"The Day The Light Went On..." - Genesis Archive #2: a track by track examination. Review by Alan Hewitt.Genesis "revisited" here folks. I thought that now that I have had the chance to thoroughly listen to the second Archive set a few more times, that it would be worthwhile to go through it track by track in a little more depth after my cursory review last time, so here goes...
The first discs starts off with the best of the B-sides tracks from 1991's "We Can't Dance" album, "On The Shoreline", which is a true Genesis standard. Tony's keyboards are superb here and you can, if you are careful, hear the "elephant" noise which was such an integral part of "No Son Of Mine" at the start which makes me wonder exactly how the band separated this track was it an extension of that idea or something else? Either way a good set opener.
"Hearts On Fire" is another of the cast-offs from "We Can't Dance" and this one definitely owes its existence to Phil's pop sensibilities, with its infectious rhythm this wouldn't have been of place on Phil's previous solo effort, "...But Seriously".
"You Might Recall" and "Paperlate" both take us back a little bit further to 1982's "3x3" EP and they both represent Genesis at their experimental best, taking the vocal refrain "Paperlate" from a sound check of "Dancing With The Moonlit Knight" and turning it into a song with an identity and character of its own shows the band at their very best in my opinion.
"Evidence Of Autumn", the B Side to 1980's "Misunderstanding" single, shows Tony Banks at his best with a melancholy tale of love lost accompanied by a mournful keyboard tune totally in keeping with the song's subject matter.
Despite its title, "Do The Neurotic" from 1986's "In Too Deep" single is actually a glorious Hi Fi romp and certainly one of the best "tunes" that the band came up with during the "Invisible Touch" album sessions. It isn't difficult to imagine the fun that the band had putting this one together and it shows!
"I'd Rather Be You" is, to me at least, the weakest track that appeared from the "Invisible Touch" album being a little too light hearted for my liking.
"Naminanu", the B Side from 1981's "Keep It Dark" single is another great instrumental track that is still crying our for some proper lyrics even after all this time; another "work in progress" perhaps? Following that is the classic tale of an innocent man's downfall at the hands of a woman that is "Inside & Out", without doubt one of the band's finest offerings and one which should have been included on the "Wind & Wuthering" album - here it is at last!
Another "lost" classic comes in from the cold with the next track, "Feeding The Fire" again from the highly prolific "Invisible Touch" sessions. This one has the lot: drama; fire and superb performances by Mike, Tony and Phil.
Remix and extended versions have always left me cold and frankly the inclusion on this set of the band's attempts at this area although essential in terms of bringing the fuller picture to the collection, nonetheless do not endear themselves to me I'm afraid - and "I Can't Dance", the 12" version, certainly doesn't improve with repeated listenings!
Rounding off disc one is another underrated instrumental track from 1981's "Abacab" sessions, "Submarine", which is an atmospheric gem closing the first disc in fine style.
Disc Two focuses exclusively on the band as a concert entity; bringing together performances from the entire period that the set encompasses beginning with the raucous humour of "Illegal Alien" from 1984. Strangely enough, I detested this song when I first heard the album but live well... it soon became a favourite and still is.
"Dreaming While You Sleep" is certainly one of the band's more poignant songs and this performance captured during the band's six night stint at London's Earls Court Arena in 1992 certainly manages to bring the emotion of the song across very well. Back to 1984 for what for me is the weakest live track on this collection, "It's Gonna Get Better", which never quite rose to the heights of either "Mama" or "Home By The Sea" and doesn't really do so here either.
"Deep In The Motherlode" captured from one of the band's shows on their massive 1978 world tour certainly has the magic and the drama and a passionate vocal performance by Phil; it is only a shame that the story that Phil narrated before the song is missing. In fact; that is perhaps my one gripe about this disc - the stories, sometimes humorous, sometimes thought provoking which prefaced some of these songs in concert should have been included too but I suppose space was at a premium and the music is what matters, isn't it?
"Ripples", another personal favourite follows and this is a stunning performance from the band at the height of their powers during the 1980 "Duke" tour. Juxtaposing this with "The Brazilian" from 1987 certainly shows the band's development as they increasingly took musical chances and loosened up both musically and personally.
