on January 20, 2003
I'm a quintessential Genesis fan, and I love ALL of the band's music, whether it's the early stuff with Peter Gabriel singing lead, or the later stuff with Phil Collins at the mike (or Ray Wilson, for that matter). But for this review, we are talking about the band's Peter Gabriel era. "Genesis Archives Vol. 1, 1967-1975" is a dream come true for diehard fans of Gabriel-era Genesis. Three years in the making, this 4-CD box set is stuffed with all kinds of Gabriel-era goodies: live recordings, rare B-sides, and lots of previously unreleased songs. For the diehard Genesis fan, listening to this box set is the musical equivalent of striking gold.The first half of "Archives" is devoted to a priceless live recording of the band performing their rock opera, "The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway," in January 1975 at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles. It's a barnburning performance of this Genesis classic. Admittedly, this concert recording has been doctored somewhat. Along with a new studio remix of the concluding song, "It," included here because the original concert tape ran out during the final song (doh!), Peter Gabriel, displeased with most of his lead vocals on the original live recording, re-did the majority of his "Lamb" vocals for this box set. Meanwhile, guitarist Steve Hackett also re-did some guitar parts, as he felt his hand injury back in '75 affected his playing on the original concert recording. You may consider Gabriel & Hackett's touch-up work here to be "cheating," but their new contributions are terrific, and they're blended in SO seamlessly with the original concert tape, that you hardly notice the difference.Disc 3 continues with more terrific live stuff, including the highly sought-after live version of the band's 25-minute opus, "Supper's Ready." There had never been a live version of "Supper" available with Peter Gabriel singing lead on it, so this is yet another priceless live recording for the Genesis faithful. Then we're treated to some great B-sides, including the rare single version of "Watcher Of The Skies" (a totally different recording from the longer album version), and, what is without question a Genesis masterpiece, the thrilling "Twilight Alehouse."Finally, Disc 4 is chock full of the band's earliest of early recordings from 1967 to 1970, including vintage BBC material and previously unreleased songs. These are fabulous songs, all of them. My personal faves: the BBC version of "Dusk," "Shepherd" (featuring a rare co-lead vocal from keyboardist Tony Banks), "Pacidy," the beautiful "Let Us Now Make Love," the great piano-thumper "Going Out To Get You," "Build Me A Mountain," "Hey!", and "Try A Little Sadness." "Genesis Archives Vol. 1" is a MUST-OWN collection for anyone who digs early Genesis with Peter Gabriel at the microphone. Can I praise this superb box set any higher? I think not. :-)
on December 23, 2000
There's no way around it: the first Genesis Archives box is an essential purchase for any fan of the Gabriel era. It contains the live material that fans have been clamoring for for years, and in absolutely stunning sound quality compared to the boots of those shows. Yes, there are a few minor quibbles (and they are minor, despite what some reviews on this page would have you believe). But overall, there is enough here to appease even the most nitpicky fanatic.
First, there is the 'holy grail': a complete (sans one song) live performance of "The Lamb" from the Shrine in '75. The sound quality is amazing, and the performance certainly does not sound too slow or sluggish to these ears. Although the Wembley performance from later that year is superior (with a double-length version of "The Waiting Room"), only about half of that show is available, so the Shrine is all we have for complete, soundboard-quality performances of "The Lamb". The main controversy comes from Gabriel's vocals, about 2/3 of which were re-recorded in the 90s; while I can sympathize with purists who would have liked to have heard all of the original vocals, it is also great to hear the fortysomething Gabriel finally revisit this period, and his voice is in finer form than ever (he even reverts to some of his old vocal phrasings, for authenticity's sake). Perhaps it is strange for some fans to hear the '95 Gabriel on "The Carpet Crawlers" juxtaposed next to the '75 one in "The Chamber Of 32 Doors", but the difference is less jarring than one might imagine. Hackett also re-recorded a few of his solos ("Fly", "Lamia"), and these sound terrific, too (although again I do sympathize with those who would like to have heard the originals).
The third disc needlessly edits "Dancing With The Moonlit Knight" and omits a live version of "The Cinema Show", but is great otherwise; the live "Supper" also features about 1/3 re-recorded vocals and a re-recorded guitar solo, with much the same results as on the "Lamb" material (that is to say, quite good). The other live versions are superb, and it's nice to have clean CD versions of the excellent B-sides "Twilight Alehouse" and the Cat Stevens-ish "Happy The Man". The single version of "Watcher" is interesting, it sounds like a different take.
