ALBUM REVIEWS

GENESIS
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ALBUM RATING SYSTEM

*****

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

****

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

***

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

**

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

*

A poor album. Stay away from this one unless you are a hardcore fan!

 

Genesis - From Genesis To Revelation (1968)

WOG RATING: **

Honestly, before I heard the versions of some of these song on the first Archive box set without the cheesy late-60s trite strings tossed into the mix, I thought this album was fairly awful. It is nothing like any other Genesis album, sounding at times like really bad early Bee Gees music (which the band openly admits that they attempted to mimic to continue to attract the passing interest of their then producer, Jonathan King, who was partial to the Bee Gees at the time). Granted, the guys were still in their teens, so I guess you have to take that into consideration.
The versions of these songs (and the demos that weren't) that appeared on the first Archive set are, for the most part, much better. The evolutionary step between the first album and Trespass makes much more sense on the Archive versions. A few gems on From Genesis To Revelation like "One Eyed Hound" and "Where The Sour Turns To Sweet" offer distant glimpses into what was to come, but for the most part, Revelation is probably worth avoiding unless you are a serious fan of the band. You should also note that so many different record companies have released this album in an attempt to cash in on Genesis' popularity, and that literally dozens of versions of this album exist under various names, album artwork and slightly varied track listings.

 

Genesis - Trespass (1970)

WOG RATING: ****

A landmark album, Trespass became the band's first foray into progressive rock. Replacing Jonathan King as producer, whether by choice or not, was a great move. New producer John Anthony seems to have taken the band in the direction that they wanted to be in. Genesis' second album was a far cry from the sappy debut effort. Filled with angst, energy and passion, Trespass was fueled by tracks like "The Knife", "Stagnation" and "Looking For Someone," and ensured that the group's musical direction was clear. Trespass would remain one of the band's heaviest and darkest albums of their career. The 2009 remixed remaster is a must own and sounds infinitely better than the older issues on CD.

 

Genesis - Nursery Cryme (1971)

WOG RATING: *****

Another landmark effort, Nursery Cryme saw the addition of Phil Collins on drums and Steve Hackett on guitar. It would be this line-up that would fortify the early success of Genesis and remain intact for another four years. Once again produced by John Anthony, Cryme picked up where Trespass left off. In typical progressive rock fashion, the album was lyrically saturated with fantasy-based lyrics and long, epic musical pieces broken only at times with short awkward yet catchy tunes. Sometimes overlooked by Genesis fans, this release may lack some of the pop commercial appeal of later albums, but its truly the first time we hear Genesis start to blend their (then) innovative progressive rock style with some of the folk and pop music elements that would later pepper albums like Foxtrot, Selling England By The Pound and The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway.  

The musicianship on the album was extremely solid as demonstrated on songs like "Fountain of Salmacis," "Return of The Giant Hogweed" and the early concert staple, "The Musical Box." Despite a few weak moments, Nursery Cryme was an excellent album for its day, and an essential piece of Genesis' history.  The 2009 remixed remaster brings the incredible depth of musicianship to new levels of clarity and obviousness, but be sure to also grab the (now out of print) '90s Definitive Edition version on CD, which shows off Steve Hackett's innovative guitar parts on "Return of the Giant Hogweed" that are lost on the 2009 remixed reissue.
 

 

Genesis - Foxtrot (1972)
WOG RATING: ****

Although considered by many to be one of the best of Genesis' early works, I found Foxtrot very hit or miss. Outstanding tracks like the opus "Supper's Ready" and another early concert staple, "Watcher of The Skies" showed signed of the band's continual musical evolvement. Still, despite its achievements, Foxtrot, as an album, is not without flaws. "Can-Utility and The Coastliners" for example, which seemed like a big step backwards for the band in terms of songwriting and style, was clearly a low-point on the album and the most forgettable tune of the project. I can't decide if this was an attempt at doing something commercial or just a bad judgment call, but it certainly detracted from the album. Like Trespass, the 2009 remixed remaster is an absolute must-own version of this album.

 

Genesis - Live (1973)

WOG RATING: ****

Originally recorded by the King Biscuit Flower Hour for radio broadcast, Live offers a decent retrospective of the group and of their live shows of that era. Although some songs from the performance are excluded from the show, like "Supper's Ready" (which did finally manage to surface 25 years later on the first Archive box in 1998), the recording is excellent. Also omitted is all of the colorful commentary and banter by Peter Gabriel between each tune, which, perhaps, is not so surprising. All in all, a great album! I especially enjoyed the live versions of "The Musical Box", "The Knife" and "Return of The Giant Hogweed."

 

Genesis - Selling England By The Pound (1973)

WOG RATING: *****

Along with new co-producer John Burns, Genesis produced what I consider to be the best overall album from the "Gabriel era" of the band. With songs like "Dancing With The Moonlit Knight" and "Firth or Fifth", the band continued to develop their progressive rock roots while starting to explore tunes with a little bit of straight-forward pop appeal with songs like "More Fool Me" and "I Know What I Like (In Your Wardrobe)." There isn't a bad track on this album, and if you haven't tried any "Gabriel era" Genesis, I would suggest starting here.

