|Released March 1978|
Label Atlantic Records
|Recorded September–October 1977|
...And Then There Were Three... (1978) Duke (1980)
Release date 23 March 1978
|Studio Relight Studios, Hilvarenbeek, Netherlands|
Producer David Hentschel Genesis
Genres Rock music, Progressive rock, Pop rock, Art rock, Soft rock
Similar Genesis albums, Progressive rock albums
...And Then There Were Three... is the ninth studio album from the English rock band Genesis. It was released in March 1978 by Charisma Records and is their first recorded as a trio of singer and drummer Phil Collins, keyboardist Tony Banks, and bassist and guitarist Mike Rutherford following the departure of guitarist Steve Hackett. The album marked a change in the band's sound, mixing elements of their progressive rock roots with more pop-oriented and commercially accessible music, and Collins contributing to more of the group's song writing.
- Writing and recording
- Sleeve design
- Critical reception
- Track listing
- B sides
Upon release, the album received mixed to positive reviews from critics. It was a commercial success for the band, reaching number 3 on the UK Albums Chart and number 14 on the US Billboard 200. Three singles were released from the album; the lead single "Follow You Follow Me" became their most successful since their formation with a peak of number 7 in the UK and number 23 in the US. The album continued to sell, and was certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) in 1988 for selling one million copies in the US. To further promote it, Genesis toured worldwide for ten months with their new touring guitarist Daryl Stuermer. The album was remastered in 2007 as part of the Genesis 1976–1982 box set.
In July 1977, the Genesis line-up of singer and drummer Phil Collins, keyboardist Tony Banks, bassist Mike Rutherford, guitarist Steve Hackett, and touring drummer Chester Thompson completed their tour in support of their eighth studio album, Wind & Wuthering. The band proceeded to edit and mix their second live album, Seconds Out, in August 1977, during which time Hackett left the band as he wished to pursue a solo career. He had enjoyed producing his first solo album Voyage of the Acolyte, and felt his desire to work on a solo career had outgrown his need to work as a member of the band. He felt that he had to make too many musical compromises, and had grown tired of the band's frequent touring. The three-man line-up would last until Collins' departure in 1996. News of Hackett's departure was not made public until Collins, Banks, and Rutherford were promoting Seconds Out and they had finished recording and were mixing ...And Then There Were Three..., on 8 October 1977.
Writing and recording
In September 1977, the remaining three members returned to Relight Studios in Hilvarenbeek, Netherlands to write and record their new album, the same as Wind & Wuthering. The group wished to record in a new location, but they could not find a studio that fitted their needs and did not wish to travel too far from England. Rutherford wished to remain in London, but noted recording abroad was their "one tax concession". Joining the group was audio engineer and co-producer David Hentschel who had worked on the band's past two albums. Genesis also shared production duties and are credited on the album's sleeve. According to Rutherford, the material was put down in two weeks. The band considered auditioning new guitarists or utilising a studio guitarist for the album, but Rutherford felt confident enough in his skills to take on the lead and bass guitar parts himself. Banks noticed recording as a three-member band was an easier and more pleasurable experience than before as each member had their clearly defined role, which reduced the risk of personnel clashes along the way. Rutherford became aware that with three members, the basic tracks came across as sparse and not so easy to understand until the overdubs were recorded on top of them. Following the recording, the group mixed the album at Trident Studios in London.
