GENESIS VIDEO REVIEWS

VIDEO RATING SYSTEM

*****

An excellent video. Strong effort from beginning to end! A must own!

****

A very good video. A few low points but, overall, a decent effort. Recommended. 

***

A good video. Several weak points detract from the release, but it's still worth owning.

**

A mediocre video. Unless you're a real fan, you might not like this release very much.

*

A poor video. Stay away from this one unless you are a hardcore fan!
   
Genesis - The Way They Walk  DVD (2001)

WOG RATING: ****

Scheduled for release on November 26, 2001, The Way We Walk (TWWW) has the distinction of being the first Genesis concert on the DVD format. That being said, expectations are high. Especially, with the hype around getting Phil Collins, Mike Rutherford, and Tony Banks back together to dish out some fresh commentary on the show, not to mention the technological break-through of adding multiple camera angles as chosen by the viewer. After weeks of waiting (courtesy of the recent terrorist attacks and Anthrax mail scares in the U.S.A.), my promotional copy finally arrived from the fine folks at Gut Vision, the manufacturers of the DVD. 

Here are my thoughts on this product:
 
VIDEO:

Despite what you may have read elsewhere, the video quality is surprisingly good. The images are sharp and the coloring is excellent. The menus are animated and, while they are a little basic looking, they are easy to use. On a high-end television, the stage lights, musicians and audience appear in rich accurate tones. At times, the picture is a tad dark, but this is a concert video after all, and that has nothing to do with the film's transfer to the DVD format. The video is maintained in the original 4:3 screen configuration and is not available in a widescreen presentation. 

AUDIO:

The audio is available in both standard stereo and 5.1 surround sound. The standard stereo version is moderately better than that of the original 1993 video release, but the improvements are almost unnoticeable. That being said, the 5.1 surround sound track is incredible! It is, by far, the best sounding live audio (fidelity-wise) I've ever heard for Genesis or on virtually any concert DVD for that matter. The surround sound is so lavish and crisp, you really tend to almost lose yourself in the video, which is something I can't say about the old VHS version.  In fact, if I had a few drunken idiots yelling, "Play 'Invisible Touch!!!'" when the "Old Medley" starts and spilling beer on me while I watched this DVD, it would be just like being at the concert! 

EXTRAS:

Multiple Camera Angles
For me, one of the more exciting features of this DVD was the ability to select from multiple camera angles while watching the performance. In addition to the main view (which appears to be the same as the original VHS release), on most songs, the viewer can choose between two or three other camera views. This is definitely a cool feature, but if you think that you'll be able to watch one band member through the whole show (eg. you're a keyboard player and you just want to watch Tony Banks) you will be disappointed. This is not possible, but you can obviously watch more of certain members as the camera angles permit. Another major disappointment is that the drum solo (a.k.a. "The Drum Thing") with Chester Thompson and Phil Collins is only available from the main vantage point. So, you can't flip to watch different angles at all during this performance. Still, over all, I thought this bonus footage was a welcomed addition, and if certain angles were not filmed or mastered for video release, you certainly can't fault them for not including something that they don't have!

Commentary With Phil Collins, Mike Rutherford and Tony Banks
I had heard that the commentary tack wasn't that stellar before my DVD even arrived in the mail. After listening to it, I can tell you that these people were being incredibly kind. It is without question one of the worst commentary tracks I have ever heard! With the possible exception of the guys goofing on each other and some comedic anecdotes by Phil, this track is severely lacking. Despite the scattered failing attempts of Nick Davis and Tony Smith to spark some interesting dialog between the band, very little is shared. So, if you were hoping that you would hear some interesting comments about this concert, the We Can't Dance Tour, about specific songs they played, or backstage antics, you can forget it. You're not getting it here. As I said, there are a few chestnuts of funny banter and chit-chat, but that's about it. As a fan, I was certainly hoping for more in this area. Hopefully, if they do any more commentary tracks on future DVDs they will come in prepared to share a little more insight about things. 

Period Interviews
As a nice added bonus, the DVD features interviews done with Phil, Mike and Tony at Earl's Court prior to the concert. The DVD viewer has to read the question from a menu and then press play to hear the answer. This isn't a major hassle, but it is a little annoying. I suppose, the band would have had to pay the interviewer had they included them in the final package, so this was a way of avoiding that. Who knows?

Slide Show
Each DVD offers a slide show of rare pictures from the tour. While viewing the slide show on DVD 1, you can hear an instrumental version of "Way of The World" in the background. On DVD 2, an instrumental bed of "Living Forever" is playing.

Original Tour Program
Another great touch on this DVD is the addition of the tour booklet on video. I've never seen a band do this before, and it's an excellent idea. I hope Genesis does similar reproductions on future DVD reissues. 

THE COMPATIBILITY ISSUE:

Compatibility is no longer an issue if your country's video format is NTSC or PAL since both will be available for sale, but if you live elsewhere where these formats don't work (like in countries who use the SECAM video format, for example), this section is for you. The two versions of this DVD that are being released are Region 0 (which means that they can be played in any region on the planet as long as you can utilize the PAL or NTSC formatting). The promotional copy shipped to me was in the NTSC/Region 0 format, so it worked perfectly here for me in the States.

