September 14 – Trio Found The ABC’s For A Hit Record

And then there were three, by three! Genesis released their 11th studio album this day in 1981, the third with the band consisting of only the core trio of Tony Banks, Phil Collins & Mike Rutherford. Abacab came out only months after Phil Collins first solo album (Face Value) and to many sounded rather like a follow-up to that instead of a follow-up to Duke and prior Genesis recordings. (Perhaps that was in part due to Hugh Padgham’s presence on both, although on this one he only assisted the band self-producing the record.)

Few complained though. It hit #1 at home in the UK , where it was their second chart-topper, and scored them their first top 10, multi-platinum release in the U.S. The abstract title track and “No Reply At All” were both hits on both sides of the ocean, the latter being noteworthy for the prominent, lively horns borrowed from Earth, Wind & Fire. With “Man on the Corner”, it gave them three American top 40 hits, after having only a pair in total before. It could perhaps have had four; they also recorded the song “Paper Late” at the time, and while it wasn’t in the finished product, they did put it on their ’83 album Three Sides Live and released it as a single then.

If Abacab sounded a bit different for Genesis, it was no fluke. They self-produced the record, and made it at an old farmhouse they’d bought and converted into a studio. Tony Banks says they made a conscious decision to sound different than before and to keep the melodies simpler. Also a little different, six of the nine tracks were written collectively, but each member got to pen one song by themselves. For Tony Banks it was the pastoral “Me and Sarah Jane,” Mike Rutherford came up with “Like it or Not” while no one could miss Collins’ mark on “Man on the Corner”, which he wrote. Rolling Stone liked what it heard, comparing them to XTC and the Police and noting it “Contrasts sharply with the forbidding ivory-tower artistry of the past.” Even Melody Maker, which found the record “inconsistent” and stamped with a “heavy Phil Collins twist” described it as the band’s “most exciting ” work in years.

The odd title by the way is derived from the making of the title track. Mike Rutherford says they were jamming together and decided to mix up three separate parts of a song in the works. They dubbed them “Section A”, “Section B” and “Section C.” At one point in the studio, the record had parts played A-B-A-C-A-B. Hence the name. He noted though that after the final play through and mix, it ended up more like “Accaabaac.” Which would have been harder to say.

March 28 – Duke Did Noble Job Of Winning Genesis Fans

Somewhere between being one of the biggest but most avant garde and perhaps just slightly pompous art rock bands of the ’70s and one of the world’s most popular straight-ahead radio-oriented pop bands of the ’80s, Genesis straddled the decades with something a little in between. Duke, their tenth studio album, came out this day in 1980. In their British homeland at least, it’d been released to American markets earlier in that week 42 years ago. While all remnants of their artsy, prog rock passed weren’t entirely erased, it certainly pointed to the direction they would take in the new decade.

Genesis had begun and spent the first half of the ’70s as a quintet, largely under the control of quirky Peter Gabriel. He left the band mid-decade, followed by a guitarist named Steve Hackett, leaving a trio with the balance of power shifting towards drummer (and suddenly singer) Phil Collins. We heard a bit of what that would entail with And Then There Were Three, Duke stepped it up a bit more.

It had been a busy time for the band. It was only two years (to the day in the UK) between albums, and they’d capitalized on their newfound appeal, largely from the single “Follow You, Follow Me” , to tour the world and increase their profile substantially. This however, wasn’t good for home lives and Phil Collins marriage was on the rocks. He put the band on hiatus for a bit in ’79 as he moved to Canada temporarily to try and salvage that relationship, unsuccessfully as it turned out. The divorce that ensued ended up giving him albums worth of material as it turned out. In the downtime, all three were writing music and both Mike Rutherford and Tony Banks would both put out solo records around the same time as Duke; Collins himself wrote a number of tunes that became his first solo, Face Value during the time as well. Surprisingly, what is now seen as his signature song, “In the Air Tonight”, was written for the band and could’ve ended up on this album, but they weren’t keen on it so it was shelved until he put out his own record. That was a bit of an “oops!” but it didn’t really harm the fortunes of Genesis.

