GenesisGenesis: The Movie Box: 1981-2007 Rhino Records
With its entire audio discography now remixed and remastered on 1976-1982 (Rhino, 2007), 1983-1998 (Rhino, 2007), 1970-1975 (Rhino, 2008), and, most recently, Live: 1973-2007 (Rhino, 2009), legendary progressive popster Genesis finishes its series with Genesis: The Movie Box. Like the Live CD box, The Movie Box: 1981-2007 collects a series of concert performancessome making their appearance on DVD for the first timeleaving space for When In Rome 2007 (Rhino, 2008), a three-DVD concert set from the group's 2007 reunion that also includes a nearly two-hour tour documentary, Come Rain Or Shine. Like the other boxes, it's CD-size, with DVDs housed in CD-style jewel cases.
The disappointment is that, while the box documents every Genesis tour from Abacab (Rhino, 1981) forwardwith the exception of the much-maligned and, sadly, overlooked Calling All Stations (Rhino, 1997), where Genesis co-founders Mike Rutherford (bass, guitar) and Tony Banks (keyboards) were forced to replace departed drummer/lead vocalist Phil Collins with Ray Wilsonthere's nothing from the group's rich and innovative pre-1981 period. The reality is that there's simply not that much material available from Peter Gabriel-era Genesis up until 1975, nor is there much from the pre-Abacab period that began with Trick Of The Tail (Rhino, 1976), where Collins took over front man duties. What video material there is has been included on DVDs in the audio boxes which, amongst other features, also include 5.1 Surround and new stereo mixes of Genesis' entire discography.
What Genesis: The Movie Box does not represent is Genesis' earliest days as the groundbreaking band that contributed, amongst other things, the iconic "Watcher of the Skies," epic "Supper's Ready" and concept-heavy The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway (Rhino, 1974), along with classic albums including Selling England By The Pound (Rhino, 1973), Trick Of The Tail (Rhino, 1976) and the transitional Wind & Wuthering (Rhino, 1976) to the progressive rock pantheon. What it does document is the group's ascendance to arena-rock megastar, one of the most commercially successful groups of the 1980s, 1990s and, with the success of a 2007 tour that saw Banks and Rutherford rejoined by Collins, the new millennium as well.
Genesis (Live At Wembley Stadium, 1987): left-to-right: Phil Collins, Tony Banks Mike Rutherford, Daryl Stuermer, Chester Thompson
Over the course of five concert performances, massive radio hits including "Invisible Touch," "Turn It On Again," "Land Of Confusion," "That's All" and "Tonight, Tonight, Tonight" are balanced by longer pieces like "Driving The Last Spike," "Domino," "Home By The Sea" and "Dodo/Lurker"all demonstrating that, while the group seemingly left its more experimental roots behind both musically and lyrically, it still operated along the progressive rock continuum, albeit in a more simplified, accessible fashion. All but twelve songs recorded on Abacab, Genesis (Rhino, 1983), Invisible Touch (Rhino, 1986) and We Can't Dance (Rhino, 1992) appear at least once during the nearly ten hours of concert footage (including When In Rome's 160-minute show), in addition to numerous medleys bringing together material dating as far back as Trespass (Rhino, 1970), right through to Duke (Rhino, 1980), generally considered the groups' final progressive gasp.
Stereo, Dolby and DTS surround mixes are clear and crisp throughout, though the video quality does vary. Three Sides Live, making its first appearance on DVD, is perhaps the least impressive visually, but it is an early opportunity to watch the group tackle older material like The Lamb's "In the Cage" and an excerpt from "The Colony of Slippermen" as part of a longer "Old Medley" that included a variety of segments from the group's more progressive past. Live at Wembley, representing the group's tour in support of Invisible Touch, is the only show to desert, at least as documented here, Genesis' Gabriel-era material completely. Elsewhere, the "Old Medley" would change from tour-to-tour, though the thrilling 7/4 instrumental excerpt from Selling England's "The Cinema Show," heard here, would make a return appearance on later versionsas would an eventual segue to the hit-that-should-have-been, Wind & Wuthering's "Afterglow." Three Sides Live distinguishes itself further with performances of then-current progressive fare like the thundering "Dodo/Lurker," as well as much of the material from Duke that bookends that album's two major radio hits, "Misunderstanding" and "Turn It On Again."
