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reDiscover Genesis’ ‘And Then There Were Three’

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It’s 1978 and Peter Gabriel had been gone for a while, in 1977 guitarist Steve Hackett left Genesis… And then there were three – which became the title of the band’s 9th studio album.

…And it was a triumph, with so much of their prog sensibilities intact but with songs that have great hooks and seemingly no less brilliant musicianship than before.

The album’s title comes from a verse of the children’s rhyme ‘Ten Little Indians’

Five little Indian boys going in for law,
One got in Chancery and then there were four.
Four little Indian boys going out to sea;
A red herring swallowed one and then there were three.

The closing coda of ‘Down and Out’ is sublime Genesis and heralds what is to come from this album that retains some of the more classically influenced structure of earlier songs and replaces them with a more standard verse/bridge/chorus structure. This opening track is a collaborative song writing effort by Tony Banks, Mike Rutherford and Phil Collins, as are ‘Ballad of Big’ and ‘Follow You, Follow Me’.

While the first two songs are slightly more complex in structure ‘Follow You, Follow Me’ is more straightforward and became the lead single from the album that made the US Hot 100 on 22 April 1978 and climbed to just outside the top 20 (In the UK it made No.7 becoming the band’s first top 10 single). It’s a really catchy song, which is a compliment in case anyone is wondering, and paved the way for the more radio friendly Genesis that followed.

The hit single helped the album make No.14 on the US chart and in the UK it got to No.3, a feat that had been achieved by selling England By the Pound and Trick of The Tail.

There are some beautifully delicate numbers on the album, the opening of Mike Rutherford’s ‘Snowbound’ for example, but this builds to a chorus redolent of the great romantic composers. It’s the musical twin of Mike’s second solo composition on the album, ‘Deep In The Motherlode’.

‘Deep In The Motherlode’ along with ‘Burning Rope’, ‘Say It’s Alright Joe’, ‘The Lady Lies’, and
‘Follow You, Follow Me’ were all played live on the band’s tour to support the album. A tour that started in March in North America, visited Europe in may and June, including their towering performance at the Knebworth Festival and then returned to the USA for the whole of July.

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Tony Banks’s solo writing credits on the album are the mighty, ‘Undertow’, the seductive, ‘Burning Rope’ (some stellar Collins drumming on this), ‘Many Too Many’, one of the band’s best ever ballads and what for many is the album’s standout track, ‘The Lady Lies’. The latter track has a great chorus that is everything that has made Genesis so popular. ‘Many Too Many’ was a minor hit single in Britain and is also the last time the band used a mellotron on a recording.

‘Scenes from a Night’s Dream’ is based on the adventures of comic strip character Little Nemo, and is the first Genesis song on which Phil Collins is solely responsible for the lyrics.

So, what’s not to love about …And Then There Were Three? Well, nothing actually. It is a consummate performance and possibly the only people that don’t like it are avid Pistols fans, but we bet many of them have grown to love it. “restraint” is a word that has been used in describing this album, but we would say there is far less restraint in the song writing…and in the playing. This is Genesis having fun and laying down more than a few markers for what was to come.

Buy … And Then There Were Three here.

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24 Comments

24 Comments

  1. Robert Lamb

    April 22, 2015 at 3:33 pm

    ATTWT is a departure from prior approach in that you can hear the songwriting as a collective take root and provide the best moments on the album and those yet to come. “The Lady Lies” and “Burning Rope” still give chills and “Follow You” still brings a smile after all these years.

  2. AlB

    April 22, 2015 at 3:42 pm

    Sorry, I’ve never grown to love it. Unlike pre-1978 Genesis releases and Steve Hackett solo efforts, “And Then There Were Three” remains rarely heard in my collection. Quickly, Genesis became very forgettable with this and subsequent efforts.

    .

    • chris maruskin

      April 24, 2015 at 3:14 am

      I Totally Agree 🙂

    • Screentan

      April 30, 2015 at 12:39 am

      So it was for me too. Big let down at the time this album. Really wanted to like, this was my absolute favorite band thru the seventies, but I gave up on them right there. Strange thing, 70s Genesis albums are still my favorite listening and now 30 years+ i really like the ATTWT album. It’s full of great music. Duke and the following albums I listen to once and gave them away. It was finally over.

  3. ricky lewis

    April 22, 2015 at 3:46 pm

    the album is excellent. the only bashers are the same people who have bashed them since the day gabriel left. and of course it’s easier to bash this album because hackett was now gone but the music, vocals etc are all amazing.

