London Collector: In the Beginning

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For several years around the time of the band's first major breakthrough, this American reissue of Genesis' debut album was the only version available anywhere in the world -- a boon to collectors who had access to the U.S. market, but a nightmare for anyone with an aversion to tacky cartoon record sleeves. If anyone ever opens a Hall of Fame for such things, look no further for the maiden nominee. Artwork notwithstanding, In the Beginning (titled From Genesis to Revelation in the U.K.) remains a remarkable record, all the more so since it was already fashionable for "knowing" critics to dismiss Genesis' earliest recordings as wholly unrepresentative of the band's later glories. Once past the signal absence of any ten-minute epic, however, little of the music will strike the long-term (Peter Gabriel-era) fan as especially out of the ordinary. True, the musicianship is a little more naïve, and the lyrics certainly somewhat less mature than one might have hoped. But the bandmembers themselves were still in their teens when this was recorded, and the only truly valid criticism is that, in choosing to debut with a neo-Biblical concept album, they were maybe trying to run before they could walk. But the melodies are strong, the ideas are sound, and both the keyboards and guitar are far enough to the fore to suggest that Genesis not only knew what they were doing, they knew where they wanted to go as well.