KamerTunesBlog

Revisiting my extensive music collection, one artist at a time

Forty Year Friday – GENESIS “SECONDS OUT”

Artist: GENESIS
Album: SECONDS OUT

[Welcome to Forty Year Friday, the weekly series on my favorite albums of 1977]

Throughout both Forty Year Friday and last year’s Thirty Year Thursday series, I’ve generally focused on studio albums. To date only four concert recordings have been featured (by Sting, Pete Townshend, Kiss and Gentle Giant), and two of those were in conjunction with a studio recording by that artist from the same year. There were plenty of great live albums released in the ‘70s & ‘80s but only some of them are definitive statements in those artists’ discographies. Seconds Out, the double-live collection from Genesis, is one of them. Nearly a decade…and eight studio albums…into their recording career, by 1977 Genesis was in the second phase of their career. Their charismatic frontman, Peter Gabriel, had left the band two years earlier, and longtime drummer/backing vocalist Phil Collins took over as their new lead singer. The four-piece lineup of Collins, keyboardist Tony Banks, guitarist/bassist Mike Rutherford and lead guitarist Steve Hackett released two wonderful studio albums in 1976, A Trick Of The Tail and Wind & Wuthering. Along with touring drummer Chester Thompson, who previously worked with Weather Report & Frank Zappa, the group tackled a wide selection of old & new material on Seconds Out, with 7 of its 12 tracks from the Gabriel years and the other 5 from their two most recent releases.

Collins does a fine job on most of the Gabriel-era material. “The Carpet Crawl” (aka “The Carpet Crawlers”), from The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway, perfectly captures the beauty & moodiness of the original, while “The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway” is faithful to the studio recording, with Collins adding some theatrical flair. My favorite Gabriel-era album, Selling England By The Pound, is represented by three incredible performances. The dramatic, multi-layered “Firth Of Fifth” features one of Hackett’s most iconic solos, a 2-1/2 minute tour-de-force that still wows crowds at his solo shows four decades later. Many of his contributions are a bit muted throughout this album, possibly because he left the band during the mixing phase, but listen carefully & you’ll hear one of the unsung greats of the six-string. “I Know What I Like (In Your Wardrobe),” which was their first “pop” hit…in the UK…features an instrumental interlude that includes references to several other Genesis songs. The second-longest song here, “The Cinema Show,” clocks in at nearly 11 minutes. It’s the only performance from the 1976 A Trick Of The Tail tour with Bill Bruford on drums, who effortlessly tackles the 7/8 time signature in the second half along with his battery-mate. The synth melody at 7:20 is one of my favorites in their catalog, and I love the mini dual drum showcase leading into the synth solo. At more than 24 minutes, “Supper’s Ready” was a centerpiece of their early shows. Here they deliver a confident performance of this multi-part suite, but Collins doesn’t quite nail Gabriel’s singular vocals. That’s also the case on “The Musical Box (Closing Section),” where his voice…especially in the “touch me” section…doesn’t pack the necessary punch, but instrumentally it’s a great arrangement for a very short song. Unsurprisingly, Collins’ strongest vocal work is on the songs from his two albums as lead singer. The midtempo “Squonk,” with its loping rhythm & subtle dynamics, is a strong opening number, and I love the slowdown at “mirror mirror on the wall…” The fun & quirky “Robbery, Assault And Battery” is notable for Collins’ cockney accent and the incredible instrumental section that allows Hackett, Banks, Collins & Thompson to shine. “Afterglow,” the only song from the previous year’s Wind & Wuthering, is slow, haunting & gorgeous. Seconds Out closes with the two songs that bookended A Trick Of The Tail.  With its melodic hook of “better start doing it right” and a super-tight intricate drum pattern, “Dance On A Volcano” is an era-defining song for them, and it morphs into another dual drum solo that launches “Los Endos,” an awesome instrumental track that clearly brought the crowd to its feet.