When they reconvened at the end of ’79, they each had some songs written and they decided to put some collaborative efforts on the album (including the first single, “Turn it on Again” and “Behind the Lines”) as well as a couple of songs written by each of the individual members. One of Collins’ contributions was the big hit off it, “Misunderstanding.”

They recorded it in Sweden, with the help of producer David Hentschel, whom they’d worked with regularly before. He’d come to prominence in the music world being a studio engineer and playing synthesizer for Elton John on Goodbye Yellow Brick Road.

Sweden was new for them, but not the idea of recording on “the continent”; they’d made their last couple of studio records in the Netherlands and most of their previous live one in France. By all reports they quite enjoyed the process and found it one of their easiest records to make.

There were little nods to the band’s early days, like the 10 minute piece “Duke’s Travels/Duke’s End” which ends the record, and a loose – very loose – concept to the album about a guy called “Albert” who went by the nickname “duke”, for the most part it was a solid collection of relatively smart, catchy pop tunes.

That might have been a change for the fans, but evidently it was a good one… and the number of fans increased as well. It became the first #1 album for them at home and in Canada as well and in the U.S. it got to #11, likewise their best showing to date. The first single, “Turn it on Again” made it to #8 in the UK and Italy, and deserved a bit better fate over here where it just missed the top 40. However, “Misunderstanding” (which probably set the template for Collins’ work of the following five years) scored them their first American top 20 hit and zoomed to #1 in Canada, while flopping in their homeland.

Critics by and large saw the “new” Genesis as an enjoyable, possibly “new and improved” one. Smash Hits in the UK gave it a so-so 6 out of 10 but Sounds there rated it 4-star, saying Collins sounded “more convincing” than before and that “no Genesis fan could be disappointed.” Rolling Stone found it to have a “refreshing urgency” and singled out “Turn it on Again” as “vibrant rock and roll.” Years later, allmusic gave it 4-stars and called it a “major leap forward” for the band and when they “leaped into the fray” of being pop stars. The ’80s were kind to Genesis, as a band, and Collins solo as well as Mike Rutherford’s spin-off, Mike + The Mechanics.

But, as they say, “all good things must come to an end” and Genesis finally called it quits yesterday, performing what they say will be their last-ever show, in London. Peter Gabriel was in attendance but didn’t join them in the show. Of course, Collins’ health has suffered of late and he no longer can drum, and in fact has trouble standing up, so perhaps it’s time for them to stop and look back at their catalog…and maybe say “Turn it On Again!”

 

February 25 – Gabriel Had Charisma Even Without Band

A rather auspicious debut came about this day in 1977. After years of being afront the theatrical and some would say pompous prog rock band Genesis for years, Peter Gabriel struck out on his own with his first solo album. It was a self-titled album, which was fine until he also released his next two albums as self-titled as well, leading people to pick nicknames to distinguish them. This album typically gets referred to as “PG1” or “Car”, the latter representing the cover photo in which Peter is looking out of a rainy car windshield.

Genesis had long been making slow inroads into mainstream rock acceptance while being largely known for lengthy, complex, artsy pieces and elaborate stage shows. If there was a comparison point for early-’70s Genesis, it would probably be Emerson, Lake & Palmer, hardly what we’d think of when we think of Genesis from a decade later. Gabriel was the driving force for the early band, but rifts had started to appear within the members, and he decided to quit after a battle over priorities. He wanted to stay home with his ill wife and baby when the band wanted to launch another big tour. They decided to go their own ways, with Phil Collins taking the role of frontman for Genesis while Gabriel ventured out on his own. “There is no animosity between myself and the band,” he told fans while reinforcing the idea that it was time for him to do his own thing.

