Genesis (US)


Band members                             Related acts

  line up 1 (1967)

- Kent Henry -- lead guitar

- Bob "Crusher" Metke -- drums, percussion

- Mike Port -- bass

- Jack Ttanna (aka Joe Koohen) -- vocals, rhythm guitar

- Sue Richman -- vocals

 

  line up 2 (1968)

- Kent Henry -- lead guitar

- Bob "Crusher" Metke -- drums, percussion

NEW - Fred "Foxey" Rivera -- bass (replaced Mike Port)

- Jack Ttanna (aka Joe Koohen) -- vocals, rhythm guitar

- Sue Richman -- vocals

 

  line up 3 (1968-69)

- Jimmy Chappell -- bass (replaced Fred Rivera) (1968)

- Kent Henry -- lead guitar

- Bob "Crusher" Metke -- drums, percussion

- Jack Ttanna (aka Joe Koohen) -- vocals, rhythm guitar

- Sue Richman -- vocals


 

 

- Charity (Kent Henry)

- Fender IV  (Jac Ttanna)

- Pacific Ocean (Kent Henry and Fred Rivera)

- The Sons of Adam (Jac Ttanna)

- Steppenwolf (Kent Henry)

- The Thieves (Sue Richman)

 

 

 

Genre: psych

Rating: **** (4 stars)

Title:  In the Beginning

Company: Mercury

Catalog: SR 61775

Year: 1968

Country/State: Los Angeles, California

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: --

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 1053

Price: $90.00

 

Here's an outfit I'd like to know more about ...   To be honest, It took me years to find anything more than biographical tidbits on the group.   I knew guitarist Jac Ttanna had been a member of the L.A.-based Fender IV and The Sons of Adam (he played under his given name Joe Kooken) and that was about it.   Luckily I found Ttanna's website where he talked a bit about the band.  Hopefully he'll be okay with me borrowing those reflections:

 

The Sons of Adam broke up for good in June of 1967.  I spent most of that summer writing songs and looking for kindred spirits.  I met Sue Richmond around the middle of July.  She was beautiful and really talented.  We worked up a few songs, and when we played them for Mike Port, he saw that we were on to something and joined immediately.  

About a month later I found Kent Henry and Bob Metke around the same time in different bars playing in different bands.  Kent was playing guitar with Eddie James and the Pacific Ocean.  Eddie was a great showman, but the band was going nowhere.  Eddie eventually turned to acting and became very successful as Edward James Olmos.  Bob was the drummer in a band called Rain...also a pretty
good band, but it was obvious that Kent and Bob were both way better than their bands, and both were ready to move on.  Both these guys blew me away.  Kent was knowledgeable in almost every form of music, and a technical monster.  Bob was the funkiest drummer I'd ever seen, and also a great singer. I knew we were going to be very good.  Mike Port, for some reason, didn't see it that way,
and left.  Kent's best friend, Fred Rivera, was the bass player in the Pacific Ocean.  He was eager to keep playing with Kent, and, with the addition of "Foxey" Freddy, Genesis was born.  The premise of the group was to incorporate great songs and great harmonies with a really creative power trio.  It worked!

The band only lasted a couple of years, pulled apart by numerous internal struggles, but, during that time, we played some very strong shows, and made some great music. 
I've included a link to his website below.

 

 

Mercury Records promo photo, left to right:   

Bob Metke - Kent Henry - Sue Richman - "Foxey" Freddy Rivera - Jac Ttanna


As for my impressions of their sole album; well 1968's "In the Beginning" is nothing less than great. Yeah, it was a bit too diverse for the band's own good, including stabs at folk rock, sensitive singer/songwriter faire, as well as pop, and hard rock, but at it's best ('Angeline'), the album bore a nice comparison to the Jefferson Airplane, though without the Airplane's penchant for needless hippy excesses.  Musically the set offered up a mixture of hard rock (the opener 'Angelina'), folk-rock ('Gloomy Sunday') and California-styled mid-1960s' psych (the fuzz guitar drenched 'What's It All About').  As exemplified by a nice cover of Leonard Cohen's 'Suzanne', Richman and Ttanna had great voices that blended well and were effortlessly capable of handling the album's different genres. Personal favorite - Henry's meltdown performance on the extended closer 'World without You'.  