MY CONCLUSION:

The Way We Walk is an excellent first outing into the DVD world for Genesis. The 2 DVD set offers plenty of extras and certainly shows the band's commitment to releasing a quality product. Despite a few weak points, I don't think any Genesis fan will be disappointed with this release. In fact, most will find that it exceeds their expectations in most regards.

To purchase the reissued
Pioneer pressed NTSC/Region 1 DVD (playable in North America) click here.
      

 

Genesis - Songbook  DVD (2001)

WOG RATING: ****

A documentary on Genesis was probably not the first thing that fans had hoped to get on DVD. Still, promise of an updated and seemingly complete video biography on the band was a welcomed item. Particularly, when it features new interviews with every member of the band in addition to Chester Thompson, Daryl Stuermer and Bill Bruford who toured with the Genesis. Combine that with the news of the inclusion of the first new performance from Tony Banks, Phil Collins and Mike Rutherford in a decade and, suddenly, this video release takes on a whole new level of interest. The "angle" of this video was a slightly different approach from your traditional biography. On Songbook, more emphasis is placed upon the band's favorite songs and why these tracks have a special place in Genesis history. Still, how does Songbook stack up against the old Laserdisc and VHS documentary, A History? Read on and find out!
VIDEO:

The animated menus are really clever and extremely well done. As you might expect, since most of the interview footage is new, the video quality is generally superb. Some of the archive footage is less than perfect, but that has more to do with the age of the clips than it does with the transfer to DVD. The one piece of archive footage that is in surprisingly bad quality is the music video for the song "Misunderstanding," which is extremely grainy. I find this completely puzzling since the music video has been released on video in the past and appears in mint condition. There are plenty of awe inspiring clips (both audio and video) in this documentary including vintage live black and white video from 1970. Plus, it marked the first time that North American fans could see a snippet of the "Not About Us" music video from Calling All Stations, which was released as a single, but completely ignored by music video channels in this part of the world.

Not surprisingly, the information discussed in this documentary is fairly common knowledge for the most part. There are a couple of interesting factoids, but I'd rather not say what they were since, in my opinion, that would take a lot away from someone who watches it for the first time. Interview segments with Steve Hackett, Anthony Phillips and Ray Wilson are very limited. The funniest moment is the caption under Ray Wilson when it lists him as a "Musician" and not as "Former Genesis Vocalist." I'm sure Ray found that a little offensive, but at least they let him speak (albeit briefly)!  

AUDIO:

The audio is presented in Dolby Digital Stereo and in Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound. The sound quality over all is very good, but as this DVD is primarily interviews, I would say that the fidelity of the video is probably par for the course when compared to other DVDs. Where the 5.1 surround sound really sounds excellent is on the new performances by Collins, Banks and Rutherford, which to me is clearly the highlight of this video.   

EXTRAS:

Deleted Scenes
Included as an added bonus, Songbook features deleted interview clips with Phil Collins, Steve Hackett, Chester Thompson, Daryl Stuermer, and more. For the most part, the deleted footage talks about when various people joined the band (in whole or in part), including Phil Collins, Steve Hackett, Chester Thompson, Daryl Stuermer and Bill Bruford. Also included is talk about "The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway", "Firth of Fifth" and writing "Supper's Ready." Most importantly; however, is the addition of new live material including Steve Hackett's new version of "Horizons", Collins and Banks performing "Afterglow," and Collins, Banks, and Rutherford performing "No Son of Mine" and "Follow You Follow Me."

COMPARING A HISTORY TO SONGBOOK:

Personally, I thought the old documentary had a lot of really good material that was not included here, including some fantastic archive clips, but both are outstanding over all. Since the old biography only went up to about 1993, Songbook is obviously a more complete story. Where A History really shined was briefly incorporating the member's solo efforts and how they became part of the whole Genesis mythos.  Still, in a way, it's like comparing apples and oranges. Songbook takes a different approach, and certainly offers some excellent footage that A History neglects. It's like reading two different books on the same subject. If they are well done, they compliment each other nicely, but they are not definitive individually.

MY CONCLUSION:

The Genesis Songbook is an excellent documentary on the band - although not exactly what I expected. Although some issues are overlooked, it is as detailed as can be expected in a short biographical film. This package offers a nice overview of the group's career with some excellent archive footage to satisfy the fans (or leave the fans licking their chops, depending on how you look at it). The reuniting of Collins, Banks and Rutherford to perform new semi-unplugged versions of old favorites makes this DVD a must own for any fan, despite the fact that some songs are interrupted with dialog and alternate footage.      

To purchase the Region 1/NTSC version of the Genesis Songbook DVD (playable in North America), click here!

 

Genesis - 1981-2007 The Movie Box (BOX SET) (2009)

WOG RATING: ****

The Genesis 1981-2007 The Movie Box collection finally sees the release of the much sought after concert videos for 1984's The Mama Tour and 1982's Three Sides Live along side of the previously released DVDs for and The Way We Walk and Live at Wembley along with a bonus DVD featuring an updated "Remastered" version of VH-1s Behind The Music, a few other video extras (described below) and an empty 5" case to insert the discs for Genesis' When In Rome 2007 3-DVD set (which was released the year prior and must be purchased separately).

