Underappreciated ’80s: July 1986—The Month of Genesis
Earth-shattering revelations don’t hit us very often.
It seems to happen disproportionately to men in deserts, or so they claim, but it also happens sometimes to teenagers listening to the radio. Particularly to one teenager (me) listening to the radio in one month (July 1986) and realizing the musical dynasty spawned by one group:
Let me start with a bit of background. Although by 1986 Genesis was well on its way to commercial juggernaut status as it followed its pop muse, the band’s work was a pale echo of the vibrant music of the early 1970s lineup: Peter Gabriel on vocals (and often flute), Tony Banks on keyboards, Mike Rutherford on bass and guitars, Steve Hackett on lead guitar, and Phil Collins on drums.
If you’re a fan of classic rock music, you have no excuse not to know and love the stunning, complex music the band made in the 1970s, including:
- Gabriel’s vocal gymnastics in “The Musical Box” (from 1971’s Nursery Cryme);
- Hackett’s guitar solo of pure emotion in “Firth of Fifth” (from 1973’s Selling England by the Pound);
- Banks’ amazing keyboard work on songs like the same album’s “The Cinema Show;” and
- Collins’ dazzling drum fills—in 9/8 time—in the 23-minute epic “Supper’s Ready” (from 1972’s Foxtrot).
Then, during one week in late July 1986, an amazing thing happened.
Genesis, its members, and its former members were responsible for SEVEN songs in Billboard’s top 100 during the same week:
- First, there was “Invisible Touch,” the number one smash that was still selling better than Izod shirts.
- Second, Peter Gabriel’s “Sledgehammer” replaced “Invisible Touch” in the number one spot.
- Third and Fourth, the Mike Rutherford-fronted Mike + the Mechanics had two singles on the charts, “All I Need Is a Miracle” and the lesser hit “Taken In.”
- Fifth and Six were Phil Collins’ fading smash “Take Me Home” and the song he produced (and played drums on) for Howard Jones, “No One Is To Blame.”
- Seventh, listeners were buying up the first single from the band GTR, the joint project of Steve Hackett and ex-Yes guitarist Steve Howe. GTR's biggest hit, which reached #14 in the US, was “When the Heart Rules the Mind.”
And it all started one amazing week in July 1986.