The book "Genesis. All albums all songs" by Mario Giammetti is out. We asked him a few questions.
Mario Giammetti analyzes all 15 studio albums recorded by the band, also examining the historical context and circumstances that led to their creation, as well as the recording processes.
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Illustrated with rare performance photographs and collectible material, it is an unmissable book for collectors and enthusiasts or for young people who want to rediscover the music of this extraordinary band in all its evolution.
Here's what Mario Giammetti told us.
HR: What are the novelties contained in your book "Genesis. All albums all songs"?
Mario Giammetti: Surely those who have already read my other books, in particular “Musical Box - Genesis songs from A to Z ”, published ten years ago by Arcana, will find points of contact, but apart from the fact that the songs are not more analyzed in alphabetical order but album by album, the text has been dried and made smoother, as well as naturally integrated with the new and valuable information acquired over the last few years, with the icing on the cake represented by the preface by Steve Hackett.
In essence, we talk about how the songs were born through the words of the protagonists themselves, the compositional story is told and if briefly makes the story on stage, even if in particular this section is deliberately less verbose and stuffed with data.
The idea was in fact to create a listening guide that was complete, but not manic, with the aim of not boring a hypothetical casual reader, perhaps a young person who approaches music of Genesis for having heard of it from their parents or even from grandparents. Our favorite band deserves it a rediscovery by the new generations and this book I hope will be a pleasant one tool to begin to enter their world, thanks also to a graphic and iconographic apparatus by very first level and the attention also shown graphically (for example, in the well-kept captions, that represent a sort of mini appendix in turn).
And herein lies the other, and fundamental difference: I have made a careful selection of the material and for the first time I found a publisher who did not pull
back in front of my request to complete a really beautiful book to look at, as well as from to read. In the past, from this point of view, with the only partial exception of "Genesis - The Prog Years" (Joints 2013), I was always disappointed. The Castle, on the other hand, did not play for savings: a hardcover thick format 22x28, fine paper, accurate printing.
I have long wanted to make a book that represented a summary of all (and I stress all) the career of Genesis but presented as
he deserved, and the time has come.
What was the Genesis "formula for success" according to your studies?
A recipe requires a number of ingredients and I would say that, in the case of Genesis, it is material of top quality. Looking at everything globally (it is evident that their artistic history is so great variegated that it is difficult to incorporate the entire path into a single parameter), the band was in possession of one excellent instrumental technique but never excessive (and this in my view is a great merit) which, putting at the service of a compositional ability indisputably out of the ordinary (as it is out of the ordinary from the ordinary the characteristic of a group in which they have always written in five, or rather six counting Anthony Phillips), created a formidable blend, made particularly pleasant by one component very strong melodic.
On the merits of the old debate between Genesis prog and Genesis pop, I will limit myself to reiterating that, if they didn't make that choice, they would be confined to the sad fate of faded copies of themselves themselves, perpetrating the same repertoire for decades and more and more wearily. So, personally I am delighted with their courage to change completely, even if obviously not always the results they thrilled me.
Were you able to also find out the background on any album or song? There are still undisclosed secrets and that could remain so forever, in the history of Genesis records? Which?
Obviously the decades that pass inexorably do not help in this sense: memories vanish or become confused, and it is not easy to get sensational revelations.
Yet, every now and then something comes up. Listen to the records of the Gabriel period together with one of the protagonists (work I did from 2008 to 2011 and which he then has formed the basis for “Gli Anni Prog”, recently published in England with the title "Genesis 1967 to 1975 - The Peter Gabriel Years ") was from this point of view very exciting and revealing.
Some members of the group (especially Hackett and Banks) have a good memory and every time you talk to them something very interesting always comes up. But the search also continues with other characters.
For example, in the newest issue of Dusk I interviewed John Burns, sound engineer at "Foxtrot" and producer of “Selling England” and “The Lamb” and some of the news he gave me is really interesting for Genesis scholars.
Apart from the progressive "drift" towards pop, evident to all, a more careful study as you do, that kind of evolution (or involution) had the music of Genesis from "69 to" 98, in composition, in arrangements, instruments, etc ...?
Personally, I don't consider the so-called pop turn, as I mentioned before, a drift, but an intelligent evolution and acknowledgment of the changing times.
Moreover, the Genesis, even in the period lighter, they have always kept a harmonic imprinting that is anything but simple and I add that it is not
by no means said that pop music, if done at the levels Genesis have accustomed us to, is easier to play compared to a moog solo on odd tempos.
It is certainly true that the arrangements have simplified and that even the melodic structure of the songs has gradually been stripped away, but I would say that every album by Genesis is a child of his time, which cannot be said for most of their other groups contemporaries, often tied hands and feet to the origins because they were simply unable to go
beyond. Time, then, is a gentleman.
I, for example, to an album like “Abacab”, which I hated deeply at the time of publication, I subsequently recognized the role of necessary watershed and today I find it, in its own way, also innovative.
Conversely, “Invisible Touch” remains my way to see the artistically lowest point of their career, both in compositional and sound level, e however that record broke the charts around the world, managing to attract the attention of crowds oceanic despite, in the years of hedonism, it was difficult to find an artist less sexy than Phil Collins!
Surely the advent of electronics has brought innovations that are not always exciting; the use of drum machine and above all of the programming and sequencers, as well as the sounds of synthesizers, they made the sound more plasticky and less sophisticated, also due to the progressive involution (o
however of the minor use) of instruments such as Tony's piano and Mike's bass.
But every album of the Genesis contains harmonic pearls of devastating beauty, even the very latest ones. Think of certain sequences of chords used in songs like “No Son Of Mine”, “Calling All Stations” and “Uncertain Weather”.
Many, even on Dusk, argue that, instead of a tired reunion, the Genesis could have produce a studio album. Aside from Phil's condition, do you think it would be possible? And what kind of music would they make in 2020?
Personally I have great respect for those who, despite their age, continue to produce new music. Think about people like Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Bruce Springsteen. Or, to stay with the family, to Steve Hackett.
The other way around, I find Gabriel and Collins' attitude irritating, unable to question themselves. Nobody here necessarily expect a masterpiece, because the most creative years are usually for all those of
youth, but be terrified of an unflattering judgment or, worse still, of not selling enough (fear by now senseless, if we still think in the order of millions of copies of records, nowadays a chimera for anyone) does not do honor to artists who, however, have always shown that they have attributes to give a damn about everything and go straight on their way.
Personally I was deeply disappointed also from reunion of 2007, artistically useless, let alone today, 13 years later, and with all that
that there was in between, obviously starting with Phil's physical ailments.
Therefore, I too would have preferred far that they would start writing something new. Sure, the odds of a disappointment would have been very tall: they are now 70 years old and have not worked all three together for almost 30, so even the famous chemistry that always clicked between them might not work, this one time.
But it would have been a good test of courage and the fans would surely have welcomed them with open arms, subject to critical honesty.
When asked what kind of music they would make, though, it's really difficult
reply: the last original Phil composition that we have been able to hear dates back to 2003, Tony is stopped even in 1995 with rock (then as we know he dedicated himself to classical music, which compositionally it is a very different thing), while Mike with his Mechanics (in which he always writes in company, let's remember) has shown that he favors a pop of few pretensions and a lot of electronics.
Maybe a meaningless mess would come out of it, but maybe not. And anyway, if you don't get involved proof will never be found out. One fact is certain: Genesis as a group have stopped composing together in 1997, when Tony and Mike were just 47 years old. And this is something that is difficult to forgive him.
Earlier you mentioned the new Dusk. What have you covered in this issue?
Apart from the cover story, dedicated as I told you to John Burns, in issue 95 of Dusk we publish the second part of Tommaso Rivieccio's study on the instruments and effects used by Tony Banks on “The Lamb ".
As for the news, we deal with the reprints of "Rated PG" by Peter Gabriel (who last year it was only released on vinyl for Record Store Day) and Anthony's “The Living Room Concert” Phillips, which contains three unreleased songs.
Great space is occupied by the reviews of books, since recently
quite a few have come out, Steve Hackett's official autobiography above all.
And then we continue to host the memories of tangential characters that make us discover many details about the world of Genesis: this time it's up to Noel McCalla, unforgotten vocalist on Rutherford's "Smallcreep's Day", and Bob Ezrin, producer of Gabriel's first solo album.
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