  4. john stradman

    April 22, 2015 at 4:20 pm

    Easily one of Genesis best albums along with A Trick of the Tail, all the songs have story lines that evoke ones imagination. Always playing it, always loving it………………..

  5. Faber

    April 22, 2015 at 4:39 pm

    On OK album, a mixed bag though, Genesis seemed to have found a formula and it was getting tired. I still listen to it, although skipping some songs, too many for a Gnesis album, in hindsight and imo their weakest album hitherto and also weaker than its successor. To say the vocals are great is imo doing no justice to the singer Phil began to become on Duke.

  6. David Mooney

    April 22, 2015 at 4:49 pm

    I rate this album very highly; it has a beautifully introspective feel to it, and while I understand the criticism it sometimes attracts, it is worth giving it a second chance. I saw the band at Knebworth that year, so perhaps my enthusiasm for the album is influenced somewhat by this, but the songs remain an important stage in my personal musical evolution. Ever an embracer of melancholy, me!

  7. kevin

    April 22, 2015 at 5:06 pm

    If you are a true Genesis fan…..then you will realize that not one album is exactly like another. As Genesis developed over the years, so did the nature of the sound. Without Philips….the Gabriel and lastly Hacket. The original sound and the latest sound resmebles more of a completely different band. Which of course it was. Collins, who became more pop than punch in the 80’s has been the direction of the band and has steered them to the highest selling band of all time. So whether you like the Gabriel Genesis, or the Hacket Genesis, or the “And then there were Three” Genesis. You can’t take away the impact they have had on people all over the world. I am a drummer and have to confess, that I have been able to find something terrific with every era of the bands long and prolific career.

  8. Mile

    April 22, 2015 at 5:18 pm

    having bought the album upon its release I loved the fact they were still prepared to eek a few tracks out even though two staple members had gone. This was my first experience of seeing them live because I was at the knebworth gig and remember all the other bands and the rain coming down in the afternoon and the starlit stage with lasers and the huge mirrors finally putting the long day to bed. Wonderful day and truly amazing set. Seen them a number of times since, round hay park 1987 & 1992 then Linz in Austria on there final world tour in 2007

  9. Kevin

    April 22, 2015 at 7:19 pm

    I was familiar with the single back in the era when this album came out, but never bought it until many years later. Subsequently, this became one of my favorite Genesis albums, particularly for the enchanting melodic nature of most of the tunes. It is a great listen from start to finish.

  10. Robb

    April 22, 2015 at 7:57 pm

    Unlike many bands that can’t grow beyond their founding vision, Genesis managed to re-invent themselves without disowning what had come before. And Then There Were Three is the transition album; if it had failed, Genesis would have ended then and there, followed by minor solo careers for Phil and Mike, and film scoring for Tony. But it succeeded, as the lads undoubtedly knew it would, by finding a way to mesh pop hooks with prog sensibilities, something few bands in their genre could manage.

  11. Beardmoss

    April 22, 2015 at 9:11 pm

    I’m kind of tired of Collins always getting blamed for steering the band in one direction of another. Like he was waiting in the wings, biding his time until the band had shed enough personalities for him to transform the group into a slick pop monster. That’s so unfair and kinda vindictive. How many interviews with Rutherford and Banks does it take to convince one that shedding the prog was part natural progression (ha!) and part COLLECTIVE decision.

  12. Andrew Nagle

    April 23, 2015 at 2:18 am

    This Album came along and divided some of the hardcore fans – you either loved or didn’t. It did bring a new core group of fans though who preferred the shorter songs and the single “Follow You,Follow Me” was a prime example.
    I for one like this Album and was there at Knebworth
    in 1977 getting soaked – but glad I was.
    It’s melodies and songwriting are superb and showcased the band’s musical skills at their best.

  13. Pete Smith

    April 23, 2015 at 8:43 am

    I was there!

  14. Christopher Ward

    April 23, 2015 at 1:45 pm

    Pales in comparison to Wind and Wuthering or A Trick of a Tail or even Duke. Some good tracks but also many heavy handed ones. I think they may have been tired and a little burned out. The album is overproduced, perhaps because they are trying to make up for the absence of Steve Hackett, which is seriously felt. The break they took after this tour, just before working on Duke, made all the difference

  15. Chris Stewart

    April 23, 2015 at 2:02 pm

    I won this album at my High School Dance. It was my introduction to Genesis and I loved it.
    My older brother had all the previous releases (which I quickly discovered I liked too) and going forward and to this day, is still my favorite band.
    As mentioned “What’s not to like?”

  16. Zorgon

    April 23, 2015 at 2:35 pm

    The first Genesis album where I liked just half. It got worse from there.

