As this list of Genesis Solo Albums Ranked Worst to Best shows, projects recorded apart from one another allowed future stars like Peter Gabriel and Phil Collins to explore areas of their songcraft that might have gone forever undiscovered.

Certainly, a deeply personal theme emerged which was rarely there before — beginning with the initial Collins recordings of the early '80s and continuing through to Gabriel's confessional recordings in the following decade. At the same time, Steve Hackett was producing endlessly varied efforts that tested the boundaries of prog, while Mike Rutherford tended to strike a more pop-focused tone.

The following list of Genesis Solo Albums Ranked Worst to Best also takes in more idiosyncratic album releases by band co-founders Tony Banks and Anthony Phillips. They've tended to change from genre to genre like Gabriel used to switch on-stage outfits.

What's not here: Phillips' prolific Private Parts & Pieces series (which aren't commercial efforts so much as home recordings and odds-and-ends), various classical, remake, solo instrumental or live projects (Banks and Hackett has been particularly prolific in these areas), nor soundtrack and compilation albums (which Collins and Phillips have dabbled in extensively).

We also left off projects by touring members like Daryl Stuermer, as well as singer Ray Wilson – who only had a one-off tenure in the band.

53. The Fugitive (Tony Banks, 1983)

This is the only Tony Banks album in which he handled all of the lead vocals – and the reason for that quickly became clear.

52. Acting Very Strange (Mike Rutherford, 1981)


51. Cured (Steve Hackett, 1981)

Clearly already aware that this new decade would become a graveyard for proggers, Hackett took a early stab at pop sounds. Problem: He hadn't really developed an ear for it yet.

50. Invisible Men (Anthony Phillips, 1983)

Phillips tried out synth-pop too, with similar musical results. The difference: Pointed references to the Falklands War gave this duo project with Richard Scott a bit more complexity.

49. Let Me Fly (Mike [Rutherford] + the Mechanics, 2017)

Adding Andrew Roachford – along with co-lead vocalist Tim Howar – prior to 2011's The Road seemed like it might open up entirely new avenues, giving Mike + the Mechanics a chance to get much deeper into their nascent, Paul Carrack-era R&B roots. Instead, they returned with a too-safe project, losing their nerve – if not the band's commercial momentum. U.K. fans made Let Me Fly their first Top 10 album since 1995's gold-selling Beggar on a Beach of Gold, but that speaks more to this project's sleek, totally safe modernity. The second album from Mike + the Mechanics' imaginatively rebuilt new lineup should have made a much bigger artistic leap.

48. Till We Have Faces (Steve Hackett, 1984)

A jarring lack of cohesion left this feeling like a hastily assembled compilation, when it wasn't. Including not one but two updates of film songs (the title track from Steven Speilberg's The Duel and Disney's "When You Wish Upon a Star") didn't help, either. Though Hackett occasionally incorporated a few stabilizing Brazilian touches, Till We Have Faces was simply too all over the place.

47. 1984 (Anthony Phillips, 1981)

This Larry Fast-ish concept album found Phillips trading in his guitar for Polymoog and ARP 2600 synths, and drums for a machine-based rhythms. The results are, to be fair, more interesting than his typically conservative solo-acoustic projects, but this musical approach is now hopelessly dated. Also, it's not about 1984 at all.

46. Guitar Noir (Steve Hackett, 1983)

This title still plays like some kind of joke. In fact, Guitar Noir confirmed a turn toward GTR-style prog pop, as Hackett began stripping away the dark, off-kilter intrigue that had thus far defined his guitar sound. Far from being particularly "noir," it's actually at times almost sickly sweet.

45. The Road (Mike [Rutherford] + the Mechanics, 2011)

Mike + the Mechanics were always a fluid amalgam so, in a way, another new lineup came as no surprise. But adding Andrew Roachford, who had a late-'80s R&B-inflected hit with "Cuddly Toy"? An intriguing, left-field move. (Tim Howar, a more conventional vocalist, replaced Paul Young on concert favorites like "All I Need Is a Miracle.") Most of this Mike Rutherford side project's familiar foundational elements remained, including approachable keyboards and reliably snug guitar solos. The potential for deep-soul tack pointed to an entirely new era, one not yet realized but far more intriguing than anything they'd done in a while.

