REVIEW BY: Benjamin Ray
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 03/21/2006
Developing a comprehensive chronicle of a band that has been active for three decades can be very difficult, especially if that band released a lot of albums with a lot of quality music on each one.
The compilers of this three-disc collection include as many as possible from Genesis' entire career. This means one disc has the progressive Peter Gabriel-led art rock, one disc has the transition years and one disc has the Phil Collins-led pop years. There's something for everyone.
I can't see many people plunking down the money for a three-disc set if they are not already fans, but that seems to be who this collection is aimed at. For the novice or the casual fan who wants to explore, this is perfect -- not only does it have the big hits, but it has most of the album tracks that really defined the band, the ones that fans hold dear. It's almost guaranteed that if you like old Genesis, you will find something from new Genesis that is appealing, and vice versa. The stunning quality of music across the three discs is amazing -- rarely has any band been so good and consistent for so long.
However, the collection runs in reverse chronological order, which does not paint a good picture of the band's development and change over time. Starting with the pop songs from We Can't Dance and working backward to the 23-minute "Supper's Ready" is an odd way to approach things. Still, it's better than mixing them up, which would have given the listener musical whiplash.
The first disc has most of the pop hits from the '80s and '90s. "No Son of Mine," "Jesus He Knows Me" and "I Can't Dance" are surprisingly strong singles that deal with non-Genesis-like themes -- specifically, child abuse, hypocritical evangelists and how un-hip Genesis was in 1991. The Invisible Touch phase is represented by (sigh) five songs, including the buoyant title track, the forgettable "Throwing It All Away" and "In Too Deep," "Land of Confusion" and a sadly edited version of "Tonight Tonight Tonight." Fortunately, the entire first side of Genesis is present, and the "Mama" - "That's All" - "Home By the Sea" - "Second Home by the Sea" lineup remains solid. "Calling All Stations" rounds out the disc, which is decent but not as good as "Congo" from that album.
I'll now skip ahead to the third disc, which encompasses nine songs and five studio albums. This was probably the hardest job of the compilers, and they did a pretty good job representing the band's first six albums (save the debut). "The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway," "Counting Out Time" and "The Carpet Crawlers" represent the magnum opus The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway, though fan favorite "In The Cage" is missed. But "Firth Of Fifth," "The Cinema Show" and "I Know What I Like (In Your Wardrobe)" are three of the band's best songs from their best LP. Likewise, it's a pleasure to see all of "Supper's Ready" in its glory, while "The Musical Box" and "The Knife" are two of the band's best early tracks.
But the second disc is questionable. It represents the post-Gabriel years up to Abacab but does so with an odd selection of songs, even though what's here is still great music. "Abacab" makes sense, but "Keep It Dark"? Why not "No Reply At All" or "Man On The Corner"? The Duke songs are good, particularly "Turn It On Again," but too much clutter from ...and then there were three... is included. Then, Wind and Wuthering's "...In That Quiet Earth" is included (why?), along with "Afterglow" and "Your Own Special Way," which first showed the band's pop inclinations. Finally, from A Trick Of The Tail, we get the title track, "Ripples" and "Los Endos." I can see the first two, but the last one is just an instrumental coda that doesn't belong.
Where the collection succeeds is touching on all areas of the band's career, making it a good investment and starting point for neophytes.