“The true owners are not the creators; it’s the listeners. They hear everything that’s working. Who needs to know the detail about how difficult it was?” Wind & Wuthering got Genesis through the punk era - but not without a struggle

Taking A Break. Genesis, L-R: Phil Collins, Mike Rutherford, Steve Hackett, Tony Banks.
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Rumours suggest Genesis were shot down by the music press when they released Wind & Wuthering in the midst of the punk era. Like several stories in circulation about their eighth album, it’s not true. In 2007 Tony Banks, Steve Hackett, Mike Rutherford and co-producer David Hentschel looked back with Prog.

In December 1976, 16 days after the Sex Pistols appeared on the Today programme and shocked the nation, taking punk rock overground, Genesis released their eighth studio album, Wind & Wuthering. History suggests that the music media rounded on them: quickly, the Home Counties four-piece, the very epitome of progressive rock, couldn’t get arrested. Or so one thinks. In fact, Wind & Wuthering was, in the main, rapturously received, and led to some of the most over-subscribed concerts in the group’s history. The immediate indifference to the album is one of the many myths that has grown up around it. Another is that tensions in the studio were high, which led to guitarist Steve Hackett’s departure.

Wind & Wuthering, for this listener, is the group’s lushest, most detailed work. It’s an album of excitement, restraint, melancholy and possibility. Exceptionally well produced, it was the moment where the two ‘junior partners’ of the quartet – Hackett and drummer/vocalist Phil Collins – stepped forward: Collins arranging the music and providing not only the wild fusion of Wot Gorilla, but also the chorus to Blood On The Rooftops, on which Hackett provided the music and lyrics. It’s possibly one of the greatest and most overlooked songs in the entire Genesis canon.

Wind & Wuthering can be viewed as Genesis’ last truly prog gasp: a beautiful work that has a flavour all of its own and sits as singularly in the Collins years as The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway does in Peter Gabriel’s. Although less than five years had passed since Foxtrot, it seemed a world away from that time.

A Trick Of The Tail had proved that the group could be a success as a four-piece and were not, as many thought, simply Gabriel’s backing band. With Wind & Wuthering, the group looked to build on that achievement and, as most of their material had been used up (and Hackett had used his on his solo Voyage Of The Acolyte), the band began writing in earnest after the tour to support A Trick Of The Tail ended in July 1976.

There were challenges the band had to face: co-founder and bassist/guitarist Mike Rutherford feels Wind & Wuthering suffered because the album before had been key to the band’s survival. “A Trick Of The Tail was so important, while with this, I think we slightly coasted. A Trick… really achieved stuff for us: first time writing without Peter. The one after is always going to be a little bit harder.”

Hackett was having trouble deciding the direction in which he would like his career to develop: “Having done my first album, I thought I wasn’t really dependent on composition by committee. But on the other hand, I wasn’t running a solo career.”

Co-founder and keyboard player Tony Banks, however, thought it was a strong time for the group. “It was the time when Steve emerged as being more of an equal contributor to the group than he had been prior to that.”

After an intensive period of writing and rehearsing in the scorching British summer of 1976, Genesis decamped to Relight Studios in Hilvarenbeek, Holland for two weeks that September to record. With them was A Trick Of The Tail’s co-producer David Hentschel, who had first worked with Genesis when he was an engineer at Trident while they were recording Nursery Cryme in 1971.

“They had very thorough rehearsals before every album for about a month,” Hentschel says. “Tony was, I suppose, the lead writer. They used to approach the whole thing in a very democratic way. They’d get to the rehearsal room and everyone would bring ideas and things they’d been working on and they’d pool their ideas, play through them and each song would develop.”

The studio was remote and the concentration was intense. “Being in the Dutch wilderness was a great thing,” Rutherford says. “We were in the wildest part of Holland with nothing going on out there. You really do get in the zone: stay somewhere and focus on nothing else, dawn to dusk, no interference from the outside world. It was very important actually; it would be hard to happen now.”

“We stayed in this little house,” Collins said in ’84. “All boys together.”

Hentschel states, “It was next to a pig farm so it was a fairly rural and fragrant environment in which to have your breakfast! We were all living together for two weeks. It was just us and the road crew. We’d eat at the studio every night, have stuff sent in. It was totally cut off but that enabled us to concentrate. By the time we went into the studio, there was very little to do. Pretty much all of them [the songs] worked straight away – third or fourth take and it was done.”