 

Genesis - The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway (1974)

WOG RATING: ****

Again, many fans find The Lamb to be Genesis' best album of the period and, in some cases, their career. I strongly disagree. The Lamb was an ambitious project; probably the most ambitious album in the band's history, but it is not the best.  As is the case with most double albums, I generally find that if they were tweaked down to a single disc (be it LP, CD, or whatever), it would have been outstanding. Sadly, to properly explain the concept of The Lamb, several extemporaneous songs found their way to the final project. In this case, taking what could have been an amazing 47 minute album and turning it into a fairly good 85-ish minute album with several high points. 
As a fan, I'm glad to have the songs, but let's face it, songs like "The Grand Parade of Lifeless Packaging" are certainly not among the best moments. At what point do you sacrifice an album musically for the sake of a storyline? Still, with tracks like the title cut, "In The Cage", "Carpet Crawlers", "Back In NYC" and "It" its hard to pass negative judgment on the album.

 

Genesis - Trick of The Tail (1976)

WOG RATING: *****

Some people would consider Trick a landmark album, because it was Phil's first outing as lead singer. I tend to disagree. The material is still very much uninfluenced by Phil's unique vocal style. Later albums seemed to be more specific to Collins as a singer, even while still under the moniker of progressive rock. Still, Trick was an outstanding album. Musically, the band sounds tighter than ever here, with a passion and energy that seemed lost on most of The Lamb (which seemed to be more about technical musical perfection and storytelling). 
The band had something to prove sans Gabriel, and they made their point well. Tracks like "Dance On A Volcano", "Los Endos" and "Squonk", clearly demonstrated that Genesis' musical integrity was stronger than ever. Like any album, it has one or two seriously questionable tunes (like the title track, for instance), but Trick is still a decent offering by Genesis.

 

Genesis - Wind & Wuthering (1977)
WOG RATING: ****

Although Steve Hackett was apparently pretty disgruntled by the time Wind & Wuthering was finished, you'd never know it by listening to the album. Wind, in my opinion, showcased some of Hackett's best guitar work with Genesis. Interestingly, I thought Tony Banks' keyboard playing was also exceptionally good on this project as well. Wind & Wuthering, which seems to be a forgotten album by many, got lost between the shuffle of Trick of The Tail and the band's double live album, Seconds Out. While still very much progressive rock, further signs of what lies ahead for the band appeared in songs like "Your Own Special Way" and "Afterglow." 
 
What I enjoyed best about this album; however, are some of the pieces with longer instrumental parts, which were classic period Genesis. Songs like "...In That Quiet Earth" and "One For The Vine" being perfect examples of that style. Although the songs were still lyrically dominated by fantasy, it is here that we start to see the first real signs of yet another evolution for Genesis. An evolution that would eventually turn purist prog-rock fans against Genesis, and turn millions of pop fans on to them.

 

Genesis - Seconds Out (1977)

WOG RATING: *****

Culled from the 1976 and 1977 tours, Seconds Out offered the band's first double live album. The musical performances were generally excellent, and the performance sounds virtually unaltered (not overdubbed in the studio), although I'm sure that's not the case. Let's not forget the historical significance as well. The recording features both Genesis touring drummers, Bill Bruford and Chester Thompson, and of course the departing presence of Steve Hackett from the fold (who quit during the mixing of Seconds Out).
For the passive fan, perhaps this release would be questionable, but for true fans of the group, a double length live album is certainly more than welcome. Unlike later live collections, Seconds Out was not a "greatest hits live" package. It was a time capsule of the history of Genesis; something that more recent live albums have failed to be. Not because they focused on the popular songs, but because they mainly overlooked the diversity of the band's catalog. Seconds Out doesn't do that at all. Instead, we get a reasonably thorough live retrospective as seen through the eyes and ears of thousands of European concert goers in darkened venues in the late '70s. In my opinion, it is without question, the best live collection ever released by the band.

 

Genesis - ...And Then There Were Three (1978)

WOG RATING: ***

A pivotal album in the group's history, Three bridges the gap between the Genesis of old and the modern pop, multi-platinum selling juggernaut that sold out football arenas across the globe throughout the '80s and early '90s. Much of the material on this album sounds like a cross between Tony Banks and Mike Rutherford solo projects mixed with a little Genesis influence for good measure. The result: a hodge-podge collection of decent progressive-pop songs with no direction whatsoever. 
To me, Three one of the "safest" albums the band has ever done. It takes very few chances, almost blatantly trying to be Wind & Wuthering Part II, but at the same time, trying to find its own unique voice. Don't get me wrong, Three has its share of likable songs, including "Deep In The Motherlode", "Scenes From A Night's Dream", "Burning Rope" and so on, but it all seems very similar at times. 

