'Tom Petty kind of feel': Former Genesis frontman Ray Wilson at work on new solo album

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Former Genesis frontman Ray Wilson is in the studio, putting the finishing touches on as many as a dozen tracks co-written by Peter Hoff, a producer and collaborator with Wilson’s band Stiltskin. The forthcoming solo album’s tentative title is reportedly Chasing Rainbows, according to GenesisNews.com.

Wilson says he is also considering the inclusion of a duet with Ali Ferguson, who has been with Stiltskin since 2006. Members of the Berlin-based band Abby are participating as well, according to GenesisNews.com.

[SOMETHING ELSE! REWIND: From Gabriel to Collins to Wilson, we’ve counted down the worst of Genesis – those times when they didn’t seem to have an invisible touch. Whatever that means.]

Wilson, who is performing tonight in Poland in a show called Genesis Classic: Ray Wilson and Berlin Symphony Ensemble, fronted a Phil Collins-less edition of the band in the late 1990s. Their lone album, 1997’s Calling All Stations, looks as if it will be the studio finale for Genesis, which has since toured as the trio of Collins, Tony Banks and Mike Rutherford but apparently has no plans to record again.

That puts a period on a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame band that began with Peter Gabriel as Genesis’ original front man. He originally appeared with Anthony Phillips, Banks and Rutherford from 1967-70. Steve Hackett and Collins then joined in 1971, as Phillips left. Gabriel departed in 1975, and Hackett followed in ’77. Collins originally quit in 1996. Wilson replaced him, and sang with Genesis through 1999.

GenesisNews.com confirms that “Run for Your Life,” a previously debuted hymn-like track, will not be included on Chasing Rainbows — though several songs that have already appeared as part of Stiltskin shows this fall will, including “Follow the Lie,” “LIfe of Someone,” “Never See Again,” “Life of Someone” and “Whatever Happened to People You Meet.”

“Initially, I wanted to have this Tom Petty kind of feel,” Wilson told GenesisNews.com, “but there is also this Ryan Adams kind of feel on some of the songs — some even have some grungy guitar sounds.”

Wilson has previously released Genesis Classic, a double CD/DVD package recorded in Poland on December 18, 2010; and Genesis Klassik, a 12-song set for Radio Berlin that included “Not About Us” from Calling All Stations, as well as familiar Genesis cuts like “Carpet Crawlers,” “That’s All,” and “No Son of Mine,” among others.

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Here’s a look back at our recent thoughts on Genesis. Click through the title for complete reviews …

GIMME FIVE: SONGS WHERE GENESIS, WELL, SUCKED: Here, we sort through the worst of the worst — and that’s all — from the Peter Gabriel, Phil Collins and Ray Wilson eras of this Rock and Roll Hall of Fame band. Certain things within Genesis’ established band narrative went by the wayside, though: We didn’t ding the early albums for their sometimes cloying sense of very-British whimsy, nor their later albums when they settled for by-the-numbers reproductions of Collins’ solo ballad style. We wanted to delve into things far more egregious than those run-of-the-mill annoyances … the times when they didn’t seem to have an invisible touch. Whatever that means.

SOMETHING ELSE! INTERVIEW: GUITARIST STEVE HACKETT, FORMERLY OF GENESIS: Hackett, who still nurtures a lasting affinity for classical music, has leapt headlong back into prog rock — putting the finishing touches on a collaboration with Yes co-founder Chris Squire, even as he begins work on an album that will reexamine his celebrated tenure as guitarist with Genesis. Hackett went in depth on the new project with Squire, the guitarist’s celebrated tenure with Genesis, and the sweeping impact of J.S. Bach on his playing style.

GENESIS – CALLING ALL STATIONS (1997): Fans and critics alike pretty much ripped Genesis‘ final album Calling All Stations to shreds when it came out, as it seemed to please no one in particular. The old fans didn’t quite get the full-on prog-revival Mike Rutherford and Tony Banks promised, and newer fans wouldn’t touch it without Disney’s go-to guy, Phil Collins, fronting the band. In the considerable shoes of former vocalists Collins and Peter Gabriel, how was a stranger like Ray Wilson to make an impact? Wilson’s warm, throaty delivery departed from the characteristic and often downright odd vocals (at least in the early, non-pop years of the band) of Gabriel and Collins, being neither quite as defining nor as charismatic.

SOMETHING ELSE! FEATURED ARTIST: GENESIS: Believe it or not, Phil Collins was once just a member of this group called Genesis. Back then, before Collins turned Mike Rutherford and Tony Banks into his backing band, Genesis had begun its musical life as a witty, sometimes quite theatrical prog-rock project. The twin departures, however, of Peter Gabriel and then Steve Hackett led to a turn into more popular sounds. From the early 1980s on, Genesis was never the same, issuing a few formless efforts that largely mimicked the Collins sides, before wandering off into oblivion. Return with us now to that time before Collins’ career briefly went supernova — to a time when jackets were, in fact, required. Maybe this legacy can be saved.

Something Else!

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The Something Else! webzine, an accredited Google News affiliate, has been featured in The New York Times and NPR.com's A Blog Supreme, while our writers have also been published by USA Today, Jazz.com and UltimateClassicRock.com, among others. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.
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  • Roger Bootle

    Why did Genesis have this cloth-eared clot in the band? He is a useless waste of space and should be put down like the vermin he is.

    • Nick DeRiso

      I don’t know, but Cloth-Eared Clot would make a great prog-rock band name.

  • Tom Johnson

    Rather harsh, isn’t that?

    A lot of Genesis fans like Ray a lot. He did well on the older material. It’s the new material that wasn’t so strong. But the biggest problem he faced was following Mr. Personality, Phil Collins. You just can’t put a smaller stage presence in front of your band and expect good results, and that’s what Ray is, unfortunately.