44. Wild Orchids (Steve Hackett, 2006)

Returning to progressive sounds after another classical detour on 2005's Metamorpheus, Hackett once again went into jack-of-all-trades mode. The special-edition actually ballooned to 17 tracks – and the results were stereotypically excessive. That included, but was not limited to, forays into spoken-word narration, a too-lengthy bluesy aside, King Crimson-esque math rock and (for some crazy reason) a strings-laden Bob Dylan cover.

43. Mike & the Mechanics (Mike [Rutherford] + the Mechanics, 1999)

Sometimes referred to as M6, since Rutherford's group had already released a self-titled LP, this album actually has moments when it sounds nothing like Mike + the Mechanics. To the degree that their familiar mix of adult-contemporary and pop songs had become somewhat shopworn, that's a good thing. Unfortunately, they chose to delve into then-hot genre of electronica, a sound that became almost instantly passe.

42. Gypsy Suite (Anthony Phillips, 1995)

Through this would appear to be a return to work with Harry Williamson, the sessions for Gypsy Suite actually predated their 1975 soundtrack for Tarka. Begun in 1971 as meditation on gypsy culture, this earlier album remained vaulted for years. Phillips' reservations were warranted; their second collaboration on the similarly long-delayed Tarka was actually far more focused.

41. Rewired (Mike [Rutherford] + the Mechanics, 2004)

Though it certainly would have sounded better stripped of some of its techno-sheen, Rewired arrived as a surprisingly even-keeled project after a period of upheaval. Co-lead vocalist Paul Young had died of a sudden heart attack a few years before, leaving the future of Mike + the Mechanics very much in doubt. The ever-soulful Paul Carrack ended up becoming a stabilizing presence, and ultimately received a well-deserved shared billing on this album. Nothing earth shattering, but nothing embarrassing, either.

40. Testify (Phil Collins, 2002)

Collins brought back the drum machines that dominated No Jacket Required, but not that album's chart magic. He tried stirring in bits of next-gen electronica, but more often backslid into the adult-contemporary sound of his then-recent soundtrack work. Nothing seemed to fall into place on this project, which – perhaps unsurprisingly – stands as Collins' last album of original work to date.

39. Still (Tony Banks, 1991)

Searching for a sound that would appeal to the general listening public, Banks turned to a small army of special-guest collaborators – including Fish of Marillion, Andy Taylor from Duran Duran, Nik Kershaw, Luis Jardim of Frankie Goes to Hollywood and Jayney Klimek, the latter of whom was also part of Banks' former Bankstatement band. The results are only OK. Still ended up sounding like what it is: A dinner-party record, peopled with strangers trying their best to sound interesting.

38. GTR (GTR, featuring Steve Hackett, 1985)

Though often labeled one of rock's most hated albums, the self-titled debut of this supergroup recording with Steve Howe was really more the victim of overhype. They actually populated GTR with very serviceable middle-of-the-road prog-pop. It's certainly no worse (or, to be fair, better) than what contemporaries like Asia, the Moody Blues or Yes were up to at the time. Hackett apparently thought so, too: He reclaimed GTR's "When the Heart Rules the Mind" as a solo track in early 2018.

37. Beggar on a Beach of Gold (Mike [Rutherford] + the Mechanics, 1995)

Rutherford tried a more open-ended approach to writing this album, adding under-utilized ace Paul Carrack into a creative mix that had always included B.A. and Christopher Neil – and it paid off. Mike + the Mechanics still couldn't re-capture the mainstream audience of their first two albums, but they at least sounded like they were having a little more fun.

36. Highly Strung (Steve Hackett, 1983)

Hackett's best pop-leaning '80s album, Highly Strung didn't just nick the gated-drum sound former bandmates Peter Gabriel and Phil Collins were then using with great success. He framed this entire album around it. That consistency of sound and focus led to his most well balanced mixture of progressive rock and MTV-era pop, very much on par with what Yes was doing with 90125. Hackett was rewarded with his only charting U.K. solo single, "Cell 151."

35. Dance Into the Light, (Phil Collins, 1996)

Though it included some of the world-music elements that had propelled Gabriel's solo career, Dance Into the Light didn't have the same gravitas. Still, Collins tried to make a go of it on his first album after officially leaving Genesis, releasing six singles. None of them, however, reached the Top 40 – a first for Collins as a solo artist.

