“The Not Quite So Short of It” - Genesis’ new live album: The Way We Walk Volume Two: The Longs reviewed by Alan Hewitt.
Sequels are seldom as good as the original, and that certainly is the case with this release. On first glance, the track listing seems particularly impressive and indeed, the actual selection of material is just that. What is lacking here is any real portrayal of a band playing “live”. From the opening mixed down audience noises before Phil’s intiduction of Mike Reurherford’s power chord intro to the classic Dance On A Volcano, I was made painfully aware that this going to be a sanitised live album like Pink Floyd’s Delicate Sound of Thunder. The medley of vintage material including both I Know What I Like and Musical Box is excellently performed as always and indeed, Daryl’s great guitar playing on Firth Of Fifth was greatly enhanced on the album. The main bugbear however was the almost total lack of any audience atmosphere. Where were the screams of joy as the band ripped into The Lamb… or Musical Box? Nowhere to be heard.
The scenario doesn’t improve on the next track: Driving The Last Spike and I think the band or the producer has been a little TOO exuberant with the mixing, because this track has lost a great deal of the power and majesty that was so evident in the live context.
Editing has certainly gone to town on this album, with all the between-song stories edited out which takes away from the live atmosphere, especially on classic like Domino and Home By The Sea which were just begging to be left intact with Phil’s corny introductions and audience participation.
Neither Fading Lights or the drum duet do anything to restore the balance. In fact, the latter is even more isolated on the album than it was during the set, and it left me wondering why it is that producers always feel the need to meddle with something if it isn’t broken? The main feeling I get from frequent listening to this album is that it was put together in a hurry in an effort to pacify the old fans and has, if anything, left many even more unhappy than before. It would have been preferable for the entire project to have been released as a double album, warts and all. Anyone buying a live album is NOT expecting a perfect copy of the studio albums are they? Speaking purely for myself, I would rather hear the roar of the crowd on a live album every time.
Finally, before anyone gets the wrong idea about this review, I am NOT having a go at the band, the music is as brilliant as ever. What annoys me is the total disregard for the added element of the crowd, essential to any live album. Ten out of ten for performance, MINUS ten for editing!