"Paying Tribute" - A selection of the various tribute albums to the music of Genesis and its members examined by Alan Hewitt.
I have to state from the outset that this selection is purely dictated by the availability of albums within the TWR editor’s collection and there is no snub intended to any worthy albums or bands which are not mentioned here. If anyone knows of any other albums which are worthy of consideration, then by all means, send them in to us and this feature may be updated at a future date but in the meantime…
The tribute band scene really got under way in the late 1980’s before taking off in a big way a few years later as the nostalgia market really began to open up. The first proper tribute album to emerge was also one of the most surprising.
In 1985, David (now Dee) Palmer, orchestrator, arranger and keyboard player with Jethro Tull began his series of orchestral interpretations of some of rock’s most well known music. He began , quite naturally, with that of Jethro Tull with the A Classic Case album in 1985 before deciding to tackle Genesis with his next one; 1987’s We Know What We Like - The Music Of Genesis. Derided by purists, this is an underrated album of quite wonderful music. OK, there are a few clunkers on it, not least the banal reading of I Know What I Like but when it works, such as on the wonderful Mad Man Moon and Entangled, it is a truly moving piece of work well worth investigation.
David Palmer/The London Symphony Orchestra - We Know What We Like - The Music of Genesis. RCA Red Seal RD86242. 1987.
It was to be a few years before another attempt was made to reintepret the band’s music but when it came it was, once again, an orchestral version: 1992’ The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra Plays Genesis Hits And Ballads. Tackling a different selection of music from its predecessor, this one once again is a mixed bag. The likes of Many Too Many and Alone Tonight fare remarkable well as do surprisingly good versions of longer form tracks such as No Son Of Mine and Tonight, Tonight, Tonight. I personally can live without Throwing It All Away and That’s All but that’s the great thing about interpretations such as this, they make you reconsider the originals.
The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra Plays Genesis Hits And Ballads. Edel EDT 52034-2. 1992.
It will come as no surprise that it was not long before a compilation was put together in Italy but even I was surprised by the sheer scale of the two disc The River Of Constant Change - A Tribute To Genesis released by Mellow Records in 1994. I shouldn’t have been as the organiser of this was one Mario Giammetti, the editor of the excellent Italian Genesis fanzine, Dusk. Spread over the album’s two discs are some truly remarkable versions of classic and lesser known tracks from the band’s canon performed by alumni from the Prog fraternity in Italy, the UK and futher afield.
Various Artists: The River Of Constant Change - A Tribute To Genesis. Meloow Records. MMP270 A/B. 1994.
The following year saw the release of what I still consider to be the best tribute album released so far: Supper’s Ready. Released by the US record label Magna Carta, this one contained some truly wonderful renditions of Genesis music from some seriously big names. The late Kevin Gilbert’s take on Back in NYC and Renaissance’s Annie Haslam’s glorious reading of Ripples to name but two. There is not a track on this one that I do not enjoy and if you can find yourself a copy of this one, I think you will find yourself enjoying it every bit as much as I do.
Various Artists: Supper’s Ready. Magna Carta. MA 9004-2. 1995.
1998 was an incredibly busy year for TWR and Genesis as the band’s final recording incarnation toured in support of the criminally underrated Calling all Stations. Meanwhile, in a small corner of Kent, a Genesis fan called Duncan Philips had the insane idea of creating a band to perform the music of Tony Banks. Called Strictly Banks, and for one truly remarkable evening on 6th September 1998, fans who attended the show at Dartford’s lovely Orchard Theatre had the chance to find out exactly what it might be like if Tony Banks were to perform a concert of his own music. I admit, I am extremely biased when it comes to this one as I was heavily involved in the project and was a member of the road crew and audience at the gig. Here we have a wonderful selection of some of Tony’s finest creations brought lovingly to life by the combined talents of Duncan and the rest of the Strictly Banks band.
Stricly Banks - A Serious Undertaking … Live! SBCD1. 1998.
Also in 1998 Eagle Rock got in on the act with a similar idea to Magna Carta with their The Fox Lies Down - A Tribute To Genesis. Once again, this one featured a plethora of musicians from the world of rock but this time from the more eccentric or, in the case of Mother Gong, weird. The result is a particularly unsatisfying one with only John Ford’s take on The Carpet Crawlers and John Wetton’s magisterial reading of Your Own Special Way being of any real worth.
Various Artists - The Fox Lies Down A Tribute To Genesis. Eagle Rock EAGCD507. 1998.
