"Genesis Revelations" - The new Box Set reviewed by Alan Hewitt.
At last, the wait is over, the first 5.1 series of albums by the band has finally hit the stores. After all the furore and debate, is the end result worth all the fuss? We shall see……
I have always been somewhat sceptical when it comes to re-mastering projects myself. The bands previous effort on this subject the so called “ Definitive Remasters” series from the mid 1990’s certainly fistful my caution. However, time and technology have moved on, and here is a chance to really polish the albums and make them shine in a totally new light.
There is a potential downside to this, of course. The re-masters may also bring any technical glitches etc to the fore to the point where they may stick out like the proverbial sore thumb. Fortunately in the case of these albums, there are no sore thumbs, only a truly amazing listening experience.
Having been lucky enough to have heard some of the early mixes of some of this music at the band’s studio a while ago, I knew that the back catalogue was in safe hands. Indeed Nick Davis has done a truly remarkable job on each and every album in this series.
Even better for me is the fact that they started with the albums that really formed my introduction to the band and its music. I never thought that I would ever be in the position of having to sit and LISTEN to these albums in the same rapt attention that I gave them the first time I heard them, but LISTEN I did.
How could I not sit and listen when every single note; every drawn breath in Phil’s vocals is here on glorious display? Each and every track has something “new” or unexpected on it. Old friends become brand new ones, especially when you realise first how much was missing from the original versions. These ARE the original versions of course, nothing has been altered or tarted up here but really it is akin to restoring and cleaning oil painting and realising that so much of the picture was missing!
Personal favourites such as Dukes Travels/Dukes End, Blood On The Rooftops, Ripples and Burning Rope have all been given a new lustre which really beggars belief and it is a joy to behold. Musically this set really takes the bands catalogue to new heights.
Then there are the “extras”. Each album come with it own accompanying disc of video material including new interviews done specially for the series and there are some “revelations” in the comments from the guys. The extras have probably been the subject of as much discussion among the fans as the albums themselves – with good reason to, I think.
There are reasons to be both pleased and disappointed in equal measure about the extras. On the plus side; pristine copies of such things as the 1976 and 1980 films are a joy after years of inferior quality bootleg copies; However the mediocre quality of the 1977 and 1978 footage is a big disappointment. In the bands defence however, is the fact that the 1977 footage was not made available to the band by the TV companies who owned it, and the BBC (as usual) wanted a fee for the use of the 1978 film which anyone would find prohibitive – pity they didn’t take better care of their own archives eh?!
I did find it strange though that the band did not choose to finally release the ENTIRE 1980 film, after all the band actually OWN that one apparently! All of this is minor quibbling really when you consider that it is the Music that matters in the end and here we have it in a truly amazing presentation.
There are, however two gripes that I (and many other fan’s have, apparently) about this package. First of all the price £78 to £120 depending on where you purchase it. This figure is steep when you consider how many times most of us have already bought these albums over the years (5 by my last count folks! ). The packaging is far from exceptional and the other major bugbear is the fact that you cannot purchase the “Bonus” disc separately effectively forcing you to shell out an exorbitant amount of money for a bunch of singles and B sides which we already bought at the time or an Archive # 2 ! It is exactly decisions like this which lead to accusations of marketing excess being levelled at the band and in this case, I think the fans have a valid point.
However, if it is the music that you are after, then undoubtedly this set sets a new standard of excellence and one which all other bands considering a similar treatment of their catalogues must strive to equal excellent stuff!