Genesis released one more album entitled Wind and Wuthering, that still festered progressiveness. With the departure of Steve Hackett the following year, the band’s sound changed dramatically with their next album …And Then There Were Three, although the complete metamorphosis had not yet been completed. The 1980’s saw the band celebrating on a mass cultural level not seen while Peter Gabriel was in the band. Phil Collins was a hit making machine. Looking back, those songs were well written and fabulously produced. Nonetheless, there were no longer the progressive rock band that fans of that genre had fallen in love with a decade earlier.
While we won’t ignore the Phil Collins years entirely, most of the Genesis songs on this list stem from the Peter Gabriel and Steve Hackett years. Those are the years we felt when Genesis contributed to the art of Progressive Rock in the same fashion as bands like Pink Floyd, Yes and Renaissance. Of course it’s just subjective and we don’t mean any disrespect to the 1980’s Genesis. We would be interested to know what you think.
# 10 – Your Own Special Way
Opening up our Top 10 Genesis Songs list is the great track “Your Own Special Way.” Wind and Wuthering was the second album Genesis had released since the departure of Peter Gabriel. It was also the final album that guitarist Steve Hackett would appear on. The song “Your Own Special Way Way,” was written by Mike Rutherford. At the time the album was released the band Genesis consisted of Phil Collins on vocals and drums, Steve Hackett on guitars, Mike Rutherford on bass and guitars and Tony Banks on keyboards.
# 9 – Mama
Even though this was at the beginning of the height of Genesis’s commercial popularity, the track “Mama,” was a pretty cool song for lack of a better description. Maybe it was the sinister laugh that Phil Collins laid out in the song’s midsection that made this one grow on us. The album that featured “Mama,” was released in 1983. It was simply titled Genesis. By 1983, Genesis had become just a three-piece band, a very successful three-piece band. In 1983 Genesis consisted of Phil Collins on vocals and drums, Mike Rutherford on bass and guitars and Tony Banks on keyboards.
# 8 – Squonk
The great track “Squonk,” was released on the A Trick of the Tail LP. Hey, doesn’t everyone love songs about mythical creatures? More importantly for Phil Collins fans, the drummer’s vocal performance on the song is what secured his position as the band’s new lead singer in the wake of Peter Gabriel’s departure. With Peter gone, this was the first album to feature the quartet of Phil Collins on vocals and drums, Mike Rutherford on bass and guitars, Steve Hackett on guitars, and Tony Banks on keyboards.
# 7 – The Musical Box
We dedicated the first three songs on this Top 10 Genesis songs list to the best of the Phil Collins era. From this point on, it’s all Steve Hackett and Peter Gabriel era Genesis. Starting us out is the mesmerizing selection “The Musical Box,” from the Nursery Cryme LP. The classic Nursery Cryme album was released in 1971. This was the Genesis album that featured Phil Collins and Steve Hackett for the first time. The lineup on Nursery Cryme consisted of Peter Gabriel on lead vocals, Phil Collins on drums, Steve Hackett on guitars, Mike Rutherford on bass and guitars and Tony Banks on keyboards.
# 6 – I Know What I Like
The track “I Know What I like,” was the band’s first hit song in the United Kingdom. For that reason alone, it warranted a spot on our top 10 Genesis songs list, at least in our humble opinion. The song was released on the Selling England by the Pound album. The record was released in 1973.
# 5 – Follow You Follow Me
Okay one more time, we are going back to the post Peter Gabriel era. Interestingly, when we started out composing this Top 10 Genesis songs list, we felt the entire list would focus on the Peter Gabriel years, but in all honesty it’s hard to ignore the success the band had with Phil Collins at the helm. “Follow You Follow Me,” is such an incredible song, it did not matter who sang lead on the vocal.
# 4 – The Knife
Now this was progressive rock. Genesis’s classic piece “The Knife,” was released on the band’s Trespass album. Just listen to that keyboard and guitar lick opening up the track. For the opening line, the intensity of the music hits you in the face, drops your jaw and lays you out on a sea of progressive rock bliss. This was a very different band for the group who would later have tremendous commercial success. The musicians on the band’s second album consisted of Peter Gabriel on lead vocals, and various orchestral instruments, Anthony Phillips and Mike Rutherford on guitars, John Mayhew on drums and Tony Banks on keyboards.
# 3 – Watcher of the Skies
The Genesis song “Watcher of the Skies,” was released on The Foxtrot album. The classic Genesis album Foxtrot was issued in 1972. There was a time in rock music when musical artists were well versed in literature. Peter Gabriel took a line from a 19th century sonnet written by John Keats entitled On First Looking into Chapman’s Homer, to title his Genesis song. Progressive Rock music was not just about complex musical structures and virtuoso playing, it included lyrics of substance and meaning. Peter Gabriel defined the meaning of progressive rock every time he put his pen to paper.
# 2 – Counting Out Time
Our last two tracks on this Top 10 Genesis songs list both stem from the legendary The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway two record set. Most hardcore Genesis fans and critics alike would argue that The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway was the peak moment in the band’s career. The two record set was released on November 18th, 1974. The song “Counting Out Time,” was the first single released from the album.
# 1 – The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway
Would anyone argue that “The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway,” was not the band most important recording of their career. The song’s melody, chord progression, and deep meaning was simply an example of a band achieving artistic Zen. The track “The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway” was never released as a single. Peter Gabriel‘s Genesis was not a singles band. They defined the ideals of progressive rock and music of integrity and art. This was their moment. And soon as the moment came, it went away, as Peter Gabriel walked out the door and began his own incredible solo career.
Top 10 Genesis Songs article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2022
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