"The Epping Forest DVD Group - A Review So Far" by Kevin Fearon.
Until recently copies of sought after Genesis and solo related TV broadcasts, unreleased concert footage, promotional films, interviews and documentaries could only be obtained either in poor quality format (and for a considerable cost) from record fairs or via a very generous fan with lots of time on their hands and the hardware required to copy VHS tapes!
Over my years of collecting I have always had to resort to the former, spending my hard earned cash, and taking one or two chances, hoping that the VHS Genesis gem I had purchased would live up to what I hoped for and expected. I believe that on the majority of occasions I did ok, but sometimes I felt ripped off.
However, the arrival of the digital age has given the chance for fans
With the technical know how the ability to beat the bootleggers at the own game by freely trading firstly Video CD and more recently DVD.
Initially, trading groups emanated from the United States. Unfortunately, due to the difference in broadcast type, all of the releases were understandably done in NTSC.
The Trading Group, Epping Forest DVDs, has been in existence since September 2004. There objective is to create PAL format releases from the best sources available.
Here is a review of the releases I have obtained so far:
Popshop 1972 (EFDVDG01)
This release covers a performance recorded for Belgium TV on March 20 and 21 at the Pop Deux Studios. The are four full performances of The Fountain of Salmacis, Twilight Alehouse, The Musical Box, and The Return of the Giant Hogweed. Image and audio are amazing, an excellent document of early Genesis. To compliment this there are two extra TV clips, one from 1972 at the Piper Club in Rome which includes a live snippet of Stagnation, the second from 1974 at Palasport in Torino, which includes some ‘strange’ interview footage involving a shoe!
Television Mama (EFDVDG01)
We fast forward to the 1980s for the next release. Filmed in early 1984, the promotional film ‘Five Songs Live’ has performances of Mama, That’s All, Illegal Alien, Keep It Dark, and Home by the Sea/Second Home by the Sea. This is a mimed promo performance produced for European fans that had to make do with just 5 dates at Birmingham NEC for this tour. The performance is taken from a Belgian TV broadcast master. There is also an interview (in Italian) from Armando Gallo, which includes a unique edit of the Mama promo video, with pictures of 70s Phil, and strangely, Peter too!
A Midsummer Night’s Dance (EFDVDG03)
Knebworth 02 August 1992. This next release was something I had been wanting for a very long time. After attending the gig at Leeds two days earlier I heard that Sky TV where offering this show as pay-per-view. I asked a friend to record it for me. Putting the tape in my VCR I soon realised that there were some technical problems with the live broadcast, mainly in the sound mix, ‘apology’ messages across the picture, and beer commercials appearing here and there!
This new release is taken from a later re-broadcast where all of the audio and visual problems were fixed. However, the audio has been replaced with the far superior Radio 1 FM broadcast and the result is stunning.
The VHS copy is now in the bin!
Moving away from Genesis, the group also produce solo Genesis solo related releases too. This release has just over 90 minutes of excellent documentary footage from UK TV. The highlight of this release is the excellent ‘The South Bank Show’ from 1982, which covers the making of and release of PGIV. This programme gives clips of demos right through to the finished articles being premiered at the Womad festival.
The disc also includes two ‘Whistle Test’ interviews, one from 1982, covering the ‘Six of the Best’ show and Womad, and the other from 1986, which includes a solo piano version of ‘Red Rain’, as well as a retrospective interview from 1989.
The Hackett Chronicles Volume 1 (EFDVDSH01)
This release has now been deleted due to the impending official release of the same show, scheduled for 20 May 2005. You will not get this through the group anymore but I urge you to go out and buy the official product upon release.
The programme is a 1978 TV performance recorded for Beat Club in Germany. Including classic performances of ‘Please Don’t Touch’, ‘Ace of Wands’, ‘Spectral Mornings’ and ‘Clocks’.
Watch What Happens (EFDVDPC01)
Taken from an excellent Finnish MTV broadcast this release covers Phil’s ‘Big Band’ efforts from 1998. It’s nice to see Phil behind a drum kit for this performance which covers big band interpretations of many Genesis and solo hits. The last part of the show includes the vocals of Oleta Adams. Big band is not normally my ‘cup of tea’ but I found this show hugely entertaining.
There are others that are available:
GENESIS, Bataclan 1973 (EFDVDG04)
Mike & the Mechanics, Archive 1985-1991 (EFDVDMM01)
Phil Collins, Both Sides of South Africa (EFDVDPC02)
Unfortunately I have yet to obtain the three releases above but, when I do, I will happily review them for future issue of TWR.
The group even offers independent releases created by members of the group. This has lead to high quality releases such as the Genesis Lyceum show from 6 May 1980 and the Marvellous ‘The Lamb Live Down On Broadway’.
With every release there is a constant attention to detail I have only ever seen with this trading group. The best image and audio quality is always selected, the menus always add something extra in additional audio tracks and are colourful and easy to navigate. You could be forgiven for thinking that they had been officially released by the record companies themselves.
This group relies on its members to supply the material to create the releases. The more members it gets the greater the chance of finding newer and better quality material. Get signed up today, collect all the releases that interest you, and offer any PAL format material suitable for release!
The group can be found at the below link: