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The Gods - Genesis CD (album) cover

GENESIS

The Gods

 

Proto-Prog

2.74 | 19 ratings

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Certif1ed
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Honorary Collaborator
4 stars In The Beginning

...back in 1968, man didn't know about the Prog Rock show, and how it would be great...

But several bands had ideas above and beyond the Psychedelic rock formula, and The Gods were among those enlightened few.

On first listen, this album comes across like a prototype Uriah Heep album - all the elements are there; The trademark vocal harmonies, the Brian Auger inspired Hammond+Rock Band setup, the Heavy Rock roots (or even Metal, when you consider the historical context), and the epic approach.

This is an album that emerged from the Progressive Music scene, and it would not be too far amiss to consider it as a Progressive Rock album of its generation, and certainly, it's progressive in spirit.

Kicking off with Towards the Skies, we dive straight into the full texture that the band can throw at us - a bit reminiscent of The Who, putting me in mind of Tommy somehow - and maybe a bit Buffalo Springfield, this is a well structured song with dynamic, tempo and key changes a-plenty, rivalling later Heep albums, the grunty guitar giving a distinct metallic edge, with driving riffs and a searing solo, fully descriptive of the songs title. Dramatic pathos is maintained for the rest of the song, until the seriously weird ending.

Candles Getting Shorter is more in a kind of Psych rock vein, reminding me a bit of Procol Harum. The vocal harmonies don't let up for a second, rivalling those of the Beach Boys, and the song pand out unexpectedly into Moodies territory, becoming washed in Mellotron for the quieter sections. A delightful Hammond counter-melody provides counterpoint interest to what is in essence a simple love song. But you just forget that as the textures unfold - and this song just reminds you how much music was created in the 1960s that has remained essentially unchanged.

More wierdness leads to You're My Life, a Yardbirds inspired mid-tempo rocker, which stays in the same textural ballpark, using the same breakdown structural techniques - and some surprising horns in the chorus, lending an altogether poppier feel. The melodic and modal guitar solo is a pleasant change from the preponderance of pentatonic noodelry so prolific at that time, competing with the best of Jefferson Airplane, and reminding me of Country Joe and the Fish at their best (only better!).

Looking Glass is distinctly familiar - can't quite put my finger on it, but the harmonic progressions are unusual, and the choirs feature those dizzying heights that were typical of Heep. A bit predictable, but immensely enjoyable and a lot of fun, especially the organ lines that hint at both Classical inspiration and Eastern-style modes. The instrumental features some really gorgeous key changes that don't remind me of any band from this time.

Misleading Colours wears its Hendrix influence on its sleeve, and has that typical Auger sound combined with a driving force borrowed again from the Who. Again, not fantastically original - but it really rocks.

Radio Show appears to be an attempt at commercial success - the sound suddenly changes to something with a simple appeal, with an infectious melody, interesting story line and quirky hooks. Then it changes key and style unexpectedly into a refrain of Would you believe me if I said that I was losing my mind, which is followed by another key change - all belied by the continual underpinning rhythm, until the tempo change at 1:36 - there are so many ideas densely packed into this short song that it would be an easy mistake to write it off as something simple. It's insanely catchy too.

Plastic Horizon opens with the Hammond - really, can you ever tire of hearing it? Then we get more of those vocal harmonies. Here, I'm reminded of the Scorpions later material somehow. But this is the most progressive song so far - the keyboard textures provide a developing journey until the regular beat kicks in - nevertheless, the song breaks down and changes tempo and texture frequently, leaving you uncertain of where you are musically - but in a state of emotional bliss. This truly out-Procols Procol Harum structurally. An epic performance for the time - and better than a lot of the music around now.

Farthing Man ups the tempo, and returns to Who territory, but with added vocal mayhem. A Strawberry Fields-alike breakdown combines with other strong Beatles influences, before the uptempo section is returned to. The instrumental is very disappointing, despite nods towards Airplane style experimentation for the weakest track on the album.

I Never Know brings the tempo right down - and the Mellotron returns (Deep Joy!), a Beatles/Hendrix-inspired riff, and a large number of tempo changes, CSNY-style and floating vocal harmonies in a real mash-up for a somewhat clumsy but unmistakable prototype of Prog Rock. The guitar solo is unusual in the context of its backing, which consists of a military-style snare pattern and thick Mellotron chords, underpinned by a simple, plodding bass - but in itself rather unremarkable.

The album wraps up with Time and Eternity, an uptempo number in much the same vein as the rest of the material, with the same influences - the vocals and overall style reminding me of what Yes would later do - the big difference being Chris Squires remarkable bass. Here, the bassist sits on the back burner the whole way through.

Historically, then, this is an important album in a Prog Collection insofar as it constitutes a good representation of Progressive Music of that time. Of course, you'll be checking out The Nice, The Moody Blues, Procol Harum, Soft Machine and Art first - and I'd recommend Deep Purple's debut and Spooky Tooth's second album too - but this is a hugely enjoyable album of heavy rock music that deserves a place in an informed collection of Progressive Rock.

Certif1ed | 4/5 |

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