Finally, the last disc collects BBC sessions and demos from the group's earliest years. Yes, it's formative, and yes, you probably won't listen to it more than a few times. But it's fascinating anyway to trace the group's development and this is an "Archives" box after all, isn't it? The BBC versions of "The Shepherd", "Pacidy" and "Let Us Now Make Love" are the best here, and bridge the gap between the first and second albums. Oh yes, there is also a delightful (if somewhat fragile) booklet that comes with it, featuring multiple essays, photos and memories from the time. My only real complaint is that they edited "Dancing" and did not include a live "Cinema Show"--the re-recorded vocals work fine. I was most surprised by how excellent the sound quality was on everything. Definitely worth getting, as the 1970-75 era was the peak of the band's career from an artistic perspective.
on February 9, 2003
This 4-CD box set of the Peter Gabriel era of Genesis is an embarrassment of riches for fans of "the old Genesis". The first two CDs contain an ENTIRE live performance of "The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway" from 1975. There are some new overdubs, in fact the closer "it" was entirely recorded in the studio because sound engineers allowed the tape on both recorders to run out (note Mike Rutherford simultaneously playing rhythm guitar and bass). But overall it comes off very well, except for "Back in N.Y.C.", which is slowed down and loses some power. On the original album, the 1st CD is much better than the 2nd--here the performance is more consistent, with cuts like "The Waiting Room" and "The Lamia" (with a great solo by Steve Hackett) coming across great. The 3rd CD contains some more live tracks, most notable a Gabriel-led rendition of "Supper's Ready", which I prefer to the "Seconds Out" version. In the early days, Genesis' guitarists would use several unusual tunings, and Gabriel would tell weird stories between songs while they tuned up; here, the intro to "Supper's Ready" includes one of these stories, with help from Phil Collins.
My favorite part of the box is the previously unreleased material. "Twilite Alehouse" is a GREAT song that was written circa "Trespass" and was a staple of early Genesis shows, but was only released in the U.K., as the B-side of the "I Know What I Like" single. I've heard bootlegs of the song, studio and live, for 20 years, now I finally have a copy. "Happy the Man", an early single, isn't so good. The 4th CD contains demos and recordings made for radio shows from the "Trespass" and "From Genesis to Revelation" days, as well as several rough mixes from the latter album prior to the orchestration being added. I find these rough mixes more listenable than the completed album, and "Image Blown Out" and especially "Build Me a Mountain" are better than several songs that made the album. Another catchy song left off that album was "The Magic of Time", with drummer John Silver playing brushes on a metal cookie container. "Let Us Now Make Love" was left off the "Trespass" album, but is at least as good as "Looking for Someone" or "Dusk". "Pacidy" and "Going Out to Get You" are songs that fell between the cracks of the early albums. The package includes an 80-page book with fantastic pictures, a two-page overview of the box by Tony Banks, and informative discussions of the band's history by several associates.
(1=poor 2=mediocre 3=pretty good 4=very good 5=phenomenal)
on March 5, 2000
Hey, guess what? The prog wars are over, and it turns out that little Genesis - in its day considered the runt of a litter that included ELP, Yes, and King Crimson - has emerged with the best reputation. They never quite had the technical skill of their prog-competitors (Collins and Hackett being the only real virtuosos of the group), but they had a couple of things that ultimately saved them from the hopeless classical pretensions of ELP, the predilection towards atonal incoherence of King Crimson, or the bloated lunacy of Yes. First was their English sense of humor, something which those other English bands intentionally submerged but Genesis kept to the forefront. Second was their unimpeachable knack for songwriting: COMPOSITION was always the primary consideration with Genesis, not bombast or empty chopsmanship. And finally, their not-so-secret weapon: Mr. Peter Gabriel.
This surprisingly satisfying boxed set is testament to all of these things. As someone who is most definitely NOT a lover of prog-rock, I would like to say that the Gabriel-era Genesis, as represented on these 4 CDs, manages to overcome my reservations about 24 minute songs or lyrical inscrutability. Because really, these guys aren't pretentious at all! (Okay, so maybe Tony Banks was...) Gabriel's just a master storyteller with a wacky sense of humor, and the band are absolutely impeccable melodicists; they may have been a prog band, but they never ceased being a pop band either. (While elitists may gasp at this claim, this is unquestionably a good thing; "I Know What I Like," "The Knife," "Counting Out Time," and the various sections of "Supper's Ready," to name but a few, are all stuffed full of the sorts of instantly memorable pop hooks that would have carried a band into the Top 40 in a different context.) And most importantly, unlike all the other guys, Genesis were always human: you never lost sight of the genuine pathos and thoughtfulness underpinning their theatricality.
