Essential Albums

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About Genesis

Formed from the fusion of two student bands in the late ’60s by teenage founding members Michael Rutherford, Anthony Phillips, Peter Gabriel, and Tony Banks, Genesis morphed from ’70s art-rock favorites into an ’80s pop-rock juggernaut. Their initial recordings were harmonized, lightly psychedelic folk. Then they discovered art rock, building a cult following that was drawn partly by lead singer Peter Gabriel’s flair for outrageous costumes. Between 1970 and 1975, the group released four albums, toured nonstop, and crafted a kind of wonderfully strange, moody, idiosyncratic rock that delighted in both bewildering and inspiring listeners. Then Gabriel left in 1975, and Phil Collins—the band’s drummer—took over as lead singer. In 1977, the band became a trio comprising Rutherford, Collins, and Banks, and with the pared-down lineup came a leaner, more accessible sound epitomized by a series of singles: “Follow You Follow Me,” with its perfectly pitched romantic lyricism; the hit “Misunderstanding”; and “Man On the Corner,” from 1981’s Abacab, which ably married pathos with pop hooks. Loaded with radio staples like “Mama” and “That’s All,” their 1983 self-titled album seemed like the pinnacle of success—but Genesis outdid themselves with 1986’s Invisible Touch, which spawned five Top 10 singles and a massive tour. Collins meanwhile emerged as a solo pop star in his own right, and Rutherford scored several hits with his side band Mike + The Mechanics. In the years since, there have been real (and rumored) reunions, stellar box sets, and much appreciation. Though Collins departed in 1996 (the band soldiered on for one album without him), the singer came back into the fold for a 2007 tour, with another reunion planned for 2021.

Godalming, England
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