Genesis was a long cry from the power pop band they would develop into by the decade’s conclusion in the early 1970s. Following the success of The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, Charterhouse School students Tony Banks, Mike Rutherford, Peter Gabriel, and Anthony Philips formed the band in 1967 with the goal of pushing the frontiers of art.
Genesis’ early lineup was able to attract just a little amount of attention, which was appropriate for such a daring band. When guitarist Steve Hackett and drummer Phil Collins were introduced, the bow only just started to turn. With the addition of these musicians, Genesis assumed the oddly approachable style that would dominate the prog-rock scene in the early 1970s.
The good ship Genesis was left in Collins’ capable hands when Gabriel left in 1974 and Hackett left in 1977. The drummer started singing lead and led the band in a more chart-oriented direction. Genesis’ eighth album overall and Collins’ least favorite was appropriately named…And Then There Were Three…, the first to be released with this slimmer configuration.
Collins acknowledged this in an interview for Genesis: 1975 to 2021 – The Phil Collins Years with Mario Giammetti. “This is probably my least favorite record. But maybe that’s just because it wasn’t a particularly happy period in my life. I contributed little bits. But the songs were kind of short, a little inconsequential.”
“I felt, apart from ‘Follow You Follow Me’, which I thought was great. I remember writing some lyrics for different things. But certainly not the kind of lyrics I would go on to write a couple of years later [on Genesis’s next album, Duke], which were much more personal.”
He added, “I suppose there are a couple of lyrics in there that I might have written based on personal experiences. But I was still writing some fantasy things, based on what the Genesis history was. As opposed to what I would become. I was always more direct, while Genesis were always more ’round the houses’ storytellers.”
In a different interview conducted for the box set Genesis 1976-1982, Collins talked about the album. It’s just another rung on the ladder, he continued, “It’s just another step on that ladder, you know, that made us a bigger band that we were before. Playing to more people, more interest, playing more on the radio. Suddenly a few girls in the audience. “
Collins went on to describe “Follow You Follow Me” as the album’s high point and expressed pride that one of his favorite modern bands had given it their seal of approval. “When Chester Thompson joined the live band playing drums, He claimed that song was frequently played on the Weather Report van.,” Collins remembered. “I thought: ‘All right! God, we’ve done something right. If Weather Report like it. If Wayne Shorter and Josef Zawinul often listen to this and say, ‘This English stuff is cool’. I thought we’ve done something right.'”