In The Rapids, An Overlooked Gem By Genesis

In The Rapids is a Genesis song that really does not get much attention. It is the penultimate song from the band’s superb concept album The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway (1974). At two minutes and twenty two seconds the track is short, but it sure is not sweet. The band packs an incredible amount of music and emotion into this compact gem.

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Peter Gabriel certainly had his fair share of great vocal performances during his time with Genesis. Dancing With The Moonlit Knight, The Lamia, The Battle Of Epping Forest, Back In N.Y.C. are just a few that come to mind. I would say that In The Rapids stands as one of my favorite vocals from Peter Gabriel.

It is amazing how much the band packs into this song. There is more brilliance on display inside of this short song than many bands are able to put onto an entire album. Every member of the band shines here adding their musical parts and pieces to enhance the collective whole.

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The song has a deceptively low key intro, just clean guitars. Peter Gabriel enters soon after, initially delivering a reserved vocal.  At the 0.54 mark the rest of the band slowly enters. They spend the remainder of the song slowly building layer upon layer of musical tension, emotion and drama. To fully appreciate this gem you really have to listen to it with headphones on.

The band puts on an absolute clinic in subtlety and finesse. Initially the music is a foundation for Gabriel’s vocals. But as the song progresses there is so much going on, the music feels as if it is swirling around Gabriel’s vocals.

At the 1:29 mark Steve Hackett’s electric guitar wails and the rest of the band bring up the intensity. At this point there is less than one minute until the song segues into the album’s finale with the song It. The desperation in Gabriel’s vocal is nearly heartbreaking. Steve Hackett’s guitar adds to the melancholy felt during this end portion. It almost sounds like his guitar is weeping. Phil Collins is at the top of his game here and throughout The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway. Not content to just display his considerable skills on the drums, Phil always had a musical approach to the drums. His drumming is not merely keeping the time, his playing elevates the somber mood of the song.

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Before you know it the song is over. The tension is released with the siren like intro of the album’s final song.  As a stand alone track In The Rapids is very emotional. But taken in context with the rest of The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway the song is so much more. At this point of The Lamb’s storyline as a listener you are emotionally drained by Rael and John’s journey.

For me In The Rapids is the most overlooked gem in the entire Genesis discography. At 2:22 it is all too easy to miss this track. After the tour for The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway the band never played this song live again. It is to bad that in later years Genesis never really explored much of The Lamb live beyond the title track, In The Cage, The Carpet Crawlers and a section of Colony Of Slippermen.  Granted, In the Rapids is an unusual song to play on its own. Perhaps it would have worked best in the context of a medley. I have included audio for both In The Rapids and It.  Since one goes directly into the next, it is hard to play one without the other.

Troy T.

The Music Of Cirrus Bay: A Trick Of The Wind, A Wuthering Tail

Cirrus Bay are a U.S. based band with its musical heart firmly rooted in 1970s progressive rock. One of the great things about this band is that they do not sound retro. They may be playing 1970’s styled progressive rock, but their sound is throughly modern.

The band’s predominant influence is 1970’s Genesis, with a huge emphasis on the keyboard stylings of Tony Banks. The overall sound of Cirrus Bay is a laid back, slightly folksy, take on the sounds of the classic Genesis albums A Trick Of The Tail and Wind And Wuthering. The big point of difference with Cirrus Bay is the band’s use of female vocalists. While the music heavily draws on the sounds of Genesis the female vocals help to give the band a different sound. The influence of Genesis looms largely on all of Cirrus Bay’s albums. The band utilizes that influence to create a progressive rock sound that is their own.

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To date Cirrus Bay have released five albums. With each new release the band continues to hone their craft. The first album, The Slipping Of The Day (2008), is a mixed bag. It features a male and a female vocalist. I am sorry to say that the male vocalist is not a very good singer. As a result about half of the album is good. On subsequent albums female singers have handled the vocals quite effectively. The band’s second album, A Step Into Elsewhere (2009), firmly establishes the Cirrus Bay sound. The band delivers melodic, keyboard driven prog accented by acoustic and electric guitars. Overall the music may not be as flashy as other prog bands. That said, there are plenty of long, well played instrumental passages present. Whimsical Weather (2012) and The Search For Joy (2014) continue the band’s evolution and subtle refinements. With their latest album, Places Unseen (2016), the band delivers their best album.

