Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Book review : Genesis the Gabriel era by Bob Carruthers

As a young teenager me and a bunch of friends wandered album by album into one of worlds most despised and ridiculed genres of music, progressive rock. Just saying the word conjures up images of capes, endless noodling, keyboard stacking and pointless music extravaganza. 

But we took it step by step. A bit of Marillion, some Pink Floyd but when we found Genesis we were hooked pretty much straight away. Timewise this was somewhere in the neighbourhood of Peter Gabriels So but before Another day in paradise so there was no music even remotely similar going on.

Around that time it was hard to get a hold of any footage or written stuff about the band or the genre in all felt every secretive and strange.
So we devoured every documentary or encyclopedia entry with feverish interest.

The lamb lies down on good Id bring it to a desert island with me.

So somewhat 20 years later as a Genesis fan I stumbled across this book on my Kindle 
and thought...why not? I love Gabriel era Genesis!

When you are reading you are immediately struck by the notion 
that this must be the work of a fan. 
Someone who wants to write a sort of guide to the band that he loves so much.

The problem is that the amount of material in terms of interviews seem to have been somewhat limited as the same wording and phrases are repeated 3-4 times in the book...which is great if you are studying for Genesis 101 test but if you knew anything about Genesis before reading the book it just becomes annoying.  It might just be poor editing but it becomes a nuisance after a while.

Bob Carruthers will walk you thru the bands career in sort of half assembled Ikea manner. He breaks down every album song by song which is wonderful as an idea but if you havent heard the song in question it becomes fairly useless. 

These days when I read books I like to go to youtube and check out interviews with the artist or author to hear their voices and vocal patterns so I can hear them better in my head. The problem was that the interviews online were so much better than the stuff in the book so it felt kind of flat going back to reading the book. All the interviews in the book are from the era which obviously gives more of a historic feel but you have to realize that the interviews are always tools of promotion. The problem is that you sometimes get the feeling that 1970s Genesis werent really aware of that. Its not too sexy when you badmouth your own band in an interview now is it, Phil? Also pretty much all of the reprinted articles are positive. 
Not a single bad word....seems like smooth sailing. This cant have been the case now, can it?
Well...for one thing there were loads of troubles haunting the live shows of the Lamb lies down on broadway. Peter Gabriels costume changes were less than smooth and the 3000 slides that were projected behind the band seldom came in the exact right order at the right time. This is general Genesis knowledge but this is something Carruthers neglects to emphasize. The fact that the official last show with Peter Gabriel was cancelled due to poor ticket sales so that the second to last became the last in a anticlimactic way is also not mentioned.

If you know anything about the band these little mistakes taints the whole book. I love Genesis too but if I were to write a book about them I would try to be as factual as possible and maybe even try to interview a member or two from the band specifically for the book. Then the reader can make up their own minds.

Also the book ends on a bitter sour note with two interviews with Steve Hackett, 
the last interview from when he had left the band to pursue a solocareer 
and wasnt too positive about his former bandmates.

So who should read this book? Well noone should in my crass opinion. If you are curious about Gabriel era Genesis maybe should start off with listening to the albums and you will get a pretty good idea of the band. They put out a whole bunch of remarkable albums in the early 70s that are perceived as cornerstones of progressive rock and for good reasons too. They are quirky, pastoral, mellotrondrenched, dark, exciting and even funny. Peter Gabriel is a unique frontman and Phil Collins one of the best drummers in the world. Genesis were truly a great combination of musicians and ideas. You cant really go wrong. If you are still curious to find out more....go on Youtube and check out the excellent interviews that are available there. Great stuff.  

So whats my rating for the book? 

Ill give it one moth eaten Batwing at Hard Rock Café in Sölvesborg.  


  1. What do I click if I want to subscribe to your blog? I don't speak Swedish.

  2. Ok..Ill look around. There has to be a button somewhere. And thanks for reading....! // Mattias

  3. I changed it to English and if you scroll to the bottom it says subscribe to posts....!