1999 saw the much heralded G99 Genesis fan convention held in Guildford, and one of the star attractions of that event were Acoustic Moods who, as their name suggests, took the acoustic approach to the band’s music. Their debut CD Total Genesis certainly delivered the goods with a wonderful mix of live and studio recordings including the truly marvellous Trick Suite. They were also one of only handful of acts to attempt to perform any material from the then recently released Calling All Stations album, and their versions of the quirky Congo is surprisingly good. The rest of the disc too is well worth a listen if you can find it.
Acoustic Moods - Total Genesis (No Catalogue number). 1999.
Another offering from Italy emerged in 1999 as well. Italian band, Domino put out theie Under Construction disc, as a sampler of the material they were preparing to perform live. This is another excellent mix of old and new material including an impressive take on Calling All Stations and a delightful After The Ordeal among others.
Domino - Under Construction. No Tape Productions.
By this time, tribute bands had started gigging both here in the UK and elsewhere and foremost among the UK contingent were ReGenesis. Originally titled Geneside (bloody silly name chaps!) by 1999 the band had built a loyal following in the UK and this album - ReGenesis Live captures the magic of one of their gigs during this period. Anyone who has seen the band in concert will tell you that they have that magical combination of musical savvy, and a self-deprecating sense of humour, all of which is on display on this excellent disc.
ReGenesis - ReGenesis Live. Mystic Records MYSCD 122. 1999.
The new millennium saw the demise of Genesis as a recording entity but that did not deter musicians wishing to show their appreciation of the band’s talents and the next disc is a real demonstration of that devotion. Norwegian musicians Yngve Guddal and Roger T Matte compiled Genesis For Two Grand Pianos by transcribing the music by ear! And what a delight it is to hear Mad Man Moon, On For The Vine and Evidence Of Autumn stripped down to just the piano among the other classics which are given a respectful treatment on this excellent CD. A second disc of further transcriptions was released a couple of years later but I have yet to get my hands on a copy of that one.
Guddal/Matte - Genesis For Two Grand Pianos. Camino Records CAMCD28. 2000.
ReGenesis were back again in 2001 as stars of the second Genesis Convention, their show at that event focussed on the band’s Lamb.. Album, hence the title Lamb For Supper. What we have here is a judicious selection of the highlights from that event’s performance, and once again, the band come up with the goods in what was evidently another excellent performance.
ReGenesis - Lamb For Supper. Mystic Records MYSCD 149. 2001.
By now, ReGenesis had been joined on the performance circuit here in the UK by a handful of other bands the most notable of these being G2enesis (or as they are known nowadays - G2). In 2002 that band released Live Seconds as a promo sampler for their music. Containing performances culled from two of their 2001 gigs here you can hear the band as they were before they became the fully fledged purveyors of classic Genesis that they are nowadays.
G2enesis - Live Seconds (Promo). 2002.
Acoustic Moods consolidated their success at 1999’s Genesis convention with a return visit at the G2 event held in Guildford in 2001. Expanding upon their debut album, what we have on this album, punningly titled Conventional Wisdom (geddit) is their entire set from that event including the wonderful total performance of the ENTIRE A Trick Of The Tail album including non album B side, It’s Yourself! Fascinating stuff and with the bonus of the likes of Fading Lights and Blood On The Rooftops this is one extremely enjoyable performance which I am sorry I missed!
Acoustic Moods - Conventional Wisdom (No Catalogue Number) 2001.
Face Value emerged in 2000/01 and took a different slant on things by combining the classic later period Genesis material alongside some of Mr Collins’ best known songs. The end result was a match made in heaven and the band went from strength to strength until their demise a few years ago out of which emerged Mama but that’s another story. The band released a trio of promotional CDs - Face Value, One Side Live and Seconds In which between them, showcased the material the band were performing to such an impeccably high standard to eager audiences around the UK.
Face Value - One Side Live/Face Value/Seconds In (Promo).
Another UK based band emerged at roughly the same time, Genesis In The Cage shared the platform at several Genesis conventions before their ultimate demise in the late Noughties. Sadly, they were never in the same league as their compatriots as this recording demonstrates.
Genesis In The Cage - Two Sides Live (No Catalogue Number) 2002.
The USA and Canada were also fortunate to have several bands prepared to take up the cudgels of bringing this music to an eager audience. Of these, Seconds Out (not to be confused with the German band of the same name) produced an excellent two disc recording of their show at The Tralf Concert Club in early 2002. Here you have a full mid ‘70’s Genesis show in all its glory. Classics such as Watcher Of The Skies, Squonk, Supper’s Ready… in effect a Seconds Out album plus. There are some remarkable performances herin and this is one tribute band I would have loved to see!
Seconds Out - Live At The Tralf. 2002.
