"Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery" - The various Genesis "tribute" studio albums examined by Alan Hewitt.
Indeed, if imitation IS the sincerest form of flattery, then Genesis should certainly consider themselves very flattered indeed! Over the last ten or so years, not only has the market for bands performing various parts of the band's and its solo components' back catalogues regularly at gigs up and down the UK and elsewhere, grown enormously, but in addition top this, there have also been several studio albums compiling interpretations of the band's rich musical history too.
The earliest of these appeared back in 1995 with the extremely adventurous double album compilation of performances gathered together under the title of The River Of Constant Change - A Tribute To Genesis which was released in Italy. A delightful mix of accurate re-creations and loving re-workings of many of the tracks which fans are familiar with as well as nice renditions of some of the less well-appreciated tracks from the back catalogue. Performed by some of the leading lights in the European and UK Progressive Rock scene, this album was the precursor of the others which have so bravely trodden in its footsteps since.
Various Artists: The River Of Constant Change - A Tribute To Genesis. Mellow Records (Italy) MMP 270 2 CD set.
Also surfacing in that year was another compilation: Supper's Ready. The chief attraction of this disc was the appearance on it of some extremely well known personages from the world of rock including ex-Genesis producer; David Hentschel and Peter Bardens (Camel) and Annie Haslam (Renaissance). Once again the album featured many reinterpretations of classic Genesis tracks and for me some of the highlights are those tracks which dare to venture away from mere reproduction of the band's own sound (a pointless exercise when you can always listen to the original disc if that is what you want to hear!). The late Kevin Gilbert's version of Back In NYC is one such stunning re-working and so is Crack The Sky's rendition of I Know What I Like. Annie Haslam's glorious rendering of Ripples is worth the price of admission on its own. Another extremely enjoyable effort.
Various Artists: Supper's Ready. Magna Carta Records MA-9004-2 CD.
Three years later and another band of intrepid artists had another stab at some of the band's music. Titled: The Fox Lies Down - A Tribute To Genesis, this album featured another interesting mix of established and new faces re-working their favourite Genesis tracks. This album fails to deliver the same mixture of accuracy and interpretation and in some cases, I think that some of the versions have been deliberately made so radically different to their originator purely for the sake of being "radical" than out of any real sense of musical adventure, nonetheless, it is interesting to hear such alumni as Patrick Moraz and Daevid Allen tackle such classics as Los Endos and Visions Of Angels. Does it work? You be the judges!
Various Artists: The Fox Lies Down - A Tribute To Genesis. Eagle Records EAGCD057.
The next album to tackle the band's back catalogue did so from an entirely different perspective and as such it succeeded beyond all expectations as far as I am concerned. Based round the transcriptional and musical talents of two Norwegian musicians; Genesis For Two Grand Pianos stripped back the multiple layers of music to the bare bones of the keyboard parts. Listening to such classics as Fountain Of Salmacis and Mad Man Moon in this setting makes for an immensely pleasurable experience indeed. Even more astonishing when you realise that NONE of this music is available in printed form and so the musicians had to transcribe it all by themselves by ear! Certainly an album that any self-respecting Genesis fan should have in their collection!
Yngve Guddal/Roger T Matte: Genesis For Two Grand Pianos. Camino Records CAMCD28.
All of this brings me rather nicely to the real motive for writing this feature. I had been informed a while ago that David Myers (former keyboard player/arranger for Canadian Genesis tribute band: The Musical Box) had been working on an album of Genesis music. Having had the pleasure of seeing David perform with that band both in Canada and in the UK I was quite excited at the prospect of hearing what he would bring to this project.
Here it is; simply titled: David Myers Plays Genesis. The album is another fine slice of acoustic Genesis. This album focuses firmly on David's own interpretations of the pieces he has selected for the album and therefore if you are expecting an album similar to the previous one I mentioned; forget it! David has placed his own stamp of individual musicianship on each and every track. Every performance shows each track in a brand new setting and just when you think you really "know" tracks such as Firth Of Fifth and Blood On The Rooftops, David manages to take them off into new realms and brings a new vibrancy and vigour to the proceedings. I always knew that David was an extremely accomplished musician and this album goes a long way to proving that the Genesis catalogue, if handled with love and care, can still provide so many delightful surprises. This is a MUST HAVE album for Genesis fans everywhere - I love it!
David Myers: David Myers Plays Genesis. Experience Records EXP2 207.