“Compilation Crazy” - Genesis’ recent compilation albums put under the microscope by Alan Hewitt.
Over the years there have been quite a number of Genesis complations of good, bad or indifferent nature but over the last twelve or so months three in particular have come to light which merit closer scrutiny.
The first of these is also the oldest. Rock Theatre was originally issued on vinyl in the Seventies and justifiably I suppose it has gained some interest from collectors on the strength of the inclusion of the single remix of Watcher of The Skies. This is quite different from the song’s album counterpart and for those of us who can’t afford the £100+ price tag for the original single, this album is a worthwhile investment. The CD version has recently appeared as an import from Germany with a greatly differing price tag of between £8.50 and £20! This seems all the more daft when you realise that the CD itself is actually pressed here in the UK! The remaining tracks on the disc are: I Know What I Like/Harold The Barrel/Harlequin/The Fountain Of Salmacis and Supper’s Ready. All of these tracks are taken directly from their respective albums and the disc’s value is solely vested in the Watcher… remix unless you are a new fan looking for a suitable introduction to the band’s work from their formative years.
Next up is an Australian compilation released in late 1990. Titled The Vertigo Years this is a very strange compilation until you bear in mind that it was initially released in Australia but even so, the inclusion of the entire “Genesis” album is intriguing and plights toward a definite lack of imagination in the selection of the tracks. There are some singles which have never seen the light of day in Australia such as Many Too Many and Happy The Man and it is strange that they have not appeared on this compilation. The fact that it is comprised of material to which the Vertigo label owns the rights may explain this. Both Misunderstanding and Man On The Corner are live versions taken directly from Three Sides Live. The only track of real interest on this CD is Open Door which also appeared on the US version of Three Sides Live.
The most recent compilation is, like the first, from Germany and is called Turn It On Again. This is by far the best value of the three albums, due in no small part to the presence of two live cuts previously only available on 12” singles - the title track, including the Sixties Medley, and Firth Of Fifth (1981 version) in all its glory. The remaining tracks are drawn from the most recent albums by the band, although compelists will be interested to hear that there are several single edits of tracks included on the album.
All in all, I would personally recommnend any of you out there to avoid these discs or at least wait until the price comes down; after all, record companies make enough money out of the fans these days without further extortionately priced discs and the main interest of these remains firmly in the realm of serious collectors.