“The Right To Reply” - A personal view of the recent Genesis documentaries by the BBC and Virgin Vision by Ted Sayers.
The recent release of the Genesis video: A History (see review in #16) raises almost as many questions as it answered. Both Tony and Phil surprised me. The former for his off-handed dismissal of Steve’s departure in 1977 and the band’s unfair demands upon Steve’s undeniable writing talents: second only to Banks himself at the time! To demand an end to Steve’s solo career was, in my view selfish, but then to deny him a guaranteed outlet for his work within the band as well was scandalous. Can you imagine a Genesis performance of Please Don’t Touch with all that the other band members could have contributed to that track?? Yes, the piece was allegedly rejected by the band.
Sadly though, for me the biggest crime exposed by the video was Phil’s “denial” of some of the band’s past. On at least two occasions during his overlong interviews he claims he is less than proud of some of the band’s past material. This, to me, is a snub to all the fans who put Genesis where they most deservedly are! By past material I can only assume that he means the period between 1971 (Nursery Cryme) and 1978 (And Then There Were Three) . Surely he could not pass judgement on the first two albums on which he played no part.
Neverehtless, his non-specific criticism really hurts those who have given their support to the band since those days, even though they have also given their support through the far less innovative times of 1980 to the present - yes, there ARE still some of us left from those truly glorious days!
I personally have no desire to see Genesis return to that form of composition for that would certainly not be “progressive”, the band were surely one of the pioneers of that musical genre. Phil’s comments certainly throw some light on the band’s musical selections for live shows and the almost complete omission of the early material with the exception of the In The Cage medley. It has been a LONG time since we had truly great (and representative) Genesis set: Milton Keynes, the 1982 tour in general. Phil’s assertion that the band have always tried to write three or four minute “pop” songs and that until recently they hadn’t been very good is surprising too. Come on. Phil, Genesis in the 1970’s were definitely NOT a singles band and I really can’t see any three or four minute song from that era that sounds anything like a single from that decade’s pop charts! The band’s only REAL hits from that time: I Know What I Like and Follow You Follow Me were far from blatant attempts at number one hits. I felt the latter in particular, was fortuitous rather than specifically constructed.
When Genesis have specifically gone out to write “Pop” songs (between 1980 and the present day) they have remained inferior to their lass commercial material of the same time. Genesis never have, and probably never will write a truly great “pop” song but they have written some great and innovative rock music (or even progressive music if you like that term). That is their strong point, their influence is widespread and undeniable. Phil also states that if a journalist criticised the band’s output, then he would staunchly defend it. Most of the music press have always been pretentious morons so why give them the ammunition, Phil?
Another bone of contention is the under-representation of one of the founder members of the band, namely Ant. Everyone got a plug for their solo material even though this was supposed to be a GENESIS documentary so the glaring omission of Ant’s solo output is just as galling as Phil or Tony’s comments, so next time, BBC do your research properly. After all, you DID have unacknowledged help!! (AH).
To finish with, there does appear to be a link between Phil’s lack of pride in certain material and writing credits. Get my meaning? Nuff said!