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Bill Gillham is the band’s main songwriter and he handles multiple instruments on the albums. It is quite obvious that he is heavily influenced by Tony Banks. Whether playing keyboards or piano he proves to be quite a skilled disciple of the unique keyboard styling of Tony Banks.

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Gillham also handles most of the guitar playing on the albums. He is quite adept at acoustic and electric guitar. Strummed acoustic guitars feature prominently throughout the music of Cirrus Bay. On the electric guitar Gillham does, at times, produce some Steve Hackett-like guitar sounds and riffs.  Keyboards may be the primary instrument on Cirrus Bay’s albums, but there is plenty of tasteful guitar throughout.

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For the bulk of the albums Sharra Acle and Anisha Gillham handle the lead vocals. On the band’s most recent album, Places Unseen, the lead vocals are handled by Tai Shan. All three singers have similar sounding voices that would not be out of place singing folk songs or ballads.

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Mark Blasco handles the drums and bass. Cirrus Bay’s intention is not to showcase over the top virtuosity. This is reflected in Blasco’s handling of the drums and bass. A skilled player, he lays down the song’s foundation, playing what each song requires. When he needs to step it up for the more involved instrumental breaks he does so quite well. There are plenty of opportunities for the band to showcase their instrumental prowess.  Over the course of their albums some songs routinely extend pass the ten minute mark.

Although the main influence is A Trick Of The Tail and Wind And Wuthering the sounds of other Genesis album do crop up as well. Listening to Cirrus Bay’s catalog one can hear small musical traces of the Genesis albums Foxtrot, The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway, And Then There Were Three and Selling England By The Pound.

Another great aspect of Cirrus Bay are their beautiful album covers. There is a running theme of painterly landscapes on the band’s album covers. Some of these pictures are so good you want to hang them on your wall. Of the five albums The Search For Joy contains my favorite album cover.

With four solid albums under their collective belts Cirrus Bay has a lot going for them. I am really enjoying their modern take on 1970’s progressive rock. Their future appears to be very bright. If you like well written, melodic progressive rock with long instrumentals this might be a band for you. I highly recommend Cirrus Bay to fans of Genesis and 1970’s progressive rock.

Troy T.

Tony Banks And Marillion’s Fish

What a classic pairing of two progressive rock greats. Over the course of two albums Tony Banks collaborated with one time Marillion singer Fish on three songs. Those albums were Tony Banks’ solo albums Soundtracks (1986) and Still (1991). It is said that Fish auditioned for Genesis after Phil Collins departed in 1996. True or not, these three songs give a little insight into what a Fish led Genesis may have sounded like.

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On the surface Fish leading Genesis sounds like a very intriguing idea.  It is quite apparent that the music of Genesis was a huge influence on Marillion.  As a big fan of both bands I am sure that I would have enjoyed this pairing a great deal. At the time Fish possessed a unique voice that sounded like an amalgam of Phil Collins and Peter Gabriel. Realistically I do not believe that it would have worked. New material by this pairing would most likely have been fantastic. But could Fish have handled singing Genesis’ back catalog? I really can not imagine Fish effectively singing songs like Mama or Tonight, Tonight, Tonight. Over time would he really want to?

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Personally I would have loved to have seen Wang Chung singer Jack Hues front post Collins Genesis. Hues recorded an exceptional album with Tony Banks in 1995, Strictly Inc. And I do believe that he had a voice that could tackle the band’s back catalog successfully. In hindsight the best solution may have been to go the route that Mike and the Mechanics went down. Utilizing two different singers may have been the best solution.

Let’s get back to Fish and Tony Banks. Their first collaboration was the song Shortcut To Somewhere, written by Tony Banks and Fish. Of the three songs this is the only one  to be recorded while Fish was still a member of Marillion. It is an upbeat synth rocker that would have fit right in on the Genesis album Abacab. Overall it is a good song, but far from either party’s best work.