34.Word of Mouth (Mike [Rutherford] + the Mechanics, 1991)

This album suffered because of top-heavy sequencing, as its best songs came first. Elsewhere, they risk going over the top with the adult-contemporary balladry, and Word of Mouth kinda ends with a thud. But there are also moments when it convincingly rocks – thanks, in no small way, to a punchier approach after the sleek production style of their first two studio projects.

33. Darktown (Steve Hackett, 1999)

Unlike Guitar Noir, this one was actually perfectly named. Darktown was, quite simply, the bleakest, most haunted rumination of Hackett's lengthy career. It was also far more musically diverse, from the instrumentation to the guitarist's free-flowing approach to the compositions themselves. Songs unspool in this inky twilight, and things occasionally get creepy, indeed.

32. Wolflight (Steve Hackett, 2015)

Hackett's Genesis Revisited II project clearly had a direct impact on his first solo album in four years. Wolflight had to be recorded in between those shows, and that seemed to have dilated Hackett's fertile imagination. Re-engaging with songs from 1971-77 also must have convinced Hackett that he had a license to long-form thoughts again, too. Wolflight was at its best when he took more Genesis-like lengths of time to let those narratives unfold.

31. Bankstatement (Tony Banks, 1989)

At its best, Bankstatement is a sturdy piece of pop craftsmanship. At its worst, the album is crushingly boring. Thankfully, it's more often the former rather than the latter. Credit goes to Banks, who took center stage, but also blame – since he never really settled on a lineup. Alistar Gordon and Jayney Kilmek are up front on vocals, but (as with Mike + the Mechanics' debut) Bankstatement is a group album in name only. Banks probably should have allowed more input from co-producer Steve Hillage of Gong.

30. To Watch the Storms (Steve Hackett, 2003)

Always encyclopedic, Hackett stirred in elements of new age, world music and jazz here, without losing the essential prog thread that runs through his best albums. ("Mechanical Bride," for instance, remains one of his most convincing rockers.) At this point, the lineup of Hackett's regular band had stabilized for the first time in forever, and their musical camaraderie adds fire and grace to the proceedings.

29. Slow Dance (Anthony Phillips, 1990)

A return to full-scale music-making after a decade spent largely on his more personal Private Parts & Pieces series, the Camel-like Slow Dance found Phillips flexing little-used muscles like he'd never quit. "Going from guitar projects to keyboard-based ones, small-scale intimate works to large, dramatic ones, this keeps you fresh," Phillips once said, "and stops you getting bored or stale." It certainly worked in this instance, as the guitarist-turned-keyboardist framed heady new thoughts in a stirring orchestral setting.

28. The Night Siren (Steve Hackett, 2015)

Hackett's modern-era recordings often deftly combine his bedrock Genesis-era progressive leanings with rousing world music elements, and this one was no different. Middle Eastern, South American and Irish instruments added new complexity, even as they provided exotic new landscapes for Hackett to musically traverse. If there was a complaint to be made, it was that he's done this – and done it so well – for such a lengthy period that The Night Siren could come off a bit rote.

27. Wise After the Event (Anthony Phillips, 1978)

This was the first Phillips solo album where he handled all of the lead vocals, but unlike similar efforts by former bandmates Tony Banks and Mike Rutherford, Wise After the Event largely works. Phillips sounds far more confident than he did on the long-gestating Geese & the Ghost. He relies a bit too much on balladry, however, leaving this sophomore release with less edge than his celebrated debut.

26. Smallcreep's Day (Mike Rutherford, 1980)

It doesn't get any more stereotypically prog than this: an album based the only novel ever written by Peter Currell Brown, which follows long-time assembly-line worker Pinquean Smallcreep's journey of self-discovery. And one side-long song to start, of course.

25. Sides (Anthony Phillips, 1979)

Sides has great songs and great personnel – former King Crimson members Mel Collins and Michael Giles return, after also appearing on 1978's Wise After the Event – but it's not often mentioned among Phillips' very best albums. Reason: The original pressings – perhaps at his label's behest? – placed all of Phillips' short songs on Side 1 and the lengthier, more traditionally progressive tracks on Side 2. If you take advantage of the playlist age and mix them up, this project unfolds like the tour de force it always was.

