Portuguese picture sleeve for "The Carpet Crawlers" single.
Genesis was formed in 1967 when Peter Gabriel and Tony Banks were students at Charterhouse School in Godalming. The original lineup consisted of Peter Gabriel (vocals), Anthony Phillips (guitar), Tony Banks (keyboards), Mike Rutherford (bass and guitar), and Chris Stewart (drums). The band (minus Stewart) was conceived of as merely a songwriting partnership, but they took to performing when they could not find anyone willing to perform their material. The band was signed to Decca Records in 1968 by Charterhouse alumnus Jonathan King. They released two unsuccessful singles in 1968, at a time when the band’s output consisted of psychedelic pop similar to the early Bee Gees and other bands of the era. After the first single, “The Silent Sun” b/w “That’s Me” was released, Chris Stewart left the band and was replaced by John Silver. In spite of the lack of success of the early singles, Decca opted to release an album by the band, recorded in August 1968 when the band was still in school (but on a school holiday). The resulting album, “From Genesis to Revelation” (1969), also did poorly on initial release. Silver was replaced by John Mayhew before recording began on the next album, “Trespass” (1970), which was also the band’s debut album on Charisma Records (with ABC/Impulse as the original U.S. distributor) and saw the band recording longer compositions and moving away from their psychedelic roots towards progressive rock. The album reached #1 in Belgium. Ill health and recurring stage fright caused Phillips to leave the band in the summer of 1970, causing the band to doubt whether it could continue. The band decided to forge ahead, replacing Mayhew with Phil Collins and Phillips with Steve Barnard. The tenure of Barnard was short-lived, and he was replaced by Steve Hackett in January 1971.
The band’s next album, “Nursery Cryme” (1971), was not a hit on its initial release in the U.K. and U.S., but was an unexpected hit in Italy, where it reached #4 and helped spur Genesis’s European success. “Foxtrot” (1972) became the band’s first album to reach the U.K. Top 20 and was a hit in several European countries, although it did not chart in the United States, where the band still failed to achieve the popularity that some of their progressive rock contemporaries held in the States such as Emerson, Lake and Palmer, Jethro Tull and Pink Floyd. They released “Genesis Live” (1973) as their first live album, and reached the Top 10 in the U.K. for the first time. “Selling England by the Pound” (1973) became their highest-charting album up to that point in both the U.K. (#3) and the U.S. (#70), and also contained their first charting single in the U.K., “I Know What I Like” (#17). This was followed by the ambitious double album “The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway” (1974), another successful LP that would turn out to be Gabriel’s last album with the band. It also spawned the single “The Carpet Crawlers” b/w “The Waiting Room (Evil Jam)”, which is today’s featured single.
The concept album “The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway” is about a Puerto Rican juvenile delinquent named Rael living in New York City, who is swept underground to face bizarre creatures and nightmarish dangers to rescue his brother John. In this portion of the Lamb story, Rael finds himself in a red carpeted corridor, filled with kneeling people that are slowly crawling towards a red door at the end of the corridor (“The crawlers cover the floor in the red ochre corridor/For my second sight of people, they’ve more lifeblood than before/They’re moving in time to a heavy wooden door/Where the needles eye is winking, closing in on the poor”). The only way out is through the next chamber (hence, the chorus of “[w]e’ve gotta get in to get out”). Rael is able to move about freely, so he dashes past them towards the door and goes through it. Beyond the door is a table with a candle-lit feast of food on it, and beyond that, a spiral staircase that leads upwards and out of sight. This song is one of the most memorable of the Peter Gabriel era – he uses his lowest register here – and it became a minor hit as well as a fan favorite. A new version of the song was recorded in 1999, which reunited all five members from the classic Genesis era.
The B-side of this single, “Waiting Room (Evil Jam)”, is a live version of a song originally included on “The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway”. An eerie-sounding instrumental, “Waiting Room” represents the point in “Lamb” at which the album’s protagonist, Rael, has been left alone in a cavern by his guide, Lilywhite Lilith. A mysterious bright light comes up in the tunnel to the left of him, so intensely that it blinds him. In desperation, he hurls a stone towards the light, and the light fades just enough so that he can see again, and he catches sight of two mysterious globes before the cave collapses on him. The song is unique because it is something Genesis had never attempted up to this point and would never attempt again: a free-form improvisational jam. In the first part of the song, all musicians produce random, scary sounds. A keyboard cue signals the end of the first part and the main riff emerges from the cacophony of sound, signaling the beginning of the second part of the song – a melodic, up-tempo section. Heard in isolation, the track loses some of its potency, but “Waiting Room” complements the storyline well.
The single (catalog #: CB 251) was issued on Charisma Records in April 1975. I do not know if a picture sleeve was issued with this single, although the Portuguese release did have one (shown above). With Gabriel departing the band in 1975, the band decided to continue as a quartet, with Phil Collins taking over lead vocal duties. Genesis released “A Trick of the Tail” (1976) and “Wind and Wuthering” (1976), and the “Seconds Out” (1977) live album. This was Steve Hackett’s last album with the band, with Rutherford taking on guitar duties in the studio. The next album, “…And Then There Were Three” (1978), was the band’s first U.S. Platinum-certified album, and marked the beginning of their move away from progressive rock towards a more commercial sound. It yielded their first U.S. radio hit as well, “Follow You Follow Me”. After spending most of 1979 on hiatus, Genesis returned in 1980 with “Duke”, their most commercial album to date, and an album which contained the hits “Misunderstanding” and “Turn it on Again”. This album was followed by “Abacab” (1981), an album that featured Collins’ gated reverb drum sound, and “Three Sides Live” (1982), a live album which contained one side of studio tracks. The self-titled “Genesis” (1983) continued the trend of radio-friendly albums and contained the hits “Mama”, “That’s All”, and “Home by the Sea”. The band reached the pinnacle of their commercial success with “Invisible Touch” (1986), and returned five years later with “We Can’t Dance” (1991). When Collins left the band in 1996, Banks and Rutherford opted to continue, appointing ex-Stiltskin singer Ray Wilson as their new lead singer. The resulting album, “Calling All Stations” (1997) sold well in Europe, but did not fare as well in America, leading to the cancellation of a planned American tour, the dismissal of Wilson and the beginning of an extended hiatus for the band.