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"Can you tell me where your Top 10 lies?" Said the Genesis Fan to Markyjoe's eyes!
"It lies right here",
cried the 'Joe to her ear
for his writing led,
to making up this thread


"Welcome here!"
Greeted 'Joe to his peer.
"Please read on"
the lady sat
to see what Mark had wrote
it seems profound
Wasting your time by the pound



I'm a fan of early Genesis, at least from Nursery Cryme to Trick of the Tail. Because I like so much of their music, I've often pondered how I would rank my top 10 Genesis songs. I knew what my number one would be, but from there, it was pretty difficult to choose, but eventually I put something together.

Before I begin though, I should probably explain what Genesis are. They're a band that makes progressive rock music, which is, in the simplest terms possible, rock music that tries to have complex composition. Changes in tempo/time signature, complex and detailed musical texturing (Arpeggios are quite common), and solos - especially of the guitar and keyboard variety - are common place in this genre. If you've ever heard "Bohemian Rhapsody" by Queen, you might have an idea of what the hell I'm talking about.

Anyways, Genesis is among the best progressive rock bands. In it's prime, the band consisted of Peter Gabriel (vocals and flute), Phil Collins (back up vocals and drums), Steve Hackett (Lead Guitar, 12 String Guitar), Mike Rutherford (Bass and 12 String Guitar), and Tony Banks (Keyboard/Mellotron and 12 String Guitar). After Peter Gabriel left to have a solo career in music, the band worked towards making their music more accessible by simplifying it. Eventually Steve Hackett jumped ship as well, and by the 80's, the band became a commercially successful pop band.

I prefer their earlier work, but there's a couple of good moments in later albums as well, and if you don't like symphonic rock music about a dead ghost trying to bone the girl that murdered him, aliens coming to earth and saying "Well shit, looks like the humans left", and the apocolapse (In 9/8!!), then you'll probably like their newer stuff, but I'm getting off track. Let's count down my top 10 favorite genesis songs!

So... about aliens, ghost rapists, and the end of the world... my first pick has absolutely nothing to do with any of those! In fact, I have no fucking idea what this song is about. Something about "things" crawling across the floor in a red ochre corridor to some spiral staircase that leads up to a chamber of 32 doors in an attempt to get out of a horrible nightmare world. If you've listened to "The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway", or seen any of Genesis's concerts, you probably know what I'm talking about.

10. The Carpet Crawlers

So... what the heck is this crap about those crawling things? The song is part of Genesis's Rock Opera, "The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway". Our main character, Rael, is venturing through a horrible nightmare world that he ended up in because some black wall chased him down the streets of broadway and... okay, long story short, most of the songs on the album are about the things Rael sees while trying to get out of this place.

However, within this dark, menacing world is this incredibly soothing song. The weird thing about it though is that it's not really what I'd called a progressive rock song. It's more like a very detailed and moody pop song. It follows the standard verse-chorus structure, with an introduction that is often shafted in live performances, and no bridge.

It's a very relaxing song, with Tony Banks keeping with the blingy keyboard arpeggios throughout. And the lyrics? Very poetic, and extremely powerful in it's imagery. My favorite line is "It's the bottom of a staircase, with spirals out of sight", not only because of Peter Gabriel's theatrical execution, but because it just SOUNDS epic, and it concisely describes a spirally staircase that leads way high up in the air. It's just a really beautiful song.

... Anyway, here's the next song!

9. Anyway

Haha, sorry. Wanted to do some word play.

ANYWAY, Anyway is another song from "The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway", and is supposed to depict Rael's resignation towards death as he lays trapped under piles of rocks.

Despite how sad the song sounds, it's kind of funny too, mainly because it's filled to the brim with sarcasm. I mean...

"I could have been exploding in space
Different orbits for my bones
Not me, just quietly buried in stones,"

It's almost like a snide comment. "You COULD have given me my favorite brand of cookies, but oookay! I guess settle for DOG SHIT."

