Tuesday, 11 September 2012

I Know What I Like - Genesis

Over here in the UK, there has been much said and written recently about the supposed return of Prog Rock. There is even a new magazine dedicated to all things Prog. A sure sign of a perceived revival if ever you needed one.

I'm not sure that Prog Rock ever really went away though. I personally think that it was just having a bit of a rest and biding its time, waiting for the right time to rise once again, capes and all.
It can't be denied though that there do seem to be far more bands, which could be classed as Prog Rock, around at the moment.
I've even noticed this trend in local music. Even if the local band might not class themselves as Prog, elements of their sound certainly hark back to that era.

All of which takes me way back to 1973 and the release of "I Know What I Like (In Your Wardrobe)", (Don't forget the wardrobe), the first ever hit single from the band Genesis. The song reached number 21 in the UK charts in April 1974, even though it had been first released in August 1973. Hence the 1973 date on the record label.

I can see from the record sleeve that i bought the single on 8th June 1974.
At that time, just before i left school and started work, i could only afford to buy records periodically. I often used to buy singles that had left the charts and had then been put into the "bargain bin", therefore being sold at a reduced price. I remember a girlfriend of mine at the time commenting on how i always seemed to buy one single a week and always one from the bargain bin.
The fact that i bought this single and at that time, suggests that it was a favourite of mine.

"I Know What I Like" came from the Genesis album "Selling England By The Pound", which was released in October 1973. It reached number 3 in the UK album charts.

I was still a schoolboy at the time of the songs release and do remember hearing it on the radio.
I can still recall having a conversation about the song with my, then, next door neighbour. We were both of the same age, had similar tastes in music and would often discuss songs, or bands that we'd heard on the radio, or seen on the tv.
"I Know What I Like" was one of those songs, partly because of my friends older brother. He was an intelligent guy and had commented on the songs rather odd lyrics. Any song with the lyrics "Me, i'm just a lawnmower, you can tell me by the way i walk", is bound to grab the attention of a teenager i think?
But, it was the line, "There's a future for you in the fire escape trade. Come up to town", that grabbed my friends brother's attention. He seemed to think it referred to burglary and who am i to argue.
Does anyone know what that song is really about? I wouldn't be surprised if even Peter Gabriel himself couldn't fully explain it.

Genesis were at that time, signed to the Charisma label. One of many great, long lost record labels from that time and one that even included Monty Python on its books.
As with so many record labels back then, the artwork of the label itself was interesting to look at and instantly recognisable. Charisma featured, as you can see above, a drawing of the Mad Hatter, the Cheshire Cat and the White Rabbit, all from Alice In Wonderland.

We often moan about the loss of record cover art since the emergence of the CD and now the mp3 and quite rightly so. The album sleeves of Genesis albums from this period being a good case in point. But, what is often overlooked is the artwork that used to be on the labels of the actual records themselves, such as Charisma's.

Something else that is now missing are the little messages and comments scratched into the vinyl itself. In the run out groove, between the playing surface and the label, were often to be found bits of writing. On "I Know What I Like" the A Side has "Porky knows why he likes Trishy" and the B Side has "Peko Melo" written into the vinyl.
These were done by George Peckham, also known as "Porky". His messages can be found scratched into the vinyl of countless singles and albums from the 1970's.
If you still own any vinyl from that time, go and have a look through your collection. You never know what secret messages might be lurking there.

As for Genesis.... well, we probably all know about the success that they went on to have. Much of which was possibly kick-started by this very first hit single and the subsequent media exposure that it gave the band.
After Peter Gabriel left Genesis in 1975, the band started to reinvent themselves and went on to have even greater success, especially during the 1980's. This is quite possibly because they moved away from Prog Rock and started writing more commercially sounding music?

Genesis are one of those bands that i've never had a big love affair with. Yes, i liked that early music of the Peter Gabriel era, but i'm not sure how much of it i would listen to now? And the later, more commercial, period i can either take, or leave.
As with many bands from that time, i bought some of their earlier albums, including "Selling England By The Pound". But i sold them during the great album clearout of the 1980's. Many of us did the same thing back then, often to our eternal regret. Only to start buying many of them, all over again, on a new fangled CD.

I did buy other Genesis singles during my youth and still have "The Carpet Crawlers" and "Counting Out Time" amongst my much reduced collection.
Another of their records that i used to own is an early single called "Happy The Man", complete with a picture sleeve, which was released in 1972 and didn't bother the UK charts at all.
How i came to own it is a story for another day, but that single is now quite a rarity.
Unfortunately, i sold it some years ago, albeit at a reasonable profit.

During the, previously mentioned, big vinyl clearout i spotted an advert in a record collecting magazine asking about "Happy The Man" and offering to buy any copies for the princely sum of £15. I thought this was a good offer and duly sold my copy. As i've already suggested, this was a pretty good return on my "investment" at the time.
I know you're ahead of me here, but i've since seen the same "Happy The Man" single, complete with picture sleeve, offered for sale for at least £80! Who knows, it might even have been my copy?
Makes you sick doesn't it?

I have often regretted selling many of my old vinyl albums and singles. But, i've regretted selling that one more than most and for obvious reasons too.

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