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The Live Musical Box
on November 2, 2009
The Genesis box set releases continue! This time around, the band focuses on their live albums for this particular set, "Genesis Live 1973-2007". Four live albums: "Genesis Live," "Seconds Out," "Three Sides Live," and a re-sequenced "The Way We Walk," all remastered and remixed by Nick Davis, who worked on the band's previous box sets of studio albums. There is also an empty slot in the box to put in 2007's "Live Over Europe" (as the band wisely assumes that most diehard fans have already bought it), AND, as an added bonus, you get a CD and 5.1 DVD of the band's complete "Live At The Rainbow" concert from 1973! Also included is an excellent 52-page booklet, with insights from the band members, and wonderful photographs of the band taken from many years of live concerts. Overall, I'm very happy indeed with this live box set, but I still have to agree with other reviewers that "Live 1973-2007" still falls short of perfection. Let's briefly go through the live albums:
"Genesis Live"---the band's only proper live album with Peter Gabriel, recorded in 1973, sounds great, but it now includes 5 bonus tracks from the 1975 "Lamb Lies Down On Broadway" show in Los Angeles, and they're not even in the correct order---"Back In NYC," "Fly On A Windshield," "Broadway Melody Of 1974," "Anyway," and "The Chamber Of 32 Doors." On the one hand, yes of course it's great to hear some live "Lamb" material in this box set, but why not give us the *whole* "Lamb" concert? In fact, why didn't they just expand "Genesis Live" into a double album so it's now the complete 1973 show (and not just five songs), and throw in the entire L.A. "Lamb" show as a bonus? That, I think, would have been the much better way to go. (At least the whole L.A. "Lamb" concert---more or less---is available on the "Genesis Archives Vol. 1" box set).
"Seconds Out"---this classic Genesis live album, recorded in Paris in 1976 and '77 on the "Trick Of The Tail" and "Wind & Wuthering" tours, sounds amazing, and the slipcase packaging is excellent, but dammit, there are a couple of CD glitches: the second song on Disc One, "Carpet Crawlers," starts to play, only to restart itself before it plays properly (the very beginning of the song is mistakenly attached to the end of Track One, "Squonk"---the CD player then switches over to Track Two and restarts "Carpet Crawlers"). The exact same problem happens again with the second song on Disc Two, "Cinema Show," the beginning of which is mistakenly attached to the end of Track One, "Supper's Ready," so it too begins to play, and then restarts itself. Sure, we're still getting the complete performances of both songs, as neither of them are chopped up in any way, but it's still an annoyance. May as well keep your old CD copy of "Seconds Out" until the folks at the record label can fix the problem, and I hope they do.
"Three Sides Live"---mostly recorded in 1981 on the "Abacab" tour, as well as some concluding live material taken from the "Trick Of The Tail" and "Duke" tours, this re-issue replicates the UK release of the album, and, once again, the sound quality is excellent, but I do have one very minor quibble---I always liked the album's concluding touch of hearing Ethel Merman singing "There's No Business Like Show Business" over the PA system as the album fades out, after the band conclude "It/Watcher Of The Skies". Alas, Ethel has been removed, and that's a shame.
"The Way We Walk"---recorded on the "We Can't Dance" tour from 1992, this a GREAT revamping of this live album, as the original release cut the album in half: "Vol.1: The Shorts" was all the shorter hit songs, and "Vol. 2: The Longs" was the longer, more art-rock sounding stuff. This new version of "The Way We Walk" re-sequences the songs in the correct performance order, and combines them into the complete double album that "The Way We Walk" should've been the first time around. There's also some extended bits of inbetween-song dialogue from Phil Collins that wasn't heard before, which is really nice. I couldn't be happier with this new, improved version of "The Way We Walk".
The bonus set "Live At The Rainbow 1973"---*of course* I'm thrilled to have a complete live concert of Genesis with Peter at the microphone, and it sounds awesome, but there's a catch: the 5.1 DVD has the complete concert, but the accompanying CD omits "Watcher Of The Skies" and "The Musical Box," presumably for CD time limitations, and also because the band didn't want to give us *two* live versions of the same song (there's still the live versions of "Watcher" and "Musical Box" on the "Genesis Live" CD). It's understandable, but it still ticks me off that I can't play the *entire* concert in my car or on my home stereo system, just only on my DVD player. Also, the CD of the "Rainbow" concert also omits some of Peter and Phil's inbetween-song dialogue with the audience. Luckily, some of the Rainbow material was previously released on the "Genesis Archives Vol. 1" box set, including Peter and Phil's spoken-word stuff. The only way you can have the complete Rainbow concert on CD (sort of) is if you splice together the Rainbow material from *both* box sets, and throw on "Watcher Of The Skies" and "The Musical Box" from "Genesis Live" to fill in the gaps, and burn it onto a CDR for your own personal private pleasures. It's crazy, but I just might do it.
Insert your copy of "Live Over Europe" into the empty slot, and your Genesis live box set is complete!
So yes, I'm very happy with "Genesis Live: 1973-2007," even though it's not a perfect representation of these live albums. It's still great that the band decided to give the live albums a box set of their own, and I will treasure it. But guys, PLEASE fix those glitches on "Seconds Out," will ya? Thanks. Now, bring on "The Movie Box"....