As for this set, let me make something immediately clear: do NOT buy it unless you're already a fan. This is NOT a "greatest hits" collection, it's a huge heap of live performances and rare and unreleased tracks. That being said, if you ARE a fan, you simply cannot go wrong at all, and I say that without any exaggeration.
In fact, the most questionable aspect of the set is the most touted feature: the live performance of The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway on the 1975 tour. Now I love the album, but it WAS a bit padded, and I've got to say that there are few things as superfluous as a live performance of an ambient track like "Ravine," for example. Furthermore, Gabriel's vocal overdubs in 1998 rob some of the performance of its "live" feel, while not enough space is used on the CD, discs 1 & 2 running only 45 minutes each. So I'll dock the set a star.
Those are my ONLY complaints, however, and they're mitigated somewhat by the fact that the last track on the Lamb concert is a remix/rerecording of the album closer, "it." Apparently the concert tape ran out, so the band remixed the original studio cut and rerecorded some of its elements in a 1998 reunion. What could have been a typical "couldn't leave well enough alone" disaster instead comes off absolutely wonderfully: Gabriel's mature voice is *much* more powerful than his circa-1974 nasal whine, and Steve Hackett's ascending guitar lines are much higher in the mix. It easily tops the original.
For me, it's discs 3 & 4 which get the most play; these are simply indispensable. Disc three is mostly concerned with live performances from 1973-4 which complement those from Genesis Live. We get takes on "I Know What I Like," "Dancing With The Moonlit Knight," "Firth Of Fifth," and most important of all, triumphant reading of "Supper's Ready" complete with a typically insouciant opening monologue from Gabriel. Just like Genesis Live, these tracks vindicate early Genesis as a live tour-de-force. Moving on, we get some interesting outtakes and rarities: a great B-side called "Twilight Alehouse," a BBC recording of "Stagnation," and a pleasant A-side called "Happy The Man."
Disc 4 is probably the most revelatory for fans, however. We get the some pre-production masters of songs for From Genesis To Revelation, and what was weak there is quite strong here. Most notable in this regard is "In The Wilderness" (intentionally chosen to start the disc), which is no less than a lost classic. There are some pricelessly dark, moody BBC sessions ("Pacidy," "The Shepherd," "Let Us Now Make Love") and a heap of early demos, back when the band was more a Zombies/Bee-Gees imitator than a purveyor of prog-rock. Surprisingly enough, none of these demos are annoying, or tuneless, or anything less than perfectly pleasant. Some of this stuff ("One Day" without strings, a definitive early demo of "Dusk," "She Is Beautiful") is to die for if you're a fan, and it really makes this a highly recommended boxed set.
How nice it is to find a package like this that's put together with the fan in mind and not the profit line; this was obviously a labor of love and not a marketing ploy, as it intentionally avoids any overlap whatsoever with Genesis' regular album discography. That consideration alone is to be saluted. 4 stars out of 5.
on January 10, 2007
I'll give them 5 stars for finally releasing this material, but there are some flaws with this collection that bump it down to a 4 star (4.5 really) rating.
On the plus side:
Prior to this release, the only official live set from the Gabriel-era Genesis was "Genesis Live", a 1 LP album covering material up to "Foxtrot". The glaring omission was "Supper's Ready". Fans like myself, who consider the stuff with Gabriel to be infinitely superior, had to settle for "Seconds Out" (more like "Sloppy Seconds"), with Phil Collins singing the vocals. Phil Collins did a mostly decent job at covering them, but it wasn't the real deal! This box set corrects this.
The performances are all very good, and they include some of Peter Gabriel's stories in between (more would have been nice!). There is no repetition with "Genesis Live", so they are very complementary and fans will want both.
The collection includes two songs previously not on any album, "Twilight Alehouse" and "Happy the Man". "Happy the Man" doesn't thrill me, but "Twilight Alehouse" is great, and apparently an early concert favorite.
On the minus side:
Disk 4 is entirely material dating from before "Trespass", before Genesis really found their "classic" style. I am not a fan of their first album "From Genesis to Revelation". To me this CD is of interest only as a curiosity. It is very interesting, for instance, that Peter Gabriel already had that distinctive raspy quality to his voice in 1967, when he was 17 years old! Some of the material is decent, some is rather weak. Still, I won't be playing this disk very often.