What distinguishes Three, and makes it such an important part of the Genesis mythos is the album's conclusion. Throughout the whole project, we get a fairly straight-forward atypical Genesis album, and then, the last song begins and changes everything as we know it. I find it interesting how the catchy pop ballad "Follow You Follow Me", which is an odd way to end an album in the first place, ends up at the closing of a very progressive album. More than in any other instance, this album says 'out with the old, in with the new,' with "Follow You Follow Me" serving as the death knell for the progressive days of Genesis. Sure, "Say It's Alright Joe" and "Many Too Many" appear earlier in the set, but they sound like the ballads of yesterday's Genesis circa Wind & Wuthering, whereas "Follow You Follow Me" could have easily fit on Duke or Abacab. ...And Then There Were Three... is an interesting album to say the least, if only for its bizarre instantaneous musical metamorphosis! 

 

Genesis - Duke (1980)

WOG RATING: *****

Duke marked the first time that Phil Collins seemed to be a major influence in the songwriting process for Genesis. While I'm certain he played an important part in previous albums, Duke introduces us to the drum box with "Duchess", album production that seems to place more emphasis on the overall drum sound, and songs like "Please Don't Ask" and "Misunderstanding" that could have easily fit on an early Phil Collins solo album (it was after all written during the period of Face Value, his first solo project). Not to say that Tony Banks and Mike Rutherford weren't an important part of what made the Duke album a success.
Duke offered audiences the group's first "radio friendly" pop album with countless catchy tunes ranging from "Turn It On Again", "Man of Our Times" and "Behind The Lines" to ballads like "Alone Tonight" and superb instrumentals like "Duke's Travels" and "Duke's End." The album was my first exposure to Genesis (at the tender age of nine), and it left me wanting more. In fact, to this day, I still rank Duke among my favorite albums of all time.

 

Genesis - Abacab (1981)

WOG RATING: ****

An extension of the Duke album, Abacab took some really interesting chances. First and foremost, adding the Earth, Wind & Fire horns on "No Reply At All," making it one of the band's more unique songs. Abacab also features a number of great Genesis classics including the title song, "Dodo/Lurker" and "Man On A Corner." If felt that the group started relying a little too much on the drum box by the time Abacab surfaced. Particularly, when Phil is a more than capable drummer in his own right.  Still, despite a couple of very weak moments, like the amazingly wretched "Who Dunnit?" (which gets my vote for the worst Genesis song of all time), its a fairly good album. I'd still like to know who decided to drop "Paperlate" from the album and use "Who Dunnit?" instead! What were they thinking?!

 

Genesis - Three Sides Live (1982)

WOG RATING: ****

Depending on where you lived when this album was first released you may or may not have had three actual sides live. Anyone who buys the album for the first time now might not realize that the original U.S. version of the album was a double LP with the fourth side containing studio tracks. Most of the rest of the world got the version that exists today, which is completely live. Don't get me wrong, it's unfortunate is North American track listing with studio tracks is no longer made on CD, but having the fourth live side definitely makes the album better (You can get those studio tracks on the 2007 1976-1982 Box Set - review featured below). Without that fourth live side, which features some great vintage material like "One For The Vine" and "It/Watcher of The Skies," Three Sides Live would be little more than a live collection of popular Genesis tunes with no real rarely performed live gems for the fans. Three Sides is a great live performance all around and the songs are done with a great deal of raw enthusiasm, but it just seems to lack some of the magic of Seconds Out.

 

Genesis - Genesis (1983)

WOG RATING: ****

Continuing to gain momentum after the success of Abacab, Genesis' self-titled album became their most successful album to date. Although the band has said that they only felt the first side of the album holds up, I thought it was an amazing offering. In many ways, it was the most diverse Genesis album in years! It offered dark songs like "Mama"; a comedic, 'tongue-in-cheek' song with "Illegal Alien"; great straight-ahead pop songs like "That's All"; rockers like "Just A Job To Do" and "Home By The Sea"; and delicate ballads like "It's Gonna Get Better." For Genesis, this is about as varied as it gets! 

 

Genesis - Invisible Touch (1986)

WOG RATING: *****

As far as creating a well-rounded, commercially acceptable pop album goes, Invisible Touch was certainly the group's masterpiece hands-down. Spare the instrumental track ("The Brazilian") and "Domnio", a longer piece calling back to the Genesis of another time, every song on the album was released as a single and charted on the music charts (even "Everything She Does" which was released in Spain!). Song after song reads like their greatest hits album from the title track (which went to #1 on the Billboard charts) to top 40 hits "Land of Confusion", "Tonight, Tonight, Tonight", "In Too Deep" and "Throwing It All Away." 
At this point, Genesis could do no wrong as far as mainstream radio was concerned. To be honest, I thought Touch finally provided the right mix of Genesis' '80s sound with vague hints of the past evident in moments of "Tonight, Tonight, Tonight" and the second half of "Domino." In retrospect, the album still holds it's own. Even though over-exposure on the radio and MTV killed this album for me for a few years, I can now appreciate it again without flinching.