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The next two songs appear on Tony Bank’s album Still.  Angel Face is a slow, moody song written solely by Tony Banks. Vocally it shows Fish in a slightly different light since he did not write the lyrics.  This is an excellent track

Written by Tony Banks and Fish, Another Murder Of A Day clocks in at just over nine minutes.  It is a dramatic, piano driven rock track. The song features a passionate vocal from Fish, one of Tony Banks’ flashier keyboard solos and some great guitar from Daryl Stuermer.

Tony Banks and Fish worked quite well together, more collaborations would have been welcome. Based on these songs would Fish have worked out fronting Genesis? Perhaps, but only if they focused on new material and select Genesis tracks in a concert setting. Listening to the song Something In The Air, from Fish’s second solo album Internal Exile (1991), may give further insight. It is a cover song, but Fish’s rendition sure sounds a lot like it could have been a mid to late 80’s Genesis song. Maybe it could have worked out well. We’ll never know, but it is fun to imagine the possibilities.

Troy T.

Song Spotlight: Cul-De-Sac By Genesis

Cul-De-Sac is the ninth song on the Genesis album Duke, released in 1980. This very dramatic track could have been right at home on the band’s Wind And Wuthering album, released in 1976. I will forever argue that Duke is a progressive rock album and this great track helps to illustrate that point.

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The song opens quietly with just keyboards and a brief vocal. The band then spend nearly one minute setting the mood of the song instrumentally. The bulk of the music coming from Tony Banks’ lavish keyboard play. When the main vocal begins the bass and drums drive the song musically, with the keyboards complimenting. Mike Rutherford plays some fantastic bass lines that, along with Phil Collins’ drums, really propel the song. Aside from a wonderfully melodic, but brief, guitar solo the guitars really take a back seat.

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At the 2:54 mark the band slows the pace and brings the drama down a notch. They than slowly rebuild the tension and drama. That drama comes to a head as Phil belts out, “No, not even one!” This leads to Mike’s guitar solo and one last chorus before it all ends in a very dramatic instrumental flourish.

I must say that Cul-De-Sac features one of my favorite vocal performances from Phil Collins. It’s a very serious vocal that perfectly compliments the dramatic feel of the music and the lyrics. Phil takes a slightly different approach to the vocals. His delivery is restrained, but strong, controlled but forceful.

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Overall Cul-De-Sac is a great example of three man Genesis. The song is drenched in keyboards, but all five instruments, (keyboards, bass, drums, guitars and vocals) are important to the music. The three band members play for the song, there is not a need for any over the top playing here.

Duke is my favorite album by Genesis. I feel that everything came together for this album. All aspects are top notch, from the songwriting to the production to the energetic performances. For me it is a near perfect album.  Kudos to David Hentschel who co-produced  the album with the band.

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Cul-De-Sac is a song that the band never played live. Unfortunately this great song tends to get overlooked. I feel that it is a very special song that deserves a bit more attention.

Troy T.

Genesis 2016: The Outline Still Remains

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If you are a fan of the solo careers of the various members of Genesis than 2016 has been a very good year.

Steve Hackett recently finished his highly successful Acolyte to Wolflight/Genesis Revisited tour. He is currently recording his next album and next year he will hit the road to support it. Part of the new live show will be dedicated to celebrating the 40th anniversary of the classic Genesis album Wind and Wuthering.

This year Phil Collins has slowly emerged out of retirement with a few live performances. His autobiography, Not Dead Yet, is due to be released later this month. With each live performance he appears stronger and healthier. That is a very good thing to see.

Mike Rutherford is currently touring with Mike and the Mechanics. Their set list includes some new songs that I can only assume are going to appear on the next Mechanics album scheduled to be released next year.

Peter Gabriel recently finished a large co-heading tour with Sting. He also released two new singles this year, I’m Amazing and The Veil.