Beyond that though, the song also has a slamming, dramatic guitar solo, which is kind of unusual for Genesis since they rarely ever "smash the god damn chalkboard" so much as "decorate the canvas with flowers". What I mean is that Genesis aren't very hard rock-ish.

Neither this song, nor The Carpet Crawlers are what I'd consider songs that would give you a clear idea of what Progressive Rock. However, our next song, ALSO from "The Lamb", is very much in the cage of progressive rock.

8. In The Cage

My dad's personal favorite from "The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway", In The Cage is energetic, panicky, and extremely important to the plot, since it introduces Rael's brother, John... how John ended up with a far more generic name is beyond me, but basically all you need to know about John is that he's an unhelpful prick.

Seriously. This is what happens in the song. Rael was sleeping in a cucoon in the previous song, wakes up and leaves it, then stalagmites and stalactites protrude from from the cave ceiling and floor and shut him into a cage, squeezing the living hell out of him. His brother randomly shows up, looks at Rael, sheds a tear of blood, then leaves without saying another word. Not only is he a douchebag, but he is in serious need of an eye doctor.

So what about this song is "progressive rock"? Well to start, it's not in the usual 4/4 time signature. It starts in 3/4 time, then shifts to 4/4 for the bridge section of the song, changing tempo in the process, then transitions back to 3/4 time, slowly gaining tempo and intensity until fading out. There's also a sick Tony Banks keyboard solo during the bridge. Gotta have those solos.

Unfortunately, that's also the last song from "The Lamb" that's included on this list. Don't get me wrong though, "The Lamb" is probably my favorite album of early genesis. It's probably the most "consistent" album, but while it's the best on-average, none of it's songs reach the amazing heights of the next few songs on this list.

Which brings me to the next song... um... [insert something about a fountain here]

7. Fountain of Salmacis

I think my favorite brand of Tony Banks keyboard is the screechy, half-church organ, half-drawbar organ sound often used in Nursery Cryme. It's in "The Musical Box" and this song, and it kicks many butts.

This song is actually a retelling of the Greek tale of the first hermaphrodite, which is a person who is both female and male. I've never actually seen a real life hermaphrodite but... actually maybe I have, but simply haven't asked. Probably because doing so would likely result in red hand marks all over my face.

The song starts with a keyboard riff that reminds me very heavily of "Battle of Olympus" for NES... for some reason... wait. a. minute...

If anything, it should remind me more of Castlevania, since that kind of riff is common in baroque-type music, which is what Castlevania uses a lot. Genesis are pretty baroque themselves, but I'm getting off topic here.

What I really like about this song is how the lyrics are so well married with the music. Any time an instrumental section occurs, it's right after the lyrics invoke some sort of event or action happening, so the instrumental often feels like it's depicting that action. This is especially true as our main character, Hermaphroditus, is attacked by Salmacis, who loves him and wishes to fuse together with him - Dragon Ball Z style I assume - but right after she says "We shall rejoin as one!", the song segues into an awesome guitar solo, which once again uses those baroque-ish arpeggios. You can practically imagine the scene in your head as the guitar solo goes on, and the song keeps building in momentum as the climax nears. A very satisfying piece. The only problem is that it sort of takes it's time, and repeats the keyboard arpeggio riff a bit lethargically, but it's hard to say what I would change about it. I think I've just grown to tolerate it despite it's slight tedium.

So what's better than a song where the lyrics and music are perfectly in cooperation with one another? A song where the lyrics and music are so completely NOT related to one another that one wonders why the hell the lyrics exist in the first place... wait...

6. The Cinema Show

If you thought The Carpet Crawlers was a soothing, pleasant song, the first part of this song is perhaps moreso. It's lightly textured with guitar work and Peter Gabriel's soft performance. It sounds more like an ACTUAL classical composition if anything. If it were in a different album, and the electric guitar didn't exist in the "Father Tiresias" sections, this would probably just be called a classical composition. Then again, that neglects the drums as well... hmmm...

One of my favorite parts of the song is after the first "Father Tiresias" section, in which a flute comes in, and then Peter Gabriel and Phil Collins' soft vocals stirring around each other to create a truly mystical, yet humble sound.