 

Genesis - We Can't Dance (1991)

WOG RATING: ****

Once again riding high on the wave of massive commercial success, Dance became one of the highest selling Genesis album in the band's history (and still is). Again, like Invisible Touch, the band seemed to find a sound that offered a new edge, but still gave glimpses of their past work. On "Fading Lights" and "Driving The Last Spike" for example, the influence of their older work is very obvious. Phil Collins songwriting influence seems almost overpowering against that of Banks and Rutherford at times, with several tunes sounding like they might have fit better on Collins' ...But Seriously album than on a Genesis project.
Perhaps more interestingly though are songs like "I Can't Dance" (a very different sounding tune for Genesis) and "Jesus He Knows Me" which were both comedic lyrically reminiscent of songs like "Illegal Alien." Catchy tunes like "No Son of Mine" also make the album a worth while purchase. Again, "Fading Lights" was another great track that stands out as a personal favorite on the set, and would have made an amazing final song for the band to record (even though I am glad that they did Calling All Stations). All in all, another excellent offering, and a fine swan song of an album for Phil Collins' days in Genesis.

 

Genesis - The Way We Walk: The Shorts/The Longs (1992/93)

WOG RATING: ***/ ****

In many ways, The Shorts and it's follow-up release, The Longs, are the blandest live album(s) in the band's long history. Rather than compile double disc collection from the We Can't Dance world tour, the band decided to botch-up the show, dividing the "radio friendly" hits in the first part, and the longer songs in the second part, which was released the following year. I suppose the idea was to offer passive fans the opportunity to get the hits without any of the epic tunes, but since casual fans tend not to buy live albums, I don't know if that was such a great marketing idea. What if leaves behind is an ass-backwards mix of the tour, with what seems to be no regard to track list order or song flow. 

In addition, the album sounds so over-produced and overdubbed that it almost sounds like studio recordings with a live vocal track! I would have much rather seen the band release the usual 2-CD live set with the track listing left in a somewhat similar order to what it was on the tour (and maybe a little less studio perfection--It is after all supposed to be a live album, right?). Then again, as a "fan," I suppose my perspective is a tad jaded. The highlight of the albums is the oldies medley on The Longs, which to it's credit, is excellent and one of my favorite live performances by the band. 
I know many Genesis fans will find this statement sacrilege, but I find these live recordings very dull for the most part. Maybe it's just me, but the recording is either too enhanced by studio alterations, or perhaps much of the passion of Genesis was missing on these recorded nights? With a handful of exceptions, it sounds like the band is just going through the motions for a paycheck. Then again, maybe you just had to be there (at the concerts), as they say, because I recall the We Can't Dance tour as being quite entertaining. Either way, I find myself just listening to Three Sides Live and Seconds Out and wondering what happened on The Longs and The Shorts.

 

Genesis - Calling All Stations (1997)

WOG RATING: ***

When the album was first announced, the band stated that Stations was going to be "darker" and more reminiscent of old Genesis. Banks and Rutherford cited that new singer Ray Wilson's voice was very similar to that of Peter Gabriel, and that the departure of Phil Collins led to a less pop radio-orientated style of song writing. At the time, most fans rejoiced at the prospect of a Genesis album in the vein of an darker ominous album like And Then There Were Three or maybe even Trespass or Nursery Cryme! Fans from around the world posted praise for the group's seemingly blatant disregard for commercial popularity in exchange for a sound that the die-hard fans would adore and an eagerness to buy the new album. Sadly, neither turned out to be the case.
First of all, Calling All Stations is really not a dark album. In fact, I think Collins era albums like Abacab and Genesis have much darker moments (with songs like "Dodo", "Keep It Dark", "Home By The Sea", "Mama" and "Silver Rainbow") than Stations could ever have. Calling All Stations is much less commercial than it's recent predecessors, but using the term "darker" was very misleading. The mislabeling left die-hard fans feeling disappointed since they had false expectations, and left casual radio listeners disenchanted with the album's general lack of commercial appeal. The overall result led to poor sales, a cancelled US tour, and the eventual decision to stop making new Genesis albums.
People often say that Phil's departure killed the band, and on a commercially successful level, that might have some truth. I do, however, think Ray Wilson was a good choice for the group. Vocally speaking, I thought he did a great job on the album, but short of bringing Peter Gabriel back, there was just no way that anyone could have stepped into Phil's shoes and made this album sell. I really enjoyed several tracks on Stations, especially the title track, "The Dividing Line", "There Must Be Some Other Way" and "Not About Us." Unfortunately, a couple of songs like "Shipwrecked" (which sounded a great deal like ELO's "Can't Get It Out of My Head") and "Alien Afternoon" seemed a tad weak for a Genesis album. Other tracks seemed like they would have fit better on a Tony Banks solo album or a Mechanics' project. All in all, I enjoyed Stations, but it takes more than a handful of record sales to make an album go gold or platinum. Hence, the death of a great band.