He signed with Charisma Records, who’d had Genesis in the past as well as… Monty Python’s Flying Circus. The label suggested Canadian producer Bob Ezrin for his first record, which was an odd choice at first glance. Ezrin had mostly been noted for working on Alice Cooper records and had just finished up Kiss’s Destroyer. Gabriel questioned it, but was open-minded. “I didn’t feel like I could be an Alice Cooper,” he said, but after meeting Ezrin “he liked what I like. We understood each other.” They went to work in Toronto on recording the songs Gabriel had written, and finished up some over-dubbing and mixing in London. Obviously to listeners, the “rapport” Gabriel spoke of with his producer worked. While Peter sang and played keyboards, he needed session musicians for the rest and Ezrin rounded up King Crimson’s Robert Fripp for guitars, Mountain’s Allan Schwarberg on drums and any number of other talents as needed, including the London Symphony Orchestra for some tracks. An example of his creativity included the standout track, “Solsbury Hill”, on which he limited the guitars to a range of acoustics to keep the electric ones initially used in the session from overtaking the rest of the music, and having Schwarberg hit a thick phone book for some of the percussion. (Yep, the credits list “phone book” as one of. the instruments he played!)

The result was a solid collection of odd, but enjoyable tunes which harkened back a little to his Genesis work (take for instance “Moribund the Burgermeister”, a prog rock title if ever there was one) but more towards the rich, world-music influenced pop Gabriel would soon be known for… in particular “Solsbury Hill.” He wrote that one while contemplating his future, sitting atop Solsbury Hill in England, just after quitting Genesis. “”It’s about letting go… being prepared to lose what you have for what you might get,” he explained.

It was a good gamble on his part. Critics liked the album, generally more than they had prior Genesis records. the Village Voice for instance graded it “B+” and said it was “a lot smarter than Genesis” music. Rolling Stone gave it 3-stars, saying it was an “impressively rich debut” although questioning why all the songs sounded so different from each other. Britain’s NME called it “a fine record with at least one 24-carat irresistible classic in ‘Solsbury Hill.’”

While it wasn’t a commercial smash, it did quite well, getting to #7 in the UK, the top 10 through most of Europe and #30 in Canada. Although it rose to just #13 in the UK and barely made a ripple at the time in North America, “Solsbury Hill” did indeed become a “classic” as predicted by the NME and both it and “Here Comes The Flood” from it have become staples of Gabriel’s live sets through the years.

The transition worked quite well for Genesis too. While The Wind and the Wuthering , which came out two months earlier and was their first without Peter, did about as well as any others from them to that point, the next one, And then There Were Three would be their first American top 30 and get them their first hit radio play with “Follow You Follow Me.”

February 11 – Apparently That Wasn’t All For Genesis

Just there biggest hit to date, that’s all. That would describe Genesis and their growing American fanbase; on this day in 1984. “That’s All” hit #6 on Billboard, making it their biggest single to that point in the U.S.

The self-titled album from which it was drawn had been different from previous ones for the Brit trio, in that there was more collaboration and improvising in the studio on songs. It also continued the slow drift away from Prog Rock into pure pop territory that had begun in the ’70s after they’d become a trio. “That’s All” was essentially a simple song written by Phil Collins as an homage to the Beatles, him emulated Ringo’s drumming style on it. The album went on to be their third straight #1 in the UK (notably, it was the fourth studio release since Peter Gabriel left the band and essentially turned the show over to Collins) but opened new doors Stateside for them. As Kerrang put it, Genesis had “traded technical complexity and ingenuity for …more stunning simplicity” .Allmusic liked the “sleek, pulsating pop tune” but Rolling Stone didn’t approve. It gave the album a 2-star rating in a review which found the album “particularly appalling in light of what Genesis shows this trio is capable of.” They did approve of this single though, calling it “engaging” and “pushing the band to new heights of rhythmic expression.”

