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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A great memoir, but also a missed opportunity
For dyed-in-the-wool Genesis fans this book is a must-read: the first memoir by one of only two of the band's members who've been there since the very beginning. However, for the casual Genesis or Mike + The Mechanics fan, there really isn't much which hasn't been dealt with in more depth in other biographies. As a genre, the autobiography tends to succeed depending on...
Published 8 months ago by Chris James

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting, but sketchy, examination of generational differences
Being a huge fan of Genesis I read this book very quickly. Whilst I found the parallels of Mike's life with that of his father an interesting and at times moving chronicle, I would have liked more detail and reflection on his musical career. Whilst the early Genesis career is covered in some detail, there are still gaps in the story. The later career is glossed over...
Published 7 months ago by Steven Aldous


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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A great memoir, but also a missed opportunity, 26 Jan 2014
This review is from: The Living Years (Kindle Edition)
For dyed-in-the-wool Genesis fans this book is a must-read: the first memoir by one of only two of the band's members who've been there since the very beginning. However, for the casual Genesis or Mike + The Mechanics fan, there really isn't much which hasn't been dealt with in more depth in other biographies. As a genre, the autobiography tends to succeed depending on how controversial it is. While there is the occasional surprising revelation in The Living Years, there are very few indiscretions.

The most entertaining aspect is of course the first-person immediacy; reading about events in Genesis's history from someone who was there, whereas until now Genesis fans have had to make do with third-person biographies (the most thorough being 2007's Chapter and Verse). But Rutherford's life is not only about the music. His father was a captain in the Royal Navy who saw action during World War Two. Interestingly, Rutherford junior draws parallels between his own career and his father's, so at the beginning of the book we get excerpts from Rutherford senior's unpublished memoirs as well.

This is a highly enjoyable literary device which, unfortunately, only lasts for around the first third of the book. Once Rutherford junior has joined Genesis, the emphasis is very much on the band, and the author proceeds chronologically through the Genesis discography until his father passes away in 1986, when Rutherford was in the middle of the Invisible Touch tour. Afterwards, he goes through Mike + The Mechanics very quickly, and 2007's Turn It On Again tour is also not dealt with in any depth.

I can't help feeling that this memoir should have been substantially longer. The literary device of using excerpts from his late father's unpublished memoirs was excellent, and should have been kept up throughout the whole book. In addition, I think Rutherford could have said a great deal more on how he created his music: we do get descriptions, especially of songs like The Living Years and Land of Confusion, but I finished this book wishing he'd spent several thousand more words going into a lot more depth. On the one hand, perhaps he feels there's not that much more to be said, but on the other I think a lot of people are very interested and would have appreciated a greater creative analysis. Certainly a missed opportunity.

Also, on my Kindle version there were around fifteen significant typographical issues: a few repeated words, a number of words which ran together, and - unforgivably for a traditionally published book - two instances of "less" which should have been "fewer". However, these mistakes did not spoil my enjoyment of the book, and I point them out only because, as a traditionally published book, potential readers are being asked to pay top money for it.