 

Genesis - Turn It On Again: The Hits (1999)

WOG RATING: ****

This collection was the first truly sanctioned "best of" set of Genesis' hit singles spanning 24 years of the band's history from 1973's Selling England By The Pound through 1997's Calling All Stations. Since the anthology focuses on the hits, its no surprise that the Peter Gabriel years are virtually neglected with the exception of two tracks, one of which is newly recorded and is discussed later in this review. Several of the other tracks from the band's hit machine years of the '80s and early '90s are the single versions (radio edits), so songs like "Tonight, Tonight, Tonight" and "Abacab" are much shorter here than on their original albums. All in all, this does not detract from the set, especially since the emphasis here is the hits as heard on radio - not on their albums.

The highlight of Turn It On Again: The Hits is the inclusion of "Carpet Crawlers '99", a remake of the classic Genesis tune featuring the Genesis line-up of Phil Collins, Peter Gabriel, Steve Hackett, Tony Banks and Mike Rutherford - their first "new" studio track together since the recording of the original Lamb Lies Down on Broadway album in 1974! The limitations of spanning only one CD force the compilation to be incomplete, but I have to admit that for a single disc, it features a good number of the band's biggest songs and makes an ideal introduction to the band's work or a perfect anthology for the passive Genesis fan whose exposure to Genesis was limited to FM radio. 

 

Genesis - The Platinum Collection (2004/05)

WOG RATING: *****

What Genesis' single disc greatest hits, Turn It On Again: The Hits, accomplishes for passive Genesis fans, this massive 3-CD set, The Platinum Collection, achieves for the true Genesis enthusiast. Culling material from 27 years of the band's long history, from 1970's Trespass through 1997's Calling All Stations, this 40-song retrospective is as thorough as almost any fan could want. Released in November 2004 in Europe and September 2005 in North America (hence the dual release date above), this set encompasses most of Genesis' classic album tracks and radio hit singles.
All tracks featured are the original studio album versions with the exception of the single edit version of "Tonight, Tonight, Tonight." In some cases, some tracks have been newly remixed for this collection by long-time Genesis Engineer/Producer Nick Davis and sound incredible! To be honest, I've been an avid Genesis fan for more than 25 years, and I find it difficult to find a bad word to say about this set. Yes, it is missing a few songs I would have included like "In The Cage", "Watcher of The Skies", "Deep In The Motherlode", "Man on The Corner" and "No Reply At All," but the group's back catalog is so extensive, that there really isn't anything I would cut from this set to makes those songs fit if I could (with the possible exception of "Undertow" from And Then There Were Three). In fact, I think most people who would consider themselves "fans" would probably ditch most of their old Genesis CDs after buying this one. It's just that good! It's fairly comprehensive, sounds great, and is filler-less! This one is a MUST OWN for any serious Genesis fan! This set gets my highest recommendation.

 

Genesis - Turn It On Again: The Hits - Tour Edition (2007)

WOG RATING: ****

This is a remixed, remastered, and expanded double disc collection of the first truly sanctioned "best of" set of Genesis' hit singles spanning 24 years of the band's history from 1973's Selling England By The Pound through 1997's Calling All Stations. Unlike the original 1-CD version of the collection, this special limited edition version (which boasts a new silver album cover), offers a little more depth from the catalog with hit songs like "No Reply At All" and "Man on the Corner" and fan favorites like the non-album cuts "Happy The Man", the single version of "The Knife" and "Inside & Out" nestled along side of favorites like "Duchess" and "Many Too Many" now included.  Several of the other tracks from the band's hit machine years of the '80s and early '90s are the single versions (radio edits), so songs like "Tonight, Tonight, Tonight" and "Abacab" are much shorter here than on their original albums. All in all, this does not detract from the set.
 
The highlight of Turn It On Again: The Hits is still the inclusion of "Carpet Crawlers '99", a remake of the classic Genesis tune featuring the Genesis line-up of Phil Collins, Peter Gabriel, Steve Hackett, Tony Banks and Mike Rutherford - their first "new" studio track together since the recording of the original Lamb Lies Down on Broadway album in 1974! Fans might want to grab it for the edit of "The Knife" but aside from that, there is nothing on this collection than a fan doesn't already own. Personally, I find this 2-CD expanded set to be a little unnecessary if you already have the single disc version. If you find that the single disc edition doesn't satisfy your Genesis fix, I think that the band's Platinum Collection is a far superior choice.

 

Genesis - 14 From Our Past (2007)

WOG RATING: ***

Exclusively in North America, Genesis and Warner Brothers Special Products licensed a new 14-track collection to the Starbucks coffee chain called 14 From Our Past. As the title suggests, the collection includes one track from each studio album the band recorded from 1970's Trespass through 1997's Calling All Stations. The only exception to the 'one track per album' theme is the inclusion of "Happy The Man" which is a Nursery Cryme period b-side which serves as the token track from that album.   

Collectors will note that the collection does include some single edits (as opposed to using all album versions) and the version of "Happy The Man" is a different mix than the one used on the Turn It On Again: The Hits - Tour Edition which was also released in 2007. On this compilation, you'll notice that the flute part to "Happy The Man" is mysteriously missing, but its very clear on the Tour Edition CD. This set was also the only place to get the newly remixed stereo version of "Watcher of The Skies" until the 1970-75 Genesis box is released in the fall of 2008, which sounds absolutely amazing!

