It’s a sure sign that Christmas is around the corner when the plethora of annual ‘Best Ofs’ start hitting the shelves. Adding their name to this year’s list of stocking fillers is Genesis. Yet, their three-CD Platinum Collection could hardly be described as just a stocking filler. In fact, this is the most comprehensive review of one of Britain’s most enduring bands to date, spanning their debut album on Virgin, Trespass from 1970, right up to 1997’s ill-feted Calling All Stations.
Unlike previous Genesis retrospectives which concentrated on their pop-influenced later years, this one is the first to include tracks from the Peter Gabriel years when the band were one of the leading lights in the world of progressive rock – an era which many listeners won’t even be aware existed.Indeed the contrast between the 20-plus minute multi-faceted fans’ favourite Supper’s Ready and the lightweight pop of Invisible Touch leaves you wondering if this could really be the same band. Of course in many respects it wasn’t, with Gabriel at the helm and Steve Hackett on guitars in these early days.
So, what is there to persuade Genesis fans to part with their hard-earned cash on a collection of songs which they already own? Well, there is always a carrot which the record companies come up with to tempt people, and this time it is the fact that 23 of the collection’s 40 tracks have been newly remixed by producer Nick Davis. Is this enough though? If not, perhaps you will be drawn by the inclusion of the brassy Paperlate, the only non-album track in the set. One of the tunes to have been touched-up, this 1982 single has all of the hallmarks of the band’s new chart direction of the time, sounding remarkably similar to several other Genesis and Phil Collins solo singles which employed a horn section in the first half of the 1980s.
The real clincher however may well prove to be the very reasonable price of the collection, which is being offered for under £13 in most outlets, making it a sneaky Christmas present which the lucky recipient will think you’ve spent a fortune on. Let’s hope they don’t read this first though!
One very strange thing about this set is the track order, which runs in reverse chronologically. CD1 begins with a quartet of hits from We Can’t Dance, before going back in time to singles like Tonight Tonight Tonight from Invisible Touch and Mama from their self-titled 1983 album.Bizarrely however, the first disc then ends with the only track from their most recent album, Calling All Stations. The dark title track is the one selected to represent the album, where ex-Stiltskin singer Ray Wilson joined messrs Banks and Rutherford for one last hurrah.
CD two is arguably the most interesting disc of the trio as it uncovers the change from Genesis the prog rock band to Genesis the pop group. Their first single which might have got some female attention, Follow You Follow Me from 1978’s …And Then There Were Three, serves as a watershed before the full-on prog of In That Quiet Earth and Los Endos kick in.
For this reason the final CD, covering the Gabriel years from 1970-1974, might prove to be hard going for those of you who liked to sing along to I Can’t Dance or Throwing It All Away in the bath. But this is the great thing about this collection, that it caters for all Genesis fans, with few likely to regularly play all three discs.
Along with the CDs, there is also a DVD, The Video Show, being released too. A mammoth two-and-a-half hours long, it features every single video and promo that Genesis have ever made, all sounding superb in 5.1 surround sound.
And even if you don’t like all of the songs it’s worth watching for the witty videos and Mike Rutherford’s appalling acting during Robbery, Assault and Battery – a sure fire candidate for the worst attempt at acting being shot in history!