THE GREATEST SONGS OF THE 1960s THAT NO ONE HAS EVER HEARD
767) Genesis — “Am I Very Wrong”
A quite beautiful song from Genesis’ ’69 schoolboy debut. TGM: Orb says it is “one of the highlights of the album: the excellent pensive acoustics-trombone-and-vocals of the verses, with great piano parts between them, unfortunately, it then goes on to have a silly, moderately mindless chorus that ruins everything. Could’ve been a pretty good song, but wasn’t.” (http://www.progarchives.com/album.asp?id=6) Hey, I like the chorus! As Ivan Melgar describes the album: “Not bad for a bunch of kids that were at school, some poppy ballads, a couple of great tunes like . . . Am I Very Wrong? . . . [L]et’s be honest, Genesis was a school band searching for a hit and nothing more, but they made a better album than many pop professionals.” (http://www.progarchives.com/album.asp?id=6)
Dave Swanson notes that:
The album went on to sell a whopping 650 copies upon its initial release, something [producer] Jonathan King takes partial blame for. “I had this brilliant idea to call it From Genesis to Revelation, and not have an artist’s name on it,” King said in Genesis: A History. “This was a terrible mistake! It got bumped into all the religious bins of the record shops and nobody ever heard it.”https://ultimateclassicrock.com/genesis-from-genesis-to-revelation/
Rarely has the debut album of a major group received this much of a slagging from both fans and critics alike. And on the surface, the flaws of the album are huge and very numerous, seemingly leaving criticism fully justified. In case you’re unaware, here’s the general rundown: first, the band was in its formative stages . . . . Hence, the playing on this album is a bit unimpressive . . . . Next, the band had not yet found its own distinct style, choosing to emulate the Beatles, Bee Gees and Zombies. And worst of all, producer Jonathan King, in an attempt to make the band seem ‘sophisticated’, forced the band to write around the concept of the creation of the world through the death of Adam . . . . Oh, and when they were done, he threw a lot of orchestration over the songs, except that King seemingly had no idea how to properly use string and brass arrangements in rock (unlike, say, George Martin). So . . . WHY am I giving this album a 4-star rating??!!! Because beneath all of the superficial weaknesses lie two of Genesis’ strengths, in just as full of force now as they would be later – incredible songwriting and incredible vocals from Peter. . . . [A]lmost a dozen of the songs on here (and yes, I’m counting the singles . . . ) are, at least in one aspect in each of them, absolute pop perfection. “Am I Very Wrong?,” for instance, may have a slightly awkward and Disney-sounding chorus, but how about that vocal melody in the verses?!http://www.progarchives.com/album.asp?id=6
As to one of those negative views, Proghead writes;
At this point, the members of GENESIS . . . were finishing up their education at the notoriously exclusive and snooty public school . . . called Charterhouse. “From Genesis to Revelation” sounds very little like the early GENESIS sound that’s to be found on their following albums. [T]he music has more in common with the MOODY BLUES and early BEE GEES, but in my book, it’s more like those two band’s worst aspects . . . . The music is plastered with real bad dentist office Muzak-style strings, out of tune piano, barely noticeable guitars, and bad lyrics.http://www.progarchives.com/album.asp?id=6
To go deeper into the history, Thomas Schrage (translated by Martin Klinkhardt) writes:
All of them knew each other from Charterhouse public school. The songwriter team Rutherford and Anthony Phillips asked Tony Banks to play the piano for them; Banks only agreed if he could bring his songwriting partner Peter Gabriel to record a song. Soon they were convinced that Gabriel’s voice sounded better than Phillips’ so he ended up singing on all the songs. . . . These boys (most of them were around 17 at the time) managed to land a record contract . . . in August 1967. That only meant that a single would be released. [Jonathan] King was an alumnus of Charterhouse and had had quite a successful hit with Everyone’s Gone To The Moon. A shallow pop song though that may have been, he nevertheless seemed to be a person of success and influence . . . . They recorded two singles with King that came out in February and May 1968. Both did just well enough that King decided to record a full album with the band during the summer holidays. . . . King christened the band Genesis. He found it a fitting name for a new creation that would make the beginning of his career as a serious producer. He attempted to drive them in a same direction as the singles that had been gentle and acoustic. For one thing, he felt that there was a niche for them, and for another, such music did not require a large number of instruments the band could not afford. . . . [H]e . . . had the idea to tell a story in the album, the story from Genesis to Revelation. . . . It turned out that there was an American band called Genesis, too. On short notice the band name was dropped from the cover . . . . [S]tring arrangements were added to the recorded songs. It was a fait accompli for the band who only found out when the album was released. They had accepted the strings for the single, but this time Anthony Phillips found them terrible, disfiguring, overly sweet and not at all corresponding to the simple and straight approach of the band.https://www.genesis-news.com/c-From-Genesis-To-Revelation-1969-s481.html
And a postscript. Ultimate Classic Rock tells us that:
[ T]he album did make one famous fan: Oasis’ Noel Gallagher, whose 2017 song “If Love Is the Law” was inspired by “The Conquerer.” “I became obsessed with early Genesis,” he told ‘Rolling Stone’ of his writing process. “And I was like, ‘Fuckin’ hell, why has no one ever fuckin’ mentioned this?”https://ultimateclassicrock.com/forgotten-first-albums/
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