Dusted Reviews

Genesis - In The Beginning

today features
reviews charts
labels writers
info donate

Search by Artist

Sign up here to receive weekly updates from Dusted

email address

Recent Reviews

Dusted Reviews

Artist: Genesis

Album: In The Beginning

Label: Fallout

Review date: Aug. 6, 2007

In the beginning (if you start counting at around 1968), there were two bands named Genesis. The more famous of the acts to bear the Genesis moniker is, of course, the British art-rock group that eventually morphed into a watered down Top 40 sensation. For those of us way too young to have experienced English prog at its inception, we first experienced this Genesis as a hallmark of lukewarm adult contemporary lameness. Little did we know that the same Phil Collins who crooned "Invisible Touch" from the speakers of mini-vans throughout the suburbs had all sorts of artistic cred. Learning of Genesis' Peter Gabriel-fronted incarnation – the one featuring costumes, weird time changes, and a superlatively bearded, Eno-collaborating Phil Collins behind the drum kit – was a seminal experience for plenty of serious music fans who came of age in the late '80s. "What's next?" we asked, "I suppose you're going to tell me that Steve Winwood used to be cool, too?"

Given the cultural ubiquity of Genesis (UK), it's interesting to find that there's a completely unrelated Genesis that sprang forth in the States from the same time period. With the Collins-fronted Genesis having recently reunited and started touring, it seems like an all-too-perfect time for a CD re-release of the other, LA-based Genesis' only album. That's not to say that the label, Fallout, should expect the same kind of accidental spillover business DVD retailers look for when they stock shelves with repackaged, busted-ass old Lord of the Rings cartoons to coincide with the theatrical release of one of the films. But as Genesis (UK) makes a return to the public consciousness, it definitely increases the appeal of In The Beginning as a curiosity piece. This is especially true because, due to an apparent dearth of imagination for biblical puns, the first album by Genesis (UK), originally titled From Genesis to Revelation, has over the years been re-released under the title (you guessed it) In The Beginning.

In The Beginning is a decent enough acid rock album very clearly born from LA in the late '60s. Much more fascinating than the music on the album is the list of acts in which members of Genesis had previously performed. In The Beginning comes at the end of a garage-psych tradition, but is entirely in keeping with the latter-day sound of the '60s. The album doesn't quite hold up as well as some of its more raw and aggro antecedents.

Tracing the genesis of Genesis starts to feel like a stateside equivalent of trying to figure out the band genealogy of Hawkwind. That is to say, the deeper you, the more you wonder if there was a band on the West Coast which they weren't somehow connected with. Genesis frontman Jack Ttana played in Sons of Adam, another biblically named act, most famous for performing the Arthur Lee-written and oft' compiled nugget "Feathered Fish." "Feathered Fish" is a classic slice of garage-psych; cryptic, synaesthetic lyrics, hugely soaring vocal harmonies, and a Paul Revere-with-the-fuzz-cranked-way-up riff, this track would be considered "freakbeat" if it came from Europe (in fact, people probably call it freakbeat anyway). The other guitarist of Sons of Adam, Randy Holden, went on to play in The Other Half (of "Mr. Pharmacist" fame) before finally landing in the 1968 lineup of Blue Cheer. Post-Genesis, second guitarist Kent Henry went on play in Steppenwolf. There are doubtlessly plenty of other highly interesting ties to the LA garage and incipient hippie-metal scenes to be found in Genesis' past, too. Music-wise, In The Beginning hints at a proto-metallic bent with some heavier-edged riffs, but opts for melody rather than the sloppy ferocity of its heavier contemporaries.

In The Beginning opens with "Angeline," one of the album's heavier tracks, which features churning riffs and wailing solos as a backdrop for male-female harmonies. Less aggressive songs like "Suzanne" recall the softly sung, sometimes spooky and sentimental harmonies of The Mamas and The Papas, and the lyrics pretty much run the gamut of standard flower child imagery. The blues-tinged "What's It All About?" and the 16-minute "Girl Who Never Was" are where the album hits its stride, resembling Cream, or pretty much any band doing a heavy take on the blues. It wouldn't be out of place to draw a musical comparison to a more jam-centric Led Zeppelin at points. This makes perfect sense; if you doubt the influence of the West Coast psych scene on really early British metal, listen to Spirit's “Taurus,” then the intro to “Stairway to Heaven,” and watch your classic rockin', Jimmy Page-idolizin' world unravel.

In The Beginning is an unearthed gem, but it's an unearthed gem of baroque classic rock, subject to some of the trappings that era. Genesis doesn't quite live up to some of its more idiosyncratic contemporaries (the blaring Blue Cheer, the jazz and pop tinged Spirit,) nor does it touch the mind-boggling moddish psych of its forbears Sons of Adam. That said, there's something to the pretty female leads (especially on the cover of original suicide rock anthem "Gloomy Sunday”) and dueling vocals in the context of the music. Not to mention, it's hard to deny the twinge of entertainment derived from the band having such a prominent nominative doppelganger. Imagine the smug satisfaction you’ll feel as someone poses you the question, "Oh, you mean Peter Gabriel-era Genesis?" and you respond, "No, I mean the Genesis from LA, the one you've never heard of."

By Matthew A. Stern

Read More

View all articles by Matthew A. Stern

Find out more about Fallout

©2002-2011 Dusted Magazine. All Rights Reserved.