Book Review – A GENESIS IN MY BED: THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY (2020) by Steve Hackett

A GENESIS IN MY BED: THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY (2020) ****
by Steve Hackett
This hardback edition published by Wymer Publishing, 2020, 167pp plus index)
© Stephen Hackett / Wymer Publishing, 2020
ISBN: 978-1-912782-38-3
      Marketing Blurb: The long overdue autobiography from guitar great and former member of Genesis, Steve Hackett. As with his music, Steve has written a highly detailed, entertaining and embracing tome that charts his life in full, but with a firm emphasis on his years with Genesis that saw the band’s meteoric rise to become one of the most successful British bands of all time. Steve talks candidly about his early life, his time with Genesis, and in particular his personal relationships with the other four band members, with great insight into the daily goings on of this major rock band. Naturally A Genesis In My Bed also regales stories of Steve’s career since leaving Genesis and the many different journeys that it has taken him on. With his flair for the creative, and a great deal of levity, A Genesis In My Bed is a riveting read. Indispensable for Genesis fans but also essential for general music lovers and avid readers of autobiographies full of heartfelt and emotive tales.
      Comment: The first thing you notice about Steve Hackett’s autobiography is the brief page count. This is both a blessing and a curse. It makes the read quick and concise but also sketches over details that dedicated fans may have wanted, notably on his later solo career. That said I found the book hugely enjoyable and after reading it felt, as a result, I knew much more about what makes Hackett tick – his insecurities in particular. His writing is literate and informative and full of anecdotes. The book is effectively split into three sections: Growing up and family life pre-Genesis; the Genesis years and his post-Genesis solo career. The first section gives much insight into the formation of Hackett’s personality. A shy youngster lacking in self-confidence, but with a natural musical ability, striving to find his niche. His ultimate link up with Genesis, via an interesting Melody Maker ad, is well known through band biographies.
Hackett’s time with the band highlights his initial reticence to assert himself, although he was instrumental in the band purchasing a Mellotron, which helped transform their sound. He grew in confidence once Gabriel had left the band – Hackett had recorded his first solo album, in the interim between The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway and A Trick of the Tail. His newfound confidence through solo compositions became more apparent on Wind & Wuthering, but also sowed the seeds for his leaving Genesis when his intention to continue a solo career alongside the band was vetoed by Tony Banks and Mike Rutherford. His ultimate departure was swift, during the mixing of the live album Seconds Out. At the time Hackett let some of his frustrations out in subsequent press interviews. Here, looking back with the benefit of hindsight, he is more objective and sees how if he had been more patient he may well have been able to combine the two further down the road – as became apparent once Banks, Rutherford and Phil Collins launched their own solo careers only two or three years later. Hackett is very complimentary of his former bandmates and makes it clear they all get on well, despite occasional disagreements and insensitivities – notably the editing out of Hackett’s solo career from the band’s 2004 documentary Together and Apart.
The latter part of the book, covering Hackett’s post-Genesis solo career is the most sketchy and therefore least informative – although he candidly documents the stresses of managing his solo career as well as his post-punk struggles with the record companies and the music press. Hackett comes across as an immensely likeable bloke, whose desire to nurture talent and have a settled and supportive partner has been his driving force. His third wife Jo has been a keen supporter and soulmate. Hackett’s return to the Genesis archive to mix the band’s songs with his own solo output in his live set confirms he has come to terms with his inner self and is probably the happiest he has ever been. His final words, “I have finally found home,” confirm this. A pleasurable and heartwarming read.

Book Review – MY BOOK OF GENESIS by Richard Macphail (2017)

MY BOOK OF GENESIS (2017) ****
by Richard Macphail (with Chris Charlesworth; Foreword by Peter Gabriel)
Published by Argyll & Bute, 2017, 234pp
ISBN: 978-1-5272-1504-7

My Book of GenesisBlurb: School friend, aide-de-camp and tour manager, Richard Macphail was for almost five years the glue that held Genesis together, and in his affectionate memoir My Book of Genesis he tells his own unique story of the group’s early years. Richard was the singer in Anon, the Charterhouse school group that included Mike Rutherford and Anthony Phillips, which would later merge with Peter Gabriel and Tony Banks’ group The Garden Wall to become Genesis. Richard then became their one-man road crew, shepherding them from gig to gig, providing a cottage where they could live and rehearse and offering support when it was most needed. Richard was there when Phil Collins was auditioned, when Steve Hackett was recruited to replace Anthony Phillips and when Peter Gabriel left for a solo career. He was in the thick of it as they fulfilled their ambitions, signing to Charisma, touring Europe and America and recording a series of albums that fans fondly remember as the bedrock of Genesis’ extraordinary career. In his book’s final chapters he describes his ongoing relationship with Peter, Mike, Tony, Phil and Steve, a friendship that has endured for over 50 years. Featuring contributions from all the members of Genesis and co-written with former Melody Maker journalist Chris Charlesworth, My Book Of Genesis is both revealing and forthright, an insider’s account that fans will treasure.