Another partial downer is that Gabriel and Hackett re-recorded some of their parts on the live "Lamb..." on the first two disks. In some spots it's quite obvious because, as with any singer, Peter Gabriel's voice changed in the 23 years since. Still this is nitpicking really. It's great to have the complete live performance.
One further bit of nitpicking on the choice of material. I really don't mean to bash on Phil Collins, but do we really need a live version of "More Fool Me"? This song really was filler material. Meanwhile two glaring omissions from the collection are "Cinema Show", and especially "Fountain of Salmacis".
Despite some imperfections, serious fans of the "real" Genesis need this collection. Neophytes should get the 4 classic studio albums, "Nursery Cryme", "Foxtrot", "Selling England by the Pound", and "The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway" first, and then get this box set plus "Genesis Live". After that they should also get "Trespass" and "Trick of the Tale", which are not as good, but still very worthwhile. I;ve been convinced by a comment to include "Seconds Out" in my recommendations as well:). Skip the rest, in my (perhaps not so) humble opinion.
One complaint I have is that the booklet, while it has great photos and is fun to read, is very flimsy and is begining to fall apart after one reading. Boo!
on February 28, 1999
In July, 1998, Genesis decided to release a collection of the band's best moments. They were not the 80's with Phil Collins singing and multi-platinum selling albums. Those real glorious moments were the 70's, when Genesis made many of the best songs of progressive rock instead of pop, and Peter Gabriel used to sing those songs. This collection called Genesis Archives 1967-75 is a precious treasure, not only for Genesis or Peter Gabriel's fans, but also for serious listeners. Archives contains four CD's and a paperback with some pictures, retrospective articles and old press statements. Both the CD's and the book enclosed in a spectacular encyclopedia volume-like case. The first two CD's contain a live version of Genesis' masterpiece The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway. It was taken from an original concert by Genesis in New York on January 1975. This re-done version is not only interesting for being live. But also for being re-vocalized by Peter Gabriel. It's true that Gabriel has never been an outstanding vocalist, even in his early years. Nonetheless, his current voice gives The Lamb an interesting angle, in opposition to his voice at the time of the concert. Besides Gabriel's voice, the songs get fresher without loosing their original quality. The third CD contains five songs from the Selling England By the Pound tour, including More Fool Me the first Genesis cut sang by Phil Collins, and an interesting version of their majestic suite Supper's Ready. In this version, the past and the present voices of Peter Gabriel alternate, making an interesting effect of contrast. This third CD also contains one of Genesis' most famous songs, Stagnation. It was sang during a BBC live show. There are also a strange version of Watcher of the Skies, and two excellent rare cuts. Finally, the fourth CD contains basically demos and strange cuts. Almost all of them were made during the recording of Genesis' very first album From Genesis to Revelation. There are a lot of differences between this songs and their later work. They were basically naive and less complex themes. But is worthy at the time to look for Genesis's beginnings. Specially if one doesn't own the hard-to-find From Genesis to Revelation. In conclusion, Genesis Archive 1967-75 is a true gem that reveals Genesis in an era when they made true pieces of art instead of songs destined to reach the top-ten commercial charts.
on September 3, 2000
Ok, first let's tackle the issue of the entire Lamb recording. The idea is magnificent - a complete recording of a full Lamb show from that glorious 1975 tour, right?
Not so fast. Peter redid the vocals, which is no secret, but that's not the biggest issue, imo. The songs are all performed much more slowly than they were in the studio, and for that reason, coupled with the vocals, I prefer the studio version to this - it just has much more energy than this live recording. That being said, it is still great. Not great as Pink Floyd's "Is There Anybody Out There?" was compared to their studio album, but great as in a doodle or home demo by John Lennon is great. The performance itself is not so spectacular (but still, on an off night, this version of Genesis was GOOD), but the fact that it still *is* the live Lamb makes it great.
There *are* better versions of the live Lamb out there, though, so one shouldn't believe the idea that this was the only live recording they ever made of it. I have in hand a 2 CD RoIO set from their BBC and Wembley performances from 1972 to 1975. It's but a mere compilation from the Lamb's performances for the BBC, and the performances here - each note played and sung entirely live and entirely back then - blow away the Lamb half of the box set. I have about half of it in this 2 CD set, and it's great. So this just puzzles me more as to why they'd release this slower Chicago performance. Maybe legal issues with the BBC or something.
