Home Music Music Lists

20 Insanely Great Genesis Songs Only Hardcore Fans Know

A journey through the hidden corners of the band’s discography – from high-concept prog gems to forgotten pop-rock B-sides

Genesis

Tony Banks, Phil Collins, Mike Rutherford of Genesis, circa 1991.

Rob Verhorst/Redferns/Getty

The question "Do you like Genesis?" brings an inevitable follow-up: "Which one?" The band's early work, recorded under the idiosyncratic Batwing of frontman Peter Gabriel, is the Holy Grail of progressive rock – exemplified by sprawling masterpieces like the 1974 double-LP The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway. But after Gabriel left the band in '75, Genesis carried on with drummer Phil Collins as their de-facto frontman, transitioning from complex, symphonic epics ("Eleventh Earl of Mar") to concise, polished pop ("Invisible Touch)." For many diehard prog buffs, the Collins era is a travesty; for many pop-rock aficionados, the Gabriel era is, as serial killer Patrick Bateman put it in the 2000 thriller American Psycho, "too artsy, too intellectual." 

The truth, of course, is that Genesis made incredible music in every one of their distinct eras – from the long-form insanity of "Supper's Ready" to the savvy yacht-pop of "Hold on My Heart." What other band has covered so much sonic territory?

It's been a big year for Genesis. The five members of the classic quintet (Gabriel, Collins, Tony Banks, Mike Rutherford and Steve Hackett) recently reunited for the upcoming BBC/Showtime documentary, Genesis – Sum of the Parts, and a career-spanning, three-disc box set, R-Kive, arrived last month. To celebrate, let's take a look at 20 of the band's buried treasures. 

Play video

“The Brazilian”

Perhaps the biggest Eighties TV crime is that this off-kilter, Grammy-nominated instrumental didn't serve as the title credit score for a detective drama. "The Brazilian," with its blaring synthesizer lines and mechanical tom-tom pummel, is a strange way to end Genesis' most radio-friendly LP, 1986's Invisible Touch – some critics considered it a concession to the band's die-hard prog fans, a taste of art-rock mysticism to offset the slick sensitivity of ballads like "In Too Deep." As a result, a lot of fans write off this hidden gem without giving it a fair shake. 

Play video

“Naminanu”

The most naggingly catchy gibberish in the Genesis discography, the instrumental "Naminanu" was recorded for Abacab but left off the final track list, showing up as the B-side for "Keep It Dark." But the band initially had big plans for the track, planning it as the opening piece of a "Dodo/Lurker" suite (which would have also included the discarded "Submarine"). Since Genesis were already moving away from long-form epics, it made stylistic sense to leave this one on the cutting room floor. Plus, with its neon-bright synth stabs and babbling hook, "Naminanu" sounds great on its own.

Play video

“Happy the Man”

"Happy the Man" is one of the true oddities in the Genesis catalog. This simple, flute-driven folk-pop ditty came out in 1972 – the same year as Foxtrot, one of their most ambitious prog-rock albums. The song's origins are a bit fuzzy: Some Genesis historians claim it was written and performed live during the Trespass era, when original guitarist Anthony Phillips was still in the band. Regardless, it's been mostly forgotten about in the 21st century, despite its charming sing-along vibe.  

Fun fact: Obscure late Seventies prog band Happy the Man didn't name themselves after the song, despite being huge Genesis fans (and even including a "Watcher of the Skies" cover in their early live repertoire). The group even helped Gabriel demo some rough ideas for his first solo album, though he eventually decided to use other musicians. 

Play video

“Evidence of Autumn”

Guitarist Steve Hackett left Genesis in 1977, following their Wind & Wuthering tour, and the remaining trio (Phil Collins, Mike Rutherford and Tony Banks) struggled to find their creative footing on the next year's lukewarm …And Then There Were Three. But they rebounded in a major way with 1980's Duke, a more cohesive set of songs that balanced virtuosity with accessibility. "Evidence of Autumn," a starry-eyed ballad driven by Banks' lush keyboards, was recorded during the sessions but pushed aside – winding up as the B-side to pop staple "Misunderstanding" and rounding out the original studio section of 1982's Three Sides Live. It's a classic Banks composition, built on a deceptively complex chord structure and a winding, winsome vocal melody. 

Play video

“You Might Recall”

A leftover from the fertile Abacab sessions, this underrated tune finds Phil Collins belting about lost love over an agile, propulsive groove. "You Might Recall" appeared on two 1982 releases, the Three Sides Live album and the 3×3 EP, but it's hard to fathom why it didn't make the final cut on Abacab – it's one of the most musically distinctive tracks from that era, dominated by Mike Rutherford's funky bass playing and an emotive vocal performance that likely left Collins' voice raw in the recording booth. 

Show Comments