An interesting account of the rise of a rock group in the days when bands had to work for their success. Some lovely stories and anecdotes of the author’s time with Genesis, from their beginnings at Charterhouse through to them cementing their prog-rock status in 1973 with “Selling England by the Pound”. Macphail was the unsung hero and his enthusiasm and encouragement helped to see the band through some early setbacks. He was the band’s champion, driver, technician, sound engineer, road manager and cook through their formative years and all the band contribute to his story, confirming their gratitude toward a free spirit who they saw as a sixth member.

Magazine Review – GENESIS – THE ULTIMATE MUSIC GUIDE (2017)

GENESIS – THE ULTIMATE MUSIC GUIDE (2017, Uncut, 122pp) ∗∗∗∗

Blurb: The Ultimate Music Guide: Genesis, then, seeks to explain the whole shapeshifting brilliance of the band. We’ve delved deep into the archives of NME and Melody Maker, finding interviews with the members that have languished unseen for decades. You’ll see characters emerging and plans being formulated, key figures stepping in and out of the spotlight. A career path being mapped out that does not always appear obvious, but which incrementally builds Genesis into one of the biggest bands of their era. Alongside all these revelatory interviews, we’ve written in-depth new reviews of every single Genesis album, from their 1969 debut right up until 1997’s Calling All Stations, stopping off at all auspicious points in between. We’ve also investigated the significant solo careers: not just of Peter Gabriel and Phil Collins, but of Steve Hackett, Anthony Phillips, Mike Rutherford and Tony Banks, too. It’s a tricky tale, but an endlessly rewarding one.

Uncut‘s series of The UltimateMusic Guide finally gets around to Genesis. The magazine stretches to 122 pages covering all aspect of the band. Each album is reviewed by a different writer, which ensures they get a dedicated hearing, but also means there are some inconsistencies in terms of judgement and comment. Having said that, there is an admirable balance across the whole of the band’s output as the writers resist falling into the trap of siding with the 5-man line-up or the trio. What this means, however, is that some tracks within the albums are not rated according to their status within the fan base. Classic Genesis songs like Firth of Fifth, I Know What I Like, Los Endos, Afterglow, Duke’s Travels/Duke’s End, Home by the Sea, Domino and Fading Lights  all receive just 3-stars, which is hard to accept. However, everyone will have their own favourites and there are some compelling arguments here for the stance taken. The interviews pulled from the archives of NME and Melody Maker are weighted toward the early years. Both papers took with the punk crowd in the late 70s and were savage in their treatment of Genesis thereafter –  the later review extracts demonstrate this. The band members’ solo careers are also covered, with particularly interesting perspectives on the output of both Peter Gabriel and Phil Colins. Despite its flaws, this is a good read and an interesting take on a band that, despite its popularity with the music buying public, continues to divide opinion amongst critics.

Steve Hackett 14-disc Charisma Collection set for October release

Universal Music Group is releasing a 14-Disc-Box set covering Steve Hackett’s time with Charisma Records between 1975-83 in October 2015. The set is titled Premonitions: The Charisma Years. The set will include bonus tracks, remixes and 5.1 Surround DVDs. It is the third major retrospective release from the Genesis stable following recent announcements from Tony Banks and Phil Collins.

The discs and track list are:

Disc 1 [CD] – Voyage Of The Acolyte / Please Don’t Touch (I):
01. Ace Of Wands
02. Hands Of The Priestess – Part One
03. Tower Struck Down
04. Hands Of The Priestess – Part Two
05. The Hermit
06. Star Of Sirius
07. Lovers
08. Shadow Of The Heirophant (Extended Version)
09. Narnia
10. Carry On Up The Vicarage
11. Racing In A
12. Kim
13. How Can I?
14. Seven Of Cups* (Bonus Track)

Disc 2 [CD] – Please Don’t Touch (II) / Spectral Mornings / Defector (I):
01. Hoping Love Will Last
02. Land Of A Thousand Autumns
03. Please Don’t Touch
04. Voice Of Necam
05. Icarus Ascending
06. Every Day
07. Virgin And The Gypsy
08. Red Flower Of Tachai Blooms Everywhere
09. Clocks – Angel Of Mons
10. Ballad Of The Decomposing Man
11. Lost Time In Cordoba
12. Tigermoth
13. Spectral Mornings
14. Steppes
15. Time To Get Out
16. Slogans
17. Leaving
18. Two Vamps As Guests

