"Chapter and Verse" - The latest book on Genesis by Philip Dodds reviewed by Alan Hewitt.
Anticipation has been high for this book ever since its existence was first mentioned back in 2005. Promising to tell the 'warts and all' story of the band in their own words and thos of their associates, it certainly has a lot to live up to.
Well, the anticipation is over and the book is in the bookstores. Does it justify the admission proces of £30? Of course, I have to try and be somewhat circumspect where reviewing something that is potentially a rival to my own recently released project otherwise accusations of jealousy will abound; they will anyway no matter what I say, but let me assure you, this review will be both fair and critical in a constructive way, take it or leave it.
To be honest, I was nto expecting any great 'revelations' (pardon the pun) on the subject of Genesis in this project. I was, however, expecting more honesty (read depth) from the individual protagonists this time around. The one thing I have always admired about Genesis in terms of their responses to interviews (including my own) is their remarkable consistency in their replies. Having heard rather more radio /tv interviews with the guys than is perhaps really healthy, they have stuck to the same 'script' pretty much without any real deviation throughout all of this time. This makes for a frustating time when you know that there is a lot more to the story than is being told.
Occasionally there are glimpses, such as during Mr Smith's section where his comments about both Steve and Ray have more than a ring of truth about them. And Ahmed Ertegun's revelation that Mr Smith gave him a lambasting for not doing enough to promote the band in the US. Fascinating as these extracts are, they are nothing more than window dressing in an otherwise polished and by now, overly familiar re-telling of the story.
The one moment I genuinely enjoyed was the lovely recollection by Anthony Phillips of the time when he and Mike were rehearsing the beginning of White Mountain only to be interrupted by Mike's girlfriend. Now, having heard the tape in question, I was pleasantly surprised to hear that it was Mike's girlfriend rather than Ant's mother, as I had always previously assumed!
tectually though, it has to be said that the book is for me at least, a major disappointment. I do not think that this is the fault of Philip Dodds either. He has marshalled his resources - essentially a series of interview quotes - very well and the result is a smooth and pleasant read. However, there are no fresh insights into the band's rationale here. This is the band's own story in their own words and as such it is the individual protagonists who are being perhaps a tad disingenuous here. Dodds is merely their editor and not their interpreter and the result is a book which lacks any real substance.
Visually, the book is crammed with photos from various archives. Sadly however, too many of them have appeared before in one place or another. Nonetheless, for fans who may have missed out on previous photo extrvaganzas by Armando Gallo, this one will certainly make up for it.
There is certainly still a story to be told as far as Genesis are concerned. Sadly this book doe not even begin to scratch the surface of that story. It does not draw enough out of the protagonists themselves. The quotes are stock answers and at times read surprisingly glibly. Perhaps it should be viewed as the band's own version of The Beatles "Anthology" and we all know how disappointing that sanitised version of history was?!
I am left wondering who (if anyone) is going to take the job of telling the band's story frankly and honestly, on? It certainly won't be me. I have had more than my fill of such projects - and the aggrovation they can generate! The band's story deserves to have justice done to it, and sad to say, but true in my opinion, this one comes nowhere near doing so.