Review Summary: Perhaps the most beautiful and passionate Genesis’ album. A giant step from their debut and a landmark to the band.
“Trespass” is the second studio album of Genesis and was released in 1970. The line up on the album is Peter Gabriel, Anthony Phillips, Tony Banks, Mike Rutherford and John Mayhew.
The eighteen months between the release of their debut and its successor, are the most decisive period in the history of Genesis. Everybody who knows both albums can’t help notice just how much impressively the group had developed their style. With “Trespass”, Genesis abandoned all the sunshine stuff of their previous album and went to King Crimson’s prog world. Genesis decided they would have to revamp in a different way. They picked up a better drummer and reinvented a fresh prog group. On “Trespass”, gone were the short pop songs and the youthful faces on the cover, replaced by lengthy and complex compositions with endless instrumental breaks, and a beautiful blue painted by Paul Whitehead. That crucial experience will turn Genesis in one of the best and most important prog rock acts ever.
In reality, you can really wonder what happened to Peter Gabriel & Co between their debut and their second studio album “Trespass”. From the naive light weighted debut they had turned to a complex and masterful progressive rock sound that would become cloned by literally hundreds of other bands in the following years. Sure, from a technical point of view they were still far from a perfect band. But the magic atmosphere, the distinctive, delightful and the classic Genesis’ sound it was already felt clearly here in all its glory. So, we have Gabriel’s sore and passionate vocals, Bank’s symphonic and majestic mellotron and atmospheric Hammond organ, Rutherford’s airy bass sound and Phillips’ tasty guitar work. The weakest link was their drummer Mayhew. But it would be solved in their next album with Phil Collins.
However, due to a propelled by a crippling onset on stage fright Anthony Phillips was forced to leave the band following the album’s release, pursuing a very prolific and interesting career as a solo artist. But the new guitarist Steve Hackett would more or less clone his sound and style of playing. In reality, there’s not a weak point in any of the album’s six tracks. Ironically, his influence was felt very strongly on their subsequent breakthrough third album, “Nursery Cryme”. The title track was the band’s first number to attract a wide audience in progressive rock circles for its introduction and opening minute, which used material that Phillips had written and recorded, as a demo, as early as in 1969.
About the tracks, “Looking For Someone” is an engaging mystical song with interesting lyrics, a thick atmosphere and a rather catchy melody that sounds very emotional and desperate. “White Mountain” is acoustic guitar based music with great keyboards. The melody is stunning and the transition pieces with acoustic guitar and keyboard are excellent. “Visions Of Angels” has a beautiful piano passage incredible catching and the instrumental interlude is very intricate. The combination of acoustic guitar and keyboards works very nicely. “Stagnation” starts with an acoustic section and the rest is just beautiful acoustic guitar joined with some keyboards and soft vocals. It evolves from quiet moments to more energetic sections while retaining an almost carefree ambience. “Dusk” features great and tasty guitar passages, some delicate vocals and the perfect sound picture that is standard for this amazing band. This is the simplest but still is a very nice track. “The Knife” is the first Genesis’ classic. Few other Genesis songs contain the raw power crammed into this song. From the blood pumping verses and anthemic choruses to the moody, the song is a complete thrill. This song offers a complex epic arrangement that would become the band’s standard on their future albums. It’s the heaviest piece ever recorded by Genesis and is the only number from the album to be performed regularly on stage.
In short, from the passionate opener “Looking For Someone” to the mystical “White Mountain” and then to the beauty of “Visions Of Angels” through the many wonderful themes and chord changes of “Stagnation” to the lovely ballad “Dusk” and finally it all ends with the powerful aggression of “The Knife”, all of this made of this a fantastic album.
Conclusion: “Trespass” is a landmark album for Genesis. Genesis’ second album was a far cry from their debut. Filled with angst, energy and passion, “Trespass” is full by great tracks, especially “The Knife”, their first masterpiece, which ensured that the group’s musical direction was clear. “Trespass” would remain as the band’s naive, heaviest and darkest album of their career. I’m sure that “Trespass” is the most underrated Genesis’ album. I always loved it since I listened to it in the 70’s. However, its sound quality is really poor, what has always been a fact with the earlier Genesis’ works. For many, this is the first Genesis’ album, because on it, the group really found their sound. Howsoever this is a great album which all prog lovers, especially early Genesis’ fans, should own. Still, it doesn’t equal or surpass the level of later Genesis albums, like “Foxtrot”, “Selling England By The Pound” or “The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway”.
Music was my first love.
John Miles (Rebel)