GENESIS > Genesis: 1976 – 1981

The 12-disc Genesis: 1976-1981 chronicles the band's evolution, gathering the first five albums the band released once Collins stepped to the mic.

Videos by American Songwriter

Videos by American Songwriter

When Peter Gabriel left Genesis in 1975, the four remaining members reportedly auditioned hundreds of singers to replace him. They eventually settled on their drummer, Phil Collins. It was a smart move, one that would eventually catapult them from artsy-fartsy prog heroes to worldwide pop superstars.

Label: RHINO
[Rating: 3.5] 

When Peter Gabriel left Genesis in 1975, the four remaining members reportedly auditioned hundreds of singers to replace him. They eventually settled on their drummer, Phil Collins. It was a smart move, one that would eventually catapult them from artsy-fartsy prog heroes to worldwide pop superstars.

The 12-disc Genesis: 1976-1981 chronicles this evolution, gathering the first five albums the band released once Collins stepped to the mic. It’s arguably their finest period. It’s certainly their most listenable one. (The box also includes a disc of B-sides, EP tracks, and other leftover songs from the period. The surround mix DVDs attached to each album are noteworthy for their mostly pre-MTV videos and concert clips.) Before 1976’s Trick of the Tail, Genesis was making head-aching concept albums featuring 25-minute suites about flowers. Tail still has a story at its center-something about a hunter and his quest for a forest-dwelling troll…or something like that-but it also has songs, something the Gabriel-era Genesis never quite grasped. “Squonk” and “Ripples” are powered by melodies rather than solos (although there are plenty of those too). Wind & Wuthering includes “Your Own Special Way,” a radio-ready ballad that signaled things to come.

By 1978’s And Then There Were Three, guitarist Steve Hackett was gone, leaving Genesis a trio. Duke, from 1980, was their last thematically tied album. A year later, Abacab included the first mega-hit single (“No Reply at All”) and virtually zero solos. Multi-platinum sales, and cheesy tunes about unauthorized immigrants, were on the horizon.

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