What a great year, so far, but one member of the band is noticeably absent. Tony Banks where are you? We know that he is alive and well but he is keeping a very low profile. His only recent activity has been the release of older material. 2015 saw the release of his career spanning box set A Chord Too Far as well as remastered reissues of two of his solo albums, A Curious Feeling and The Fugitive. If you are not familiar with Tony’s solo music I would highly recommend purchasing the boxset. But where is the new music?

The extended members of the Genesis family have been active throughout 2016 as well. Anthony Phillips, Ray Wilson, Daryl Stuermer and Chester Thompson all continue to be involved in studio recordings and/or live shows.

All of this activity makes Tony’s silence that much louder. I do not mean to harp on Tony, but I am a huge fan of his rock solo albums. His two classical albums leave me a bit cold, but at least they contain new music. His last release of new music was in 2012, that’s a bit too long for me. I find it curious that he has chosen to remain so still. It feels like he wants to be incognito, as if he is a fugitive on the run from a music studio. I know that his solo career did not help his bank statement, but I sure would love to hear some new music from Mr Banks in 2017.

Thus far, Tony Banks’ absence aside, 2016 has been quite a productive year from the Genesis camp.  2017 looks to be more of the same.  In my opinion the odds of a Genesis reunion are slim to none, despite the fact that some members of the band seem open to the possibility.   If the band never reforms I am fine with that.  I am happy that the various members of the band continue to produce new music.  And some continue to carry the torch by keeping the great music of Genesis in their set lists.

Phil Collins – In The Open Air

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Words can not express how great is was to see Phil Collins perform tonight at the opening of the US Open. For those who may not have seen it he performed two songs, In The Air Tonight and Easy Lover. This continues his slow emergence from retirement. As I was watching I couldn’t help but think if Tony Banks and Mike Rutherford were watching.

It is apparent that Phil is still recovering from his recent surgeries. As great as it was to see him tonight it was also a little bittersweet because he looks a bit older than his 65 years. I know that no one stays young forever, but it can be hard to watch your heroes grow old. Despite his appearance he sounded great and he sang with great passion. His band was amazing, especially Daryl Stuermer on guitar. Special mention must be made for his teenage son Nick who handled the drums like a pro.

What’s next for Phil? Only time will tell. For me, as a huge fan, I would love another solo album and one more Genesis album. I think asking for a tour at this time is a bit too much to ask. If, however, there is no new music in the future I’m fine with that. Phil Collins has provided me with thirty plus years of enjoyment through his music. So much of his music has been and continues to be part of the soundtrack of my life. He has given up so much for his love of music: marriages, family time and ultimately aspects of his health. Speaking as a fan, this man owes me nothing at all, he has already willingly given so much of himself and his life.  Here’s to many years of healing, health and happiness to one of my biggest music heroes.

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The Curious Case of Tony Banks

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I am a HUGE fan of the band Genesis.  I am also a fan of a good deal of the solo material released by various members of the band over the years.  Focusing on the five main players in the band’s history (Tony Banks, Mike Rutherford, Peter Gabriel, Steve Hackett and Phil Collins) and their music careers outside of the band, one thing stands out.  That is the lack of success of one member, Tony Banks.

Phil Collins became a household name and arguably one of the biggest pop stars of the 1980′ and 90’s.

Peter Gabriel was a mainstay of MTV in the 80’s.  He has achieved worldwide recognition as well as a great deal of critical acclaim because of his innovative music.

Mike Rutherford formed Mike and the Mechanics and had a few top 40 hits as well as an #1 single.

Steve Hackett has had moderate success as a solo artist. He has developed a small, but loyal fan base over the years.  But he had his biggest success with the band GTR.  The band produced one successful album which spawned one hit single.

Tony Banks?  A curious case, nine albums, including two band projects, and no success.  Genesis fans and music fans in general seem to regard his solo career with  a collective sigh of indifference.  I wish I knew why, I love his solo recording.  He was arguably the most important songwriter in Genesis.  Throughout the band’s career his keyboards shaped the overall sound of the band.  In most cases his solo recordings are just as good, if not better, than the music that he produced with Genesis.  So, if you are feeling musically adventurous than I would strongly advise that you check out his solo work.