Disc 3 [CD] – Defector (II) / Cured:
01. Jacuzzi
02. Hammer In The Sand
03. Toast
04. Show
05. Sentimental Institution
06. Hercules Unchained (Bonus Track)
07. Hope I Don’t Wake
08. Picture Postcard
09. Can’t Let Go
10. Air Conditioned Nightmare
11. Funny Feeling
12. Cradle Of Swans
13. Overnight Sleeper
14. Turn Back Time
15. Tales Of The Riverbank (Bonus Track)
16. Second Chance (Bonus Track)

Disc 4 [CD] – Highly Strung:
01. Camino Royale
02. Cell 151
03. Always Somewhere Else
04. Walk Through Walls
05. Give It Away
06. Weightless
07. Group Therapy
08. India Rubber Man
09. Hackett To Pieces
10. Guitar Boogie (Bonus Track)
11. Time Lapse At Milton Keynes (Bonus Track)
12. Walking Through Walls (12″ Single Version) (Bonus Track)
13. Cell 151 (BBC Session 04/1983)* (Bonus Track)
14. Walking Through Walls (BBC Session 04/1983)* (Bonus Track)
15. Hackett To Pieces (BBC Session 04/1983)* (Bonus Track)
16. Please Don’t Touch (BBC Session 04/1983)* (Bonus Track)

Disc 5 [CD] – Live In Oxford (New Theatre, 01/07/1979) (I):
01. Please Don’t Touch
02. Tigermoth
03. Every Day
04. Narnia
05. Red Flower Of Tachai Blooms Everywhere
06. Ace Of Wands
07. Carry On Up The Vicarage
08. Acoustic Medley: Etude In A Minor / Blood On The Rooftops / Horizons / Kim

Disc 6 [CD] – Live In Oxford (New Theatre, 01/07/1979) (II):
01. Optigan / Tower Struck Down
02. Spectral Mornings
03. Star Of Sirius
04. Shadow Of The Heirophant
05. Clocks
06. I Know What I Like
07. Racing In A

Disc 7 [CD] – Live In London (Theatre Royal Dury Lane, 11/11/1979):
01. Land Of Thousand Autumns/Please Don’t Touch
02. Tigermoth*
03. Every Day*
04. Ace Of Wands
05. Sentimental Institution
06. Red Flower Of Tachai Blooms Everywhere*
07. Spectral Mornings*
08. Clocks*
09. Acoustic Medley*: Etude In A Minor / Blood On The Rooftops / Horizons / Kim

Disc 8 [CD] – Live At The Reading Festival (28/08/1981):
01. Air Conditioned Nightmare
02. Every Day*
03. Ace Of Wands*
04. Funny Feeling*
05. Steppes
06. Over Night Sleeper*
07. Slogans
08. Tower Struck Down*
09. Spectral Mornings*
10. Show*
11. Clocks

Disc 9 [CD] – Please Don’t Touch (New Stereo Mix by Steven Wilson)*
01. Narnia
02. Carry On Up The Vicarage
03. Racing In A
04. Kim
05. How Can I?
06. Hoping Love Will Last
07. Land Of A Thousand Autumns
08. Please Don’t Touch
09. Voice Of Necam
10. Icarus Ascending

Disc 10 [CD] – Spectral Mornings (New Stereo Mix by Steven Wilson)*
01. Every Day
02. The Virgin And The Gypsy
03. Red Flower Of Tachai Blooms Everywhere
04. Clocks – Angel Of Mons
05. Ballad Of The Decomposing Man
06. Lost Time In Cordoba
07. Tigermoth
08. Spectral Mornings

Disc 11 [DVD] – Please Don’t Touch (New 5.1 Surround Sound Mix by Steven Wilson)*
01. Narnia
02. Carry On Up The Vicarage
03. Racing In A
04. Kim
05. How Can I?
06. Hoping Love Will Last
07. Land Of A Thousand Autumns
08. Please Don’t Touch
09. Voice Of Necam
10. Icarus Ascending
11. How Can I? [1977 Charisma Promotional Film] (Bonus Video Track)