The packaging includes a cardboard digipack with a unique album cover and detailed liner notes about each track with some rarely seen pictures of the band in an attractive quality paper insert booklet. Its a very unique item and as its a licensed product will probably become scarce quickly, but it offers very little to the fan who has all the albums. Unless you are a completist or finds the idea of getting the alternate mix of "Happy The Man" appealing, I would probably pass on this release. Its a different concept, but its not going to provide the kind of retrospective that most people will be looking for from a Genesis collection. There are no plans to release this album outside North America.

 

Genesis - 1976-1982 (BOX SET) (2007)

WOG RATING: *****

The 1976-1982 box set was the first of three box sets on the band with newly remixed stereo and 5.1 surround sound for the albums Trick of the Tail, Wind and Wuthering, And Then There Were Three, Duke and Abacab (courtesy of long-time Genesis Producer Nick Davis) plus period b-sides (also newly remixed) and, if that was not enough, a bonus DVD with new interviews about each album, period music videos, and rare video footage - some of which has never been commercially available before! I won't go into a review of each album since that is listed above, but in addition to some amazing surround sound mixes that bring new life to old favorites, some of the video highlights in this box include the much sought after In Concert 1976 footage which has not been available on video in any form since the early 90s, live footage from the 1980 Duke Tour (which was previously only available in bootleg form), a 1978 documentary on the band's 1978 World Tour, and much more. In short, this set is nothing short of a treasure trove of Genesis goodies, sure to please any fan of the band.

The booklet is absolutely beautiful and comes on heavy stock paper. All around, this is an amazing set! Of course, there are those who have made comments about the fidelity of this release. Personally, I like the new surround mixes, but some people have argued that the increased volume and new mixes don't satisfy them since they are very slightly different from the original mixes on the older CD pressings and LPs of yesteryear. I, myself, don't put much stock in these criticisms. I think it's safe to say that I am a fairly devoted fan, and I absolutely love this set. For that matter, it only wets my appetite for the next two sets; the next of which surfaces in September 2007 spanning the years 1983-1998. If you are a true fan, you'll appreciate 1976-1982 whether it be for the video footage, the sound of the new mixes or other goodies. If you are among the minority that will moan over remixing the original studio tracks, I'd still recommend buying this box and keeping your old discs so that you can revisit the original mixes if you so desire. Either way, no Genesis fan should be without this box!

 

Genesis - 1983-1998 (BOX SET) (2007)

WOG RATING: ****

The second Genesis box set of remixed and remastered stereo and 5.1 surround sound titles spans the popular 1983 to 1998 era of the band including the albums Genesis, Invisible Touch, We Can't Dance, and Calling All Stations. The format of the box replicates the original 1976-1982 set, with the European/Japanese issues packaged in SACD + DVD double disc sets and the North American issues packaged as CD + DVD double disc sets. The box also includes a bonus 2-disc set of period b-sides for a total of ten discs. Perhaps most disappointing about this box is that a number of period b-sides are omitted, especially from Calling All Stations, with tracks like  "Nowhere Else To Turn", "Banjo Man", "Papa He Said", "Phret", and "7/8" missing despite the fact that there was plenty of space left unused on the bonus material portion of the package.

In terms of the mixes, I particularly enjoyed most of the surround mixes, but there are a couple of newly remixed tracks, which I did not enjoy as much as the originals. The overall improvements still certainly make it worth the price of admission, but there were a couple of disappointing moments. The bonus video content was also a welcomed feature, with my personal favorites being never-before-seen rehearsal footage from the Mama Tour (of course, the actual Mama Tour DVD still has not seen the light of day); the behind the scenes documentary called No Admittance, which chronicles the making of the final studio album with Phil Collins, We Can't Dance; and the making of footage from the "Land of Confusion" music video. Fans should note that the original North American pressing also has "hidden" bonus video content on the Calling All Stations DVD not available on the other pressings from Europe or Japan. As a hint, if you watch the electronic press kit and just let it keep playing, it will see an unedited video press kit; rare live footage of part of "Congo"; "There Must Be Some Other Way" live (different than the version included on the normal box set); the band's acoustic set at Cape Canaveral, Florida; their press conference and tour of the NASA space station in Florida, and more!

Like the 1976-1982 box set, the booklet is absolutely beautiful and comes on heavy stock paper. The liner notes include some interesting insight from the band's long-time video producer Jim Yukich, who certainly demonstrates his disinterest in the Calling All Stations album with fervor. As with the prior set, the quality of the video footage is not always perfect, but I still appreciate that the material is commercially available to the fans (in many cases for the first time). Over all, I think any Genesis fan will find this set a worth while collection. I do think this box could have been vastly better had they added the missing studio b-sides, included the "Carpet Crawlers '99" remake to encompass the group's entire studio catalog (instead of ending the collection one year shy of the full studio history), and had included a few missing video gems that I know are available in pristine condition, like the making of the "I Can't Dance" music video, which was available commercially on video in the days before DVD.
 