There was an ease to the recording as the producer and his charges had worked together before. “We had a shorthand we used to use for getting different sounds,” Hentschel says. “For example: the bass needs a bit more ‘ponk’. With Phil, he always wanted ‘job’ on his vocal, which were short digital delays I used to use in a specific setting with a particular kind of reverb. This shorthand made communication really easy.”

The album is full of memorable moments: Scottish history lesson Eleventh Earl Of Mar is one the group’s strongest openers. “I wrote those strange chords and thought it would make a great introduction,” Banks says. “It had an atmosphere about it which sets up the whole thing – Steve had the chorus and the chords, Mike then wrote most of the lyrics for it.”

Eleventh Earl Of Mar had a tremendous energy,” Rutherford says. “It was always good on stage. I was in Edinburgh last week. As a tourist, you realise just how much bloodshed there has been in their history.”

An energetic blend of time signatures, it falls away to a bucolic instrumental passage, with Hackett playing kalimba. “Steve wrote that middle part on its own – he had this lyric going for it which made it through to the end,” Banks says.

The song would frequently open the set on their forthcoming tour.

The tale of false prophets, One For The Vine, written solely by Banks, was a more conventional track, evoking memories of work as far back as Trespass. “It works very well,” Hackett says.

“I’ve always liked writing music that doesn’t go where you think it will,” Banks adds. “Key changes and chords that you are not expecting in pop songs, without trying to make it too awkward. I’m a big fan of Brian Wilson who has always been able to use strange harmonies without realising he’s doing it.”

The song was written over a period of months in 1976, and Banks relished the opportunity to splice sections together that were only heard once or infrequently. “I love that,” he says. “We were trying to tell a story and never quite go back, only to that main starting point. I liked the cyclical nature of the story: the person in the end becomes the prophet he didn’t believe in and becomes disillusioned.”

However, for all the strangeness of One For The Vine, a new commercialism was starting to appear on the following Your Own Special Way, which gave the band “the start of a tickle in America”, as writer Rutherford notes – it was the first tentative opening of the floodgates for Genesis’ appearance on American radio, and began the spadework that ended with their US chart dominance in their Invisible Touch era a decade later.

Your Own Special Way, not just because I wrote it, kind of worked,” Rutherford says. “It was written in a funny tuning, and I had no idea what it was – an open tuning that later eluded me that made the chords easy to play.”

Your Own Special Way is not my favourite song,” Banks says. “I quite like the verse, it’s alright, but I think we’ve written better love songs. It was a curious combination – Mike had this second other bit, which ended up being played on a Rhodes, and we joined the two together. It has a lovely lilt about it; a little bit more conventional.”

After the conventional, it’s off to wild jazz fusion land. Wot Gorilla has often been seen as ‘Exhibit A’ for Hackett’s decision to leave the group the following year, especially as this was the song that took the place of his Please Don’t Touch. “A very inferior instrumental,” he said in 1984. “A real doodle of an idea.”

In Collins’ recent autobiography, Not Dead Yet, he says he had to “push for the Weather Report groove on Wot Gorilla, with Tony and me sharing writing credits. But it’s during these sessions that Steve starts to feel the pinch as a writer.”

Wot Gorilla was good rhythmically, but underdeveloped harmonically,” Hackett says in 2017. “Dispassionately, I think Please Don’t Touch has both rhythm and harmonic development, which is more exciting.”

If there is a misstep on Wind & Wuthering, it’s side two’s opening cat-and-mouse melodrama, All In A Mouse’s Night. “I don’t feel it’s my most successful track,” says its composer, Tony Banks. “The riffs were good, but the lyric was a little self‑conscious. I don’t think it’s bad, it’s just not up there with my other two. It has that humorous element in it, in contrast to some of the heavyweight tracks elsewhere on the album. It’s important in that sense.”

One of the album’s understated highlights follows. Blood On The Rooftops, written by Hackett and Collins, is a brooding, grey piece, which returns to the social comment of some of Peter Gabriel’s lyrics. While Gabriel bemoaned the state of the nation as Britannia in 1973’s Dancing With The Moonlit Knight from Selling England By The Pound, here the protagonist is anaesthetised from world issues and political debates by the lure of cheap television and frequent cups of tea.

Blood On The Rooftops has always been one of my favourite Genesis tracks,” Banks says.

Rutherford agrees: “It was great. Steve and Phil was a nice combination, it really worked. And you can see Phil starting to get a handle on melodies.”

