“The beginners guide to collecting genesis” by Jonathan Dann. Illustrations: TWR archive.
Genesis are undoubtedly one of the major collectable artists in the sometimes confusing and often expensive world of record and memorabilia collecting. I think its fair to say that there is little chance of anyone obtaining all possible items related to the band - there will always be that elusive Icelandic 7” of Many Too Many, the Malaysian EP with Solsbury Hill on it or the Anthony Phillips album of Swedish cycling songs that you will be missing. What I think is interesting about collecting Genesis and related artists is the huge variety of items that you could go hunting for. I thought it might be interesting to have a look at some of these different areas and point out the most interesting items that are known to exist.
This is one of the most obvious areas that people try and collect. Most fans will try to limit their collecting to the UK standard issues of the band’s singles but even here there are considerations that have to be made - mainly financial. I think it’s fair to say that seriously collecting even the band’s standard UK singles can be a very expensive pastime, especially those elusive early releases. Prices for singles such as The Knife and Happy The Man in their picture sleeves tend to range from “if I had enough, I’d be tempted” to “hasn’t the decimal point slipped?!” It is possible to obtain some of the early releases by the band at reasonable rates, it’s just a case of shopping around. Not too long ago a copy of The Silent Sun was picked up for a very reasonable £10 (I doubt if anyone will beat the princely sum of 50p that I paid for my copy though - AH) Prices for a UK picture sleeve copy of The Knife have varied from £100 to £225. It’s also possible to haggle with dealers over the more expensive items - if they’ve had a record for a while and haven’t seen much interest they might be tempted to take slightly less, so it’s worth asking just to see if they’re in the mood for a little price negotiation. The Counting Out Time and Carpet Crawlers singles are another example of records that may be found for reasonable prices if you are prepared to look around. More recent standard issue singles can usually be picked up for a few pounds, depending of course on condition. This is one area in which you would be well advised to check carefully - what may seem like a bargain may in fact be a waste of money.
The other area in which much money seems to change hands is for foreign release 7” singles which often come with different picture sleeves or with sleeves when the UK issue single did not boast such a cover. Prices here can also be quite frightening and I think that this is an area which many people like to steer clear of simply because of the high prices involved. There are a wealth of items from a variety of countries to seek out, many of which are very elusive. Part of the problem with these foreign issues is that little is known about what was issued where, and so previously unknown single titles may well appear all of a sudden.
Other areas I should mention when talking about singles are promos, demos and acetates. Again, I think these fall into the realm of the more dedicated collector. UK promo singles are usually sought after, especially the elusive promo for Visions Of Angels. Once again, however copies of this record have been picked up for a reasonable sum so I is not entirely impossible to pick up items if you don’t have a huge budget for your collection. A label promos are another area which collectors often seek out - these have a large A label for the A side of the record so that D Js can play the right song. Double- sided promos - with the A side on both sides of the record - are another variation on these. Then we come to the murky world of the acetate. Acetates are discs usually cut to test the quality of the cut record - you can easily spot one by the weight , as they weigh more than a standard single. They can also only be played a few times before the sound quality starts to take a turn for the worse. On the Genesis front it is rumoured that there are acetates in circulation of In The Beginning as an example. It is always worth being very wary of such items, however - fakes have been known to circulate and a second opinion on the prospective purchase is well advised.
There seems to be less in the way of Genesis 12” singles that inspire the collector as the 7” single market does. However, there are of course items such as 12” picture discs, white label promo copies of singles and other variations. Perhaps there is interest in foreign issues where there was no corresponding UK issue - the single release of No Reply At All, as an example.
The collectors market for Genesis albums tends to centre on the original pressings of the L Ps on original labels (see article in TWR #17). There are also foreign albums with different sleeves (the Italian issue of Genesis Live with a different sleeve) and elusive compilations, only pressed overseas (such as the Canadian Presenting Genesis). Hard core collectors usually try to obtain pressings from around the globe on different labels, which does not limit collectors to band material. Completists who collect Anthony Phillips’s records will need to hunt down no fewer than three different US issues of The Geese & The Ghost, apart from the British pressing, the French issue etc, etc. The scope for collecting albums with such variations is limited only by your budget.
Memorabilia is the term usually applied to items that don’t fit into the category of recorded items I.e. singles, L Ps videos or CD s. Once again, there is a huge range of material that the devoted fan can try to obtain for his/her collection. Items that belonged to a band member are popular - the band’s Wind & Wuthering tour jackets for example have come up for sale at auction in recent times. Other items can include Phil Collins’ drum sticks, Steve Hackett’s guitar plectrums and so on. Auction houses often have many of these items on offer , as well as gold and silver discs. Recently, Phil’s BPI silver disc for A Trick Of The Tail came up for auction (it was donated for charity) and it could have been yours if you had £1100 to spare. Other items include paper goods - tour programmes, especially early ones, posters, postcards, fanzines (who knows, one day people might even collect issues of TWR!) and so on. Autographs are another interesting area although I would imagine that most collectors would prefer to obtain autographs themselves at concerts or public appearances rather than pay the somewhat inflated prices that some dealers are charging. Unfortunately it is the case that fakes are in circulation, so if you have not seen the signatures of the band or are unsure, then you would be wise to ask for a second opinion from someone you trust. Autographs in themselves are fairly interesting, but autographed records or other items are more collectable. Once again, authenticity is of the utmost importance although many genuine sellers like to be able to show proof that the autographs are genuine (I.e. photographic proof).
In the past few years there has been a big increase in the number of CD promos - CDs issued to radio stations or to the press to promote a new release by an artist before it is available to the public. There are a vast range of items that fall into this category, which I cannot hope to touch on here but there is plenty to be getting on with. There are also radio show CDs, CD s which are pressed up solely for use by radio stations as complete programmes. They are not supposed to be sold but often creep out into the market at sometimes very steep prices. They do however, provide a good source of excellent quality live material or interviews that cannot be heard elsewhere. Finally there are CD singles, which often boast tracks otherwise unavailable on album, which makes them another area for the collector to tackle.
Even in his area there are items to collect. The band have released a number of videos which have shown up in a couple of different versions. The best example of a collectable video is the Invisible Touch Tour video, which came with a bonus CD single of Domino included with the first 5000 copies. There are also one-track promos - short video tapes that just include the promotional video for one song on them. These are designed for the record promoting world but they have started to creep out on to the collector’s market. Their value will probably be greater if they consist of material that is not otherwise available on an official video release, such as any of Tony Banks’ single promos.
There are, of course, many different variations on the items that I have outlined above. Collectors often pick up a huge variety of items in a bewildering array of formats. Band members have often made excursions into the world of session work, and collecting Phil Collins’ session appearances in particular is almost a full time occupation. There are the countless bootlegs of live and studio material that are in circulation as well, and bootlegs now take the form of records, tapes, CDs and videos with rare and otherwise unavailable material being swapped by dedicated fans.
So, in just a brief look at the often complicated world of collecting, we can see that there is a never ending scope to the material that the collector can try and pick up in one form or another, and a vast budget is not always needed in order to build up a collection that you can be justly proud of.
One word of warning - collecting is addictive! Once you’re hooked, your hooked!