Some fans tend to prefer one Genesis era over the others, but I love nearly everything they’ve released, and I think Seconds Out is the ideal entry point for people who unfairly dismiss anything post-Gabriel as “pop” or “sell out.” It’s also arguably among the best live albums ever released. They were a drastically different group than the one that released the enjoyable yet reviled Invisible Touch nine years later. At this point in their career, Genesis was still firmly in the progressive rock realm, displaying impressive instrumental chops & complex compositions with a newfound arena-friendly approach thanks to the unique “everybloke” charms of Phil Collins.

38 comments on “Forty Year Friday – GENESIS “SECONDS OUT”

  1. stephen1001
    August 25, 2017

    I like that vintage LA Kings jersey in the band photo – and reviled it may be, but I too enjoy Invisible touch!

    Like

    • I wonder if Phil still has that jersey. Perhaps that’s part of his “bumming around the house on a rainy weekend” outfit. 😀

      I understand why some people don’t love Invisible Touch but the hatred for it confounds me.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Daddydinorawk
        September 2, 2017

        I dont hate it. I just feel they made some poor choices. In Too Deep is not typical Genesis but hey it definitely isnt a bad song by any means.

        Like

      • Actually, by the time “In Too Deep” came out they had already recorded a number of ballads in a similar style, although that was maybe the point where Genesis started sounding a little too similar to Phil Collins solo material, especially for casual fans.

        Like

      • Daddydinorawk
        September 5, 2017

        The funny thing is though I would leave the title track and ITD off my personal IT album, taken alone on their own right especially against other 80’s top 40 hits they stand up quite well.

        Like

      • I agree. I didn’t really like the title track (or most of the album) when it was first released, but I’ve come around to it over the years. That title track is an earworm in the best possible way, and it certainly had a lot more to offer than much of the mainstream music of its time.

        Like

  2. chrisk55
    August 25, 2017

    I saw that tour at Hammersmith and it was spectacular. However, Bill Bruford wasn’t there. Chester Thompson was!

    Like

    • Hi Chris. I assume you’re talking about the ’77 Wind & Wuthering tour, right? As I mentioned in this post, Bruford only played with them on the previous tour, and one song was used on this live album. Consider yourself lucky that you saw them at this point in their career. My first Genesis show was 5 years later, on the tour in support of Three Sides Live. It was a great show but it would have been nice to see them with Hackett.

      Like

  3. 2loud2oldmusic
    August 25, 2017

    I picked this up from a guy that gave away 100’s of CDs. I still haven’t listened to it as I did say there were 100’s in the box. Now, I might move it up on the list to get to it sooner.

    Like

    • Not sure how you feel about this era of Genesis, but even if you’re a casual fan I expect you’ll love this live album. It’s certainly worth getting bumped up higher on the list of CDs to play from that box. Enjoy.

      Liked by 1 person

      • 2loud2oldmusic
        August 25, 2017

        I have never gotten into the Gabriel era but I love Gabriel. Just never explored it.

        Like

      • His work with Genesis is drastically different than his solo recordings, although his last Genesis album (The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway) shows hints of what was to come on his first couple of solo albums. If you like his voice, which I’m sure you do, I would be surprised if you don’t find something to love on those early Genesis albums.

        Liked by 1 person

      • 2loud2oldmusic
        August 25, 2017

        I watched a documentary on them and yes, the early stuff is way different. I think I can probably appreciate it now.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Aphoristical
    August 25, 2017

    Do you think Hackett could have been mixed higher on some of the Genesis studio albums? Do you like his solo stuff?

    Like

    • I never had a problem with Hackett’s guitar sound on Genesis albums. It’s only on Seconds Out when it’s noticeable that his contributions were slightly muted. I like/love most of his solo stuff. Are you a fan?

      Liked by 1 person

      • Aphoristical
        August 25, 2017

        I feel like Trick of the Tail could have benefited from a bit more guitar, sometimes feels like the Banks/Hackett balance is skewed towards Banks too far.

