“The Story of…..Genesis” - Narrated by Alan Hewitt.
The early 1980’s were another incredibly busy period for the Genesis. Duke and Abacab had seen the band make their transition from Progressive to Pop superstars with almost nonchalant ease. The three incumbents has also followed up their first solo outings with further releases to varying degrees of success.
Many bands don’t make it beyond their first single let alone their twelfth but the follow up to 1981’s highly successful Abacab album was to occupy the band throughout most of 1983.
Fans had already had to cope with the bands decision to ditch the Progressive epherriera which they had done in easy stages over the two preceding albums, losing many older fans but gaining many newer ones who obviously found the bands new sound an easier proposition to deal with. Even so many were unsure of what to expect from the band next.
The first glimpse of the new album emerged in August 1983 in the unlikely shape of the Mama single. I have already gone on record as saying that I did not even recognise the single as Genesis on first hearing and that is indeed true and an indication of just how far the band had gone from their trademark sound.
Here we had a six minute song ostensibly about a man’s obsession with a prostitute, hardly typical Genesis fare but there you go. The single peaked at the top twenty of the UK charts and achieved similar success elsewhere too. In the lead up to the new album titled simply “ Genesis “ certainly a statement of intent by the band. Here were no gimmicks; they were quite prepared to be judged on their music and not their fashion sense or their current squeezes !
Mama was followed after the release of the album in mid September 1983 by a further two singles; the Country and Western tinged That’s All and the hilarious Illegal Alien which got the band into no small degree of trouble in the US where their typically tongue in cheek humour did not go down so well with the authorities.
The album itself achieved number one position here in the UK and elsewhere
much to the bands satisfaction; however the album itself is by Genesis’s
own standards a somewhat lacklustre affair.
Mama and Home By The Sea/Second Home By The Sea – a longer Genesis song in the old tradition aside the rest of the album never reaches any great heights I’m afraid. Maybe it was that problem “Thirteenth” album who knows?
The absence of any non album B sides to any of the singles is a clear indication that the band on this occasion had struggled to come up with the creative goods in the studio.
No such problems with the tour which was announced to support the album – a massive seventy show tour of the US and Canada which began on 7th November 1983 in Normal, Illinois and was to run through to the end of February 1984. Unusually Europe was completely left off the tour schedule this time while the UK received a mere five gigs at Birmingham’s National Exhibition Centre at the end of February. As compensation for the loss of gigs in Europe the band did prepared a specially recorded film shot during their rehearsals in Dallas.
This film featured “performances” of Mama, That’s All, Home By The Sea, Second Home By The Sea, Illegal Alien and Keep It Dark. Broadcast in France under the titles “Five Songs Live “this was Europe’s only view of the new look stage show.
Once again the band had invested heavily in the latest technology – The Mark IV Vari–Lite featured predominantly in the new show harnessed to a highly mobile lighting gantry that dominated the stage; this rig came into its own during such classics as In The Cage and Home By The Sea. The changes in the band’s outlook extended to their live set a greater proportion of the old material which had been aired on the previous ours was relegated to a couple of token medleys including classics such as 11th Earl of Mar, The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway. In The Cage, however remained the jewel in the crown of the live set augmented by the new highlights which included both Mama and Home By The Sea.
By the time the band reached the UK for their Birmingham gigs the fans were aware that these shows would be special and so they were. The band also took the unprecedented step of recording all five nights of the UK “Tour” for release as a live video which appeared in early 1985 under the title “ The Mama Tour “
With the tour concluded, the band could look back on a period of unrerutting
creativity and success – both artistic and commercial. The fans were in
for an almost two year wait before the next album by the band but that, dear
reader is another story!