[Review] Genesis: From Genesis To Revelation (1969)

The first Genesis album is the Leviticus of the lot: instructional, but not particularly enjoyable.

Kronomyth 1.0: Artless and bible black.

Genesis were discovered while schoolboys by fellow Charterhouse School alumnus Jonathan King and, in truth, they were still schoolboys when they recorded their first elpee, From Genesis To Revelation. Most Genesis fans have encountered these juvenile adventures in one guise or another, quickly followed by the shocking realization that their first album sounds very different from the complex progressive rock that followed. (For more on this phenomenon, see David Bowie’s eponymous debut from 1967.)

The original batch of songs wasn’t bad (cf. “The Serpent,” “The Conqueror”), but Jonathan King bungled the affair by bringing in Arthur Greenslade to add strings and horns to the final mix. The result, unfortunately, sounds like the score to a Rankin/Bass stop-motion holiday adaptation of the bible. As for the biblical theme, the band has since conceded that it was a conceptual crutch to help them write material rather than an attempt to present the bible in music, and that many of the songs already existed in one form or another before entering the studio.

Under more natural circumstances, the band would have allowed these songs to fully bake in live performances. Instead, what came out of the studio sessions were half-baked ideas with cloying orchestration smothered on top. The original mix is also terrible, with Peter Gabriel’s voice drowning out nearly everything else including Anthony Phillips’ electric guitar solos. All that said, I’ve listened to these songs no less than a hundred times, and while I would never recommend getting stoned to this record, it is oddly pleasing after a while. Over the years, the songs arrive as old friends: “In Hiding,” “Where The Sour Turns To Sweet,” “Am I Very Wrong,” “Silent Sun,” “One Day.” It would be wonderful if the band revisited these songs some day, but so far as I know they’ve remained untouched.

Note that these songs have been repackaged many times, often with the band’s early singles interspersed, and released in what appears to be a definitive three-elpee box set by the suitably-named Not Bad Records.

Original LP Version

A1. Where The Sour Turns To Sweet (3:20)
A2. In The Beginning (3:40)
A3. Fireside Song (4:20)
A4. The Serpent (4:35)
A5. Am I Very Wrong (3:25)
A6. In The Wilderness (3:15)
B1. The Conqueror (3:38)
B2. In Hiding (2:36)
B3. One Day (3:17)
B4. Window (3:34)
B5. In Limbo (3:30)
B6. Silent Sun (2:13)
B7. A Place To Call My Own

All songs written by Genesis.

Expanded elpee bonus tracks
B8. A Winter’s Tale (3:30)
B9. One Eyed Hound (2:32)

3LP box set reissue bonus elpee
A1. Patricia
A2. Try A Little Sadness
A3. She Is Beautiful
A4. Image Blown Out
A5. The Silent Sun (single version)
A6. That’s Me (single version)
A7. A Winter’s Tale
B1. One-Eyed Hound
B2. Where The Sour Turns To Sweet (demo)
B3. In The Beginning (demo)
B4. In The Wilderness (rough mix)
B5. One Day (rough mix)
B6. Image Blown Out (rough mix)

The Players

Anthony Banks (organ, piano, mellotron, guitar, voices), Peter Gabriel (lead vocals, flute, accordion, tambourine), Anthony Phillips (acoustic 12-string guitar, lead electric guitar, dulcimer, vocals), Michael Rutherford (bass, 12-string bass, cello, vocals), John Silver (drums, percussion). Produced by Jonathan King; musical director: Arthur Greenslade.

The Plastic

Released on mono and stereo elpee on March 7, 1969 in the UK (Decca, LK/SKL.4990) and Canada (London, XPS 643) with lyrics innersleeve.

  1. Re-issued on elpee in 1970 in Italy (Decca, SKLI 4990).
  2. Re-issued on elpee in 1972 in Australia (Decca, SKLA 4990) with unique cover.
  3. Re-issued on elpee in August 1974 in the US (London, PS 643) and Germany (Nova, SDL 8009) with unique cover.
  4. Re-issued on elpee in Japan (London, SL-281).
  5. Re-issued on elpee in 1977 in the Netherlands (Decca, 6385 131).
  6. Re-released on expanded elpee in 1978 in Japan (London, GXH-1054) with 2 bonus tracks and unique cover.
  7. Re-issued on elpee in 1981 in Germany (Decca, 6.21 580) with unique cover.
  8. Re-issued on expanded elpee in 1981 in Japan (London, K16P-9076) with 2 bonus tracks.
  9. Re-issued on direct metal mastered elpee in 1993 in Russia (RD, R60 01395) with unique cover.
  10. Re-released on 180g clear vinyl elpee in 2014 in the UK (Not Bad).
  11. Re-released on 180g vinyl 3LP box set in the UK (Not Bad) with mono and stereo elpee plus bonus elpee of rarities.
  12. Re-released on 180g vinyl elpee on November 28, 2014 in the US (Varese Sarabande, 302 066 895 1).

1 thought on “[Review] Genesis: From Genesis To Revelation (1969)

  1. It’s annoying how many times this album has been reissued (similar to the early Beatles recordings with Tony Sheridan). I once saw a reissue for this album in ’04, if I remember correctly, listen on Barnes & Noble with the title Straight from the Umbilical. At least, that’s what I thought it was until someone on Amazon clarified it (so I hope it helps you out too):

    “An urgent warning to all Genesis fans: This is not, I repeat, NOT the band led by Peter Gabriel and Phil Collins that gave us 25 years of classics like ‘Supper’s Ready’, ‘The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway’, ‘Illegal Alien’ and ‘Jesus He Knows Me’. This is some talentless rap group or solo rapper who thinks he can make money by stealing the band’s name. And what a horrible album title too! I’ll bet this guy failed first grade grammar. So my advice to you is this: AVOID THIS TRASH ALTOGETHER! How dare they ruin the name of Peter Gabriel and Phil Collins’ band. I expect a lawsuit to be filed sometime in the near future. End of story.”

    As far as I know, that album has never gone mainstream and shouldn’t we be happy.

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