The rest of the box set is great, but disc three stands out as the best. Now *these* are some lively performances, with some great crowd interaction by Peter. It blows away the "Genesis Live" release, and even includes a couple singles that were never before available on disc.
Disc four exposes the band's roots and their original sounds. It's interesting to hear how many of their early cuts were piano-based compositions. Almost each one starts out in a similar fashion, and the dynamics that were to come in Selling England and The Lamb are absent here - still, great to have, and a nice addition.
To sum up - somebody better get these BBC and music industry lawyers to back off and release the *real* Lamb, live from the BBC. Then we can sit back and marvel once again.
on February 13, 2006
If you love pre-1976 Genesis then you have no excuse for not owning this set. What? The price? Come on, you'll spend this much taking the wife and kids to an over-hyped movie and you'll be listening to this years from now. It's worth it.
Discs 1 and 2 - I know this is blasphemy but I never liked the way the studio version of "Lamb" sounded. It was tinny in places and the whole thing lacked true fidelity to my ears. I loved the music and words but there was just something essential missing for me. This solves my dilemma. The live version is packed with energy, depth of sound and true passion in its delivery. It really brings the story of Rael to life. Ok, I know about the overdubs but it just means that this release was so important to the band that they did whatever they had to to overcome the deficiencies of the original taping. Since the alternative would have resulted in not being able to hear the vocals I, for one, appreciate Peter going back in to re-sing his performance and the result is pristine in its clarity.
Disc 3 - More wonderful live recordings from the "Selling England" era that are a joy to hear. Who knew that Mike got such an incredible bass sound? "Suppers Ready" is another improvement over the studio version. One can easily picture Mr. Gabriel holding the audience in his spell as this magnificent opus grows and builds to the amazing finale. I think Phil did a great job on "Seconds Out" but I'm overjoyed to have a definitive live version with Peter to cherish.
Disc 4 - I was tempted to deduct a star for the inclusion of this stroll down memory lane but then I realized that this is called an "Archive" after all and there are probably crowds of fans who crave to own every shred of music these guys ever produced and this disc is for them. It's okay to see how far they came in a relatively short time and the seeds of intricate melodies and song structures appear from time to time but it's of passing interest personally. I would have preferred the remastered "Genesis Live" album instead but that's just me.
All in all it is so well done that I now consider it one of their best offerings ever. The booklet that comes with it has some great photos I've never seen and gives a good understanding of what their early gig days were like. These guys were monsters on stage and I'm glad these recordings survived to prove it.
on May 30, 2003
This CD set is worth the price of admission for the live version of LLDOB. It is better than the original. I love it. It is simply incredible. I dare say that it is one of the best live recordings ever made, and makes you wonder why Genesis didn't release this years proir. Mixed excellently and perfomed just as good. The OTHER MATERIAL on this release is really great too, but just totally overshadowed by the LLDOB live. Matter of fact, I have studio copy of LLDOB due to the high quality of this live release. IF YOU LIKE PETER GABRIEL GENESIS, do yourself a favor....
on January 12, 2004
A complete document of one of the most important progressive bands. Of course Genesis is still alive, but this period, from their early demos to Peter Gabriel's depart is always been said their most creative work time. Dramatic music, artistic lyrics, at the same time with rich, complex yet beautiful music. To celebrate 30 years Genesis anniversary, Virgin records released this CD box. CD1 and CD2 have a live version of "The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway" (originally a double LP and then a double CD). CD3 has another live concert but from "Selling England By The Pound" era plus a few single songs never released on LP or CD. Both concerts were never heard before on an official release and are a totally superb versions of the studio albums. If does not sound as an heresy, "The Lamb Lies.." live sounds even better than in studio. On CD3 most pieces are from "Selling England By The Pound" (their best album) and also included a live version of "Suppers Ready", a 23 minutes piece. CD4 brings demos from early Genesis (pre "Trespass", from "From Genesis To Revelation" era, the actual 1st Genesis album) and are mostly acoustic pieces with voice/piano and acoustic guitars. A bit simple compared to what would come later. Yet already sounded unique and Peter Gabriel appeared as a powerful singer and lyric writer. The CD box also comes with an amazing 80 pages book with tons of photos and essays, who trace band's history during that period. Anthony Phillips(guitars 68-71) Steve Hackett (71-76 guitars), Jonh Mayhew (drums 68-70), Phil Collins (drums 70 to 97, just of one the best drummers ever), and Tony Banks (keys) and Michael Rutherford (bass/guitars). Last two still Genesis members. An essential item for fans. A precise document of one the quintessencial progressive rock bands.