The song not only hit the American top 10, but rose to #2 on mainstream rock charts there. to the north though, it peaked at #14 in Canada, only their fourth biggest hit of the decade at that point, while in their homeland it got to #16. Of course, it wasn’t all for the band. Genesis would later go on to finally nab a U.S. #1 single three years later with “Invisible Touch” and presently are trying to get a world tour completed – one which has been stalled several times due to the pandemic.

January 25 – Collins Flaunted The Dress Code With Winning Results

Phil Collins was on top of his game and top of the world (of music at very least) 37 years ago. He had spent his time in a brief hiatus from Genesis putting out a hit movie theme (“Against All Odds”) and collaborating with Phillip Bailey of Earth, Wind & Fire (“Easy Lover”) in 1984 and then went on to bigger and better in 1985. He managed to be the only performer to show up at both the London and Philadelphia shows for Live Aid, taking the Concorde across the ocean between sets, and on this day that year he put out his third solo album, No Jacket Required. It would go on to be his most successful, selling in the range of 20 million copies.

Knowing a good thing when he found it, he was backing working with producer Hugh Padgham again. Padgham had been on Collins’ two previous albums and had pioneered the big, “gated reverb” sound of the drums used to great effect on 1981’s “In the Air Tonight.” the pair shared the Grammy for best produced record for this one, No Jacket Required also took home the Grammy for best male pop performance and the prestigious Album of The Year.

While the previous pair of his solo albums both had some upbeat tunes (like his cover of “You Can’t Hurry Love”), they had been perceived as rather downbeat and slow by many. Phil set out to change that this time out. He said “I’ll make a dance record… or at least an album with a couple of uptempo songs.” To do that, he seemed to work a bit more quickly and came up with some of the tunes – like “Sussudio” while just playing around on a drum machine. By the way, if you are wondering about that song name, it turns out it’s meaningless – it was just sounds Phil made to approximate the lyrics for a chorus, but he eventually figured nothing else he wrote sounded as “right” there!

The album had a mix of the lightweight, bouncy and the more serious, often slower songs. “Long Long Way to Go” with its lines about “someone’s son lies dead in a gutter” hardly seems upbeat nor the lament “Doesn’t Anybody Stay Together Anymore?”. That one showed he still hadn’t quite gotten over his divorce of the beginning of the decade that so colored his prior two records, nor failed to notice that his manager and several friends were going through a divorce. It did perhaps escape his attention that Prince Charles and Lady Di weren’t too happy; he played it for Charles at a party shortly before that royal pair split up.

In all there were 10 songs for all, an 11th (“We Said Hello Goodbye”) for those who bought it on CD. Four singles spun from it: “Sussudio”, “One More Night” , “Don’t Lose My Number” and “Take Me Home” and all were hits. Especially in the U.S. which was rapidly warming to the balding drummer. Both “One More Night” and “Sussudio” hit #1 on Billboard and garnered him gold singles; the other pair were top 10s as well meaning during the ’84-85 span, Collins scored four #1 singles and three more top 10s in the States. As such it helped No Jacket Required spend seven weeks at #1 there, his first chart-topper. It also made the top spot in Britain, Canada and Germany, and ended up diamond status in both the States and Canada, his best-selling album by quite a stretch.

At the time, reviews were generally fairly good even if critics weren’t as enthusiastic as the record-buying public. Rolling Stone gave it 3.5-stars and said he was to be complimented for the “graft of white-R&B bounce to quirky, unexpected melodies” which were commercial but “never feel contrived.” Newsday gave it a listen and found it “loaded with musical hooks and textural arrangements” and seemed to like how it “lacks the tense edge” that marked his earlier works.