The album marked a change in the band's sound, moving from their progressive rock roots towards more shorter, concise songs. The decision to write shorter songs in order to put across more musical ideas on the album made Collins realise it gave off the impression that the band were aiming to become "a singles band", but maintained the material remained "fundamentally the same". Banks and Rutherford remained the more dominant songwriters with four and three songs written by them respectively, one from Banks and Collins, and three tracks written by all three members. The album marked the start of Collins contributing more to the song writing; previously he had been more of an arranger. Rutherford noted "Many Too Many" and "Follow You Follow Me" were successful because they sound like the band were not trying so hard to come up with strong material. The majority of the album was formed of pre-written songs, not ones developed from jams and improvisations. Collins later thought the album lacked "rich, jazzy pieces" like "Los Endos" from A Trick of the Tail with its merge of rhythm and melody, but could not contribute such ideas as it was difficult to play the drums in his flat in Ealing with his wife and two children. The group were still a band growing in popularity in the United States and were aware that a hit single was missing from them which Banks said the band were not as good at coming up with such material. The original album track order swapped "Undertow" with "Many Too Many" and "Scenes from a Night's Dream", before it was changed as the band felt it flowed better.
"Down and Out", one of the three tracks written collectively, was written during the band's rehearsals. Thompson found its more complex time signature difficult to reproduce on stage at first as Collins could not explain the riff and rhythm which Rutherford noted merely "added to the confusion". The band had originally planned to develop and arrange Banks's song "Undertow" further, but its basic track of guitar, drums and piano, coupled with its simple chorus, was strong enough to keep as it was. Banks plays a Yamaha electric grand piano on the track which also incorporates voice loops made by the band that were kept "low-key and subtle" in the final mix. The lyrics to "Ballad of Big" were written by Collins. The introduction contains a wobbly guitar effect created by Rutherford whereby he rubbed his guitar strings with pieces of metal, giving it a "slightly Eastern strain". The end of the track has Banks and himself duelling between the Yamaha electric piano and his Roland guitar synthesiser. For "Snowbound", Collins originally recorded his drum part at a considerably faster pace before the group decided to slow them down in order to fit the style of the song. While Banks was writing "Burning Rope", he decided to shorten the track rather than stretch its arrangements into an extended piece as he wished to avoid repeating himself and drawing comparisons to his ten-minute "One for the Vine" from Wind & Wuthering. It features a lead guitar solo from Rutherford that he found was a challenge to produce in the wake of Hackett's departure, but was pleased with the final result and called it his best on the album.
The original title to "Deep in the Motherlode" was "Heavy". Rutherford uses a bottleneck slide guitar which he was inexperienced with at first to the point of placing it "on the wrong hand". "Many Too Many" features more lead guitar work from Rutherford, who felt less confident about his playing compared to the months after the album's release and had practised further. Once the basic tracks had been put down, the group were still unsure on how to finish the song and sought more arrangements to complete it, including a string sound Banks played on a Moog synthesiser. At one point, they considered using orchestral instruments for the track but they never tried it. Banks, who penned the song's lyrics, recalled an issue Collins had with singing the word "mama" in the chorus, something which Banks had to reassure him that he could sing it. "Scenes from a Night's Dream" is based on the adventures of the comic strip character Little Nemo. The song developed from a musical idea from Banks who wrote the first draft of its lyrics, but he gave up halfway through as he felt they were unsuitable. The band instead settled on a set of lyrics that Collins offered that brought in a different melody and more harmonies. "Say It's Alright Joe", written by Rutherford and the penultimate track recorded for the album, is a torch song about an alcoholic who goes into a drunken stupor. The guitarist intended the track to be a "piss-take on the Dean Martin 'set 'em up Joe' alcoholic style'", but thought it was not going to work until Banks added his keyboard overdubs and the band started mixing the track, at which point it "came to life". The introduction to "The Lady Lies" was meant to have a "strippers feel to it. Hence the title". Genesis deliberately planned to close the album on a "lighter note" as a contrast to a more heavy track, so they placed "Follow You Follow Me" at the end, the album's only track written during the rehearsal stage and went through numerous guises before the group settled on a three-minute song. Hentschel was dismissive of the song, but prepared an initial mix and presented it to the staff at Atlantic Records, who recognised it as a potential hit single for the band. The song was remixed and included on the album. The lyrics were written by Rutherford, who thought it was the easiest song to write lyrically of his career and spent "about ten minutes" on it.