But this isn't what most people love most about the song. No. They like the SECOND part of the song. Quite possibly Tony Bank's finest keyboard solo, though, Apocolapse 9/8 gives it some pretty strong competition.

Once the keyboard solo comes in, the song changes to a faster tempo and Tony Banks just goes nuts, not in the chaotic way, but in an extremely professional, focused, and magnificent way, and believe it not, he not only performs this solo exactly the same during live concerts, but he does it at an even FASTER tempo, backed by even better drumming, making this one of the few songs that sounds better at concert than it does on the studio rendition.

I'm actually kind of tired now and it's 3:22 AM at night here, so I think I'm gonna do the rest of this top 5 in another post. I hope y'all are ready for the Top 5 best Genesis songs!
Finally I return to this after eight million years.

5. Return of the Giant Hogweed

Who loves cheesey horror films?

Genesis does! At least, that's abundantly clear with this song, which is about evil plants called Giant Hogweeds that are preparing an onslaught threatening the human race, and all because some poor bloke took the original plant from it's natural habitat.

Tongue is firmly in cheek for this song, and the levels of over-the-top reached are incredible, especially near the end, where the song becomes an instrument orgy. The ending is even more ridiculous in live versions since the part following before it is a lot softer, making the explosion of guitars, keyboards and drums all the more startlingly abrupt.

The song is inspired by real events, by the way. In the 19th century, the Giant Hogweed was introduced to Britain, and has since spread to numerous other parts of europe. It harms native plants, reducing wildlife interest in the process, and can causing harm to humans that are exposed to them. According to wikipedia however, pigs and camels are apparently immune to the plant, which means that if we get an army of pigs...

.4 The Knife

Fun fact: As I was writing this entry, this song was originally number 6 on this list, but as I listened to it again, I moved it up to four because my god.

Trespass was a boring album. It's not that it doesn't rock that hard - it does at points - but the songs feel kind of tedious and lacking in focus. There's not much to remember about them even though the lyrics tell interesting tales of wolves, revolutions and... uh... I forgot.

In addition to this, the songs don't really sound like something Genesis would make, except The Knife, which only sounds kind of what Genesis would make. Hey, I'm not splitting hairs!

Also worth noting is that the album's production is shittier than Nursery Cryme's, which is probably another reason why the album sucks. As such, I'm not linking to the original version. No. I'm linking to the version featured on Genesis's first live album, Live! ... ... GREAT album title!

This is a really sinister song, lacking any of the whimsy and humorous cynicism the band would later possess. It's about the start of a revolution in the point of view of it's leader. The implications made by the lyrical wordings is that the leader of this revolution is just as horrible as the corrupt government he is standing up against. I mean, sheesh, he's telling his followers to kill their enemies, AND their families, including hanging their children! That's pretty fucked up!

The best part of this song however, is the long bridge section. After the loudness of the verses and chorus, the song turns quiet and... unsettling. Phil Collins' drumming turns to that of a marching percussion, with Steve Hackett's guitar whimpering in agony which then gets carried away by Peter Gabriel's flute. The muted intensity builds up to a crash, then more lyrics come in. "I only wanted freedom" is repeated over and over again, becoming more distorted and twisted sounding each time the words are uttered, as if depicting how this leader's mind has become warped by the power he has been granted by his followers. The sound of able soldiers and screaming citizens is heard, and then Hackett's guitar comes in to depict the violence and horror. The guitar becomes more chaotic and crazy as it progresses, and the arpeggios are played with lightning speed until the song once again turns quiet, then into a slamming march of death.

How the fuck did such a bad album get such a good song?

Now for the last three... which will be some other time! Sorry this is taking so long. ;-;
(10-21-2013, 02:00 PM)markyjoe1990 Wrote: Now for the last three... which will be some other time! Sorry this is taking so long. ;-;

Sorry for the shameless bump, but it's okay, take your time. Making a personal top ten of anything and going into detail about every single choice can't be easy.
3. Dancing with the Moonlit Knight



Aside from the somewhat indulgent ending part, this song is absolutely fantastic.