        I’ve enjoyed Voyage of the Acolyte for years but am only just catching up on some of his other stuff.

        Like

      • The mix of instruments on A Trick Of The Tail has always been fine with me. I consider it more of a keys & drums albums, and Hackett shines when he’s called on. I think Banks & Rutherford were still doing the bulk of the writing so it’s not surprising that Banks’ keys are usually up front. He’s so great at generating indelible melodies and multiple textures in a single song. Not sure he gets enough credit for his keyboard work, since he was never as flamboyant as his prog-rock counterparts like Wakeman and Emerson.

        As for Hackett’s solo career, there’s plenty to love so enjoy those discoveries.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Vinyl Connection
    August 25, 2017

    Steve Hackett, still wowing them in 2017. In this instance, Melbourne a couple of weeks ago.

    PS. With you on this one all the way, Rich. ‘Seconds Out’ is a ripper live album.

    Like

    • Hi Bruce. It’s always a pleasure when our music collections cross paths. I assume that photo of Hackett & Beggs was taken by you, which means you were either on stage with them or you had a high-quality camera with you.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Vinyl Connection
        August 28, 2017

        Look, I offered my services Rich, but they politely declined. It was an iPhon3 7 and an intimate venue, far from packed. Their last gig of the tour. Just brilliant.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Alyson
    August 26, 2017

    Suspect you know what I’m going to say about this one – I was a teenage girl in ’77 blah, blah, blah……

    Seriously though, although Genesis didn’t really bother my record collection too much back then, my other half was a big fan so we do now have his two favourite albums by them, A Trick Of The Tail and Selling England By The Pound, in our collection. Will have to ask him what he thinks of this one as we certainly don’t have it. Will seek it out having read your excellent review.

    Held off replying until I’d done a bit more research on Phil Collins as I’m fully aware he has many critics out there and really wanted to understand why – Think I do now but much seems to be purely down to his phenomenal success as a solo artist throughout the ’80s. Personally I loved all of it and If Leaving Me Is Easy from Face Value is one of my all-time favourite songs (when a good “wallow” is required). He did seem to be omnipresent back then though and did have some views that not everyone in the music business agreed with thus the apparent disdain from the critics. Back to the whole guilty pleasure thing I suppose and like you I have chosen to eschew that whole label. He made some amazing pop records which were enjoyed by millions of people for a reason – They were very good and I’m pleased to see that the younger generation of artists who weren’t even around at the height of his solo success are sampling some of his recordings now and using him for inspiration. No subliminal bias for them.

    One more thing (sorry for being wordy again but the discussion part is the best bit of blogging I think) – Phil played The Artful Dodger as a child in a West End production of Oliver. I wrote a post a while back about the various artists who also played that role and went on to great things (Davy Jones, our own Robbie Williams and others). My thinking is that if you had the kind of on-stage presence at a very young age to handle that characterful role, by the time you get to adulthood you will be unstoppable.

    One final, final thing, if I sort our digital database of music by Album title, Abacab comes right at the top of the list. The kind of thing I do to amuse myself! Have a good rest of the weekend.

    Like

    • Hi Alyson. I love how we’ve reached the point where your “blah, blah, blah…” makes complete sense to me. 😀

      Your husband & I share favorite Genesis albums. Even though I didn’t really pay attention to them until your digital database-leading Abacab was released in ’81, didn’t become a full-fledged fan until seeing them the following year and spent more time listening to their early-’80s releases at first, that period between the latter Gabriel years and the early Collins years is the Genesis sweet spot for me.

      As for the negativity towards Collins, that’s always bothered me a bit but in some ways the backlash against his enormous popularity wasn’t surprising. He was one of a handful of “musical faces of the ’80s,” and because he loved to ham it up for the cameras I suppose a lot of people got sick of his public persona. But he was one of the hardest working people in showbiz and kept the quality pretty high for many years. He’s also one of the all-time great drummers and a pretty fine songwriter as well. I’m glad a new generation has embraced him. Not sure if he’ll ever be “cool” but that doesn’t matter to me. I’m just happy that people are listening to his music again, and not just ironically.