Hackett brought in nylon guitars, offering an update on the group’s traditional 12-string sound. “The nylon guitar on Blood On The Rooftops is just stunning,” Hentschel says. “The way it blends with the whole band as it develops is wonderful.”

“It sets the song up and it’s very personal,” Hackett adds. “There’s an aspect of classical, which establishes the scene for something stark. I wrote the lyrics, Phil came up with the title of the song and the chorus. I was thinking of Jimmy Webb and some of his more unlikely melodies.”

“I had a lot of fun with the arrangement,” Banks continues. “I was trying to make it into an enormous orchestrated piece using the mellotron. The combination of everything works really well.”

Wind & Wuthering builds to its climax with Unquiet Slumbers For The Sleepers… and …In That Quiet Earth. “I always loved Unquiet Slumbers…, which was especially great on stage,” Rutherford says.

“I’d always wanted to use an ellipsis in a song title!” Banks laughs. “I was flicking through Wuthering Heights, saw the last two lines and thought ‘unquiet slumbers’ would work well with the softer part. In That Quiet Earth sounds as if it will be a gentle piece, but ends as very attacking.”

“It was very good,” Hackett adds. “You had the fast and the slow – the compelling slow rhythm, setting up all those marching band aspects. You have the implied army coming at you.”

As the piece rises to its crescendo, it blends into the album’s most powerful song, one that was to remain in the group’s live set: Afterglow.

Afterglow is simple but still has elements of that splendour prog rock has,” its writer, Tony Banks, says. “I wrote it almost in the time it took to play it. It’s about a reaction to a disaster and the realisation of what’s important to you, in a slightly cataclysmic way. As I was writing the melody, I wrote that first verse and made the chorus the essence of what the person is actually thinking.”

With Collins’ sampled massed vocals at the end (inspired by 10cc’s I’m Not In Love), it’s a thoroughly moving ending, providing an emotional finale to what Banks has referred to in the past as a “heavy” album.

Wind & Wuthering will forever be associated with the tensions over writing credits for Steve Hackett that would ultimately lead to his departure from the band. Of course, this couldn’t be seen by the untrained eye.

“You can understand that frustration, that he wasn’t getting enough of his ideas accepted by the band,” Hentschel says, “but I was totally unaware of it at the time. They were totally professional and got stuck in to it. Steve was a little quiet, maybe. But there were no words in the studio or funny looks or anything like that that I noticed.”

As well as Please Don’t Touch, Hackett had considered offering them the song which was to become Hoping Love Will Last. The band didn’t seem particularly interested. “Wind & Wuthering marked the beginning of the end for Steve,” Phil Collins said in 2006. “Especially his angst about how much material he had on it.”

After final mixing and overdubbing was completed at Trident, Wind & Wuthering was released on Charisma just before Christmas in 1976. And contrary to popular opinion, it wasn’t shredded apart by journalists. Their main supporters in the UK, Sounds and Melody Maker, were fulsome in their praise.

Barbara Charone opened her review in Sounds by saying: “First impressions: too much to digest on one listening. Overall album sound even better than A Trick Of The Tail. Less immediate but more substantial than previous album. More aggressive than melodic.”

She concluded her review with the strong praise: “Genesis make Yes redundant. And the Pink Floyd too. Don’t listen to me, hear it for yourself. It’s addictive stuff. Just smell the heather Heathcliff…”

Long-term champion Chris Welch said in Melody Maker: “Rock can still have some vestige of pride left in itself when musicians like these are still working, unaffected by the clamorous pursuit of trivia elsewhere.”

If punk had caused such a seismic revolution, it had little effect on Genesis. “It was like shaking the apple tree,” Rutherford said in 2006. “The good ones stayed and the bad ones came down.”

“I thought, ‘They’re not talking about us,’” Phil Collins added. “They’re talking about those other bands that I don’t like either.”

So, 40 years on, how do the band feel about Wind & Wuthering today? “It’s Tony and Steve’s favourite,” Rutherford laughs. “I’m never as strong on this album. If it’s two of the band’s favourite album, it probably means that it’s not mine. I like it, and the good bits are good, but I think some of the tracks are weak.”

