Thanks. Yeah, genre snobbery is dumb. There isn't a single extant genre I can think of where I don't enjoy at least some of the music, apart from probably some really small genres where I haven't heard much. Which would mostly be because I haven't explored them much (there's too much music out there, dammit). And yes, the energy on tracks like that is superb. And really, have people who complained about the alleged "lack of energy" in prog listened to anything by Rush? Or Yes' "Machine Messiah" or the Yessongs version of "The Fish"? Or just about any album by King Crimson from the '60s or '70s? I could go on. Most of these bands produced incendiary work. I haven't gotten into too much neo-prog either, but I haven't really explored much of it. I like Marillion but that's pretty much the extent of my exploration of the genre. (And Marillion has the same kind of Fish/Hogarth arguments that Genesis has with Gabriel vs. Collins, which I find equally unsupportable in Marillion's case).
(I did!) I hope that fake prog/punk rivalry is dying—is there anyone in this shoutbox that doesn't enjoy punk? And vice versa on punk pages. I think "energy" is another thing some punk purists claim to have a hold on, but a quick listen to Back in NYC, the ends of The Knife or The Musical Box would quiet that up. Prog can hold furniture-upturning instrument-smashing energy as well as any other genre even though it has flutes and organ solos. (My favorite example to show people of a band straddling the prog/punk line is still Cardiacs though.) Thank God Genesis or its members didn't try remaking Selling England for the rest of their careers. Genesis was smart to let their prog highlights stand by themselves and not get dragged down by decades of sad rehashes with aging vocal chords and less inspired playing. As much as I like classic prog that's part of the reason I struggle with neo-prog bands—too many of them sound like spot-on Genesis parodies. (I'm open to recommendations though!)
One can certainly debate whether these songs are as *good* as the Phillips- and Hackett-era material. I personally think that Selling England will never be topped - not just by Genesis, but by any prog band ever. There are only a handful of other albums I would even bother mentioning in the same breath in terms of quality. But complaining that Genesis never topped Selling England is like complaining that My Bloody Valentine will never top Loveless, or that Captain Beefheart never topped Trout Mask Replica, or that Sonic Youth never topped Daydream Nation, or that Opeth never topped Blackwater Park, or Gorguts will never top Obscura, or blah blah blah. You get the point. When a band releases a genre-defining masterpiece, it's a bit looking a gift horse in the mouth to criticise them for never surpassing it.
To conclude this lengthy and often off-topic rambling response I'm just going to note that the idea that Genesis ever abandoned prog is also unsupported. If anything, they shifted styles from what Prog Archives refers to as "Symphonic Prog" to what Prog Archives refers to as "Crossover Prog", but they always included at least two prog songs on every album. Duke is half concept album and features a hidden suite that runs for twenty-eight minutes, which the band often performed live. Abacab has the title track and "Dodo/Lurker". Genesis has the album version of "Mama" and "Home by the Sea"/"Second Home by the Sea". Invisible Touch has the album version of "Tonight, Tonight, Tonight", "Domino", and "The Brazilian". We Can't Dance has the album version of "No Son of Mine", "Dreaming While You Sleep", "Driving the Last Spike", and "Fading Lights". Certainly, these aren't as instrumentally or harmonically complex as the Hackett-era material. But they are far from three-chord pop, either.
As for what this has to do with Genesis - well. It all comes back to historical revisionism. It's generally thought that prog was "safe" and "middle class" and didn't have any political leanings, but this too is obviously false. "Get 'Em Out by Friday" is an entertaining science fiction parable that also provides clear condemnation of rent-seeking and other egregious behaviour by landlords. Twenty years later, "Driving the Last Spike" is a historical account of the abuses of labour involved in building the British railroads. There are certainly other examples in between and on either end of those tracks as well. Genesis didn't go barking out slogans like some of the more visceral punk bands, but the idea that they were comfortable lying back and thinking of England has little connection to their actual music.
Anyway, I'm mostly rambling but the point is that punk and prog weren't as diametrically opposed as rock critics want people to think there was. It makes for a nice story, but the fact is that critics always hated prog more than punks did and are mostly trying to impose their own aesthetic leanings on rock history when in many cases it's pure projection. A lot of the best prog bands of the past twenty years have developed some of the most interesting elements of their sound by combining prog influence with punk (The Mars Volta are the most obvious example of this) and that's not even getting into the case of progressive metal and its various offshoots, which often feature even more overt punk influence. (Listen to ...And Justice for All by Metallica or Rust in Peace by Megadeth - not generally thought of prog records, but a careful listen will lead one to wonder why that is. Plenty of obvious punk influence on both those records, but they're both unmistakably prog as well).
I definitely agree with the comments below about the myth that punk rockers couldn’t play their instruments being mere historical revisionism. Sloppy musicianship was the exception rather than the rule on most of these albums; even bands like Crass that cared as much about their politics as their music generally featured quite competent musicianship on their recordings (listen to Penis Envy for the best example), and on cases where it wasn't, it was clearly for an artistic purpose. That's not even getting into bands like Dead Kennedys, the Clash, and Hüsker Dü who featured some absolutely stellar musicianship on their records. The idea that there was a huge rivalry with progressive rock is also more myth than fact. Johnny Rotten wore an "I Hate Pink Floyd" shirt, but the irony was that of course he didn't; he was just wearing it to troll people. He was a major fan of bands like Van der Graaf Generator, Can, and Magma and this is an obvious influence on his work with Public Image Ltd.
I'm just sad that fans are here so, they are like they can't find beauty in all eras, just because they don't want to. I don't say it's for everyone, but words like "The last album worth listening to" (in Wind & Wuthering album comments) hurts me a lot. I love "Firth of Fifth", for example, but there is so much beautiful things even in trio era and Ray Wilson era.
My favorite genesis albums atm are Nursery cryme, foxtrot and A trick of the tail, but that changes every week, so i could not pick a favorite album. Im really digging some of the tracks on 'and then there were three' Burning rope is epic
For me it's all about Nursery Cryme and up to (counting with) Duke. The albums after that are not favorites of mine, but there are songs on each album I like listening to; Dodo / Lurker, Home By The Sea / Second Home By The Sea, Domino, Driving The Last Spike and Fading Lights.
Selling England, the Lamb Lies Down on Broadway and Foxtrot are great. I would also add A Trick of the Tail to the list of must haves.
I have no issue with the pop stuff that came starting with Duke. When you compare to the pop coming out these days, it is still lights away better constructed and interesting, and they have a couple of great rockers with Abacab and Turn it On Again.
can't help but laugh at the top tracks consisting solely of their grossest music. not a surprise at all. i think King Crimson was probably the only major "progressive rock" band to react favorably to the advent of punk. though that may not be a completely fair statement, considering it was a completely different band in the 80s. then again, one might say the same for Genesis, and in a way, that might be true as well.