Here are my thoughts on the DVDs in this box set:
 
THREE SIDES LIVE - First time on DVD and exclusive to this box set! First off, the 5.1 audio on this release is superb! Nick Davis does an outstanding job on the audio for this release. WOW! As an added bonus (and probably because many people complained about the failure to include it on the Genesis Live 1973-2007 box set), you also get some bonus 5.1 surround sound audio on this DVD taken from the actual Three Sides Live album (but not all of it). The video quality is only so-so at best. Apparently, the video master was lost, so the quality is only as good as the old VHS tape you may have lying around - although at least you have it in a relatively current digital video format now.

THE MAMA TOUR - First time on DVD and exclusive to this box set! Again, the new 5.1 surround mix on this one is fantastic! Once again, great work by Nick Davis on the mixes. Sadly, like Three Sides Live, the original video master was lost for this concert film, so the video quality is only mediocre with moments that are surprisingly grainy in picture quality. I'm glad to have it on DVD, but I'd be lying if I wasn't a little disappointed. Its watch-able mind you, but not as crisp and clean as you might hope it would be. There is a great addition on this DVD worthy of mention, the bonus footage taken from the making of the self-titled album (also known as Mama) in 1983. Phil Collins, using his first video camera (new technology in 1983), shot footage of the band recording the studio sessions from the album which is fascinating to watch as a fan. You see the creation of what are now Genesis classics and get a "fly on the wall" look at the band in the creative process. Again, the video quality is not perfect, but its as good as you can expect from a home video from 1983. Its worth the price of admission for this footage alone if you ask me!

LIVE AT WEMBLEY - Unfortunately, this is a straight copy of the commercial release put out a few years ago on DVD. If you already purchased it, you won't be too excited with re-buying it here. The video quality is a clone of the prior version. The surround mix is still very good and the video quality is fine, but the picture is not as good as you might expect from an HD video source (keep in mind that it was shot on now outdated equipment and the band struggled to even find a machine that could transfer it to digital, so it appears to have lost some quality in the transfer process). As a bonus, you get a tour documentary that was originally released in 1987 on a VHS/laserdisc called Visible Touch.

THE WAY WE WALK - Again, the video is identical to the old 2001 DVD release, except there are a few minor changes. First, there is a new DTS audio track (in addition to the Dolby Digital option on the old version), and they actually REMOVED the multi-camera angle option available on the older edition. Why? It ensured that it fit on a single DVD (the old version on Gut Vision in Europe and Pioneer in North America was a 2-DVD set). It does have a great 5.1 remix by Nick Davis, and to be honest, losing the multi-camera angle option is not a major loss. While its a cool feature when you first watch the DVD, after playing with it once or twice, it loses its novelty anyway.

WHEN IN ROME 2007 - Although not included in this set, it does include packaging to transfer your old When In Rome 2007 3-DVD set into this box set (which saves you from needing you re-purchase it all over again). This was necessary, because this box set has the DVDs packaged in standard 5" CD style cases (and the old When In Rome packaging which is in a standard DVD sized box, would not fit in this collection).

BONUS DISC - Probably the biggest disappointment of the entire box set. The bonus disc is an updated version of VH-1's BEHIND THE MUSIC documentary (later aired as Genesis Behind The Music - Remastered) on the band. The original broadcast version originally aired on TV in 1999. This updated version is only modestly different from the original, but they added new footage to the end that takes it through the 2007 Genesis world tour. Frankly, this documentary is among the more bland documentaries ever done on Genesis. I understand why it was chosen - it needed the least amount of work since it was only done a few years ago. That being said, the Genesis - A History documentary from the early '90s is far superior (but it would have required far more time and money to update and complete).

What's missing? First off, the documentary on the bonus disc is just over and hour, so there was plenty of space for additional bonus features. Some pro-shot quality items that immediately come to mind that could have added to this release are the Genesis Songbook DVD from 2001 that is mysteriously missing, the 1992 Genesis We Can't Dance Tour TV documentary called Opening Night 1992 (which aired on Fox TV in 1992 and was made by Tony Smith Productions - so the band definitely has the master copy!), the 'Making of' documentary on the "I Can't Dance" Music Video (which was previously released on laserdisc), and the "Carpet Crawlers '99" music video (since all of the other videos appear on the other box sets, this would have been nice to complete the set) and a few widely circulated pro-shot quality bootleg clips like the Burt Sugarman owned Midnight Special footage from the early 1970s. All in all, a nice collection and certainly worth owning as a Genesis fan, but there are a few things that could have been done to make this collection of professional videos a bit better. Honestly, its a bittersweet ending to the series of the five remixed and remastered box sets. Fans will want to own this one, but don't be shocked if the product is not as 'perfect' quality and content wise as you might think it would be based upon the other four CD+DVD (and/or SACD+DVD as the case may be) box sets. For more information on the other four box sets, please check out the Genesis Album Reviews section of this site.

To purchase Genesis - The Movie Box 1982-2007 (NTSC/Region 1), click here.
 

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