On March 7, 1969, "Genesis" released their debut album - "From Genesis to Revelation".
Amazingly the title of this record - "From the Beginning to Be Revealed", is in a sense a self-fulfilling prophecy. "Genesis" started on this album "From the Beginning" with a Baroque Pop style and later on they will reach "Revelation", change their style and become one of the pillars of the Progressive Rock genre.
The story of the album begins somewhere in 1965, with the initial connection between two of the band members. Peter Gabriel, his classmates Tony Banks and Chris Stewart formed a band called "Garden Wall".
In 1967 the band disbanded and Gabriel, Banks and Stewart teamed up with Anthony Phillips and Mike Rutherford and began working on new songs.
The first song written in the new lineup was "She is Beautiful" by Banks and Gabriel. The band members recorded a demo tape and gave it to David Jacobs - the host of the TV show "Juke Box Jury", whose son studied with them at the same school. At the same time the recording was also transferred to Jonathan King, who was a singer, producer and songwriter who at the time had commercial success with the hit "Everyone's Gone to the Moon", from 1965. King was very enthusiastic about the results, especially from Peter Gabriel's voice and quickly signed the band on a recording contract. The band members were then minors, aged 15-17.
The band did not have a name and Jonathan King suggested the name "Gabriel's Angels", but the rest of the band members were not enthusiastic, so everyone compromised on King's alternative offer - "Genesis". King thought the name signified the beginning of a new sound and also of his career as a producer.
The band presented King with some songs they where working on, but King was not thrilled with them. In an attempt to satisfy King's musical taste, the band members decided to work on Pop songs, with an emphasis on the "Bee Gees" sound, a band they knew King really liked. Indeed, one of the first songs Gabriel and Banks wrote was "The Silent Sun", in which the "Bee Gees" influences can be heard. Gabriel even later admitted that he tried to sound like Robin Gibb from the "Bee Gees". The song became the first single the band released on February 22, 1968, with the song "That's Me" being used as a b-side.
In May 1968, the band released their second single "A Winter's Tale", which included the song "One-Eyed Hound" as a b-side.
Although the singles were not very successful, King urged the band members to record a full album. He thought it would help the band to breakthrough. Before that, King demanded that the bassist and drummer be fired, because he thought they were not good enough. The band opposed the dismissal of Rutherford but Stewart was replaced by drummer John Silver, who also studied with the band members at the same school.
King suggested that the band turn the album into a concept album, that would begin from the book of "Genesis" from the bible and end with the book of "Revelation" of the New Testament, thus the album title - "From Genesis To Revelation" was born. Indeed this album flows like a continuous piece, with short musical interludes between the songs, each based on the theme of the song that follows.
(Photo: Decca / Universal)
The writing and rehearsals on the new material were held at drummer John Silver's parents home, in Oxford. Upon completion of the writing of the material, the band entered the studio in August 1968, while the boys where on vacation from school. The entire music was recorded within two days and the production and mixing phase took another 10 days.
During the mixing, string and brass instrument were added to the recordings, without the band's permission. The arrangements were added to one side of the stereo while all of the band's channels were dense into the other side, a fact that angered the band members, especially Anthony Phillips.
It is interesting to note, that this recording marked the first time Tony Banks had played the Hammond organ. Gabriel played the flute in addition to his singing.
Another interesting fact, is that the song that seals the album "A Place to Call My Own", was originally a more complex and longer song, which may indicate the style the band will pursue later on. The song was shortened and trimmed to suit the atmosphere of the rest of the songs on the album.
Beyond the Bee Gees' influences, one can hear other influences like "The Beatles", "The Byrds" and "The Moody Blues" especially the string arrangements the producer tried to emulate during the mixing stage.
The album was released on March 7, 1969, but it failed commercially in real time. It was only after the band's success in 1974 that the album returned to the charts and began to sell. Part of the failure is attributed to King's decision not to display the band's name on the cover, but only the caption "From Genesis To Revelation" on a black background, which immediately cataloged "Genesis" as Christian music and sent the album to the shelves of religious music at the record stores. The reason why the band's name was not featured on the album, was the fact that King learned that there was already an American band that met the same name.
Following the commercial failure of the album, the band members turned to other pursuits, with the exception of Peter Gabriel who played flute on Cat Stevens' third album - "Mona Bone Jakon".
In September 1969, the band members returned to work together, having managed to break free from the contract with the record company and King. Everyone unanimously agreed that the Pop style that King forced on them was not what they wanted to do. In June 1970 the members started recording what would become "Trespass" and that was already the beginning of a completely different story.
Unfortunately this album will be remembered for its meager sales which is a shame, since there are a lot of good songs here with beautiful melodies, which amazingly were written at such a young age. So true, this is not the classic "Genesis", in fact this album is not at all reminiscent of the Progressive Rock "Genesis", but it's still a good classic rock-pop album.