Time hasn’t been entirely kind to it, although allmusic do grade it a perfect 5-stars. they liked how he “combined the aching honesty of Face Value with the pop smarts of Hello (I Must Be Going) and added some seriously focused songwriting.” Some might disagree, including Phil himself. He now calls it one of his least favorite records and thinks “at the time I wasn’t being myself. I’ve grown up some since.” Or to put it bluntly, like The Guardian did last decade, it’s “unlistenable today… there’s no colder or more superficial sound in popular music” and marveled how it made even the Human League sound like musical geniuses by comparison.

Oh, and that title? No Jacket Required comes from a story Collins likes to tell of when he and Robert Plant went to a fancy Chicago restaurant, The Pump Room. It had a dress code, and even though he did have on some jacket, management felt he didn’t look appropriate and turned him away, although offering Plant entry. Collins said it made him as mad as anything in life although “I did nothing. I just moaned.” the embarrassed eatery later apologized and sent him a gift of a jacket … required for eating there!

Collins is back together with his old bandmates in Genesis of late, attempting to run a large world tour, although it’s been oft-postponed due to the pandemic. Currently it’s scheduled to resume in Germany in March. Sadly, he is no longer up to drumming physically, but his son Nicholas is taking over the duty, and Phil sings some of the set from a chair. Rolling Stone note “he may not have the vocal range he had in 1987 or even 2007, but he can still project with real power and his charisma is undiminished.”

June 24 – Fans Followed Genesis To Hit Radio

And then there were three…hitmakers! Genesis, after losing guitarist Steve Hackett (who decided to try and follow in Peter Gabriel’s footsteps and go solo) were reduced to the “core trio” of Phil Collins, Tony Banks and Mike Rutherford.

The resulting album, 1978‘s And Then There Were Three, their ninth, hit #3 in the UK where it was their seventh-straight gold release, but also got them some notice on this side of the ocean, largely due to the great single, “Follow You, Follow Me.” It hit a peak #23 on Billboard on this day; their first top 40 single in North America. Back home in Britain it got to #7, also their best-showing to that point. Up to then they had been looked at as a sort of “albums” band, similar to Pink Floyd, without much radio exposure on “top 40” format stations. Needless to say, that would quickly change as they would end up charting 16 more top 40 hits in the U.S., plus a large number more featuring either Phil Collins or Mike Rutherford themselves.

The song was a deliberate shift from their previous epic, prog-rock sound as the band had noticed their fanbase was almost entirely male and wanted to expand to more female listeners. Tony Banks says it was at the time “our only truly group-written number” and that it was a chore as it is “much easier to write long stories than simple love songs.” Mike Rutherford wrote the lyrics and says it took him “only ten minutes” and they all were pleased with the result – a “lovely little song, catchy without being sappy.” Circus magazine agreed, calling the album in general “magical (and) mystical” superior to most other art or prog-rock acts out there summing it up by suggesting they’d shed two members without “sacrifice” of “direction nor quality.”

February 11 – Genesis Were Big In America, That’s All

Just there biggest hit to date, that’s all. That would describe Genesis and their growing American fanbase; on this day in 1984, “That’s All” hit #6 on Billboard, making it their biggest single to that point in the U.S.

The self-titled album from which it was drawn had been different from previous ones for the Brit trio, in that there was more collaboration and improvising in the studio on songs. “That’s All” was essentially a simple song written by Phil Collins as an homage to the Beatles. He emulated Ringo’s drumming style on it. It offered a stark contrast to the album’s first single, the eerie, Peter Gabriel-esque “Mama.”

The album went on to be their third straight #1 in the UK (notably, it was the fourth studio release since Peter Gabriel left the band and essentially turned the show over to Collins) but opened new doors Stateside for them. As Kerrang put it, Genesis had “traded technical complexity and ingenuity for …more stunning simplicity” .Allmusic liked the “sleek, pulsating pop tune” but Rolling Stone didn’t approve. It gave the album a 2-star rating in a review which found the album “particularly appalling in light of what Genesis shows this trio is capable of.” They did approve of this single though, calling it “engaging” and “pushing the band to new heights of rhythmic expression.”

