"Taking another trip back..." - The first Genesis Boxed set. Review by Alan Hewitt.
Well, it really has been a LONG time, hasn't it? The first news of this project was broken to us in a TWR interview with Tony Banks almost FOUR years ago! Now the Boxed Set that most Genesis fans have waited so long for is finally upon us, and was it worth the wait? Well, we shall see...
Spread over four discs, his compilation takes us back to the heady days of the group's formative period and begins with the much vaunted (and speculated about) full live recording of the band's much discussed The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway album. Now I know I am going to open myself up for some flak here, but my only real gripe with this set has to be the inclusion of this complete concert. NOT that I object to hearing a live recording of The Lamb... far from it! Especially when the recording in question is SUPERB quality! No, my primary objection to this recording is that it occupies TOO much space" I am convinced that had the band decided to release this as a complete package in its own right in much the same way that Jethro Tull release their Night Cap package, there would have been so much more additional space for more treasures from the archive.
Having said that; the recording of The Lamb... taken from a mixing desk recording and judiciously "tarted up" as Steve Hackett himself remarked, is an excellent document of the band at a particularly important stage of their development. Disc Three contains a further live round up, this time from the definitely more enjoyable (to my ears at least) Selling England By The Pound tour from their now legendary Rainbow Theatre show on 20th October 1973. Interestingly enough; despite several reports to the contrary, this recording was NOT from the King Biscuit Flower Hour recording which Genesis Live was taken from.
Hearing the missing links from the album after all this time and having listened to them in mediocre quality on various bootlegs (oops!) it really is a revelation. The inclusion on this disc of the now increasingly rare single B sides and non album tracks from the period means that those fans without limitless funds (and patience) can now hear the delights of Peter singing about "Fools in pools" and "Nuns with guns" without having to pay a king's ransom for the privilege!
The fourth and final disc is where the project takes on its "Holy Grail" aspect. In all, there are twenty tracks on this disc and not one of them dates from later than 1969! Beginning with one of the original mixes of From Genesis To Revelation and then through the much bootlegged "Night Ride" session from 1970, this is a rare glimpse of the band at their raw beginnings, and one can now wonder at the creativity that gave us Dusk (caught here in its original form) and ponder on the psychedelia of such wonders as Sea Bee,and Hair On The Arms And Legs. There is something wonderful about catching a glimpse behind the corporate façade that is Genesis 1998 and look back to a time when music was the adventure it should still be nowadays!
Accompanying the four discs is an eighty page booklet containing essays on the band's history by such alumni as Tony Stratton-Smith and Chris Welch and accompanying their text is a wealth of photographs from the period, most of which have not been seen in print before or for some time.
The Box Set Book - none more brown
So, was all the fuss worth it? Most definitely. Genesis fans have finally been served the archival main course which they have been craving for so long and I think any appetite will be satisfied with this most wholesome of creations. Oh, and by the way; before anyone thinks that my opinion is a little biased and perhaps influenced by a "credit" in the booklet - yes, you are right but I had to work hard for it - but buy it anyway!