Song Spotlight: Feeding The Fire By Genesis

Feeding The Fire is a great example of the music of Genesis in the 1980’s.  The band opted to put more of an emphasis on atmosphere and less on musical acrobatics.  The members of Genesis proved in the 1970’s that they were extremely proficient on their instruments.  They were equally proficient at writing long, intricate songs that helped to showcase their musical abilities.  As the core of the band shrank from five to four to three members their focus shifted.  The music features less instrumentation, more space for the music to breath and more atmosphere.  As a band Genesis was always good at creating moods and atmosphere in their music.  In the 1980’s they choose to continue this practice utilizing less notes and chords.   As the band’s sound progressed the new rule of thumb was less is more.

Genesis 1986

Feeding The Fire was recorded during the Invisible Touch sessions which ran from late 1985 to early 1986.  The song did not make the final cut, but was released as the B-side to the album’s third single, Land Of Confusion.  Over the years many fans have expressed their disbelief that Feeding The Fire was not included on the album.  I understand the band’s  choice to leave the song off of the Invisible Touch album. Feeding the Fire is a fantastic song, however the sound and feel of the track is different from the rest of the songs on the album. Had the song been recorded in 1983, it would have been a perfect fit for the Genesis album.  The song does carry a bit of an Abacab era vibe. This may well be the reason that the song did not make the final cut on Invisible Touch.

Fedding The Fire 45

Feeding The Fire is a slight departure for the band musically.  The song is driven primarily by the guitars of Mike Rutherford and drums of Phil Collins. While listening to Feeding The Fire the distinct drumming of Phil Collins is immediately recognizable.  For much of his career Collins was far more than just a timekeeper behind the drum kit.  His drumming is quite musical, adding to the dynamics and the mood of the music.  After a brief flourish to open the song  the keyboards of Tony Banks play a complimentary role. The three band mates lock into a groove, laying down the song’s musical foundation.  On this solid foundation Phil Collins delivers a powerhouse vocal performance.  He alternates between belting out the vocals and a more sedate vocal.  This approach of altering his vocal delivery throughout the course of the song greatly enhances the dynamics.    His forceful delivery brings energy to the song, while the subdued sections add a sense of mystery.

3 Man Genesis

The song’s keyboard solo is an exercise in restraint for the sake of the atmosphere.  The solo takes an approach that Banks would further explore on the band’s We Can’t Dance album and on his own solo albums.  The pace is slow and deliberate as Banks uses the time to tell a musical story.  The one minute musical interlude also features Phil Collins adding  vocalizations to accompany Banks’ solo at the later half of the section.  The instrumentation is controlled and subdued.  The intensity slowly and subtly builds as the section progresses.  The section features three intelligent musicians working together to create dramatic moods and atmospheres through their collective effects.  A flashy guitar solo or a bombastic keyboard solo would not have been the best option for this song.

Genesis 1986 B n W

I can understand why fans of more complex music would not care for Feeding The Fire.  I also can see why some fans feel that the song should have been included on the Invisible Touch album.  The approach that Genesis takes on Feeding The Fire displays the band’s musical progression.   Not looking to repeat themselves, the band spent their career moving their music in new directions with each album.   Producing increasingly complex music was the band’s approach early in their career.  As time moved on the band took the approach of streamlining their music in order to continue to move forward.  It is a move that has been loved by many and hated by some.  Feeding The Fire fully encapsulates the band’s approach in the 1980’s.

Troy T.

4 thoughts on “Song Spotlight: Feeding The Fire By Genesis

  1. Well-written piece.

    My personal intro to the band was “Invisible Touch” as a 12-year-old. I devoured the albums as my allowance would let me, but without the benefit (or maybe with the joy of discovery that the lack of it made possible) of the internet, I could only guess at what would be on each back-catalog cassette :). The first time I listed to “Lamb” I thought… “Wow, Phil sounds strange here.” But it was amazing to be able to enjoy so many styles and turns of music from one group. I had to buy a second copy of Wind & Wuthering.

    My childhood full of country music. With Genesis I found a gateway into a far more open, expansive, and sophisticated world. The only downside is that there are few bands that can measure up (I would count Tool, Caligula’s Horse, and a few others in there); casual listeners who dismiss Genesis are to be pitied 🙂

    There are some throw-aways that I personally don’t care for spanning albums from every era, and (case in point with Feeding the Fire) songs that I don’t understand why the band wouldn’t have championed more. But at least we have them, and for those who only want the early era, Steve Hackett is still making great music on his own.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have a similar Genesis story, only mine started a few years earlier in 1981 just after Abacab was released. That album was introduction to Genesis and it blew my mind. I was just about 12 years old at the time. With the little bit of money that I had I was able to buy cassettes, 8-tracks and vinyl of Genesis albums. The cassette that I absolutely wore out was A Trick Of The Tail.


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