It starts with nothing but Peter Gabriel's vocals:
"Can you tell me where my country lies?"
Cried the unifaun to his true love's eyes

From there, the song has a soft, warm sound, as if we're in some old english fairy tale. As the song progresses, it becomes a slow ballad that crescendos into a grandiose choir.

And then. The epic happens. A sudden change to a faster tempo, accompanied by one of Steve Hackett's most memorable guitar solos.

It never loses momentum until finally the song reaches it's conclusion, in which afterwards, flutes, lush keyboards, and 12 string guitars fill the sound scape... for a bit too long (Like. Two minutes.)

But god dammit, everything else is perfect.

2. Supper's Ready

To some, true art is incomprehensible. By that logic, Supper's Ready is one of the best songs ever made. But screw that noise, it's good even if you have absolutely no idea what the song is about (Which you won't!).

It immediately grabs you from the first few seconds, having no sense of introduction, but instantly giving the impression that it means business. And rightfully so; It's a 23-minute long song divided into 7 sections and serves as the ending track on the Genesis album, Foxtrot. Each section is distinct, and transitions beautifully from one part to the next. Eventually it all leads up to the grand climax that is the 6th section, "Apocalypse in 9/8", which is an ominous Tony Banks keyboard solo building up to a sinister vocal performance by Peter Gabriel.

Then, when it all ends... a ray of light shines, beginning the 7th segment that concludes the piece.

So what is this song about?



Make your own interpretation!

1. The Musical Box

Kind of strange that this song is number one on this list considering it comes from what people would argue is one of the weaker albums from the Peter Gabriel era of Genesis (Fun fact: It's considered to be their third best album on progarchives!)

This one comes with liner notes to explain the context of the lyrics, but if you just bought the MP3, you're pretty much a fish out of water on this one.

Two kids are playing the English sport of croquet until the girl knocks the boy's head off, killing him. Later on, the girl finds the boy's favorite toy, the musical box. When she plays it, the ghost of the boy appears and begins to age rapidly. Unfortunately, while he ages, his sexual desires develop, and things get a little creepy...

The song starts with a folky, yet mystical sound scape, and the lyrics are sung from the boy's point of view. They almost seem like a stream of conscious, which actually serves the song quite well, and becomes even more effective when you juxtapose the boy's friendly nature at the beginning of the song with his aggressive, nearly violent nature near the end.

Anyway, after the girl plays the musical box for the boy a few times, suddenly, a gritty guitar solo comes in. It is perhaps THE best guitar solo Steve Hackett has ever done. Though, his solo in "Firth of Fifth" gives it pretty strong competition... Shoulda put that song on this list as well, come to think of it. Crud. Well I guess I'll take care of that in a moment!

This guitar solo is backed by Tony Banks' screeching keyboards, and at the end of it, the song suddenly becomes soft again, with a far off-sounding trumpet in the background to add some extra drama. The boy sings to the song played by his musical box, but is interrupted when he realizes that time is passing by. Suddenly, he gains corporeality and the guitar solo takes over once again, depicting the chaos and insanity the boy is feeling from his rapid aging.

The fog clears... the boy is now an old man. With only a little time left, he leers at the girl, lustfully. Despite her being so young, in his own mind, he too is but a child. He begins to grope her, feeling sensations he's never felt before... then he screams out.

"You stand there with your fixed expression, casting down on all I have to say! Why don't you touch me!? Touch me! Why don't you touch me!? Touch me! Touch me! NOW! NOW! NOW! NOW! NOW!"

Finally the song ends in a classical baroque-style climax, leaving us to imagine what happens after.

... Or you read the rest of the liner notes and find out that someone hears the yelling, comes up, throws the musical box at the ghost, and he disappears.

Prolly would be a more effective ending if you didn't tell us about that last part!

Ah well. This is still my favorite song from the band, and for anyone with the patience to give progressive rock a try, I suggest you start here.

