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Genesis - Trespass CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

4.15 | 2234 ratings

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The Owl
Prog Reviewer
5 stars Definitely NOT to be confused with the happy-slappy Genesis of the 1980's by any means! Somewhere in the English countryside, circa 1970, 5 lads from a prestigious boarding school were hard at work in a small house (courtesy of gracious parents), recovering from wounds (namely having their debut album, From Genesis To Revelation flop and then nearly throwing in the towel altogether)and redoubling their creative efforts.

Armed with a steely resolve, a recently acquired Mellotron, a contract with the fledgling Charisma Records label, a sympathetic producer in John Anthony and ambitious new material, Genesis set its sights on upsetting the apple cart of ordinary music. No longer were they going to be pegged as "Moody Blues wannabes".

What emerged was an important, yet largely unheralded milestone in the development of progressive rock, as we know it. Here, the essential building blocks of the classic Genesis sound were coming to the fore, although they had yet to fully gel and integrate, but you could tell that even greater, more startling things were to come.

"Looking For Someone" leads off with a piercing Gabriel vocal and smoky organ, the protagonist looking for meaning and purpose in a world that doesn't seem to have any. The band charges in with full force, exercising newly found ambition and ability. Gabriel's slightly raspy and soulful singing carries this songs mood so strongly, supported by plaintive guitar statements from Anthony Phillips and frantic propulsion from Banks, Rutherford and drummer John Mayhew (who would be fired after the album's completion).

"White Mountain" switches to fairy tale mode, relating the story of a lone wolf who defied the sacred norms of his society and paid a terrible price for it. All this framed by frantic chase music and the trademark interlocking, chiming 12-string guitar passages that old Genesis fans loved so much. Gabriel also begins to experiment with processing his voice to chilling effect (when he recites the "laws of the brethren") and his unsettling whistling combined with mournful organ towards the end. Definitely not "happy-slappy" bubblegum stuff!!

"Visions of Angels" begins with a deceptively winsome piano figure as it's protagonist struggles with the idea of believing in an all-powerful God or not. "Stagnation" is easily the album's high point. This is the story of a man who decided to spend the rest of his existence comfortably ensconced underground. Gabriel's plaintive vocals here can send chills up your spine, along with those chiming 12-strings and Tony Bank's resourceful use of his new keyboard rig (I especially love that otherworldly organ solo he does in the middle of the tune, coaxing out sounds that were unknown at the time). The song builds to a rousing conclusion, with Gabriel just wearing his anguish on his sleeve.

"Dusk" shows the more folky side of Genesis with Gabriel again grappling with the meaning of life. Here, he also whips out the flute for the first time on record, as well as pronounced background vocals from everyone else, something that later would be discarded.

"The Knife" soon would become a Genesis concert favorite. This story of a revolutionary on a power trip is propelled by some of Gabriel's angriest vocalizing with snarling fuzz bass, frantic guitar and rhythm section to match. This early version feels a bit awkward only because of John Mayhew's rather tentative drumming, but would later just rip to shreds with great confidence, with Phil Collins in the driver's seat.

After this, Ant Phillips would develop acute stagefright and quit the band (replaced by Steve Hackett, who did seem to appropriate elements of Phillips guitar style), and a young unknown bloke by the name of Phil Collins would sit behind the drums and rip it to shreds. Even while flawed in some respects (production-wise and Mayhew's tentative drumming), Tresspass still stands as an essential piece of the Genesis puzzle, and for me personally, a very inspiring one to go back to every so often. Highly recommended for any prog-rock fan who wants to know about the music's history and development.

The Owl | 5/5 |


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