    Losing Hackett, shorter songs, Banks changing his instrumentation from organ/Mellotron/piano to more synth based (and synth sounds I didn’t like as much), different inspiration for the songs. So many of my favorite bands (Yes, ELP, Pink Floyd, Jethro Tull) all seemed to lose it for me around this time.

  17. Jon Green

    April 23, 2015 at 3:58 pm

    When I heard this album, my heart sank. With a friend, I listened to it, without a word, from end to end. And then, after a long pause, I turned to him and said, “That’s it. They’ve sold out. They’ve gone pop. This is a pop album.”

    And thus it was. Sometimes, you deride an album at the time, and later return to it and realise it was a piece of genius, and that you were a fool. Not with this; not for me. Every time I hear it, I’m saddened; a kind of mourning. Gone the majestic anthems; gone the intricate musicianship and composition; gone the amazing, intelligent lyrics. Gone, Genesis.

    Yes, there are excellent pop songs. “Follow You, Follow Me” is beautiful and wistful. “Many Too Many” is classic Collins pop. And it’s not a complete break with the past: “The Lady Lies”, for example, has some remarkable complexities, but really is more of a homage to The-Genesis-That-Was. Even then, the “homage” tracks don’t always work. The lyrics to “Scenes From a Night’s Dream” are especially cringe-making: “Dragons breathing fire, but friendly”; “Eating all kinds of food so close to bedtime / They always made him have these nightmares, it seemed”? Ye gods. So far from “The all-night watchmen have had their fun. /
    Sleeping cheaply on the midnight show.”

    Really, though, this album marks the transition from Genesis to The Phil Collins Band. I’m sure that Banks and Rutherford would argue forcefully against it, but that’s how it felt, and feels, to me. Eleven, largely-forgettable radio-friendly pop tracks.

    Sorry. Not for me.

  18. Richard Davies

    April 24, 2015 at 10:23 pm

    This was the album that got me into Genesis. My mum bought it in ’78 on the back of Follow You, Follow Me. I don’t think she liked the rest of it because she subsequently taped it and took it back to Woolworths and exchanged it for Wings London Town. She taped that on the other side of the TDK C-90 and that summer it was played during our holiday in Caernarfon in North Wales. Needless to say I loved it and that was the start of my love affair with Genesis. Maybe there are better LP’s, maybe not…who cares, I love ATTWT because it fills me with nostalgia for simpler times and because it’s full of great pop/rock songs. Always a place in my heart for it……..

  19. Squonk

    April 25, 2015 at 1:53 am

    I was a tad too young to appreciate ‘And then..’ on it’s initial release but discovered it a couple of years later, became hooked on Genesis and bought the back catalogue as and when my saturday / college holiday job could fund it. The 70s, like the decade before it, was a period of dynamic musical change where it seemed you had to undertake a constant metamophosis to survive and be commercially viable, or part company because of stagnation or musical differences. Of course there are exceptions to the rule.
    For me, ‘And then…’ pitches it just right. The right number of tracks, great stories, superb melodies, musicianship and hooks. Yes, the production is possibly too middle to top and ‘big’ but this to my mind is a reflection of the Big Country soundscape that the songs evoke. The album has taken me through dark times as a believable slice of aural escapism and one of the few Genesis albums that I can listen too without finding one or two guitar or keyboard solos that border on pretentious tweeness, i.e.the keyboard break in Ripples. I don’t play the album that often now as, like a good bottle of your favourite tipple, it should be saved for special occasions!

  20. Josh

    May 31, 2015 at 7:18 am

    Love this album, it’s a very nice proggy pop record with some of Collins’ best drumming and Banks’ best keyboard work ever. People need to get over that Peter Gabriel and/or Steve Hackett left already, Genesis proved they can do perfectly fine without them.

  21. Jay

    October 31, 2015 at 5:57 pm

    This was the first Genesis album I bought, I think around 2005 (I was 20 and had just discovered Genesis by listening to Dream Theater’s Mike Portnoy talking about how great they were). I had their best of Vol 1 CD and loved Follow You, Follow me and wanted to experience the album that came from. So I went to the local CD retailer and found ATTWT in the $10 CD section. From the moment the first track, Down and Out starting blaring in my car, I was hooked. I love this album and it became the anchor in which I explored the band, both forward to Duke, Invisible touch ect and backwards to Trick of the Tale and the Gabriel stuff. I still crank this sucker. Great tunes, great lyrics, and some awesome moments.

  22. Eduard Antoniu

    October 31, 2015 at 5:58 pm

    I take “From Genesis to Revelation” over it any day.

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