The Gods - Genesis (1968)

The Gods are a band that have gone down in any number of 'rock family trees' for housing Greg Lake, Mick Taylor but mainly future Uriah Heep members, Ken Hensley and Lee Kerslake. Though Lake and Taylor had moved on by the time of this, their debut, it's still revered by many psych/prog collectors, commanding huge prices on the 2nd hand vinyl market.

Musically, they were very derivative of Vanilla Fudge, particularly concerning the bombastic vocal harmonies and heavy musicianship, yet brought their own flavour to proceedings. Certainly, The Gods predictably have a very English sound at times; they are often much more polite than Vanilla Fudge, particularly with the slower numbers. This has made for some very, very dated songs indeed, but also some excellent ones that still sound innovative and enjoyable today. Being a huge Uriah Heep fan, it's interesting to hear the framework of the Heep sound way back in 1968 despite critics claiming Heep had been ripping off Deep Purple, when in fact technically The Gods had been around longer peddling this sort of music (The Gods had been around at least 2 years before this album).

'Towards The Skies' has some very psychedelic lyrics that are typical of the era, but compared to most music of the era, this is streets ahead. There are some wonderful and quite intricate harmonies on this song, amongst the crunching guitar work by Joe Konas and throbbing organ from Ken Hensley. Minus the psyched out lyrics, this is more or less exactly what Uriah Heep would be doing in their earlier stages.

'Candles Getting Shorter' is a melodramatic yet very enjoyable psych/soul song, with some dripping (and early use of) mellotron to accompany the lovely harmonies and very nice melody the song has. This sounds extremely dated today, but I really like this kind of music.

'You're My Life', though, is dated yet not in a good way. It has a rather corny, 'groovy baby' outmoded-ness to my 18 year old ears. This is exactly the kind of music that always gets parodied in those 60s spoof movies, with cheesy singing and lyrics.

'Looking Glass' is for many people the point where The Gods peaked. It's an entrancing slab of proto prog that's utterly hypnotic, with a powerful falsetto vocal by Ken Hensley and some of his finest Hammond organ work yet (check his gutsy solos out that are only a shade away from 'Gypsy'), plus an innovative arrangement from the rhythm section with John Glascock on bass and Lee Kerslake on drums.

'Misleading Colours' is in much the same vein- probably the heaviest song on the album, with some Hendrix style guitar riffs and organ work dripping with menace and some excellent vocals that deal with the cliched yet enjoyable lyrics admirably. One of my favourite songs The Gods recorded, and again predicts the sounds Uriah Heep would soon be making.

'Radio Show', however, does not- thankfully. It has that 60s spoof feel again, thanks to the cheesy brass arrangement and utterly out of time (probably even then) lyrical and vocal arrangements. The only saving grace of this song is a lovely mid section that has some vocal arrangements that remind me of a long forgotten 60s UK pop band called The Fortunes ('You've Got Your Troubles' or 'Here It Comes Again' ring any bells??), but other than that, this is laughable. It's somewhat ironic that the sound of this piece is akin to Cliff Bennett, who Ken Hensley would later record with under the Toe Fat moniker....

'Plastic Horizon' has an Eastern feel, thanks to the hypnotic, mysterious melody that is delivered by both organ and vocal harmonies. It has a rather typical proto prog flavour that means it's still got one foot in the psychedelic camp, but remains enjoyable.

'Farthing Man' again is quite dated, but has a charm about it that most of The Gods' better pop tunes possess. I always find their harmonies rather lovely to listen to, as are their melodies. Of course, we are miles away from rock, let alone prog, here, but I always like this kind of antiquated psych pop.

'I Never Know' is, alongside their wonderful cover of 'Maria', probably The Gods' most progressive, and best, moment. The mellotron is all over this superb song, and the harmonies and subtle guitar work are again first class. The closest reference point this time round is The Zombies; this song sounds both like a track from 'Oddesey and Oracle' (you must hear this album, trust me!!) but also a forerunner of Heep epics like 'Paradise'; the chord progressions are quite similar, in fact.

'Love and Eternity' is all too close to the first track here though, but is quite an effective way to end the album.

All in all, this is not a masterwork, but is still an enjoyable period piece that's worth having in your collection. Heep fans will be surprised at how much The Gods had of the trademark Heep sound. - Review by salmacis (James Jeffery)

Track Listings

1. Towards The Skies (3:24)
2. Candles Getting Shorter (4:28)
3. You're My Life (3:20)
4. Looking Glass (4:18)
5. Misleading Colours (3:38)
6. Radio Show (3:12)
7. Plastic Horizon (3:26)
8. Farthing Man (3:30)
9. I Never Know ((5:41)
10. Love And Eternity (2:41)
11. Baby's Rich* (2:45)
12. Somewhere In The Street* (2:47)
13. Hey Bulldog* (3:01)
14. Real Love Guaranteed* (2:29)

Total Time: 48:40

- Ken Hensley/ keyboards, vocals
- Joe Konas/ guitars, vocals
- John Glascock/ bass, vocals
- Lee Kerslake/ drums, vocals
Releases information

Originally released on Columbia in 1968
Released on CD on Repertoire in 1994; WP 4418 with 4 bonus tracks (noted with * in track listing)

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