R-Kive reviewed by Chris James.
The greatest rock band in the world finally releases a compilation for the children (and grandchildren?) of its fans.
Trying to cover not only Genesis entire career but also the solo careers of the key band members on a three CD collection was bound to lead to some tough choices. Although many important songs from the Genesis discography have been left out, this collection does include some interesting solo tracks among the well-known hits of the 70’s and ‘80’s, which the three man version had, as well as some fine examples of the earlier five man ‘70’s progressive output.
But at whom, I wonder is this collection actually aimed? The answer lies in that atrocious title and artwork, but I will come to that in a minute.
Timed to coincide with the release of the Sum of The Parts DVD/Blu Ray documentary, this collection shines a light on the extensive, and frankly staggering, talent the band incubated and nurtured. That ’ s no bad thing, but it is difficult to imagine any potential for cross-over remains. Gabriel’s fans no doubt know his history and have explored it. Ditto Collins’s vast fan base. It is interesting to wonder what a Collins fan who likes the doo-wop bop of Easy Lover would make of the magisterial art rock of Supper’s Ready or what a Gabriel fan thinks of the slightly misogynistic Invisible Touch. This compilation offers those comparisons and many, many more.
It is also difficult to believe that this compilation is aimed at new fans. A few years ago Genesis released The Platinum Collection which exceeds this compilation by some distance. But it remains a fact that Genesis haven’t put out any original work since 1997’s Calling All Stations. The title track appears on this set but only that. In truth, much older, Collins-centred fans regard We Can’t Dance as their last album, and that came out an awfully long twenty three years ago.
The less said about the reaction from dyed-in-the-wool Genesis fans, the better. Obviously there is nothing here that we don’t already have, and the social media blitz of “exciting news!" a few weeks ago upset a great many fans who’d been hoping, if not for a reunion or a new album, then for a release of some obscure demos and soundboard recordings which are known to exist, but which likely wouldn’t be profitable to be released.
In truth, a reunion of any combination of Genesis remains a vanishing improbability. Gabriel, Rutherford and Hackett in particular have been packing them in on their solo tours; Collins has suffered well-documented health problems; and Banks seems to prefer to dawdle with classical compositions these days. There is simply no reason for them to get back together to do anything original, however much us fans pray for it daily.
What’s left then, is the back catalogues to be repackaged for new generations. And that’s where we come back to the title of this compilation: R-Kive (geddit? Do you geddit?!). It is trite, simplistic, irritating and shows a crushing lack of imagination, which is ironic since it titles a collection of songs which contain some of the most imaginative music in rock history. The cover rearranges the letters of “Genesis” into a drug-addled mess of bland, sweetly coloured pointlessness, which requires some low-level dyslexia to decipher, and that oh-so-clever shadow of a man’s face cast by the letters (see it? Do you see it?!), which describes no one in particular. So what’s it there for? It reminds me of the face on the front of Mike + The Mechanics’ 1985 album, in profile instead of a portrait, but not much else. Thus, I suspect this compilation might be aimed at Generation Y (short for WHY?), or possibly at Generation Z (short for Zzzzz … ), but whether they will buy it is an open question.
To try to make sense of my frustrated confusion, I showed the cover to my eight year old daughter. She got it. The letter blocks reminded her of one of her old games and she said it was “pretty”. Fair enough. The Genesis legacy needs to continue. Fans who remember seeing the band live in 1972 are, like members of the band, in their sixties now and probably more than a few have already fallen off their perch. Genesis needs new, younger fans, and if such a feeble-minded title and muddle -headed artwork convinces “da kidz” to give the band a try, then that’s fine with me.
In summary: Genesis is, and will always be, the greatest rock band in the world. This is a collection of some very good examples of its material, as well as an eclectic mix of tracks from its members’ solo careers. There is much missing but those hidden gems on the full albums remain for the casual fan to discover, enjoy and fall in love with. If it helps to extend the legacy of Genesis’ vast and appallingly underappreciated contribution to our cultural landscape, then all well and good - despite that hideously vapid title.