So now what?

... Oh yes! Firth of Fifth!

Put it above The Knife, but below Dancing with the Moonlit Knight.

I guess the Carpet Crawlers can go screw itself now. :3

4. Firth of Fifth

So this song...

It starts with a beautiful piano in... I think 15/16 time signature. It's a bit hard to tell, but after that part, we get some incredibly pretentious lyrics.

Actually, let's look at the lyrics.

"The path is clear
Though no eyes can see"

Pretty much sums up the song.

"And so with gods and men
The sheep remain inside their pen,
Though many times they've seen the way to leave."

So... I guess this song is about conformity? Sheep letting themselves be used and exploited?

"He rides majestic
Past homes of men
Who care not or gaze with joy,"

Who's "he"? A knight? He's "riding" something. I presume a horse? What's his role in this plot?

And the men are all sad. What's making them sad?

"To see reflected there
The trees, the sky, the lily fair,
The scene of death is lying just below."

Oh. Lots of dead people, somewhere below the location which we are currently at. I'm guessing this knight wishes to vanquish the cause.

We're getting somewhere!

"The mountain cuts off the town from view,
Like a cancer growth is removed by skill.
Let it be revealed.
A waterfall, his madrigal.
An inland sea, his symphony."


Oh. I.


"Undinal songs
Urge the sailors on
Till lured by sirens cry."


So after that last piece, the song goes into super instrumental mode, starting with a mystical flute solo by our good buddy Peter Gabriel, then a piano part that sounds like it's moving forward with purpose, then a repeat of the 15/16 time signature part that introduces the song, but more grandiose.

And then finally, the guitar solo. The guitar solo that speaks volumes, screams in agony, and cries. You can really feel the emotions the guitar solo is trying to convey, and that's REALLY impressive.

After that, we're met with the conclusion of the song. With more lyrics!

"Now as the river dissolves in sea,
So neptune has claimed another soul."

Huh... So the god of the sea just killed someone. Maybe it's the valiant knight from earlier?

"And so with gods and men
The sheep remain inside their pen,
Until the shepherd leads his flock away."

I can almost imagine Neptune being all like "Now get back to work and make me another krabby patty!". Now I can see why the men from earlier were so sad. Neptune's a prick.

"The sands of time were eroded by
The river of constant change."

So. I guess this is saying that the history of this event will be forgotten, because "the sands of time erode", thanks to the metaphorical river of constant change.

Huh. Alright, I guess I should have analyzed the lyrics BEFORE I assumed they were pretentious. The story is meant to emphasize the futility of humanity in their fight against the forces of nature (Gods are usually avatars for the forces of nature), and how much nature controls our lives, like preventing safe trips across the sea. Deep stuff right there.

And I guess the instrumental part is supposed to be the knight traveling off to confront the god, and the crying guitar solo maybe represents the uphill battle the knight is partaking in until his doom.

I can't believe I figured out what this song actually means.
Great list, Marc. Hard to argue with it. Like I said before, I am pleased and delighted Anyway made an entry on the list. And to further repeat myself, there is just too many great Genesis songs to fit in a top 10. I feel dreadfully guilty leaving out all of Trick of the Tail and The Colony of Slippermen. But I've wrestled with it for a bit and here's what I have:
(Marc's picks)
The Musical Box .1. Supper's Ready
Supper's Ready .2. Dancing With the Moonlit Knight
DancingW/the Moonlt .3. The Cinema Show
Firth of Fifth .4. The Musical Box
The Knife .5. The Carpet Crawlers
The Giant Hogweed .6. The Fountain of Salmacis
The Cinema Show .7. Can-Utility and the Coastliners
Fountain o Salmacis .8. Fly on a Windshield/Broadway Melody of 1974
In The Cage .9. Firth of Fifth
Anyway .10. Lamia

I do think that Supper's Ready is the pinnacle. There is no other song I find as climatic. While some view Supper's Ready as a collection of many songs tied together, it is just one whole song to me, with many a rhythmic change. Skipping to the end is sacrilegious. Something to note is that Steve Hackett's guitar outro is fantastic in the Live at the Rainbow version. In the studio version, it's practically non-existent. I remember it was around Christmas time a few years ago that Supper's Ready really bit me. I've been memorized by it ever since.

