the vocals duties and certainly not the drums. They could have chosen any other singer to try and step into Phil Collins' big shoes, but they chose Ray Wilson, a fairly anonymous singer who had the one-off hit "Inside" from 1994 by his band "Stiltskin" (yes, the famous song from the commercial Levi's commersial). In contrast, to fill Phil Collins' huge void as a drummer, Rutherford and Banks relied on not one, but two drummers. Nick D'Virgilio from the neo-prog band "Spock's Beard" and the Israeli Nir Zedkiyo, who played with various artists from Yehuda Poliker to Chris Cornell.
To tell the truth, as much as Ray Wilson is a great singer and we really like the tone of his voice, he didn't really have a chance to step into the big shoes of Phil Collins. He joined the band after most of the album had already been written and probably even if he had been a full partner in writing he would also have lacked the glue that Collins had that connected the old trio so well. Although Ray Wilson occasionally participated in writing the lyrics of songs included on the album, such as "There Must Be Some Other Way", "Not About Us" and "Small Talk", it was still not enough. The album was missing the all-important addition of Phil Collins and his amazing talent to produce catchy songs that would instantly become hits. Tony Banks later admitted that if Phil Collins had been there, he just know that this album would have taken off somewhere else.
The album includes 11 songs spread over 70 long minutes, without any significant hits. There is no doubt that there are some beautiful and special moments here, but this is no longer "Genesis". Despite Wilson's admirable effort and his very unique voice, he didn't fit the band's DNA, but to his credit, there is hardly any other singer in the world who could have fit. The hole left by Collins was simply unfillable. He is so identified with the band that we think that there are those who have trouble even distinguishing between "Genesis" hits and hits from his solo career.
And some of you may ask, if this album has the talented duo of Tony Banks and Mike Rutherford with an excellent singer, then why didn't it work this time?
We believe that the fans were not ready for a new, different and softened version of "Genesis". They weren't ready to accept the band without the person who was so identified with it. It is not impossible that if Rutherford and Banks had worked under a completely different name, everything would have looked different. On the one hand, they would give Wilson a clean, fresh start that would avoid the comparison to Collins, and on the other hand, they would allow him to be part of the creation and the final product.
We are sure that excellent songs like the theme song "Calling All Stations", the hit "Congo" and the ballad "Shipwrecked" would have worked better under another band name and not "Genesis" and we can only wonder if this collaboration with Wilson could have continued if it was a new band.
"Calling All Stations" did not sell well in the US, which caused the band to cancel their American tour, and with the cancellation, the plans to record a follow-up album as a cohesive band were shelved. Banks and Wilson were actually ready to record another album. They felt that the European tour consolidated the band that began to feel like a cohesive unit, but poor sales and the lack of interest from the music world caused Rutherford to lose interest.