      Interesting “Artful Dodger” theory. I don’t know enough about Oliver or that character to offer any follow-up, but if you do more research and present a post about it, I will be first in line to read it.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Jeff Kempin
    August 26, 2017

    I’ve rarely sampled Genesis during the Gabriel years. No reason, other than it just didn’t cross my radar compared with their radio friendly later stuff when Genesis was a trio. I’ll have to look for Seconds Out, you made it sound enticing, Rich.

    Take care,

    Jeff

    Like

    • Hi Jeff. The typical Genesis fanatic will state that the Gabriel era was the only true incarnation of the band, and everything after that was a sell-out. Those folks miss out on a lot of great music. I love how your perspective is almost the exact opposite of that. If you already like the “trio years” than I imagine you would enjoy the two post-Gabriel albums they released when they were still a quartet (with Steve Hackett). Seconds Out is an ideal gateway to those years, as well as the Gabriel era. There’s little during that early period that’s as immediate as their later material, but hopefully you’ll find a lot to like if/when you dive into those albums.

      Like

  8. Phillip Helbig
    August 28, 2017

    He was one of a handful of “musical faces of the ’80s,”

    He even has a solo album called Face Value.

    Like

  9. Phillip Helbig
    August 28, 2017

    Some see Genesis as the ultimate British prog band. There is much incest (i.e. overlap of members) between the usual suspects: Yes, King Crimson, Asia, UK, Roxy Music, etc. The only link between Genesis and the rest is Bruford here, and he’s really only a guest. (Similarly, Judy Dyble is the only link between the folk-rock world and the rest of rock music in the early days, though since Don Airey played with Tull on a tour, one can get to anywhere via him (and from folk to Tull through various Fairport connections).)

    Like

    • Good point about Genesis not hobnobbing with their prog peers, other than Mr. Bruford for a brief time, while many of those other bands traded members and formed various offshoots & side projects. Perhaps that’s a main reason why they still get along so well after all these years (unlike Yes). Of course, our beloved Jethro Tull has also remained separate from other prog bands, but for most of their existence they’ve been under the control of one man while Genesis was a true collective.

      Like

      • Phillip Helbig
        August 31, 2017

        The classic Tull lineup consisted of school chums. They had played in the John Evan Band, but only Anderson and late-comer Cornick were in the first Tull incarnation. With time, other members left and the old boys came back. After the big breakup at the end of the 1970s, the band really changed. While Anderson had always written almost all the music and otherwise called the shots, it was a band before and since then (with the possible exception of the time when both Dave Pegg and Martin Allcock were in the band) has been Ian Anderson plus backing. Don Airey, Gerry Conway, Eddie Jobson, etc were brief guests with Tull but connect to much larger musical worlds (hardrock, folkrock, progrock, respectively).

        Like

      • As a longtime Tull fan I knew most of that, but thanks for putting it all in writing for future reference.

        Like

  10. zumpoems
    September 1, 2017

    I did see them live around this time about 2 years after Peter had left the band. They were still good but starting to go downhill, imo.

    Like

    • I definitely don’t agree that they went downhill but I can’t argue that their sound changed a lot. There seems to be an age cutoff for Genesis fans who love all eras of the band, so anyone a few years older than me (born in ’66) seem to lose interest either right after Gabriel left or soon thereafter. I consider myself fortunate to have discovered them when I did (around Duke and Abacab) and worked my way back through their catalog.

      Like

  11. Daddydinorawk
    September 2, 2017

    I love Genesis but this is the peak for me. Theres nothing wrong with any Genesis era and while there are certainly albums I play very rarely I am a big fan and Seconds is the pinacle. Five stars 10/10. Percection.

    Like

  12. Pingback: Satur-debut – PHIL COLLINS “FACE VALUE” | KamerTunesBlog

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