 

"In the Beginning" track listing:

(side 1)

1.) Angeline   (Jack Ttanna - Bob Metke) - 2:48

Imagine the kind of focused psych/hard rock tune that the Airplane always wanted to record, but could never sober up long enough to generate.  Excellent track that served to showcase Sue Richman and Jac Ttanna's wonderful vocals (they beat Grace Slick and Marty Balin to shreds), and Kent Henry's screaming, fuzz lead guitar.  Mercury quickly tapped the track as a single.   rating: **** stars

2.) Suzanne   (Leonard Cohen) - 

I have no problem with their "rocked up" version of the Leonard Cohen classic.  I'd argue it's actually one of the better covers out there (and there are hundreds) underscoring the group's strong ensemble playing and the nice interplay between  Richman and Ttanna.  That said, I can't say I've ever particularly liked the song.   rating: *** stars

3.) Gloomy Sunday   (Sam. M. Lewes - Rezso Seress) - 4:05

Interesting choice for a cover - written back in the early-'30s by Hungarian pianist and composer Rezso Seress, the song attracted notoriety when it was linked to a rash of suicides. Americans who've heard the tune are probably familiar with the Paul Robeson, or Billie Holiday versions.  No idea how these guys stumbled across the tune, but their cover was surprisingly good.  Surrounding Richman's little girl voice with acoustic guitars and a tasteful Baroque tinged arrangement somehow turned the tune into a surprisingly commercial slice of angst and despair.  Wonder if Mercury realized the tune was about someone contemplation suicide when they released it as a single ?     (I believe Rezso committed suicide himself in the late-'60s.)     rating: **** stars

4.) What's It All About   (Jac Ttanna) - 2:45

I'm a sucker for thick sustained fuzz so 'What's It All About' captured my attention from the get go.   Imagine The Lovin' Spoonful actually recording a hard rock tune and you'd get a feel for what this one sounded like.  Great tune.   rating: **** stars

5.) Mary, Mary   (B. Bennett) - 2:40

Ever wondered what folk rock would sound like with a massive dose of fuzz guitar ?  Well, 'Mary Mary' answers the question for you.   rating: *** stars

6.) Ten Second Song  (Kent Henry) - 2:58

Penned by guitarist Kent, 'Ten Second Song' served as a nice platform for showcasing Kent's vastly overlooked chops (he used the song as a literal primer showcasing different guitar styles), as well as Richman's sweet voice (she's always reminded me a bit of an American Sandy Denny).  In spite of the title, the song actually clocked in just under three minutes ...   My only complaint on this one stemmed from the abrupt fade out.   Kent sounded like he was just starting to warm up.    rating: **** stars

 

(side 2)

1.) Girl Who Never Was   (Jack Ttanna) - 4:04

The album's first major misstep, 'Girl Who Never Was' was a pretentious and plodding ballad made even duller by the absence of a decent melody and heavy orchestration that simply smothered everything.  rating: ** stars

2.) World Without You   (Jack Ttanna) - 16:08

Hard to imagine that Mercury Records executives were thrilled by the notion of an album with a sixteen minute track ... especially when it started out sounding like John Phillips and company hanging out with Quicksilver Messenger Service after ingesting a bit too much illicit recreational material.   Yeah, it was way too long, but anyone who doubted Kent was a first-rate guitarist as good as his better known West Coast cohorts, needs to check this tour-de-force performance out.   Easily the album's standout performance.   rating: **** stars

 

Elsewhere Mercury tapped the album for a pair of instantly obscure singles:

 

 

- 1968's 'Angelina' b/w 'Suzanne' (Mercury catalog number 72806)

- 1968's 'Gloomy Sunday' b/w 'What's It All About' (Mercury catalog number 72869)

 

 

Following the album's release, Rivera was drafted.  He was quickly replaced by Jimmy Chappell.  Unfortunately the album did little commercially and within a couple of months the band had called it quits.

 

In the wake of the band's breakup Henry played with The Blues Image, Charity, and was a member of a late-inning Steppenwolf lineup.  Suffering from Alzheimer's later in life, his health deteriorated and in 2009 he died from bowel problems.  There's a nice, if heartbreaking  remembrance of Kent at: http://www.imorial.com/kenthenry/

 

Following his military service Rivera hooked up with Delaney Bramblett, while Richman briefly sang with The Thieves.

 

For his part Ttanna remained active in music through the '70s, among other jobs, serving as a road manager for Canned Heat and working as a sessions player for producer Richard Perry.  He's also recorded some solo material and fronts The Jac Ttanna Band.   He has a small website at: 

http://jacttanna.com/index.html

 

 

Anyhow, the Genesis album is increasingly difficult to find and starting to attract attention among collectors, so grab a copy if the chance arises.

 

 

 

 

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