The song not only hit the American top 10, but rose to #2 on mainstream rock charts there. to the north though, it peaked at #14 in Canada, only their fourth biggest hit of the decade at that point, while in their homeland it got to a middling #16. Genesis would later go on to finally nab a U.S. #1 single three years later with “Invisible Touch”.

November 18 – Collins Liked New York Soiree More Than Gabriel

Long before they were a pop hit single machine, Genesis were if not kings, at least veritable princes of the prog rock world. they enhanced their reputation as that on this day in 1974 with the release of their sixth album, The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway.

The double album was 23 songs and 94 minutes long and more or less a concept album. It tells the story of a young Puerto Rican immigrant to New York as he deals with new life and experiences there. Mojo‘s Daryl Easlea called it the band’s “most inpenetrable” album but he did consider the single “Carpet Crawlers” (Peter)”Gabriel at his most soulful.”

It may have been that but it was definitely Gabriel’s last one with the band; tensions between him and Phil Collins had been rising for a year and stresses of marriages falling apart, Collins’ insomnia and rats in the recording studio nearly broke the group up for good. They persevered, but as we know, Gabriel struck out on his own to begin an interesting and successful solo career.

Although it failed to score Genesis any hit singles, the aforementioned “Carpet Crawlers” and the title track are popular to this day on Classic Rock stations and the album was a top 10 hit in the UK, #15 in Canada and a respectable #41 in the U.S., going gold in all those places. Uncut would later rank it the third best concept album ever and call it “Gabriel’s best work”; Phil Collins calls it his favorite album by the band.

November 5 – Busy Phil Was Always Going

If things aren’t going great in your personal life, one way to fix it is to immerse yourself utterly in your work. Or so it seems, Phil Collins figured about four decades back. Going through a painful divorce from his first wife, he quickly put out a Genesis album (Duke), toured with them for it, released his first solo album, (Face Value), went back to the studio for another Genesis record (Abacab) then went back to the studio again to work on more of his own stuff… all within the first couple of years of the decade. The result of that extra studio work was his second solo album, Hello, I Must Be Going , which came out this day in 1982.

On Face Value he was confessional and angry with songs about his failed relationship. It offered insight into his mind back then and the album was rather an unexpected smash hit, outselling the previous Genesis one. So, it would seem Collins figured “don’t fix it if it ain’t broken”, going back to producer Hugh Padgham to work with on his second album and offering up more songs that reflected his personal life and angst. Even the cover bore a striking similarity; the first record showing a close up of his face, this one going with a close-up of his face in profile against a bright blue backdrop. Once again he brought in Daryl Stuerner (a sort of honorary member of Genesis, being a regular on stage with them in tours) for guitars and Earth, Wind & Fire’s Phenix Horns to add a bit of brass and class to three tracks, as he’d done on the debut. The songs were largely downbeat and as often as not, slow-moving, although there were a couple of more upbeat ones, most notably the standout single “You Can’t Hurry Love”, an old Supremes cover, and “The West Side”, with its horns and rhythm approximating something EW&F might have done musically. It’s said the slight improvement in mood in some of the songs came from Collins meeting a new love (who’d become his second wife, during the recording. He said he was feeling “purely sentimental” about his marriage breakup during the writing, but by the end he’d brightened up enough to “write happy songs now.” And cover them too. Collins’ was well-known for his love of ’60s R&B and especially Motown so the remake of “You Can’t Hurry Love” seemed natural for him. A remake is what he considered it, saying “the idea…was to see if Hugh Padgham and I could duplicate the Sixties sound. It’s very difficult today because most recording facilities are so much more sophisticated…it’s hard to make the drums sound as rough.”

