After two side posts, here I am again with yet another rock opera. As promised, this time I bring you early Genesis (12 years before their hit Invisible Touch and 6 before Turn it on again) and their magnum-opus, their “big lump story of music”, in Peter Gabriel’s words.
The album tells the surreal story of a half Puerto Rican juvenile delinquent named Rael living in New York City, who is swept underground to face bizarre creatures and nightmarish dangers in order to rescue his brother John.
Their live shows were largely theatrical (check next picture), with Gabriel changing customs (check the last picture – a slipperman) a lot and with a lot of scenario-related props. However, they differed from their contemporaneous bands in that they still focused on presenting very well structured music, rather than only on the show, as Circus’ Ron Ross said:
“Where groups from the Who to ELP [Emerson, Lake and Palmer] impress their fans
visually with walls of amplified thunder-machinery, Genesis’ [sic] set is virtually bare of
electric equipment. Steve Hackett and Mike Rutherford’s amps are so well hidden that
their music often appears to emanate from the air itself. No mountains of synthesiser
technology surround Tony Banks. Aside from the panoramic three-part slide screen
and an odd little rock formation at the center of the stage, the most striking “prop” is
Phil Collins’ beautifully complete and well-ordered drum kit. It is almost a sculpture in
itself, but, of course, its function is strictly musical.”
The show would start with Peter Gabriel, dressed like a common pub-rocker, saying these words:
Good evening. We’ve written a big lump of story and music and we’d like to play the whole thing for you tonight. It tells of how a large black cloud descends into Time
Square and straddles out across 42nd Street, turns into a wall and sucks in Manhattan Island. Our hero, named Rael, crawls out of the subways of New York and is sucked
into the wall, to regain consciousness underground. This is the story of Rael.
Then, Tony Banks’ keyboard would sound, just like this:
For me, the best song of the whole 90 minutes is In The Cage, which deals with fear. At this point Rael has awakened trapped in a cave in a state of great fear and sensory agitation.
Probably one of the better know songs from this album is Carpet Crawlers:
Peter Gabriel as a Slipperman
I’m sorry for not explaining better the whole meaning of this, but, in opposition to the first episode the story is not as straightforward, having many dreams and creatures, and hidden meanings… There’s even books written about this, such as the very good Genesis and The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway by Kevin Holm-Udson, from which I took some of the info here posted.
I really hope you liked this small sample of the great music created by Genesis, as I completely love their 70’s work..
Stay tuned for the next episode, Jesus Christ Superstar!
A treat to many of our viewers: Não percam o próximo episódio, porque nós, também não!
EDIT: If you want to read the whole story, here it is.