Wind & Wuthering was four young guys and all their attendant capabilities at the time and technological limitations – it’s magic for the converted listener,” Hackett says. “It’s one of my wife’s favourites: it was the first album she heard by Genesis and one of the ones she likes best of all. It got her at the right time – she was 15. She said that this was a band that was able to take you to different worlds and when you’re a young listener, you have time to be transported. When you’re in it, you don’t always understand it – the true owners are not the creators; it’s the listeners. They hear everything that’s working. Who needs to know all the rest of the detail about how difficult it was?”

A Trick of the Tail was great and was the first thing without Peter and was more luck than anything else. A lot more thought went into Wind & Wuthering

David Hentschel

“I do find that for a lot of the diehard Genesis fans, Wind & Wuthering is one of their favourites,” Hentschel says. “A Trick of the Tail was great and was the first thing without Peter and was more luck than anything else. A lot more thought went into Wind & Wuthering and I think the diehard fanbase kind of reacted to that, and the musicality of it. You can tell a lot of thought, love and preparation went into it. It’s an album that does require listening, as opposed to being quite as instant as some of the other stuff.”

In 1977, Tony Banks told Genesis expert Armando Gallo that with Wind & Wuthering, they had made another Foxtrot. “I don’t remember saying that, but I can almost agree with myself,” Banks says today. “I think it was our most musically ambitious album of all in some ways. Some of the key changes, ideas, the lack of repetition. Aside from Your Own Special Way and Afterglow, none of the songs have any conventional design, which is good.”

So, was Wind & Wuthering Genesis’ last prog album? Michael Watts writes in the notes for the Genesis 1976-1982 box that it felt like “their gradual farewell to progressive rock and the start of a new era”.

Steve Hackett and David Hentschel agree with that opinion. “I think so, yes,” Hackett says today. “I don’t think they did anything after that was remotely proggy.”

“Yes,” Hentschel concurs. “Because then we went into …And Then There Were Three… and there was a conscious effort to make shorter songs, more radio-friendly stuff. So I think Wind & Wuthering was the last definitively prog album, without a doubt.”

However, the last word must go to Tony Banks, who disagrees. “I wouldn’t call it the last prog album. I think we did prog music after. …And Then There Were Three… was prog, but just a bit shorter. Duke also has a lot of aspects of what could be called prog.”

All the protagonists agree that Wind & Wuthering most certainly is a progressive album, full of twisting stories and melodrama, restraint and brute strength. It’s a powerful yet somehow muted statement that continues unquietly to delight its listeners after all these years.

“We got a lot of stick from the usual suspects, the NMEs and everybody who kind of didn’t want this music around,” Banks laughs. “Fashions changed but we sort of managed to keep going. This album was uncompromising and that was good.”

Genesis launched their world tour on New Year’s Day, 1977, with three sold‑out shows at London’s Rainbow Theatre. They were the first to introduce Chester Thompson, the former Weather Report/Frank Zappa drummer into their live equation. For these shows, there were allegedly 60,000 applications for 6,000 tickets.

“Oh we loved those sort of things,” Banks laughs. “God knows if they’re true. They still get printed, don’t they?”

Although going back to the scene of their 1973 triumph with their former singer didn’t hold a great deal of significance for Banks, he admits, “We were pretty nervous at that point. Someone had some bright idea that we should design costumes for us. I was given this suede shirt thing: after two shows, it smelled so bad, that quickly went by the wayside.”

“We now have lasers, and 747 landing lights,” Collins writes in Not Dead Yet. “Genesis are becoming a jumbo-sized touring operation. For me, as the frontman, all these bells, whistles and lasers are used in the best possible taste.”

The Wind & Wuthering tour took in America, and the group made their debut appearance in Brazil. They returned to the UK to play three rapturously received nights at London’s Earls Court. The tour ended in Munich in early July, and the band’s profile was further boosted by their on-stage film Genesis In Concert being released in cinemas, as well as Spot The Pigeon, their Top 20 UK single featuring three Wind & Wuthering offcuts.

Aggrieved by the constraints of the band, Hackett finally left Genesis that summer during the mixing of the live album Seconds Out, which brought this fascinating four-piece interlude in the Genesis story to its conclusion.

Till the stories go hazy and the legends come true…

Wind & Wuthering is an album that’s a veritable cornucopia of literary and filmic references and inspirations. Here are just some of them…


Wind & Wuthering was the original working title for the track Unquiet Slumbers For The Sleepers… In That Quiet Earth. It alludes to the ‘wind’ mentioned in Your Own Special Way and ‘wuthering’ from Emily Brontë’s 1847 work, Wuthering Heights. ‘Wuthering’ itself means ‘blowing strongly with a roaring sound’.