24. Peter Gabriel I ["Car"] (Peter Gabriel, 1977)

Gabriel's first solo album was clearly aimed at making a Big Artistic Statement. Instead, it's all a bit confounding and, by the end, simply overwrought. He's predictably stronger when working within arty ("Moribund the Burgermeister," "Here Comes the Flood") and straight-ahead rock ("Modern Love") templates. But there's also a lengthy misadventure in the blues and – wait, what? – some barbershop quartet-style vocalizing. Ultimately, "Solsbury Hill," a not-very-fond goodbye wave to Genesis, sets a stage that's never fully lit.

23. Defector (Steve Hackett, 1980)

Hackett established a regular working group during a tour in support of 1978's Please Don’t Touch, and then his own sound. He subsequently used the same band for Spectral Mornings to great effect. In keeping, expectations were high for Defector, which became a Top 10 U.K. hit – Hackett's best-ever showing. This isn't his best-ever album, however, principally because not much changes on the good-but-not-great Defector.

22. Up (Peter Gabriel, 2002)

Ten years later, Gabriel was still absorbed in the themes of death and decay that surrounded 1992's Us. The similarly titled Up kept the lengthy song styles, a same core group of Tony Levin, David Rhodes and Manu Katche – and the penchant for plunking a weirdly jaunty, radio-directed single right in the middle of an otherwise ruminative record. Lavish, incredible detailed and darkly complex, Up sounds like an album that took a decade to construct – in good way and, sometimes, in a bad way.

21. Strictly Inc (Tony Banks with Jack Hues, 1995)

Faced with a fan base that clearly wanted Tony Banks to sound more like Genesis, he belatedly complied. Together with Genesis touring guitarist Daryl Stuermer and former Phil Collins bassist Nathan East, Banks reanimated many of his old band's most-beloved sounds – from the spry pop of "Strictly Incognito" to the suitably epic "Island in the Darkness." By adding Wang Chung frontman Jack Hues, Banks also fixed one of his solo career's most glaring errors: the lack of a credible singer. Alas, it was all too little, too late. By this point, even Genesis themselves couldn't have willed this onto the charts.

20. A Life Within a Day (Steve Hackett and Chris Squire, 2012)

The best part about A Life Within a Day was the way it combined the sensibilities of Yes and Genesis without getting bound up in their pasts. Working with Hackett suited Squire. Take a spin through Squackett's lone full-length collaboration, and their chosen band name — kind of goofy, almost like a lark — suddenly started making perfect sense. Squackett, quite frankly, made Squire's recent work with Yes sound pent-up, like a terse response rather than a statement of purpose. Hackett career was primed for a dose of this album's sense of free-wheeling fun, too.

19. Both Sides (Phil Collins, 1993)

Conceived in much the same way as his first two solo records, the steadfastly ruminative Both Sides is Collins' most direct album not named Face Value. He took an even more personal role in creating this music, playing every instrument. Sales were considered disappointing at the time – Both Sides "only" went platinum – but those million or so people stumbled into one of Collins' more starkly compelling albums.

18. A Curious Feeling (Tony Banks, 1979)

If ...And Then There Were Three... had been expanded into a double album, this could be Disc 2. Banks even bridged the two projects with "From the Undertow," which had been earmarked for that 1977 Genesis project at one point. The musical tone was the same too, as A Curious Feeling likewise showcased the keyboardist's art-rock bonafides but in a setting so minimalistic that there simply isn't room for too much noodling. All of that helped Banks to his best-ever chart showing: A Curious Feeling just missed the U.K. Top 20.

17. Living Years (Mike [Rutherford] + the Mechanics, 1988)

Paul Carrack's heralded vocal turn on the chart-topping title track provided a towering tentpole for Mike + the Mechanics' sophomore release. Maybe, actually, too towering. Everything else tended to pale in its shadow, which was unfair to the album. "Poor Boy Down" and "Why Me?" expertly traverse a by-then-familiar prog-pop landscape Rutherford helped establish in his day job, and Carrack's presence adds a touch of soulfulness that's typically absent in that genre. They shouldn't try to rock ("Black and Blue") or, of course, funk ("Don't"), but otherwise this was a largely underrated second effort.