 

Genesis - Live Over Europe (2007)

WOG RATING: ****

2007 was a banner year for Genesis fans. Multiple new releases and reissues combined with the announcement of a reunion tour sparked the interest of many, and the band's brief comeback tour ended up being one of the most successful (and reportedly profitable) tours of the year. Live Over Europe highlights the first leg of that reunion, capturing selections from every night of the European tour as the title so aptly suggests. The full set list is included in the album, and the mastering of the project really sounds quiet impressive. Some fans have argued that the audience is too low in the mix, but I found the balance to be perfect. Others complain that the music has been dropped down a notch to suit Phil Collins' aging voice, but I think the recording sounds fantastic regardless (although that is a true statement - some songs were detuned slightly).

As you may already know, the band's set list on the tour was a decent representation of their career with early favorites like "I Know What I Like (In Your Wardrobe)", "In The Cage", "Ripples" and "Carpet Crawlers" blended with radio friendly favorites like "Land of Confusion", "I Can't Dance", and "Invisible Touch" to name but a few. The booklet included with the live album is exceptional. Its almost like a mini tour book, and reviewing the many full color, thick pages brings back a lot of great memories from the five shows I was able to see on two continents that year. Whether you made it to the tour or the lofty ticket prices kept you away, this live set is a wonderful collection and includes all of the great medleys that are trademarks of any Genesis concert. Whether it be for nostalgia's sake or for pure enjoyment, I've listened to this set repeatedly. Highly recommended!
 

 

Genesis - 1970-1975 (BOX SET) (2008)

WOG RATING: *****

The third and final Genesis box set of remixed and remastered stereo and 5.1 surround sound titles spanning the band's studio albums features the cult favorite 1970 to 1975 era of Genesis including the albums Trespass, Nursery Cryme, Foxtrot, Selling England By The Pound, and The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway. The format of the box replicates the first two sets from 2007, with the European/Japanese issues packaged in SACD + DVD double disc sets and the North American issues packaged as CD + DVD double disc sets (with the exception of The Lamb which is a 3-disc package in a special sleeve in all versions of the box set). The box also includes a bonus 2-disc set of period b-sides and rare recordings for a total of thirteen discs. It is clear from the first notes of an Earth shatteringly clear "Looking For Someone" on Trespass through the resonating ending chorus of "It" on The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway that the 1970-1975 box benefited the most out of the three sets from long time Genesis Producer Nick Davis' remixing. Lost moments, musical tidbits, and sound effects find new life in these wonderfully restored masterpieces!

Although, like the prior to boxes, some so-called 'purists' despise the concept of remixing from the original multi-track tapes, the end product is nothing short of stunning. Some 40 years after the band's own genesis, these recordings are so clean and clear that they sound as if they could have been recorded yesterday! The hiss is gone, the flatness is gone, and what is left is almost like a religious experience for any Genesis fan who had been relegated to the old versions for decades. Overall, the surround and stereo mixes are a delight, despite one or two moments that seem quite different from the originals... Even one moment where I cannot be sure, but the vocal track seems like it may be from an alternate take! Despite this, I find it extremely difficult to cast any negative comments on an otherwise near flawless collection.

Of course, if the new mixes and surround sound was wasn't enough, the rare audio tracks and rare video is certainly worth the price of admission alone. Without question, the highlight of this box was the inclusion of the never-before-released "Genesis Plays Jackson" tapes, a series of four mono demo recordings (available in fake stereo and surround due to the limitations of the original source tape) made circa 1970 for an ill-fated BBC documentary on painter Michael Jackson (no, not the 'King of Pop!') as Genesis transformed from public school boys to true progressive rock innovators. Elements of these tracks later evolved into other Genesis classics like "The Musical Box" and "Anyway" among others, making them not only historically significant but also offering a rare glimpse into the creation of some of the band's epic pieces in ways they have never been heard before! Other non-album audio tracks featured include the two studio b-sides "Happy The Man" and "Twilight Alehouse" along with "The Shepherd", "Pacidy" and "Let Us Now Make Love" from the band's BBC Nightride sessions in 1970. Sadly, once again other BBC recordings of songs like "Looking For Someone" and an early rendition of "The Musical Box" were omitted, leaving them unofficially available once again (despite having plenty of space left on the bonus disc).

Among the video gems included are the much sought after and widely bootlegged 1973 Shepperton Studios performance; a live 1973 performance from Bataclan, France; The Rock of the '70s performance from Brussels, Belgium in 1972; a live performance from the Piper Club in Rome, Italy 1972; a live performance from The Melody in France 1974; combined with the completely uncirculated original slides from The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway Tour put in time to the music (!), new, sometimes surprisingly, candid 2007 interviews with Anthony Phillips, Peter Gabriel, Tony Banks, Mike Rutherford, Steve Hackett and Phil Collins and more! John Mayhew was mysteriously not filmed on the interview portion of the DVDs despite playing drums on Trespass, which was an unfortunate oversight as his role in the band has obviously been foreshadowed by Phil Collins, who went on to incredible success not only in Genesis but in his own right as a solo artist. Of course, more bootleg video exists that is not included here (like The Lamb tour footage from Bern 1975 for example), but I again find myself hard-pressed to criticize this collection given all of the treasures offered within its little green box! In addition to its audio and video content, the deluxe package includes a beautiful mini hardback booklet (similar to the prior two editions) with high quality thick paper chock full of color (and sometimes rarely seen) pictures along with new liner notes by Genesis' long time friend and former road manager Richard Mcphail, David Baddiel, Queen's Roger Taylor, Jeremy Clarkson, and Terry Robinson. This box set is a must own for any fan of Genesis' earliest progressive albums. Despite any missing "wish list" type inclusions, this collection is nothing short of an audio-visual wet dream for Genesis fans!
 