Dancing With the Moonlit Knight. Whew. I really love the meandering at the end. When my brothers and I play World of Warcraft on our own server, we named our guild "Knights of the Green Shield." I went on to form a company by that name some months later.

I dare not separate Cinema Show from Moonlit. The two of them are always competing for Best Song on the Album. Steve Hackett's playing gives a grand boost to the song. There's a few reoccurring licks in there that sound so... happy! I love Peter Gabriel's voice, but it seems that Genesis is always at their best on the instrumental sections.

The Musical Box. I love the pants off this one. I remember singing it to myself loudly, thinking no one was around. In my mind I sound exactly like Gabriel. But then dad walked in the room and laughed at me. I am extremely pleased with the remix of Musical Box. As Marky points out, a "far off-sounding trumpet in the background to add some extra drama" is a bit louder in the remix during the Old King Cole section -- and that's what pleases me. It could even be a tad louder still.

Carpet Crawlers. I'm a sucker for this one. It's downright prettiest thing I ever done heard. The Gabriel version is far superior than the Collins version. If you search for the song, you'll likely find Collins singing it in a live show. The trouble is Collins (or rather the band) leaves out the opening section to Carpet Crawlers.

You better than a good speaker system for The Fountain of Salmacis. Rutherford's bass is the highlight on this track. How does Mike think of bass lines like this one? The man is a fricken genius! Steve Hackett did his own version of Fountain on his Genesis Files album, which starts out with a very nice acoustic guitar bit. Then it flows into the organ opening we're all familiar with but played by flutes instead accompanied with strings and cymbals. Watch out though. When it's time for the singing, turn it off. Just do it. Don't listen to it. Ever. I don't mind a bit of In Memorium but... Gah! It's ghastly!

And then there were Can-Utility and the Coastliners. This one has been described as a mini Supper's Ready. I found a forum discussion on What's the Second Best Song on Foxtrot? It was a split between Can-Utility and Get 'em Out by Friday. What a good album Foxtrot is!

Fly on a Windshield/Broadway Melody of 1974. I have to cheat a little on this one. But hey, don't blame me. The first MP3 I got my hands on included Broadway Melody of 1974 in the same track as Fly on a Windshield. Likely my favorite vocal performance from Gabriel in Broadway Melody with lyrics that have more hiding meaning in them than... than... needles and pins.

A song I keep trying to push out of the Top 10 is Firth of Fifth. I don't think the vocal section is very strong. But... it's undeniable. In most live recordings, Banks forgoes playing the Grand Piano Opening simply because he usually never has a Grand Piano on stage. I agree with Banks that one can't do justice to that splendid piece of songsmanship without the authentic instrument. Oh, but when Gabriel and his flute leaves Genesis, what but Tony Banks' synth replaces the flute solo of Firth of Fifth! Firth truly is amazing. Gabriel gets his vocal and flute bits, Hackett finally gets a proper solo, and Banks also gets his keyboard solo in the middle of the song. That keyboard sound used to annoy me. But Collins' outrageous drumming makes up for it.

Lastly, instead of Anyways or In The Cage, I chose The Lamia. In the Genesis Archive Vol. 1, Disk 2, Steve Hackett overdubs the greatest guitar solo/outro of all time. My mind. Blown -- not to mention the very strange and entirely unique melody of The Lamia. Was there ever a song like it? Genesis! What a goldmine! How did they ever come up with so many good muscial ideas? There's no way The Lamb is fitting on one disc. Even if the tracklist looks like this...
The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway
Fly on a Windshield/Broadway Melody
In the Cage
Back in NYC
Counting Out Time
Carpet Crawlers
Lilywhite Lilith
The Lamia
The Light Dies Down on Broadway
Riding the Scree
In The Rapids's still 61 minutes runtime.

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