Top positive review
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Finally, excellent sounding versions of the live records!
on June 4, 2016
OK, first of all: many of the negative reviews here can be summed up as "I did not read the description carefully and thus I'm mad that the DVDs have only 5.1 audio and no video". It's clearly written on the physical package and in all online descriptions exactly what this box contains, so while I agree that combining the "Video Box" they also came out with, with this one, would have been an amazing value, it is what it is. So, I'll review the actual package rather than wishing that the band, who can put out whatever they want as it's their body of work, not mine, did it this way.
I own the 1970-75 and 1976-82 box sets, as well as the individual "Invisible Touch" remix set. While the Gabriel era box is pretty fantastic, it is a bit too compressed and there are problems with the remix (bits of vocal that are different from the original, and an awful, weak ending to "Supper's Ready" that really ruins the climax). The '76-82 set is worse, as the compression is really noticeable and some CDs sound too shrill. On the new wavey "Abacab", this actually works, as the slamming drums and nasty keys sound good juiced--but not so much on, say, "One for the Vine". Overall, I dig the remixes for the new insights and clarity, but I do feel Nick Davis went overboard on the loudness, sadly.
Not so here on the Live Box! Davis and the band must have taken the criticisms to heart, because the Live albums are not nearly so juiced, and are eminently "crankable". I think that overall they sound great. I'm focusing on stereo, as I have not spent time with the 5.1 mixes yet, and don't really care about that so much (of course, many do, and I'll let them discuss!). Genesis Live (1973) is a revelation. This is my favorite Genesis album of the early era, because of the gritty and exciting live sound. It always sounded good to me but here it is cleaned up and you can hear parts you never could pick out before. My only gripe (a constant one in all the remixes) is that Hackett is lower in the mix, consistently. Man, if I were Steve I'd be pretty pissed at that revisionist history. Still, it's not egregious, and overall the record sounds great--especially Rutherford's Rickenbacker bass, which finally is distinguishable. The "bonus" tracks, from the L.A. Shrine "Lamb" show in '75, previously appeared on the Archive box. They are fine, but really make little sense here. The version of "Supper's Ready" that was on the Dutch "test pressing" of Live back in '73 (you can find it online) really should have been included instead. This is one of the few things on the box where I really do say, "dumb move guys", but I see that they felt including that piece on the Rainbow show was enough (it's not--we must have it all! :)
Live at the Rainbow (1973) is just fantastic, even though the 2000's era Gabriel vocal overdubs on a few tunes are really jarring (this was discussed a long time ago when the Archive box came out--5 tunes appeared on that-- so I won't go into it here). What a great show, and there are extra tunes on the DVD that won't fit on the CD, so you can hear the whole show. No complaints.
Seconds Out (1977) finally has some real low end and power. I like the record but always thought it was a bit subdued both in performance and in sonics, compared to some other 76/77 shows out there on bootleg (look for the 77 Zurich show, an amazing performance that sounds excellent too). I still think it's a bit subdued in the playing, but the sound is now rich and powerful and the bass and drum mix especially is much improved.
Three Sides Live (1982) was a big album for me, as it came out when I was 12 and really getting into the band. It always sounded thin. Not so any more, thank goodness! It really rocks for the first time now. The guitars are now audible, even the rhythm work, and I noticed that some of Tony's keys (like the nasty saw wave in "Abacab") seem to have been recorded in stereo, and now are actually spread over the channels. It is very cool to listen to in headphones. Also a great job on the drums. Chester is now more centered (snare in the middle, toms and cymbals spread out to the sides) most of the time, and when Phil joins in on drums, he is in the right channel and Chester moves over to the left. As a drummer, I was initially disappointed in "Turn it On Again"---when Phil joins in, his snare is clearly audible but Chester's seems turned down. However, in "Abacab"'s jam section, BOTH snares are nice and loud to accentuate the slamming beat. I realized that Davis was actually mixing each song differently to suit the music. It's a detail, I know, but it really adds to the experience. The drums in "Abacab" alone are worth the price of the set to me, just nirvana.
I never owned The Way We Walk (1992), as I was not really into the later albums, so I can't really comment on the difference in the mix. Some have complained about drums but I think they sound great here. I actually am really enjoying this record, as it not only sounds great, but is causing me to re-evaluate late Genesis. Tunes like "Driving the Last Spike" are really like a mix of their pop and prog periods and I think they work great, at least on this live album. I was also surprised to see they did a 20 minute "old prog tune" medley, which is great. The resequencing of the "Long" and "Short" tunes into one double album (with a few bonus tracks) makes a lot more sense and it flows like a great show. To me, it's a cool thing to finally have.
Yeah, it's pricey. Yeah, it's not got everything a "super fan" might ask for. But you don't have to buy it! For those who can afford it and want the new insight these remixes can give, it's highly recommended. (For what it is worth, I bought this just now, in spring of 2016, and there were no glitches on the "Seconds Out" CDs, so Rhino seems to have fixed it by now).