16. Beyond the Shrouded Horizon (Steve Hackett, 2011)

A sort of solo-career re-capitulation, Beyond the Shrouded Horizon (once again) found Hackett swinging wildly from genre to genre and texture to texture, from acoustic to electric and classical to rock – but this is one of the times when he finds a way to make it all work. Mostly, it's through sheer force of personality. A steadfast group of collaborators, on board since 2003's To Watch the Storms, keep the spotlight firmly on Hackett. There's little he can't do, and Beyond the Shrouded Horizon (once again) confirmed it.

15. Peter Gabriel II ["Scratch"] (Peter Gabriel, 1978)

Gabriel's second solo release showed that he hadn't gotten any better about reining in his astonishingly varied creative impulses. He'd brought in producer Robert Fripp, however, and the King Crimson mastermind gave Scratch a crisp sonic feel which tends to unify even its wildest musical side trips. The themes are all hard surfaces, leaving no one surprised that this album yielded no hit songs. Instead, Scratch feels more introverted, even less accessible, but that's why it invites further scrutiny. Same with Gabriel. He was still in search of an identity, but he was getting closer.

14. Please Don't Touch (Steve Hackett, 1978)

Here is the moment when Hackett began to definitively move away from the pastoral prog of his old band. Recorded with cast featuring Richie Havens ("How Can I?" and "Icarus Ascending") and members of Kansas ("Narnia"), Please Don't Touch radically reworked Hackett's approach to music making, both in form and theme. Songs are shot through with invitingly exotic sounds, and with a new sense darkness – especially on the title track. Both things point directly to every solo success to come.

13. Hello, I Must Be Going! (Phil Collins, 1982)

The exact midpoint between the more emotional considerations of Collins' debut and the mechanized pop of No Jacket Required, this album largely succeeds at walking that very fine line. When Hello, I Must Be Going! stumbles, it's because Collins simply refuses to focus on any one thing. The results can feel like a disparate collection of moods, tempos and personas, but the successes ("I Don't Care Anymore," "I Cannot Believe It's True," "Why Can't It Wait 'Til Morning") were worth a few bumps in the road along the way.

12. Out of the Tunnel's Mouth (Steve Hackett, 2009)

Hackett's first prog-rock project in three years was a turbulent, layered outburst of creativity, capped by a towering and exotic album-closing track featuring violinist Ferenc Kovacs. Then exiting a broken marriage, Hackett immersed himself in another dizzying array of styles. This time, it's all stitched into a contiguous piece by a torrent of emotions. Included are two songs ("Fire on the Moon" and "Nomads") recorded with Yes' late co-founder Chris Squire, providing a preview of what would eventually become an official collaboration as Squackett.

11. The Geese & the Ghost (Anthony Phillips, 1977)

If The Geese & the Ghost sounds like a great lost early Genesis album, that's because it basically was. Sessions began before Phillips left the group in 1970, and the project ultimately included a trio of songs co-written with Mike Rutherford. It took six years to complete, however, and by then Phil Collins could be found singing on "Which Way the Wind Blows" and "God If I Saw Her Now," as well. Any of it would have fit nicely into 1971's Nursery Cryme, Genesis' first album without Phillips. That didn't happen, of course, and it took years for Phillips to get going as a solo artist.

10. Voyage of the Acolyte (Steve Hackett, 1975)

A long-awaited George Harrison moment for Hackett, who was becoming increasingly frustrated with his inability to place songs on Genesis albums – most notably, "Shadow of the Hierophant." In truth, Hackett's vision remains somewhat embryonic; still to come were far more personalized statements. That said, as Genesis turned toward more compact, more conventional and more pop-focused song structures in the post-Peter Gabriel era, Voyage of the Acolyte remained as a powerful counter-argument. Call it the Prog Road Less Traveled – the first, best argument Hackett made for taking those later solo journeys.

9. Mike + the Mechanics (Mike [Rutherford] + the Mechanics, 1985)

Rutherford's third, and very best, solo album was presented as a band project – and eventually, Mike + the Mechanics became one. At this point, however, this was really more of a studio creation. That's probably why they cover such an impressive sweep of Genesis-like tendencies, from the overtly pop oriented ("All I Need is a Miracle," "Take the Reins"), to the slightly longer, slightly more serious ("Silent Running," "A Call to Arms" – the latter of which was actually a Genesis leftover), to the atmospheric ballad ("Taken In," "Par Avion"). Thing is, it worked so well – three songs reached the U.S. Top 40 – that this set the group's career course.

