Genesis — Archive 1967-75
(Atlantic 82858-2, 1975/1998, CD)
by Jon Davis, Published 1999-01-01
At long last, the first Genesis box arrives. The compilers have chosen an interesting tack with this collection. Whereas many box sets consist primarily of (someone’s) favorite tracks, plus some live and/or unreleased studio material, this four-disc set contains three discs of live material, none of which has been officially released before, and one disc of rarities, demos, and BBC recordings. Chronologically, half of the material comes from 1975, a quarter comes from the band’s earliest days (1967-70), and only one quarter covers 1971-1974, which many consider the heyday of the band. The decision to include an entire live rendition of The Lamb Lies down on Broadway (from the only concert on that tour which was recorded) is a dangerous one, and I personally have my doubts. On the one hand, it’s great to hear the band do justice to the complex and powerful music and imagine what it must have been like to be there (and if I had to pick, Lamb is probably my single favorite Genesis album). But on the other hand, focusing so much on just one night out of eight years tends to detract from the other accomplishments of the band. It also makes the first two discs of the set rather short. There is quite a bit of room left over.
The Lamb concert really sounds superb. I’m amazed at how well the band covers the overdubbed parts of the album — never does it seem like there is anything missing. There has been some controversy over the fact that Peter Gabriel rerecorded the vocal parts, but it’s easy to believe that the costumes did indeed muffle the vocals to the point that the original tracks were unusable. The blend into the studio version of “IT” when the concert tape ran out is handled seamlessly, and is preferable to an abrupt cutoff. Unfortunately, the encores from the show were not recorded. I wish they had substituted live recordings of the same songs from previous tours. There’s plenty of time left on the disc.
The live cuts on disc three are all outstanding renditions of classic tunes, recorded in the years between the first Genesis live album and Gabriel’s departure, with one throwback (“Stagnation”) from 1971. In addition, we get the first official CD release of the songs “Happy the Man” and “Twilight Alehouse,” plus the rare single version of “Watcher in the Skies.” This fills in the major gap of the band’s peak years. The demos and rarities on disc four are a real treat for a Genesis fan. Many of these songs have been written about in the band’s biographies and mentioned in interviews, so it’s nice to hear them at last. Admittedly the sound quality is quite primitive on some of them, but considering the age and origin of the music, they are surprisingly listenable. The only other thought I have about the set (after having it about a week) is that the 80-page book, while very artistically designed, is rather hard to read. The articles are by such relevant people as Tony Banks, Jonathan King (their first producer), Richard MacPhail (long-time band friend and roadie), and Tony Stratton-Smith (manager and head of Charisma Records). There are dozens of vintage photos of the band, both on stage and off, but few of them are labeled in any helpful way.
ProgDay 2017 Announces First Bands – Flor de Loto, Sonar, and Infinien are the first three performers to be announced for the 2017 edition of the long-running ProgDay Festival. The 23rd ProgDay takes place Saturday and Sunday, September 2nd and 3rd, at Storybook Farm in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. » Read more
Allan Holdsworth RIP – Surely in the list of artists who have contributed to the sound of modern music, there is a special spot for guitarist Allan Holdsworth. His name is known to virtually every student of the instrument in jazz and rock, and his style has been so widely emulated that it's hardly worth mentioning anymore — we can just assume that every guitarist has Holdsworth as an influence. » Read more
Larry Coryell RIP – One of the greats of jazz guitar has left us at the age of 73. Larry Coryell was one of the founding figures of jazz fusion, but produced a significant body of work the bridged many styles. His group Eleventh House provided a unique take on the combination of jazz and rock that was distinct from contemporaries such as Mahavishnu Orchestra, Return to Forever, and Weather Report. » Read more
John Wetton RIP – After a long battle with colon cancer, singer and bassist John Wetton has died at the age of 67. As an integral member of such bands as King Crimson, UK, and Asia, his was one of the distinctive voices in progressive rock, lending a human touch to often difficult music. » Read more
Seaprog Announces First Artists for 2017 – The organizers of the Seaprog Festival in Seattle have announced the first set of confirmed performers for the 2017 festival. The best known names are Jack o' the Clock and Zero Times Everything, but a host of other bands are featured, mostly from the Northwest. The festival will take place June 2-4, 2017. » Read more