If you listen to early Genesis, it’s all very light and feathery prog rock. “The Knife” is a sharp and angry pillar of protest amongst that sea of poetic musing.
It’s one of my favourite Genesis songs, and is unusual by any measure. The song has a distinctive organ riff, which gives the song a sense of urgency and sombreness. Peter Gabriel’s vocals (this was back when Phil Collins wasn’t in the band) are distorted and full of zeal, playing the part of a dictator seizing power and getting people to die for him.
The song builds up to the chaotic climax of violence, which is then followed by a slower part. That then leads to one of my favourite guitar sections of all time, from 5:56 to 7:05 on the recording I’ve posted here. The small part from 6:57 to 7:05 is such a magical musical moment for me. Fantastic.
The song was often divided into two parts and played as an encore, because the first and second halves of the song are quite different.
The track is from 1970’s Trespass, and was released as a single with one half of the song on each side of the 7″.