"Your Own Special Way" is another one of those underrated tracks which still has the power to surprise whenever you listen to it and this delightful version captured during the band's series of dates in Australia in 1986 is a delight to the ears. The last three tracks on this disc serve as an emphatic recapitulation of everything that makes Genesis concerts such special events, beginning with the passion of "Burning Rope" another classic from the "And Then There Were Three" album but captured live in all its glory here from a show in 1980. A real trip down Memory Lane follows with "Entangled" - from the soundtrack to the sadly unseen these days 1976 film "Genesis In Concert" - brings melody into the picture before we are carried away on the aural tidal wave that is "Duke's Travels/Duke's End" from 1980 ending the second disc in a dramatic fashion.
Disc Three begins with the three remaining 12" re-mixes which, as I have already said, are not really my cup of tea. Another bunch of live tracks follows with fine live renditions of "No Reply At All", "Man On The Corner" (both from 1981) and "The Lady Lies" from a 1980 concert. These three manage to encapsulate the ever changing face of Genesis' sound during the crucial 1978-81 period where the band managed to avoid the pitfalls that so many of their peers had fallen victim to and reinvented themselves and their music gaining an ever increasing audience into the bargain.
"Open Door", another delightful acoustic song from Mike and another personal favourite which in turn opens the door (pardon the pun!) to the tracks which I had been waiting so long to hear again properly; "The Day The Light Went Out", a latter day Sci Fi mini epic and quite a surprise for 1978's "And Then There Were Three" album where realism was definitely to the fore but all the more welcome for that! "Vancouver", taken from the same EP as the previous track could almost be Genesis' "She's Leaving Home" or perhaps the first nod toward the problems which were two years later to inspire Phil's first solo album? Either way, this is another priceless track.
"Pigeons" lightens the mood a little bit and re-emphasises the frequently overlooked fact that Genesis as a band were always possessed of a sense of humour if not always evident it was nevertheless always there and this is a fine example of it!
"It's Yourself" mixes fine melodramatic lyrics with some of the band's more lavish instrumentation on a track which should definitely be viewed as the missing part of the classic "Los Endos".
Rounding off the third disc is the band's only concession to the "demo" format with a working version of "Mama" which makes very interesting listening and gives a precious insight into how the band develop and expand their ideas.
So there you have the music. A fine selection representing all the facets of the band during the period covered. The accompanying booklet provides a fine visual accompaniment to the music with many unseen photographs by Armando Gallo and Robert Ellis along with essays on the band by High Fielder amongst others.
However, there are some gripes about this set which must be aired if fairness to all is to be maintained. As many fans have commented, and I cannot help but agree with them to some extent - why was the set not kept at four discs as originally envisaged with the fourth disc comprising either more live material or more of the demos which we have only one tantalising glimpse of with the set's last track, "Mama"? Perhaps it would have been a better idea to have a two disc set of live material spanning the entire period, rather like Steve Hackett's "Timelapse" album which spanned two decades without seeing the "join" so to speak.
There is also the niggle of the two missing studio tracks, "Me And Virgil" and "Match Of The Day" both of which would easily have fitted on to this set. Why they were omitted is anyone's guess really but their omission is a serious flaw in an otherwise well packaged set.
Finally back to the live material. I am sure that I am not the only one who has thought that it would not be a bad idea if the band prepared a series of live discs from individual concerts spanning the band's history - after all artists as diverse as Fish and King Crimson are doing exactly that to the delight of their fans and to the enhancement of their bank balances, so why not Genesis? Maybe that is something for a future project, now that the material has been sourced and is available.
My final thoughts on this set are that it will not please the long standing fans who bought most of this material upon its initial release over the years but did we really expect it to and was it really aimed at us? In all fairness, we had our "fix" with the first Box Set which certainly answered my prayers. I am sure however, that to the many fans who became fans of the band during the latter period of Phil's tenure as singer; that this will finally round out their collections and at a fraction of the price it would cost to buy these items individually! I envy them their enjoyment of listening to this stuff for the first time. Like it or not, at least the band have actually put this material together at a reasonable price and in decent packaging and I for one applaud the hard work that went into this project. Now if only we can have a similar video compilation... ?