Disc 12 [DVD] – Spectral Mornings (New 5.1 Surround Sound Mix by Steven Wilson)*
01. Every Day
02. Virgin And The Gypsy
03. Red Flower Of Tachai Blooms Everywhere
04. Clocks – Angel Of Mons
05. Ballad Of The Decomposing Man
06. Lost Time In Cordoba
07. Tigermoth
08. Spectral Mornings
09. Clocks [1979 Charisma Promotional Film] (Bonus Video Track)

Disc 13 [DVD] – Voyage Of The Acolyte (New 5.1 Mix by Steven Wilson)*
01. Ace Of Wands
02. Hands Of The Priestess – Part One
03. Tower Struck Down
04. Hands Of The Priestess – Part Two
05. Hermit
06. Star Of Sirius
07. Lovers
08. Shadow Of The Hierophant (Extended Version)

Disc 14 [DVD] – Defector (New 5.1 Mix by Steven Wilson)*
01. Steppes
02. Time To Get Out
03. Slogans
04. Leaving
05. Two Vamps As Guests
06. Jacuzzi
07. Hammer In The Sand
08. Toast
09. Show
10. Sentimental Institution

Music Review – GENESIS: R-KIVE (2014)

GENESIS – R-KIVE (2014, Virgin, 3CDs) ∗∗∗∗
Songs: Disc 1: The Knife; The Musical Box; Supper’s Ready; The Cinema Show; I Know What I Like (In Your Wardrobe); The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway; Back In N.Y.C.; The Carpet Crawlers; Ace of Wands (Steve Hackett); Disc 2: Ripples; Afterglow; Solsbury Hill (Peter Gabriel); Follow You Follow Me; For A While (Tony Banks); Every Day (Steve Hackett); Biko (Peter Gabriel); Turn It On Again; In The Air Tonight (Phil Collins); Abacab; Mama; That’s All; Easy Lover (Phil Collins); Silent Running (Mike + The Mechanics); Disc 3: Invisible Touch; Land Of Confusion; Tonight Tonight Tonight; The Living Years (Mike + The Mechanics); Red Day on Blue Street (Tony Banks); I Can’t Dance; No Son of Mine; Hold On My Heart; Over My Shoulder (Mike + The Mechanics); Calling All Stations; Signal to Noise (Peter Gabriel); Wake Up Call (Phil Collins); Nomads (Steve Hackett); Siren (Tony Banks)

818bjr+dEzL._SL1500_Whilst there is a certain logic in a compilation of the music of Genesis alongside solo songs from the 1971-5 line-up (of which each member chooses three each – not always the obvious ones). The end result is unlikely to satisfy hardcore fans of the band or any of the artists individually. For that you would need to look to each member’s solo compilation packages and Genesis’ Platinum Collection.

But this package is not aimed at the band’s collective or individual core fan base. It is designed to re-introduce and familiarise the music buying public with the extraordinary breadth of talent that came from this group of five writers and musicians. Arguably the only such instance outside The Beatles themselves.

The package is also an obvious tie-in to the BBC documentary Together and Apart (due for broadcast on 4 October 2014) and the Blu-Ray/DVD release to follow, The Sum of The Parts. As such it is an adequate reminder of the varied music produced by the members individually as well as the transition of the band from experimental prog-rock to a more mainstream approach. There are Genesis fans who like one and dislike the other and those who like it all. I fall into the latter camp having come on board with Duke in 1980, then having rapidly collected the back catalogue – in reverse order. Each new album from Abacab (1981) onward would also bring something new to the band’s history. That album in particular seems to be the dividing point for the fans who like prog Genesis only and those who like mainstream Genesis only.

What the solo material shows is how diverse these musician are individually. Gabriel explores world music and rhythms; Collins perfects a version of white soul; Rutherford produces finely crafted and tuneful songs; Hackett stays closest to his prog roots but explores different guitar styles such as flamenco; Banks loves challenging harmonies and an orchestral approach.

The music they produced together as Genesis has elements of all these things, but the hybrid makes for an even more exciting listen. The band evolved through musical epics such as Supper’s Ready via the surreal imagery of I Know What I Like and Carpet Crawlers with Gabriel fronting the band to the beautiful melodies of Ripples and Afterglow more suited to Collins’ vocal style. After Hackett’s departure, some of the adventure, but none of the craft disappeared. Mama is a bitingly hot tale of obsession that demonstrated the band could still produce challenging music alongside the hits.

As a collector of the band’s music I have purchased this and it will sit with the rest of their output. As a fan, it is unlikely it will be the prime source of my future listening – I will return to individual albums to enjoy all phases of the band’s career. But for casual listeners this will open up the band’s broader catalogue and serve as a strong representation of the talent within the Genesis family.