Canada’s contribution to the Genesis tribute band scene came in the shape of the superlative The Musical Box who, since the early 1990’s have been wowing audiences worldwide with their recreations of the band’s stage shows in the classic 1970 -75 period. As far as I know, the band themselves have not produced a commercially available CD or promo but their erstwhile keyboard player, David Myers has made up for that shortfall with two superb discs of piano transcriptions in a similar mould to those mentioned earlier. David is a consummate performer and here we have not only performances of some of the classic songs from the Genesis canon but also rarely performed gems such as For Absent Friends Time Table and Harold The Barrel. The result is two more discs of supremely enjoyable Genesis music.
David Myers - Plays Genesis Experience Records EXP2 207. 2005.
David Myers - Plays More Genesis. Octave Musique OCT 2 7010. 2010.
Someone who is no stranger to the band’s repertoire is Italian musician Marco Lo Muscio, an accomplished pianist and organ player, who in 2009 decided to try another different take on paying tribute to the band’s story by including music from several of their solo projects including a delightful performance of Lutes Chorus from Anthony Phillips’s debit album: The Geese & The Ghost and Set Your Heart At Rest and All I s Mended from Steve Hackett’s magisterial orchestral album A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Not just a tribute to Genesis, this one also includes superb transcripts from the music of Rick Wakeman and Keith Emerson too making it a true delight.
Marco Lo Muscio - Dark And Light. Drycastle DR-026. 2009.
Veteran Genesis tribute band ReGenesis returned to the stage in 2009 for a series of highly anticipated UK shows the highlights of which were captured on their Live At The Empire album. Once again, a superb show was performed, I can vouch for this as I was “doing the merch” for the band at this gig which took place at the venerable Shepherds Bush Empire Theatre in old London Town!
ReGenesis - Live At The Empire. Mystic Records MYSCD204. 2010.
2010 saw a prime example of how NOT to do it when it comes to putting together an orchestral tribute to a band. Tolga Kashif is a well known and respected orchestral arranger who has also produced a similar CD of Queen music among others. That may well be the case but I for one wish he had left Genesis’ music alone as the resulting album - The Genesis Suite is an appalling hotchpotch that does nothing for Kashif’s credentials or for the music he is supposed to be paying tribute to. Ironically this is performed by the same orchestra as the very first album in this feature but the result in this case is markedly inferior.
Tolga Kashif - The Genesis Suite. Lightsong Music LMGRCD1. 2010.
More recently still in 2012, Regenesis’ keyboard player Dough Melbourne and singer Tony Patterson indulged their love of Peter Gabriel’s solo work by putting together the excellent (pun intended) Excellent Words - A Tribute To The Music of Peter Gabriel. Stripped back to the bare essentials of piano and voice, this is perhaps the closest you will ever come to hearing Peter’s demos for such songs as Darkness, No Self Control and Family Snapshot. Patterson sounds uncannily like Mr Gabriel when he is in his Genesis guise, he sounds even more like him here - superb stuff!
Tony Patterson/Doug Melbourne - Excellent Words A Tribute To The Music Of Peter Gabriel (No Catalogue Number). 2012.
Marco Lo Muscio had another go at combining the various facets of the Genesis story with 2013’s Playing The History. Once again the resulting album which also features Steve and John Hackett is that rarest of creations, a genuinely enjoyable alternative take on some very familiar music and once again, not jyst by Genesis although the performance of Hairless Heart and After The Ordeal is worth the admission price alone. No, here we have works by Genesis, Steve Hackett AND Anthony Phillips as well as material by Rick Wakeman, King Crimson and Van Der Graaf Generator - fascinating!
Marco Lo Muscio - Playing The History. Hacktrax HTRX 006. 2013.
And bringing up the rear in this feature is 2015’s Steppes Beyond The Colossus which, as its title might suggest, focuses on the music of Steve Hackett and Genesis. Once again, the results are decidedly mixed. When it works such as on Roberto Magni’s excellent version of The Steppes or Clarion’s Hands Of The Priestess, then it is a reinvigorating look at a familiar classic. When it doesn’t however, such as Jay Tausig’s dirge like take on Icarus Ascending, then reach for the skip button!
Various Artists - Steppes Beyond The Colossus. Mellow Records MMP 523. 2015.
And there you have it folks, almost thirty years’ worth of tributes to the music of Genesis. Ironically almost as much time as TWR’s existence, eh? Some hits, some near misses and some train wrecks but that is the perilous world of tributes my friends. As I said at the start of this feature, this is by no means a complete look at what’s out there and if there are any other similar projects that you are aware of and want your editor to cast an appraising eye and ear over, then send’em in!