Wednesday, October 21, 2015


Genesis skirted sophomoric stagnation to find themselves and give all through visions of angels and tales of sin in this preternatural progressive penance.  After the recording of their debut album 'From Genesis to Revelation'  while the members were still students at the Charterhouse School, drummer John Silver left the band.  Tony Banks enrolled at Sussex University and Mike Rutherford went to Farnborough College of Technology, while Peter Gabriel and Anthony Phillips finished up at Charterhouse.  They came back together in the summer of 1969 and decided to pursue music full time.  John Mayhew was brought into the fold and fellow Charterhouse alum and former singer for The Anon Richard MacPhail became their new manager.  He brought the band to his parents' cottage in Wotton, Surrey to rehearse and compose new material.  They lived there for several month, playing long hours and gigging occasionally.  Their live show caught the attention of Charisma A&R man John Anthony who recommended the to label owner Tony Stratton-Smith.  They signed with Charisma and got to work on their second album 'Trespass' in June of 1970 at Trident Studios in London with John Anthony producing with engineer Robin Geoffrey Cable.   The sessions featured   Tony Banks on organ, acoustic & electric pianos, mellotron, acoustic guitar, and backing vocals;    Peter Gabriel on lead vocals, flute, accordion, bass drum, and tambourine;   John Mayhew on drums, percussion, and backing vocals;   Anthony Phillips on electric guitar, acoustic guitar, dulcimer, and backing vocals;   and  Mike Rutherford on bass guitar, acoustic guitar, nylon string guitar, cello, and backing vocals.  

Phillips ponders:   "There was a huge, lost world of material in between, as we went from our school-boy holiday song-based album through similar songs, but more mature, through to our first experiments with longer forms. Tony began using the organ, as we left Jonathan King’s more commercial song-based stable. Then, there were long jams, with heavier riff ideas — like “Knife,” etc. We had to raise the tempo and power to get noisy crowds to listen when we ventured out on the road! In short, we were from songwriters who played a bit on an album to a fully equipped, fighting-force live band — and most of the transitional material betwixt those two points bit the dust."

Mayhew muses:   " I remember sitting by the mixing desk for a few hours and watching what was happening there. I recall one of the last tracks we recorded was actually “The Knife.” I remember feeling particularly in the mood to play “The Knife” that day for some reason – that is what I recollect. Not that I didn’t feel in the mood to play the other songs as well on other days, but I really liked playing it that day. It seemed to go well...We were just so well-drilled on the songs. Everything was note perfect. So, that it just took over. It was fun...I think they were very keen to maintain creative control, of course...I think that they were just learning to listen to outside influences. Not that they needed to learn hard. For example, they knew that they had to listen to the people who were paying for these sessions. That would be the thing to do. Just like how the softer songs had to go and be put on the back burner and louder, more strident Friday night at the pub sounds were the new order of the day. So, Genesis went through lots of changes at that time, and I think some of that advice would have come from Charisma. They were giving advice right from the start when they came down to hear us in Sussex...They were improving all the time and probably quite obviously they would have been looking at that. The album contract had been secured months ahead of the actual recording date. In the meantime, we were still rehearsing, just practicing so the music would be note perfect. By the time we got to the studio, I felt like a well-drilled soldier, I think we all did."

Banks:      "We became more interested in longer form – allowing ourselves to go a few other places. The groups that were influencing us were groups that were doing a bit more of that kind of thing, like Procul Harum and Family, and Fairport Convention. When we were writing Trespass, In The Court Of The Crimson King came out, and that had influence on us, definitely...“The Knife” was an important song for us to write, because quite a lot of what we’d done up to the point was quite soft and acoustic. Peter (Gabriel) wrote what you might call the best bit. We started trying all this extra stuff – not just guitar solos, but really structured instrumentals. A lot of the songs had quite simple starting points – we allowed ourselves to stretch."

Rutherford:    "It was quite a formative time. Stuff like Yes and those sort of bands…they seemed more about great players. I think we were more about songs. There was no worry about whether it was going to get on the radio. It was a time to be completely free musically... “Rock theatre” was a tag we ended up with. Lyrically, the things that Peter was trying to say…in those days, no-one could hear what he was saying because the PA was so bad. So he was trying to act out the songs, so people would know what they were about – and that was where the whole thing sort of started. We were painting images, moods, atmospheres…so giving it a setting seemed to work well for us. Lindisfarne didn’t need to do that." 

 Gabriel:   "The lyrics for 'The Knife' were partly me being a public schoolboy rebelling against my background. I'd been heavily influenced by a book on Gandhi at school, and I think that was a part of the reason I became a vegetarian as well as coming to believe in non-violence, as a form of protest. And I wanted to try and show how all violent revolutions inevitably end up with a dictator in power...The thing is that the lyrical content of the songs appealed to us most of all. We just like the idea of telling stories and to some extent, it's been there from a very early stage. As far as what I do in between numbers on stage: it evolved through having three or four 12-string guitars which need regular tuning. This means there are large silences between each number. So we were lucky if we held a - tenth of the audience's attention during these moments. I just had to fill it and some of the stories became somewhat irrelevant and still areĆ³start running a bit fast from images ...This band songwriters joining together. The songs we were writing then were very simple, but they were still a bit...the Iyrics were a bit pretentious, full of images. We've been recording since we were about seventeen and as we've grown older so has the material. But then we went through one or two stages in which we began to tell stories with the music and it seemed that things we liked playing were very varied in their moods and we like that, that contrast, some sort of structure other than the usual verse-chorus. verse-chorus-end."

'Trespass' only reached ninety-eight in the UK; but it went to number one in Belgium.  It would be their final album with Phillips, who left when the record was finished.  They fired Mayhew very soon after that.  The album cover was the first of several done by artist Paul Whitehead before recording was finished.  When the group asked him to redo it, he was resistant; so they suggested he slice the painting with a knife.  The final cover was a photograph of the canvas after he did just that.


full album:

All tracks written by Tony Banks, Peter Gabriel, Anthony Phillips, and Mike Rutherford.

side one
1. Looking For Someone 0:00
2. White Mountain 7:04
3. Visions of Angels 13:48
side two
4. Stagnation 20:38
5. Dusk 29:24
6. The Knife 33:34

original mix:

live at Atomic Sunrise Festival
November 3, 1970

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