As with their past three studio albums, the sleeve was designed by Storm Thorgerson and Aubrey Powell of Hipgnosis. In a 1998 interview, Thorgerson called the design a "failure", and described the concept being conveyed:
We were trying to tell a story by the traces left by the light trails. It was a torch, a car, and a man with a cigarette. The band was losing members and there were only three of them left. The lyrics of the songs were about comings and goings and we tried to describe this in photographic terms by using time-lapse. So there's a car going off to one side and then the guy gets out of the car, walks over to the front of it, and lights a cigarette. But as he walks he uses a torch and the car he was in leaves. There's a trail left by the car, a trail left by him as he's walking and then he lights a cigarette, which on the cover is where there's a flash of his face.
...And Then There Were Three... was released in the UK in March 1978. Its release in the US followed on 28 March on Atlantic Records. It became a commercial success for the group, reaching number 3 on the UK Albums Chart during a 32-week stay on the chart, their first single to enter the UK top ten. and number 14 on the US Billboard 200. The album continued to sell, and was certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America on 31 May 1978 for 500,000 copies sold in the US. It reached platinum status on 11 February 1988 for selling one million copies sold.
Genesis released three singles from ...And Then There Were Three.... The lead single, "Follow You Follow Me", became their most successful since their formation with a peak of number 7 in the UK and number 23 in the US.
In an April 1978 review for Melody Maker, reporter Chris Welch praised the album as "strong, confident" that is "as good as any they have made in the band's post-Gabriel years". Welch noted the songs have "a sense of purpose" and come with "a remarkably powerful sound", and picked "Ballad of Big" as his favourite track. Charley Walters wrote a review for Sounds and notes despite the exits of Gabriel and Hackett, Genesis have sacrificed "neither direction nor quality". The album, he thought, has "hard, almost omnious" tracks like "Down and Out" and "softer, more melodic" ones like "Say It's Alright Joe", all of which create "a magical, mystical sound that sets them apart from the numerous similar but usually inferior European art-rock ensembles". He names Banks as the one of the trio most responsible for their sound with his "rich" arrangements complimented by Rutherford's restrained guitar work which is "more felt than heard" which worked well to his praise on "Burning Rope". Walters, however, thought Collins's vocals has shortcomings that lacks expansion or breathtaking moments, though is a drummer who can still be melodic. Crawdaddy published a more critical review from Michael Bloom, who somewhat was critical of Banks's weak sounding arrangements and keyboard sounds as they tend to "practically vanish" and "slip through your fingers", but picked out "The Lady Lies" as his strongest contribution both musically and lyrically, comparing the composition and lyrical message to "One for the Vine" on Wind & Wuthering. Bloom declared Rutherford's lead guitar playing as "unbearably clumsy" compared to Hackett but remains a "rare bassist" whose 12-string guitar playing reminded the reviewer of Rutherford on Trespass (1970) and the surrounding period in the band's history. Bloom picked "Deep in the Motherlode" as a strong track, but pointed Collins's singing as "uninformly insipid", and concludes with the album is "less of a disappointment than an interminable frustration".
Genesis toured in support of ...And Then There Were Three.. between March and December 1978. This tour marked the debut of Daryl Stuermer as their touring guitarist, a process that Collins knew was difficult as he noted Hackett had his own unique style of playing.
A digitally remastered version was released on CD in 1994 on Virgin in Europe and Atlantic in the US and Canada. The booklet on the remaster features the lyrics, although the gatefold picture is missing. A SACD / DVD double disc set (including new 5.1 and Stereo mixes) was released on 2 April 2007. It was released in the US and Canada as part of the Genesis 1976–1982 box set. This includes the album in remixed stereo and surround sound, and related video tracks. The only exception is the track "Say It's Alright Joe", which was not remixed because the band was unable to locate the multitrack recordings.
All songs arranged and performed by Genesis.
Genesis recorded two additional songs that were left off the album.
Credits are adapted from the album's 1978 and 2007 liner notes.
1Down and Out5:26
3Ballad of Big4:50