In summary: absolutely a must-read for serious Genesis fans, it's like having a private interview with Rutherford; some parts are surprisingly personal and more revealing than information in previous Genesis biographies. It is a joy to read about events in Genesis's history from Rutherford's own perspective. For the casual fan, there is still much to enjoy, and this is a wonderful insight into the evolution of the greatest rock band in the world. The only drawback is the book's brevity - it could have, and really should have, been quite a bit longer than it is.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential for any Genesis fan, 20 Feb 2014
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Rick the Rad (Buckinghamshire, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Living Years (Hardcover)
Illuminating biography which highlights some personal details that were previously unknown to me. As a serious Genesis fan this was a wonderful read.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting, but sketchy, examination of generational differences, 10 Feb 2014
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Steven Aldous (Bury, Lancs United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Living Years (Hardcover)
Being a huge fan of Genesis I read this book very quickly. Whilst I found the parallels of Mike's life with that of his father an interesting and at times moving chronicle, I would have liked more detail and reflection on his musical career. Whilst the early Genesis career is covered in some detail, there are still gaps in the story. The later career is glossed over fairly quickly. Mike is such a likeable guy with a very balanced view of life that the book is unsurprising. We know Mike, Phil and Tony are still very close and as such we don't expect there to be any bombshells, but I would have liked a little more of Mike's assessment of their musical output than we get here. But, to be fair, I don't think that is what Mike intended with this book. It is essentially a collection of anecdotes in the frame of a cross-generational comparison fueled by the desire to give a voice to his father. The stark comparisons of a disciplined naval career and an exploratory and creative music career gives the book its purpose. As such it is entertaining, highly readable and at times poignant. But for those, like myself, looking for more insight into the Genesis machine, they may have to wait for Phil's oft-promised biography.
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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Stiff upper lip leads to stiff autobiography, 2 Feb 2014
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Philtrum (United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Living Years (Hardcover)
With Tony Banks (keyboards), Rutherford (bass and guitar) is one of the two musicians to have been in the (progressive) rock band Genesis since its inception in the late 1960s. There have been numerous books written about Genesis and its most high profile members (Peter Gabriel and Phil Collins) but this is the first autobiography to have been published.

The son of a Royal Navy Captain, Rutherford was born in 1950. He went to boarding school from a young age and it was at Charterhouse that he met the other founding members of Genesis. Though critically acclaimed (to a degree) and attracting a loyal fan-base, it wasn’t until after Gabriel and (guitarist) Steve Hackett left, leaving the band reduced to a three-piece (Banks, Rutherford & Collins) in 1978, that Genesis became the globe-straddling, 1980s-dominating behemoth that most people born before 1970 will know (and, often, either love or hate!)

Rutherford uses the father/son device interestingly in the book. After his father died in 1986, Rutherford found his father’s diaries, relating not just to his naval career but also reflection on his life in industry after leaving the navy and on his son’s career as a professional musician.

Rutherford had a parallel career with Mike & The Mechanics. One of their biggest hits was ‘The Living Years’ (1989) which addresses a son's regret over unresolved conflict with his now-deceased father.

Rutherford includes multiple extracts from his father’s diaries throughout the book and repeatedly expresses regret that the relationship with his father wasn’t deeper or warmer than it was.

Received wisdom over the years has been that Banks and Rutherford were typical public school boys – stiff upper lips, reserved, not in touch with their emotions. Rutherford acknowledges this, and confirms it, but doesn’t really give the impression that he wishes it was otherwise.

If you’re not a Genesis fan I cannot think of a single reason you might want to read this book. If you’re after sordid details of the rock star life, you won’t find them here.

If you are a Genesis fan then, sadly, there’s still not much new here. Yes, sure, it’s the first book by a proper ‘insider’ but, really, it just confirms what we already knew.

The only really new information is just not that fascinating. He’s a bit late for a gig so needs a police escort to the venue! The limousine taking his wife to the airport breaks down so she has to hitch a ride! He forgets about a ‘stash’ in his bag and is searched by the police! He has to stay out of the UK for a year for tax purposes and it puts a bit of a strain on him and his family!

What I was hoping to learn was much more information about the departures of (a) Gabriel in 1975 and (b) Hackett in 1977. Rutherford says little, other than that the departing members just said: “OK, I’m off.” I suppose it’s all in keeping with that British Public School Stiff Upper Lip ™.

And I would have liked a lot more information on the writing/recording process. How, exactly, did they come up with the words and lyrics that have stuck with many of us for decades? Other than learning that they argued a lot – when they wrote the good stuff – and that they just jammed and the songs appeared as if by magic – the boring 80s stuff – we find out very little.

But that’s the great conundrum for a fan (like me) who was moved by the music of Genesis as a teenager and who still, nearly 40 years later, still finds much to enjoy in the Gabriel/Hackett-era (1970-1977) recordings. How could a group of young men (who went on to later produce such relatively anodyne music) produce such a powerful body of work? It must have been the chemistry, man.