This track is about John Erskine, the 11th Earl of Mar, who was also known as ‘Bobbing John’ for his frequently shifting allegiances. Mike Rutherford was inspired by the Scottish history book The Flight Of The Heron by DK Broster, which opens with the line: “The sun had been up for a couple of hours, covered the ground with a layer of gold.”


Influenced by Michael Moorcock’s book Phoenix In Obsidian. Tony Banks says: “This guy suddenly finds himself in a snowy landscape and there’s a bit of that in there. I’ve always liked science fantasy and fiction stuff and it’s got a bit of that in it.”

Genesis - Wind & Wuthering

(Image credit: EMI)


This track is brimming with references throughout the lyrics:

a) ‘The Wednesday Play’

This show ran on the BBC between 1964 and 1970, before being replaced by Play For Today. Many groundbreaking writers and directors, such as Ken Loach and Dennis Potter, cut their teeth here.

“The ‘Wednesday Play’ line evokes the atmosphere of the piece,” Banks says of Hackett’s lyric. “Most of which had a bit of kitchen sink in them: that phrase encapsulated that really well.”

b) ‘The Queen On Christmas Day’

Queen Elizabeth II began broadcasting her annual speech to the Commonwealth on television in 1957. At the time of Genesis writing the song, with just three TV channels in the UK, and little to tarnish the institution of the monarchy, it was as central to the festivities as Morecambe & Wise.

c) ‘Arabs And Jews’

Aside from the Vietnam War, which was drawing to a close (Nixon’s visit to China is alluded to in the phrase ‘a word from Peking’), the conflict between Israel and the Arab states seemed to dominate world news in the 70s. It led to acts of terror such as the Munich Olympic massacre and, most recently to the time of writing the song, the Arab‑Israeli (Yom Kippur) War (October 6-25, 1973).

d) ‘Batman’

Common during this period were TV re-runs of the 1960s US TV series starring Adam West and Burt Ward. All as camp as you like with its bright, garish colours and cartoon violence.

e) ‘Tarzan’

Often shown in the afternoons at weekends, the Hollywood versions of Edgar Rice Burrough’s jungle dweller, starring Johnny Weissmuller and, later, Lex Barker, were a staple of television viewing at the time.

f) ‘The Grime On The Tyne’

A punning reference to Lindisfarne’s Fog On The Tyne. Genesis famously toured with Lindisfarne on the Charisma 10 Bob Tour in 1971. Newcastle was fictionalised on the telly in the 70s too, as Gallowshield in the gritty drama When The Boat Comes In, starring ex-Likely Lad James Bolam.

g) ‘The Streets Of San Francisco’

A Quinn Martin production, at a time when US cop shows were very much a delicacy on UK TV. Running for five seasons, the show featured Karl Malden as seasoned cop Lieutenant Michael Stone, and Michael Douglas (in four of the five seasons) as Assistant Inspector Steve Keller. The classic ‘old cop with rookie’ formula was a winner due to the personalities of the leads. It premiered on British television in November 1973.

h) ‘Errol Flynn’

Born in 1909, few actors typified the edgy glamour of Hollywood more than Errol Flynn. The Tasmanian-born Flynn went to Los Angeles after spells in repertory theatre in less enchanting places such as Northampton and Malvern. Often playing the swashbuckling hero, he had an enormous reputation as a hellraiser.


Its title is taken from the closing paragraph of Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights. “I lingered round them, under that benign sky: watched the moths fluttering among the heath and harebells, listened to the soft wind breathing through the grass, and wondered how any one could ever imagine unquiet slumbers for the sleepers in that quiet earth.” The band can most definitely be defined as ‘blowing strongly with a roaring sound’ at the end of this track.

Daryl Easlea

Daryl Easlea has contributed to Prog since its first edition, and has written cover features on Pink Floyd, Genesis, Kate Bush, Peter Gabriel and Gentle Giant. After 20 years in music retail, when Daryl worked full-time at Record Collector, his broad tastes and knowledge led to him being deemed a ‘generalist.’ DJ, compere, and consultant to record companies, his books explore prog, populist African-American music and pop eccentrics. Currently writing Whatever Happened To Slade?, Daryl broadcasts Easlea Like A Sunday Morning on Ship Full Of Bombs, can be seen on Channel 5 talking about pop and hosts the M Means Music podcast.