 

Genesis - Live 1973-2007 (BOX SET) (2009)

WOG RATING: ***

The fourth of the five Genesis remixed and remastered box sets (the last being Genesis The Movie Box Set 1982-2007 which is reviewed in the Genesis Video Reviews section of this site), Genesis Live 1973-2007 was in many ways the collection of the greatest speculation prior to its release of all of these (then) new collections. Genesis fans knew it would contain the band's official live albums, including: 1973's Live, 1977's Seconds Out, 1982's Three Sides Live, 1992's The Way We Walk - Volume I: The Shorts, and 1993's The Way We Walk - Volume II: The Longs. Beyond that, no one really knew what might be featured as bonus material, frankly. Of course, the prior three boxes certainly 'raised the bar' in terms of fan expectations. Would fans be forced to re-buy 2007's two year old live release, Live Over Europe, again in this live box set? Would it include all of the non-album live tracks featured on the old Genesis Archive box sets which seemed to be quickly phasing out of the record shops? Would it include some of the rare live gems that have never surfaced officially anywhere before? With a huge supply of multi-track live Genesis material anything was possible. Unfortunately, as we would all come to learn, some of the remixed and remastered Genesis box set series' greatest achievements and biggest failures exist within the dark grey marble colored walls of this collection's 8-CDs and 3-DVDs.
 
First, we learned the bad news... Unlike the prior box sets and the existence of multi-track master tapes, the band chose to only release 1982's Three Sides Live, and 1992/3's The Way We Walk: Volumes I & II in remixed stereo. There would be NO 5.1 audio! To make matters worse, it was remixed in 5.1 surround by Nick Davis at one point, it just wasn't included here. This was extremely disappointing to many Genesis enthusiasts. Obviously, remixed stereo still had the appeal of better stereo sound, for me the biggest draw of the prior box sets was the new 5.1 surround mixes. So, only Live and Seconds Out would receive the full surround sound treatment - at least for commercial consumption anyway! Even Live Over Europe, the band's most recent live album would not be included in surround (although thankfully an empty slot was made in the case so you did not need to repurchase it again)! Granted, you can argue that the Genesis When in Rome 2007 3-DVD set offers a surround track, but its not the same performance, and I think many fans would have wanted this along with the rest of the catalog in 5.1 Why do all the studio albums from 1970's Trespass through 1997's Calling All Stations (including many of the b-sides) along with one live album and pass on the four live titles that remained in the catalog?! Its like running a marathon and quitting 100 yards before reaching the finish line! Of course, European and Asian fans were also disappointed to see that they would not be able to get this box set on SACD+DVD format (as they could with the other box sets). They would be relegated to a CD+DVD version, which is the format they were all issued in here in North America. Truth be told, SACD was a niche audiophile format, but since it was the superior format (and still compatible with normal CD players) its a true same they did not complete the back catalog in this format.

Next, we learned that while The Way We Walk would be restored to its original concert set list order from the We Can't Dance Tour, they would still omit "Dreaming While You Sleep" from the album, making the show incomplete. To their credit, they did keep "Mama", "That's All" and "In Too Deep" from the prior tour on as bonus tracks, so its difficult to be completely disappointed on this point. Other surprising omissions included the live Shrine 1975 performance from The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway Tour on the Live Archive box set and many of the live gems on the second Genesis Archive box set from the Duke and And Then There Were Three Tours. While some would find this unnecessary, as those old Archive sets start to dry up and vanish from the market, I think people will wish these great performances made the cut in years to come. The final disappointment of the Live box was the lack of rare video footage. Plenty of decent quality options existed, like the Genesis Opening Night 1992 documentary (which was produced by the band's management), The Midnight Special live footage from the early 1970s, and more. Many assumed they were holding these back for the final Movie Box Set, but sadly they didn't appear there either.

All if that aside, there was some miraculously strong things about this box set. The live stereo recordings were vastly superior to the old non-remixed editions. In fact, it made you yearn for the 5.1 surround mixes even more after hearing what they did with two-channel stereo. Especially, albums like Genesis Live, which always sounded a little flat until it was given new life courtesy of Nick Davis' incredible efforts at the mixing desk! Speaking of Genesis Live, it also included five selections from that 1975 Shrine performance mentioned earlier. It sounds great in both stereo and 5.1 surround. I just wish they did they released the rest of the 1975 show this way! 

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