On October 3, 1983 Genesis released their 12 studio album "Genesis".
This album marks a crucial moment in the band's career. "Genesis" proved they could reinvent themselves once again, not only surviving the arctic winter that fell upon the Progressive rock genre, but reaching their highest commercial success.
After an eight-month hiatus, the trio - Phil Collins, Tony Banks, and Mike Rutherford - convened at their Chiddingfold studio, "The Farm", to embark on a musical journey that would redefine their sound.
Departing from their previous method, songs were birthed from organic jam sessions, creating an environment that was both relaxed and remarkably collaborative.
Integral to this transformation was the return of renowned engineer Hugh Padgham, previously involved in "Abacab." Padgham played a pivotal role in engineering and producing the album, helping strike a balance between the band's evolving pop sensibilities and their artistic roots.
The change in sound and writing process was so essential that the band decided to call the album "Genesis", as if they are starting from scratch. This was mainly because it was the first album on which all three members helped compose each track.
It was a group decision to write and record an album "on the fly" from start to finish, since they realized that their strongest material had been put together collectively, as opposed to developing someone's pre-arranged ideas. And so, every track in the album came through jamming and improvisations of all three members in the studio, making the recording more exciting and spontaneous.
The album shows the band moving towards shorter, more commercial pop songs adapting the music trends of the era. The album was written and recorded after Phil Collins had already released two successful solo albums - "Face Value" and "Hello, I Must Be Going" producing incredible radio hits, so the change in sound and style felt natural to the remaining members. Rutherford said he wanted to write and record in a more relaxed approach and Banks considered the music, and overall sound as something that they had longed for many years.
The album opens up with the commanding beat of the electronic drum machine of "Mama". The song came to life during a jam session, with Rutherford tinkering with a "Linn LM-1" electronic drum machine, pushing the volume to such extremes that amplifiers shook off the studio floor. Banks connected the MIDI to the drum machine to turn the keys on and off and thus produce the unique vibrating sound. Collins used his acting experience to deliver a dramatic and haunting singing that showcases his distinctive vocals. Collins, inspired by John Lennon's vocal style in "Be-Bop-a-Lula," adopted a similar approach for the song's verses. His distinctive laugh, reminiscent of "Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five's" 1982 track "The Message", was introduced after producer Padgham played it for the band. The laugh was a spontaneous addition during an improvisation session, a touch that the band embraced and decided to incorporate. Collins revealed that the lyrics was influenced by David Niven "The Moon's a Balloon" book and it involves a young man's longing for a particular hooker.
The second track is the infectious pop hook of "That's All", which exemplifies "Genesis'" deliberate pivot towards mainstream accessibility. The song sprang to life from Banks' straightforward piano riff, setting the stage for a mood that captivated the entire band. Drawing inspiration from "the Beatles", each member acknowledged their influence on the track. Collins, in particular, said that he paid tribute to Ringo Starr's drumming style.
Yet, it is in the haunting suite "Home by the Sea / Second Home by the Sea" that we witness the band's true prowess. This two-part composition serves as a bridge between Genesis' earlier progressive sound and their evolving musical identity. The track's intricate narrative and instrumental intricacies captivate listeners, showcasing the band's ability to seamlessly blend genres. The narrative revolves around a burglar who, upon breaking into a house, discovers it's haunted. The spectral inhabitants capture him, compelling him to listen to their tales for eternity. During the genesis of this composition, the band was in a transformative phase, shifting from Progressive Rock to a more accessible style. Consequently, the suite weaves together accessible pop elements with an extended, more intricate section characteristic of progressive rock.
The album's second side opens up with "Illegal Alien", which was released as the third single from the album. it offers a satirical narrative inspired by the band's own struggles obtaining visas for their U.S. tour. The song humorously portrays the challenges faced by an undocumented immigrant attempting to move to the United States. In the song music video, the members adopt the appearance of Mexican men striving, albeit unsuccessfully, to have their passports approved. Both the song and its music video garnered criticism for their portrayal of stereotypes and perceived racial insensitivity.
After the humor of "Illegal Alien" we come upon the aching ballad "Taking It All Too Hard". No doubt, one of the finest tracks on the album, with a combination of emotional singing and catchy melody. Even though it became a hit, no music video was made for this song and it has never been performed live by the band.
"Just a Job to Do" is a pure eighties pop song with a catchy chorus and strong vocals from Collins. “Silver Rainbow” opens up with a drum machine beat that after a few seconds replaced with Phil Collins' Simmons electronic drum kit. The song penned by Tony Banks, delves into the theme of people acting irrationally when in love. Phil Collins characterized the lyrics as both "romantic" and "lush." Initially, the track was referred to as "Adam" due to its rhythmic similarity to works by singer Adam Ant and the fact the lyric reflected the somewhat "juvenile" nature of the music.
The closer “It’s Gonna Get Better” starts with a keyboard intro that Tony Banks sampled from a classical cello music album. Initially, he intended to use it to achieve a string sound on his keyboard, but this attempt was unsuccessful. Instead, he played four notes simultaneously using the same sample, resulting in a surprising and captivating interplay of harmonies. This unexpected outcome impressed Banks, leading him to keep and incorporate it into the song.
In retrospect, "Genesis" remains an indelible chapter in the band's discography. It signifies a watershed moment in their musical evolution, displaying a newfound confidence in their pop prowess while still honoring their progressive roots. This eponymous release is a testament to the band's adaptability and their unwavering commitment to musical innovation. While the album may present a varied mix of styles, it undeniably showcases "Genesis'" growing prowess as a pop powerhouse, laying the foundation for their future successes in the mainstream music scene.