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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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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.

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Showing 1-1 of 1 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 20 May 2014 12:24:41 BDT
appley says:
Yes,I agree entirely.This book,whilst mildly interesting,is a bit of a yawn.Where are all the details of how Genesis was formed,named,discovered.Johnathan King is only mentioned in one sentence.Perhaps Phil Collins should write one.
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