In contrast to Gabriel's theatrical presence, Collins was more natural and approachable, with a pervasive comfort level that made him a confident front man, whether in front of an audience of tens of thousands or, in the case of 1987's Live At Wembley Stadium from the Invisible Touch tour, nearly 300,000. But Collins' showmanship could be a double-edged sword. For a group delivering radio-friendly hits, his ability to encourage audience participation was entertaining and engaging; but (though it would be unfair to attribute this to him alone), he crossed the line during the Mama and Invisible Touch tours where, in the set-closing "Turn It On Again," the group turns to near-Vegas-style shtick with an embarrassing medley of songs by The Who, The Rolling Stones, Wilson Pickett, The Beatles and (gulp) Boy George. Watching Collins deliver the same "everybody needs somebody" routine three years apartincluding fedora, sunglasses and undershirtmakes the DVD player's "skip" button an invaluable friend.
Genesis (The Way We Walk : Live In Concert, 1993): Phil Collins
Fortunately, by the time of 1993's The Way We Walk tour in support of We Can't Dance, Genesis had abandoned such cringe-worthy pandering. The group had also begun, after two tours where older material was paid little more than lip-service, to offer a more balanced set list that may still have weighed heavily on the side of radio hits, but began focusing more welcome attention on older, progressive-leaning material. The "Old Medley" was expanded and, in the case of When In Rome, there was greater symmetry and assimilation found between Genesis' progressive and pop tendencies, including full (and stunning) versions of Trick Of The Tail's "Ripples," and the same album's instrumental closer, "Los Endos," in addition to a final encore from The Lamb, the chillout-inducing ballad, "Carpet Crawlers."
By 1978, guitarist Steve Hackett was gone and a single tour finished, featuring another progressive legend, drummer Bill Bruford
, picking up drum duties with Collins out front (a 40-minute video excerpt from this tour can be found on Trick Of The Tail
's companion DVD). Slimmed down to a trio in the studio, Genesis still needed to be a quintet live in order to execute its material, and so two Americansguitarist/bassist Daryl Stuermer
and ex-Weather Report
drummer Chester Thompson
became part of the touring group and, ultimately, Genesis' longest-standing members outside of Banks, Rutherford and Collins.
Stuermer first came to attention for his work with French fusion violinist Jean-Luc Ponty
, and was immediately more overtly virtuosic than Hackett; a true stylistic chameleon capable of lifting seminal Hackett solos while equally adept at handling whatever Rutherford chose to send his way, bringing serious rock attitude throughout. Thompson proved to be an equally versatile player, bringing thundering support and powerful groove, not to mention show-stopping drum duets with Collins.
Genesis was not just a musical innovator, but a performing one as well, creating new lighting designs, including programmable lighting schemes, which made the group's live shows as compelling to watch as they were to hear. Genesis could hardly be describedwith arrangements that remained heavily scripted from one night to the nextas a group of risk-takers; it was, in fact, Bruford's constant spontaneity that made him a less-than-perfect fit. Furthermore, Rutherford and Banks were never charismatic stage performers, relying first on Gabriel's theatricality and, later, Collins' affable stage presence. And so it was the group's set designs which grew in scope and complexity over the years, culminating in the massive stage of When In Rome, with its huge video screens and lighting. Every show became a thrilling multimedia experience, even for those in the "nosebleed" section of the large arenas in which the group often found itself performing. All this is conveyed throughout the concerts documented on The Movie Box.
Genesis (The Mama Tour, 1983): Phil Collins, Chester Thompson
They may not have varied much from night to night but Genesis still brought an energy to the music that wasn't necessarily better than its studio versions, yet was certainly more immediate and visceral. As potent as Trick Of The Tail's "Dance On A Volcano" was on record, a muscular strength in concert, combined with impressive staging, made it perhaps even more exciting and well worth experiencing. The Movie Box successfully captures, as close as any recorded document can, a true feeling of "being there."