8. Spectral Mornings (Steve Hackett, 1979)

Hackett took the most successful elements of 1978's Please Don't Touch and further refining them here – creating an album that remains definitive. Wildly inventive newer influences (including Spanish and Asian touches) are balanced out this time by occasional returns to the flowing guitar mysticism of his Genesis days. Still, in several notable ways, Spectral Mornings couldn't be further away from his old band – in particular in this era. Hackett's most confident set of compositions yet showed where Genesis could have gone if they'd had more gumption after Wind and Wuthering.

7. No Jacket Required (Phil Collins, 1985)

Monolithic in its moment, No Jacket Required now seems a bit locked into its era – especially on its biggest, most mechanized hits. Lesser-heard moments like "Inside Out," "Long Long Way to Go" (featuring Sting) and "Only You Know and I Know" are actually the better songs, even though they never earned the ubiquitous airplay enjoyed by cuts like the funky but nonsensical No. 1 hit "Sussudio."

6. Security (Peter Gabriel, 1982)

Yes, this was to be Peter Gabriel's fourth consecutive self-titled solo album. (A frustrated Geffen Records added a sticker saying Security in the U.S.) Inside, however, much had changed, as Gabriel began exploring the Fairlight CMI. Depthlessly dark, this then-new synth provided the sonic underpinning for much of the album, even as its sampling function allowed him to add new wrinkles. Something more subtle, but ultimately more important, was also happening: Gabriel's new penchant for dabbling in the African and Latin rhythms would ultimately help make 1986's So a career-changing smash.

5. Us (Peter Gabriel, 1992)

Us was inevitably compared with its blockbuster predecessor So. In between, however, Gabriel had produced a soundtrack for The Last Temptation of Christ, and Us was actually something in between those two things, at least musically. Topically? This album was so emotional, so direct, that it's frankly startling – and like nothing Gabriel had ever done. Save for "Fourteen Black Paintings" (the only song that touched on his penchant for the political), Us focused on the wreckage of two past relationships. The melodies often weren't clearly stated, even if the words were so often stingingly honest. That friction gave Us its lasting intrigue.

4. But Seriously (Phil Collins, 1989)

No one would have blamed Collins for sticking with the multi-platinum No Jacket Required formula for his next solo album. But instead he backed away from metronomic drum machines, returned to some of the jazzier asides that powered his early solo material and allowed his writing – in keeping with the LP's title – to turn toward more earnest concerns. But Seriously doesn't always have the buoyancy of its predecessor, but that depth has ultimately helped this album age far more gracefully.

3. Peter Gabriel III ["Melt"] (Peter Gabriel, 1980)

Nobody could accuse Gabriel with a lack of creativity at this point in his solo career. His first two solo albums were simply bursting with ideas; unfortunately, they weren't fully formed ideas. Still, producer Robert Fripp had given 1978's Scratch a unified sonic footprint, so it must have made perfect sense to continue opening up the creative process. Steve Lillywhite became the first of a series of U2 producers to have a sweeping impact on Gabriel's career. Together, they reframed Gabriel's often-menacing vision in a far more musical way, though a few, perhaps still-too-sharp edges remained. They also pioneered the thundering gated-drum sound which helped define Collins' early career. Not a bad day at the office.

2. Face Value (Phil Collins, 1981)

An impressive display of radio-friendly musical versatility, Face Value is a time capsule of everything that turned Genesis member Phil Collins into solo star Phil Collins. It started out as a personal work, and that made for an album that's often delightfully extemporaneous, and almost always determinedly different from Genesis.

1. So (Peter Gabriel, 1986)

By the mid-'80s, Gabriel was working with Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois of U2 fame, and that provided the perfect, long-awaited alchemy for chart success. Together, they expertly balanced the experimental and the approachable, the tribal and the contemplative. Most people came to the album for the mainstream hits "Sledgehammer" and "Big Time," both of which advanced the video genre with eye-poppingly inventive clips. Once inside, however, So deftly interspersed more introspective pop ("Don't Give Up," "That Voice Again," "In Your Eyes," "Mercy Street") with songs that remained determinedly offbeat ("Red Rain," "We Do What We're Told," "This Is the Picture"). It took a few tries, but Gabriel finally hit upon the right showcase for every part of his restless genius.