Thus, if you’ve never heard of Mike Rutherford, you’ve absolutely no reason to read this, and if you have heard of him, you’ll learn little more should you decide to pick it up.

Perhaps Mike’s had a little too much marijuana over the years. He’s just a little too laid back, even now. A poke with a sharp stick might be in order… for all the (ex) member of Genesis – they’re all still alive, and that’s saying something – so they can get off their country gent backsides and gives the fans what they deserve for a lifetime of support. A Gabriel/Genesis reunion tour 2015? Fingers crossed.

4/10
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A great read for all Genesis/Gabriel fans, 30 April 2014
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This review is from: The Living Years (Kindle Edition)
Well written, humorous and moving, this enjoyable book gives a great insight into Mike's exciting life and his time with Genesis and Mike & The Mechanics. It is no surprise that he has ended up as one of the wealthiest men in England and what I find so pleasing is that his family is the most important thing in his life.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Essential, but ultimately disappointing, 1 April 2014
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Dave (London, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Living Years (Hardcover)
As a Genesis fan for 35 years I had to get this book and I enjoyed the behind the scenes info on the band and the music but there just wasn't enough of it. I enjoyed all the details about the early years but then it seemed the typical scenario occurred: deadlines loom, author gets slightly bored with the whole thing (Mike hardly needs the money) and it starts to rush, then the last 30 years are covered at a pace and whole albums get one or 2 lines. I wanted much more detail about the music but Mike seems bored with his own canon. Only Genesis fans will want this book after all, and we want detail! The premise of the book was interesting but again this peters out from about halfway through. It was as though the book started off twice as long but some editor got rid of 70% of the second half of it. This is ultimately a good review as I really enjoyed reading it but was just sad when it ended so soon and with the later years covered in a massive hurry. However for the price of 3 beers, you get great value really and I really enjoyed it, so BUY! 4 stars only because of shortness of the book. Dave
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Mike Rutherford, 18 Mar 2014
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This review is from: The Living Years (Kindle Edition)
I thoroughly enjoyed reading the life of Mike, it is very enlightening and seems to live up to expectations. Good read
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Moving and Amusing, 3 Mar 2014
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This review is from: The Living Years (Hardcover)
Amusing and well written and an interesting approach compared with the usual autobiography. A good story to tell. Well worth reading.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars From Dad to Genesis, 26 Feb 2014
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This review is from: The Living Years (Hardcover)
Whilst I thoroughly enjoyed the band history and reading about the circumstances surrounding member changes and recording over the years I struggled with Rutherford's concept of juxtaposing his father's anecdotes and memories with those of his own. As described in the lyrics of the classic 'The Living Years' the relationship with his father was somewhat distant (if respectful) , whereas the relationship with his Genesis cohorts was a lot closer. Perhaps the two stories should have been told in different books.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great bass pedal solo., 16 Feb 2014
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This review is from: The Living Years (Hardcover)
Hi there,
A delightful reading with a very good English Tea, in the afternoon.
And even a greater one with a glass of Southern Comfort, on the rocks, at night.

I was always amazed by MIke's 12 string playing. A great bass pedal soloist, with an even greater groove on the bass guitar.
MIke's playing is as key to Genesis sound as George Harrison's to the Beatles.

I have always been amazed by the Englishness of Mike's look, and I really fully understood his contribution to Genesis sound, by seen Sebastien, of "The Musical Box" playing. Genesis was a "live band", and MIke's contribution to the sound of it, can be fully understood by, either having seen him play live (lucky those of you who saw him in 73 at the Roxy's), or nowadays by seeing "The Musical Box".

The book is very well written, it just flows, it takes you back to "The Maltings", to the "Marquee", to the wonderful "London" of the seventies.
My surprise is that, however his upper level education, Mike was a true "hippie", in all the sense of the word.

If you are a Genesis follower, this is a must. If you like music, this is a "must", if you like to read a good book, this is a wonderful written testimony of a great period of creativity and freedom.

A great book!.

G, Hou, TX, US.
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The Living Years
The Living Years by Mike Rutherford (Hardcover - 23 Jan 2014)
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