The value of the box's bonus material varies. Fans of Three Sides Live will be disappointed to discover that the interviews, interspersed throughout the concert footage and always detracting from the experience, remain intact; again, another endorsement of the DVD player's "skip" button, and for those interested, it's possible to watch them as separate bonus features. The double-CD set of Three Sides Live that's in the Live: 1973-2007 box didn't include a surround mix, but the DVD version here also includes audio-only, Dolby and DTS Surround versions of tracks from earlier tours that were on the CD, including Wind & Wuthering's "One For The Vine" and "Fountain Of Salmacis," originally recorded during the Gabriel years on Nursery Cryme (Rhino, 1971). Curiously, the medley of The Lamb's "It" and "Watcher Of The Skies," from Foxtrot (Rhino, 1972) is omitted; the only assumption is that the multi-track tapes couldn't be found.
Genesis (When In Rome, 2007): left-to-right: Daryl Stuermer, Mike Rutherford, Chester Thompson, Phil Collins, Tony Banks
The Mama Tour includes an 80-minute handheld documentary on the making of 1983's Genesis, but other than some interesting footage of the group working in its farm/recording studio, The Farm, in Surrey, England, it's at best a one-time watchas is the 16-minute Invisible Touch tour documentary on Live At Wembley Stadium. The original release of The Way We Walk: Live In Concert was a double-DVD set, with a wealth of multi-angle possibilities; while the whole multi-angle feature ultimately turned out to be both superfluous and less appealing than early DVD producers anticipated, The Movie Box version has been reduced down to a single, dual-layer disc without the multi-angle option. The addition of VH1's Genesis documentary, Behind The Music on a separate DVDoriginally broadcast on the cable network in 1999 but revised and updated for this box setis an OK-ish watch but, at 43 minutes, falls considerably short of the independent video documentary that Genesis deserves.
Which leaves the bonus features on When In Rome, a set that's not actually included in the box set but contains the best added material. With an "information" button that appears throughout the concert (divided onto two discs), it's possible to branch to bonus features that show the group discussing arrangements, touring, staging and more. Add to this a bonus disc with 110-minute Come Rain Or Shineone of the more interesting and enlightening tour documentaries available, and When In Rome not only becomes the most balanced and impressive post-Duke Genesis document, but the one best supported by bonus materials as well.
But that doesn't mean it's the only post-Duke show worth seeing. Between set lists that, over the course of five tours, cover most of its repertoire current at the time of recording, and visuals that continued to evolve and innovate over the box's quarter century time-span, Genesis: The Movie Box is a largely successful finale to Genesis' multi-year reissue program. There will, no doubt, be complaints amongst committed Genesis fansmost notably, perhaps, the decision to retain the interviews throughout Three Sides Live. In addition, throughout the reissue series there's been plenty of debate about remix choice and the use of compression. Genesis appears to have been listening, with engineer Nick Davis' remastering approach improving on each successive box set, paying greater reverence to updating the sonics without sacrificing the dynamics that have always been such an important part of the group's sound, whether it was progressive, pop or somewhere in between. Visually, The Movie Box ranges from very good to superb; sonically, the box is consistently excellent from start to finish.
You can't please all the people all the time, and The Movie Box's complete focus on post-Duke Genesis will likely be met with some disappointment. Still, Genesis was always about songwriting first and instrumental virtuosity second, even when it was at its most compositionally complex. That thread links the set of four audio box sets and, for that matter, the group's 40-year career, continuing to define The Movie Box: 1981-2007 despite its preponderance of radio-friendly material. Every "commercial" Genesis release featured longer pieces linking the group to its progressive rock past; for those who favor the group's music before it became one of rock music's most massive stadium draws, The Movie Box still has plenty on offer.
Tracks and Personnel
Three Sides Live (DVD1, 1982)
Tracks: Three Sides Live video (stereo/Dolby 5.1 Surround/DTS 5.1 Surround), total time: 83 minutes: Behind The Lines; Duchess; Misunderstanding; Dodo/Lurker; Abacab; No Reply At All; Who Dunnit?; In The Cage Medley (In The Cage / Cinema Show / Slippermen); Afterglow; Me And Sarah Jane; Man On The Corner; Turn It On Again. Bonus Features: Audio only (Dolby 5.1 Surround/DTS 5.1 Surround): Behind The Lines; Duchess; Me And Sarah Jane; Man On The Corner; One For The Vine; Fountain Of Salmacis; Follow You, Follow Me. Interviews from Three Sides Live film, excised as separate, addressable mini-features.
