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The 10 Best Genesis Songs – voted for by Prog readers

(Image credit: Magictorch)

We recently asked Prog readers to tell us their favourite Genesis songs. And boy did you deliver! A massive 40,000 people voted in our online poll. The biggest response the magazine has ever had to any online vote. So thank you. We've sifted through the results and compiled a Top 40 which is in the current issue of Prog, on sale now. Here's the Top 10...

10. Dance On A Volcano (from A Trick Of The Tail, 1976)

Proving that the band could survive and thrive without Gabriel, Dance On A Volcano was born out a jam between Banks, Rutherford and Collins at the outset of the writing sessions for the album, while Steve Hackett was still busy finishing his solo record, Voyage Of The Acolyte. “It set us off in a really good direction,” says Banks. 

9. Ripples... (from A Trick Of The Tail, 1976)

As Phil Collins steps up to the mike as lead singer for the first time, the music begins to evolve to suit the new four-piece format and the music also seemed to successfully straddle Genesis’s past and future approaches to songwriting. 

8. In The Cage (from The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway, 1974)

In The Cage captures the mounting panic of the album’s protagonist, Rael, trapped in a prison formed of stalactites and stalagmites. Underpinned by the heartbeat of Banks’ pulsing keyboards, the musical intensity builds alongside Rael’s growing claustrophobia. It’s certainly tempting to read In The Cage as Gabriel longing for the creative freedom he would embrace as a solo artist. 

7. Watcher Of The Skies (from Foxtrot, 1972)

Banks’ swirling Mellotron providing the entrance music for Peter Gabriel, daubed in make-up with bat wings on his head to portray the Watcher, an alien visitor looking over planet Earth devoid of the extinct human race. Rutherford and Collins’ syncopated, staccato rhythm section provides the punchiest counterpoint to Banks’ Mellotron. 

6. Dancing With The Moonlit Knight (from Selling England By The Pound, 1973)

The beginning is positively pastoral, with Gabriel’s plaintive voice over Banks’ classical piano, before Rutherford’s twelve-string picks up the melody. Collins’ drumming is nimble and propulsive, particularly in the expansive instrumental passages where he sets a galloping pace, inspired by listening to Mahavishnu Orchestra.

5. Carpet Crawlers (from The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway, 1974)

On a frenetic album about consumerism and masturbation, you need your moments of contrast to count. This is the band’s most moving, emotive ballad, based on the lush atmospherics of Banks’ rippling keyboards yet sparing in its arrangement, allowing the song and its almost whispered chorus to shine.

4. The Musical Box (from Nursery Cryme, 1971)

From the opening passages led by twelve-string guitar and flute, the song features Hackett’s rousing electric guitar work and a spirited organ solo from Tony Banks in the galloping mid-section. The old man mask that Gabriel wore onstage only added to the track’s madcap drama when Genesis played it live.

3. The Cinema Show (from Selling England By The Pound, 1973)

One of the rare upbeat songs from the Gabriel-era, eschewing their usual minor key melancholy for a cheerier vibe. The Cinema Show begins with Gabriel reaching up into his falsetto range to sing about Romeo and Juliet getting ready for their date at the movies. 

2. Firth Of Fifth (from Selling England By The Pound, 1973)

When Banks’ classically-influenced tinkling begins, you’re drawn in to the subsequent perversely complex time signatures, shifting tempos, and melancholy duelling between Gabriel’s flute and Hackett’s reiteration of the same on guitars which sound more like violins. For him too, this is a career high. It’s usually one of the crowning glories of his live set to this day.

1. Supper's Ready (from Foxtrot, 1972)

Not just the big daddy of Gabriel-era Genesis epics but the peerless pinnacle of prog. Over 23 minutes, its seven sections wonderfully weave together echoing motifs, fusing elements of classical symphony and rock vigour with almost absurd ambition. Each new passage builds on its predecessors and against all logic, it works, climbing to a peak of emotion and grandeur as it constructs “a new Jerusalem”, no less. Ask Tony Banks why people rarely make music like this any more and he’ll shrug, “Well… you’re not allowed to. We wanted to go further, to push away from the regular structures”. All change!

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