“Exploring the R-Kive” - The new Genesis compilation put under the spotlight by Alan Hewitt.

Does the world really need another Genesis compilation? This is the vexed question which must have crossed most Genesis fans’ minds when the “exciting news” touted recently on the band’s official web site turned out to be something of a damp squib…if you are an existing fan that is!

During the period immediately after the announcement of the band’s reunion back in 2006, we were subjected to a spate of compilation albums: TIOA The Hits, The Platinum Collection and The TIOA Tour Edition to name but three. OK, so the former was a stop gap between the announcement of the 2007 tour and the subsequent 5.1 remastering project whilst The Platinum Collection was the introduction to that remastering project and so it served the dual purpose of making us aware of that and also generating interest among what I shall term the “floating voters” ie those poor souls who have not investigated the band’s back catalogue previously.

If you look closely at the track listing for the R-Kive, it mimics that of The Platinum Collection almost entirely with the exception of Back In NYC so what possible purpose can this collection serve for existing Genesis fans? The simple answer is that this compilation is NOT aimed at existing fans at least so far as the Genesis selection part of it is concerned. With Universal Records taking over the Virgin/EMI back catalogue and with no new product or remastering project or… dare I say it… “tour” to promote, Universal had to do something to bring this part of their immense back catalogue to the public’s attention, So, here is what I assume is the “unique” selling point of this set: it is the first to include tracks from the solo output of Messrs Banks, Collins, Gabriel, Hackett and Rutherford.
Now, on initial consideration, that idea has some potential. After all, many fans and members of the general public may not be aware of the solo careers of the individual members of Genesis and may well have been scared off from the daunting prospect of investigating such a large (and to them at least) unknown back catalogue of material. If you were starting from scratch with a catalogue of albums the size of Genesis’ where would YOU start folks? So, anything that points the newbie or older fan who has not perhaps explored the minutiae of one or other of the incumbents’ back catalogues in that direction can’t be a bad thing? Or can it? Well, when you take a look at the tracks which have been selected as representatives of the vast oeuvre that has been generated by each of them you have to wonder!

OK, tracks such as In The Air Tonight and The Living Years are fine ambassadors for the solo careers of Phil and Mike as indeed are Every Day, Biko and For A While representing Steve, Peter and Tony. However, others included here do make you wonder what the band members (for it is they apparently who selected the representatives from their own back catalogues) were thinking of when they put this collection together. In particular Wake Up Call and Siren would, by most fans’ judgement not be truly representative of either Phil or Tony’s work. Indeed, the latter’s positioning at the end of the last disc has practically guaranteed that almost no one will take the time to hear it!

One other glaring omission is the complete lack of any material from the vast solo back catalogue of Genesis founding father Anthony Phillips! An astonishing oversight given that Mr Phillips was the driving force behind the formative band and one of the most creative and prolific composers in his own right since - thirty one solo albums and counting folks! Surely there is no reason why his output could not have been given the same consideration as any other member or am I missing something here? Although that said, the fact that Mr Phillips has his own retrospective five disc set coming out in October may have mitigated against anything from his output being included here just a thought folks!

Ostensibly R-Kive has been put together as an accompaniment (or precursor) to the “Genesis: Together And Apart” and “Sum Of The Parts” documentaries being released in October/November which themselves may be of some real interest to fans and have been the subject of much over the top speculation about prospective reunions which I am sad to say will probably prove to be completely without foundation. It may also go some further way to explaining Ant’s absence as they too (as I understand it) focus on the careers of Messrs Banks, Collins, Gabriel, Hackett and Rutherford which, no doubt in the public’s eyes and those of Mr Joe Punter are the faces (and voices) that comprise the entity known as “Genesis”. We of course, know otherwise, don’t we folks? Ant’s omission from either project won’t ruffle the feathers of the average listener but any devotee of the band (myself among them) will find his absence from either project galling to say the very least.

This release may have served as a better introduction to the fascinating components of the band we know as “Genesis” if the emphasis had been placed equally on the solo work AND the band’s prodigious output. I am sure a poll for suggestions from the fan base could have been organised via the official web sites with the consensus forming the basis of the track listing? After all, how many more copies of Supper’s Ready and Mama do your average Genesis fan really need in their collection? R-Kive represented a great opportunity to present all of the facets of Genesis to the wider public and sadly that opportunity has been squandered by this misguided release.

Click to enlarge