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Genesis - Trespass

On October 23, 1970, "Genesis" releases their second studio album - "Trespass" and performed one of the great musical makeovers.


How many artists do you know, who in less than a year have undergone such a fundamental change in their musical style and sound, as "Genesis" has gone from "From Genesis to Revelation" to "Trespass". From the sweet pop style of the "Bee Gees" to dynamic progressive rock. From simple songs lasting 3:00 minutes on average to long works with complex compositions. From the use of basic instruments of guitar, bass, piano, drums, to playing a wide variety of instruments such as accordion, dulcimer, mellotron, cello, 12-string guitar, and flute.


It's not that there are no other bands in the music world that have undergone a radical change in their musical style, it is just that this is usually a gradual development and not such a sharp and noticeable change as happened with "Genesis" and the album "Trespass". On this album the change was so substantial that some fans refer to it as the band's first album, while others will tell you that these are two different bands.


Although they are from a completely different genre, it can be said that the process that "Genesis" went through on this album is similar to the process that "Pantera" underwent with the album "Cowboys from Hell". The transformation that "Pantera" went through was so sharp that we chose to call them "Transformers of Metal" because of their ability to "change shape" and reinvent themselves. It also happened with "Skid Row" (albeit at a lower dose), which we called "the Werewolves of heavy metal" after the change they made on the album "Slave to the Grind". But in both cases the changes, do not match the upheaval that "Genesis" underwent, neither in terms of period nor in terms of genre and style difference, so, at least for us, it is one of the biggest makeovers in music.


So how is this "revolution" manifested? It all started following the commercial failure of the debut album "From Genesis to Revelation", which caused the band members to leave the music world and turn to other pursuits, except Peter Gabriel who played flute on the album "Mona Bone Jakon" - Cat Stevens' third album.


But then something happened. In August 1969, the band members returned to work together, having finally managed to break free from the contracts with "Decca" and their producer and manager Jonathan King. As you may recall, King was quick to sign the band on a recording contract while they were minors between the ages of 15-17 and urged them to produce pop songs with an emphasis on the "Bee Gees" sound, a band he loved very much. After the release from King and the record label, the band members unanimously agreed that the pop style that King forced on them was not what they wanted to do. They decided to write more complex material than the simple pop of the debut album "From Genesis to Revelation". They wanted to explore and mix musical styles to create songs that would sound, unlike any other band at the time. As a first step, they bought new equipment, including a bass guitar and a Hammond organ, and recorded a demo that included the songs "White Mountain" and "Family" (which would later become "Dusk"). Drummer John Silver then left to study in the United States and the band was forced to look for a drummer to replace him.


It all happened really fast, in September of 1969 "Genesis" had already played its first live performances in the new line-up with drummer John Mayhew. In the early 1970s, the band performed for six weeks in a row at Ronnie Scott's Jazz Club, in Soho, London. Producer John Anthony from the "Charisma" came to one of these shows, and he immediately worked to sign them on a recording contract. The material for the album was written "on the move" and after a few months of performances "Genesis" already had enough written material to record two albums. However, they felt that some of the songs were not strong enough so they chose the best material in their opinion and in June 1970 went to "Trident" studios in London to record the album. They took John Anthony with them as a producer and recording technician. The band members said that Anthony's contribution was important and that he helped them design the materials for the album. This help from Anthony will get him to the job of producer in the band's next album "Nursery Cryme".


Although this album was written and recorded before Phil Collins and Steve Hackett joined the band, listening to it will reveal that it is not much different from the band's classic lineup albums. The strong dynamics, the rhythm changes, the complex compositions that shaped the sound of "Genesis" exist in most of the songs on this album. True, it lacks the heavy keyboards that will come later, after Tony Banks will add a variety of instruments to his keyboards rack and specializes in playing the Mellotron. It's also much more acoustic and lacks the "electric" dominance and solos that Steve Hackett will bring with him, but the musical style and sound base of "Genesis" exist here, especially in the opening track "Looking for Someone" and the final piece "The Knife". Listen for example to the passage from 2:52 on the song "Looking for Someone" and you will understand what we are talking about.


This album was an important milestone in the development of Genesis' sound, but more than that, it laid the essential foundations for the classical progressive rock genre, as we know it. Admittedly, not all of the pieces of the puzzle have been discovered here yet and fitted into place, but one could see the potential inherent in this band. Already here it was possible to predict that great things were yet to come for "Genesis."

(Photo: Medium.com)


The album features 6 tracks, three on each side of the vinyl, with an average of over 7 minutes per song, and already this should point at the complexity of the material. It opens in a minimalist way with the enchanting and mesmerizing voice of Peter Gabriel, to the sounds of Tony Banks' Hammond organ. If the band stated during the writing that they wanted to create songs that will not be similar to any other band at the time, then from the first seconds of "Looking for Someone" it can be said that the "search" for a new sound and style was crowned a successful !!! And if anyone thought drummer John Mayhew was the weak link in this album, then he should listen again to the transitions starting at 1:10 for example, and reconsider. If anyone thought guitarist Anthony Phillips' contribution was minor, he should look again at the album's credit list, because he would be surprised to find that Phillips was involved in writing all the songs on the album, more than any other band member. While he pulled in a more acoustic direction, he was also amazing at playing an electric guitar, as can be heard for example starting at 6:00 of the song. It's one of the most beautiful songs on the album, but dare we say it's also one of our band's favorites. It is full of rhythm changes and transitions, it is full of melody and it is also rich in sounds, although as mentioned at this stage the band has not yet built the range of instruments that will come in the next albums. One of the instruments that enrich the band's sound on this album is the flute of Peter Gabriel, which can be heard starting at 3:33 to the song. He is very dominant on this album, much more than the band albums that will come later. We do confess. We have a weakness for flute sounds especially in progressive rock, so we will always have a warm place in our hearts for this album.


The second track "White Mountain" already expresses the all-too-beautiful duality of Anthony Phillips and Mike Rutherford playing their 12-string guitars. The two who also wrote the melody undoubtedly influenced the band's unique sound on this album and Rutherford will take this sound with him to the upcoming "Genesis" albums. Lyrically, keyboardist Tony Banks wrote the words about power struggles over the leadership of a pack of wolves, referring to the name of the album in the sentence: "Outcast he trespassed where no wolf may tread."


The first side ends with "Visions of Angels" the song closest in style and sound to what the band produced on their debut album, which is no wonder, as the song was originally written for the album "From Genesis to Revelation", but was not used because the band did not think the recorded takes were good enough. The song began as a piano composition by Anthony Phillips back in a time when his piano playing technique was limited. He tried to produce a song similar in style to the "Beach Boys" and the "Beatles", so its structure is very basic and simple in comparison to the other songs on the album.


The other side of the vinyl opens with "Stagnation" which began as a long instrumental piece called "Movement", until Peter Gabriel decided to add words to it, that tells of a man who suddenly discovers he has become the last refugee of the human race. In a song that in its first version was supposed to serve as the main piece of the album and reached 13 minutes, you can hear the 12-string guitars of Phillips and Rutherford, which testified that the first recording had 10 different layers of acoustic guitars, but they were mostly peeled out in the final mix.


"Dusk" is the shortest on the album. Its opening chord threw us 7 years ahead of the opening chord of "Wonderous Stories" by "Yes", but that sums up the similarities between the two. An almost completely acoustic song in which the guitar work of the Rutherford-Phillips duo stands out, along with Gabriel's beautiful flute solo.


The album ends with the masterpiece "The Knife" which is without a doubt the highlight of the album, which does not fall short of the great works of the band's classical lineup. A more aggressive section of the rest of the songs on this album, featuring bursting rhythms and rough riffs with a heavy "distortion" sound. The phrase "The Knife" sounds similar to the phrase "The Nice" and Peter Gabriel will later say that he did want to write material similar to "Rondo" of "The Nice". This dynamic piece lasted up to 19 minutes in the band's performances, but was reduced to 8 for the album. It features some of the band's most aggressive and angry parts, which is probably also why they used to play it as an encore, to excite the audience. It is interesting to note that the album cover corresponds with the title of the song and includes a knife that cuts the painting to its full width.


During the sessions for the album, additional songs were written and recorded such as: "Shepherd", "Let Us Now Make Love", "Pacidy", "Going out to Get You" and more, but they were left out.


The album "Trespass" is a very important album that helped shape the sound and style of "Genesis", but it is also an essential part of the musical development of the progressive rock genre. In this album, the foundations were laid on which the band's so unique sound in the classical era is based on. Immediately upon completion of the recordings drummer John Mayhew will be fired. After that Anthony Phillips will also leave the band, due to what is defined as "stage fright". Replacing 2/5 of the band is not a trivial matter, especially when what of them was so dominant in writing. Some bands simply do not survive such a shock, but not "Genesis who has proven time and time again for three decades that it can remain relevant and star at the top of the music world, thanks to the joint creative power, not least thanks to the co-creative power that characterized it throughout the career, which softened the dominance of each of the parts of the whole.


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