The Mama Tour (DVD2, 1984)
Tracks: The Mama Tour video (stereo/Dolby 5.1 Surround/DTS 5.1 Surround), total time: 105 minutes: Abacab; That's All; Mama; Illegal Alien; Home By The Sea; Second Home By The Sea; Keep It Dark; It's Gonna Get Better; In the Cage Medley (Cinema Show, In That Quiet Earth, Slippermen); Afterglow; Drum Duet; Turn It On Again (Medley). Bonus Features: 80-minute The Making Of The Mama Album.
Live At Wembley (DVD3, 1987)
Tracks: Live At Wembley video (stereo/Dolby 5.1 Surround/DTS 5.1 Surround), total time: 115 minutes: Mama; Abacab; Domino (Part 1: In The Glow Of The Night); Domino (Part 2: The Last Domino); That's All; Brazilian; Land Of Confusion; Tonight, Tonight, Tonight; Throwing It All Away; Home By The Sea; Invisible Touch; Drum Duet; Los Endos; Turn It On Again (Medley). Bonus Features: The Invisible Touch Tour documentary (16 minutes); Tour Programme; Photo Gallery.
The Way We Walk: Live In Concert (DVD4, 1993)
Tracks: The Way We Walk: Live In Concert video (stereo/Dolby 5.1 Surround/DTS 5.1 Surround), total time: 132 minutes: Land Of Confusion; No Son Of Mine; Driving The Last Spike; Old Medley (Dance On A Volcano / Lamb Lies Down On Broadway / The Musical Box / Firth of Fifth / I Know What I Like (In Your Wardrobe); Fading Lights; Jesus He Knows Me; Dreaming While You Sleep; Home By The Sea; Hold On My Heart; Domino / Domino Principle / In the Glow of the Night / The Last Domino; The Drum Thing; I Can't Dance; Tonight, Tonight, Tonight; Invisible Touch; Turn It On Again.
VH1: Behind the Music Documentary (DVD5, 1999/2009)
Tracks: 12 Chapters, total running time: 43 minutes.
When In Rome 2007 (DVD6-8, 2008)
Tracks: DVD6: When In Rome 2007 video, Part 1 (stereo/Dolby 5.1 Surround/DTS 5.1 Surround), total time: 80 minutes: Duke's Intro; Turn It On Again; No Son Of Mine; Land Of Confusion; In The Cage Medley (In The Cage / Cinema Show / Duke's Travels); Afterglow; Hold on My Heart; Home By The Sea; Follow You, Follow Me; Firth Of Fifth (excerpt); I Know What I Like (In Your Wardrobe). Bonus Features: interviews/info accessible throughout performance; Tour Programme Gallery. DVD7: When In Rome 2007 video, part two (stereo/Dolby 5.1 Surround/DTS 5.1 Surround), total time: 76 minutes: Mama; Ripples; Throwing It All Away; Domino; Conversations With 2 Stools; Los Endos; Tonight, Tonight, Tonight (excerpt); Invisible Touch; I Can't Dance Carpet Crawlers. Bonus Features: interviews/info accessible throughout performance; Photo Gallery; Deleted Scenes (3 minutes). DVD8: Come Rain Or Shine documentary ( 110 minutes): Opening Night; October 2006; 7 Months Before First Show; 4Months Before First Show; 18 Days Before First Show; 15 Days Before First Show; 12 Days Before First Show; 10 Days Before First Show; 8 Days Before First Show; 6 Days Before First Show; 4 Days Before First Show; 3 Days Before First Show; 1 Day Before First Show; Show 1; Part 2, The Rain; Katowice, Poland Show 7; Rome, Italy; Credits.
Personnel on all DVDs: Phil Collins: lead vocals, drums, percussion; Tony Banks: keyboards, background vocals; Mike Rutherford: guitars, bass, bass pedals, background vocals; Daryl Stuermer: guitars, bass, bass pedals, background vocals; Chester Thompson: drums, percussion. Additional personnel on DVD5: Peter Gabriel, Anthony Phillips, Steve Hackett.
All Photos from Genesis: The Movie Box, courtesy of Rhino Records