Rahul Sharma (Editor)

The Knife (song)

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Released  May 1971
Recorded  1970
Format  Vinyl
Length  8:57
Genre  Hard rock, heavy metal, progressive rock, psychedelic rock
Label  Charisma/Virgin (UK) MCA (US/Canada)

"The Knife" (working title: "Nice") is a protest song by progressive rock band Genesis from their second album Trespass from 1970. It was performed live often in the band's early days (a live version appears on the Genesis Live album from 1973) and has appeared sporadically in the band's setlists all the way up through 1982 (after 1975, however, they performed an edited four-minute version). The first half of the song was released as a single in May 1971 with the second half as the B-side, but it did not chart.

The song was unusually aggressive for Genesis at the time, as most of their work consisted of soft, pastoral acoustic textures and poetic lyrics. It features a bouncy, march-like organ riff, heavily distorted guitars and bass, and fast drumming. (Peter Gabriel said he wanted to write something that had the excitement of "Rondo" by The Nice.) In the lyrics of the song, Gabriel, influenced by a book on Gandhi, "wanted to try and show how all violent revolutions inevitably end up with a dictator in power".

"The Knife" was usually performed as an encore. During one performance in June 1971, Peter Gabriel became so carried away at the end of the song that he jumped off the stage into the audience, sprained his ankle as a result.

The cover artwork for the single features (clockwise from top left) Gabriel, Phil Collins, Rutherford, Banks and Steve Hackett. Collins and Hackett did not perform on the track but joined the group shortly after the album was recorded, replacing John Mayhew and Anthony Phillips, respectively.

The song was the last encore played at the "Six of the Best" one-off reunion concert in 1982, meaning, to date, this is the final song the "classic" line-up of the band has ever performed together live. It later appeared on the 2004 compilation album Platinum Collection and the single edit is found on the expanded version of Turn It On Again: The Hits, subtitled The Tour Edition. In March 2014, Steve Hackett added the song on the playlist on the extended tour of his Genesis Revisited II album. The song also appears on the R-Kive box set released on 22 September 2014 in the UK and 29 September worldwide.

The song was played live during the From Genesis to Revelations (twice), Trespass, Nursery Cryme, Foxtrot, Selling England by the Pound, The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway, Wind & Wuthering, Duke and Abacab (once) tours.


  • Tony Banks – organ
  • Peter Gabriel – lead vocals, flute, percussion
  • John Mayhew – drums
  • Anthony Phillips – guitar
  • Mike Rutherford – bass
  • References

    The Knife (song) Wikipedia