published: 15 /
Malcolm Carter reflects upon Genesis's 1969 debut album, 'From Genesis to Revelation', which has just been reissued in a remastered edition
While this, the first album from Genesis, included Peter Gabriel, Anthony Phillips, Tony Banks and Mike Rutherford in the line-up the album has never been given the acclaim it deserves. The band’s second album, ‘Trespass’, from 1970 was the one that propelled them into prog-rock giants and, for a while at least, into one of the most respected bands of the 1970s and early 1980s.
While ‘From Genesis to Revelation' doesn’t match the heights of the band's prog-rock classics, there is actually much to enjoy here. There appears to be a stigma attached to this album for a few reasons.
The first is that the album was produced by Jonathan King, and, while the ridicule that surrounds King’s name today was brought on by King himself by releasing not just one too many novelty records and hosting his own sometimes embarrassing TV show, it should not be forgotten that King has also contributed a lot to music over the years that he should be applauded for. Apart from introducing 10cc to the world via his own record label, King was a major player in the mighty Decca Records empire, released a string of well-received and credible singles and helped many artists get started in the business.
Even some of the covers he released under other names were not so bad. His version of ‘Sugar, Sugar’ knocked the original for six. King’s stab at Motown’s ‘It’s the Same Old Song’ is far from uninspired, and, even if he didn’t quite get the production for The Angelettes quite right it was obvious where he was coming from and, while he wasn’t a Shadow Morton at least, he gave it his best shot.
It’s not that King’s production of ‘From Genesis…’ is poor, because it isn’t. Compare it with other similar albums from that time period and it stands up pretty well. The problem is that King was never treated, and still isn’t to this day, as a serious record producer. What’s King doing producing a serious band like Genesis seems to be the question? I don’t hear anyone moaning about the Kaleidoscope/Fairfield Parlour productions from around that period which are not a million miles musically away from what Genesis achieve on their debut. But Jonathan King didn’t produce them of course.
The second point is that on this debut Genesis hadn’t yet developed their prog-rock sound that made them so famous. While traces can be heard throughout the album (and indeed, parts were lifted and used on their future albums), the thirteen songs that made up the original ‘From Genesis…’ have more to do with the pop-sike of the late sixties. The album was probably not serious enough for the later Genesis devotee.
Also the album has been reissued by various labels and under different names through the years, and the treatment it has been given somewhat diminished the album. It wasn’t always issued as well as it could have been. Up until now the best version was probably the one Edsel released in 2005. While Repertoire Records have reduced the album back down to a single CD issue (taking in the original album tracks as stereo versions and adding six mono single cuts), this latest version comes in a neat digi-pack featuring the original German album cover art, new notes by Chris Welch, song lyrics and a fresh remaster by none other than Jon Astley renowned for his work on the Who’s classic albums.
It would seem that we finally have the definitive version of the album and hopefully this time it will be accepted for what it is; a fine collection of late sixties pop songs made by a young band that still had to find their direction.
Trying to gain some credibility back then by claiming that there were echoes of the Bee Gees of the time on their debut didn’t exactly endear any serious music buyers to purchase the album. While one day hte Bees Gees first album will finally be given the psych-pop awards it so rightly deserves, it still won’t attract any Genesis fans from ‘Trespass’ on, so quoting the comparison way back then (along with a more accurate Moody Blues influence) fell on deaf ears. The fact is that there are a few moments on the single lifted from the album such as ‘The Silent Sun’ where Peter Gabriel does more than a passing impression of Robin Gibb but that’s about it.
It’s not a period-piece though, ‘From Genesis to Revelation’ is an interesting beginning to a band that went on to gain worldwide recognition, and, given the obsession with all things sixties, the music is still listenable and rewarding even in 2012. There’s certainly more substance and well-crafted pop songs here than on many of the thoughtlessly assembled sixties compilations.
Repertoire have done a brilliant job at injecting some new life into the presentation and sound of this album. It’s the one to go for now.