If the Motown cover tune was downright cheery-sounding, the rest of the album didn’t sound too happy but fans were happy enough to share Phil’s depression. And perhaps surprisingly in retrospect (given a bit of lack of respect most afford to Collins due to some of his later work), critics were too. Rolling Stone at the time gave it 3-stars, calling it “old classical rock school. In fact, the LP sounds like stripped-down Genesis, ornamental but not ostentatious.” Mojo gave it 4-stars. Later on, allmusic rated it 4-stars as well, less than the debut or the one he brought out next, No Jacket Required. They noted it “wasn’t a huge departure” from the first album, and that “I Don’t Care Anymore” – a single in most countries (he released six songs as singles, but not all of them in all countries) – sounded “like a very close relative of ‘In the Air Tonight’ only less mysterious and more in your face” but complimented the “almost note-perfect take on the Supremes’ ‘You Can’t Hurry Love’”.

Fans found the album reasonably note-perfect too. “You Can’t Hurry Love” topped the British and Irish charts and got to #10 in the U.S. where it actually outsold the original, even though the Supremes had taken it to #1. He’d go on to score another #1 hit with a ’60s cover a few years on with “Groovy Kind of Love.” “I Don’t Care Anymore” gave him another American top 40 hit, and “Don’t Let Him Steal Your Heart Away” and “Why Can’t It Wait Til Morning” also became hits in some countries. Overall, the album became his second #1 in Canada, got to #2 in his homeland, #6 in Germany and #8 in the States. At triple platinum in both the UK and U.S., it actually sold a little less than his debut, but was far from a flop. It also gave him enough of his own songs to go out on a solo tour for the first time, doing most of the songs off both albums plus a handful of covers including Curtis Mayfield’s “People Get Ready”, which is included on the later expanded version of the record.

And if you can’t hurry love, you can expedite records. Less than a year later, just off his own tour, he was back with another Genesis album, then tour!

September 14 – Genesis Made It Easy As ‘ABC’. Or Something Like That.

And then there were three, by three! Genesis released their 11th studio album this day in 1981, the third with the band consisting of only the core trio of Banks, Collins & Rutherford.

Abacab came out only months after Phil Collins first solo album (Face Value) and to many sounded rather like a follow-up to that instead of a follow-up to Duke and prior Genesis recordings. (Perhaps that was in part due to Hugh Padgham’s presence on both, although on this one he only assisted the band self-producing the record.)

Few complained though. It hit #1 at home in the UK , where it was their second chart-topper, and scored them their first top 10, multi-platinum release in the U.S. The abstract title track and “No Reply At All” were both hits on both sides of the ocean, the latter being noteworthy for the prominent, lively horns borrowed from Earth, Wind & Fire. With “Man on the Corner”, it gave them three American top 40 hits, after having only a pair in total before. It could perhaps have had four; they also recorded the song “Paper Late” at the time, and while it wasn’t in the finished product, they did put it on their ’83 album Three Sides Live and released it as a single then.

If Abacab sounded a bit different for Genesis, it was no fluke. They self-produced the record, and made it at an old farmhouse they’d bought and converted into a studio. Tony Banks says they made a conscious decision to sound different than before and to keep the melodies simpler. Also a little different, six of the nine tracks were written collectively, but each member got to pen one song by themselves. For Tony Banks it was the pastoral “Me and Sarah Jane,” Mike Rutherford came up with “Like it or Not” while no one could miss Collins’ mark on “Man on the Corner”, which he wrote.

Rolling Stone liked what it heard, comparing them to XTC and the Police and noting it “Contrasts sharply with the forbidding ivory-tower artistry of the past.” Even Melody Maker, which found the record “inconsistent” and stamped with a “heavy Phil Collins twist” described it as the band’s “most exciting ” work in years. The odd title by the way is derived from the making of the title track. Mike Rutherford says they were jamming together and decided to mix up three separate parts of a song in the works. They dubbed them “Section A”, “Section B” and “Section C.” At one point in the studio, the record had parts played A-B-A-C-A-B. Hence the name. He noted though that after the final play through and mix, it ended up more like “Accaabaac.” Which would have been harder to say.