Genesis | 1976-1982 – Box Set Review


The Genesis reunion is underway and making its way to your local stadium or amphitheater at two-hundred bucks or more a pop, so it only seems fitting a slew of reissues would follow. Kicking things off in grand style is Rhino’s box set 1976-1982, featuring five pivotal albums — Trick Of The Tail, Wind & Wuthering, And ThenPhil Collins

There Were Three, Duke and Abacab — remastered in stereo and 5.1 surround; loaded with bold servings of extras and assorted do-dads. While some diehards maintain Genesis began their downward spiral the minute Peter Gabriel left, these post-Gabriel discs, also available individually as double CD/DVD sets, neatly trace the band’s resiliency as they reshaped the music into a sleeker, more user-friendly vehicle that retained much of its challenging, progressive bark.

When Gabriel announced his departure from Genesis in May 1975, a question mark loomed over the group’s future like a lazy ring of cigar smoke. Who could possibly replace the charismatic front man and primary focal point of this quintessential English art rock band? Keyboardist Tony Banks, guitarist Steve Hackett, Phil Collins, bassist Mike Rutherford, and drummer Phil Collins — who all contributed adeptly to the musical muscle, as well as the development and writing of the music since the group’s inception — held firm in their desire to continue. They auditioned other singers, but soon realized the best candidate was within their own ranks. For years, Collins had sung background, often in unison with Gabriel, so for him to step out from behind the drum set to assume the lead singer position, odd as it was at the time, was a progressive rock fairy tale come true.

Once the logistics were worked out, the new incarnation’s debut Trick Of The Tail came together fairly quickly. Book-ended by the majestic “Dance On A Volcano” and “Los Endos,” the record provided a gateway into the new Genesis — less theatric and esoteric, but just as gripping in its sonic attack. “Robbery, Assault, and Battery” and “Squonk” (“our Led Zeppelin song,” Collins says in the reissue interview included on the album’s companion DVD) are definitive signposts of where things were heading — a streamlined, edgier approach slouching toward accessibility and — dare I say — commercial acceptance. In addition to band interviews, the DVD includes the entire album remixed in 5.1 surround for DVD-audio, videos for “Robbery, Assault And Battery,” “Ripples” and “A Trick Of The Tail,” a reproduction of a 1977 tour program, and 40 minutes of spectacular live footage from the Trick Of The Tail tour. This one’s a standout of the five, for obvious and not so obvious reasons.

Wind & Wuthering would continue to refine the new Genesis sound, spewing into the progressive marshes of “One For The Vine” and “Eleventh Earl of Mar,” while softening the blows for the easy-to-access grasp of “Your Own Special Way” and “Afterglow.” Despite its anamorphic skin, Wind & Wuthering would be Hackett’s last album with Genesis. Nevertheless, he appears along with Collins, Rutherford, and Banks on the DVD’s reissues interview. The DVD also boasts a slide show version of a tour program, and a few crusty video “bootlegs” of the band lip-syncing “Your Own Special Way” and “Afterglow” on the Mike Douglas show, along with even sketchier (but just as lovable and appreciated) televised Japanese footage from 1977.

And Then There Were Three, its apt title supposedly muttered with tongue-in-cheek, would become a major hit for Genesis, who were thawing and mellowing by the minute. Rutherford, Banks, and Collins strapped themselves in for the ride to the top of the charts and never looked back. “Follow You Follow Me” became their first Top 40 hit and set a precedent for most of the 80s. But like every Genesis album until the very end, the group indulges themselves (and their dedicated following) with a generous slice of brain candy to dazzle the senses ala “Down And Out” and “Deep In The Motherlode.”The DVD includes the reissues interview, videos for “Many Too Many” and “Follow You Follow Me,” and 25 minutes of previously unseen live performances filmed in 1978.

By the time Genesis settled into the flow of Duke, their penchant for populating the pop charts had become almost habitual. Both “Misunderstanding” and “Turn It On Again” would garner heavy radio airplay as the group scored its first Number One album in the U.K. The DVD includes reissues interviews, videos of “Duchess,” “Misunderstanding” and “Turn It On Again” and nearly 40 minutes of live footage from The Lyceum in London.

1981’s Abacab gave Genesis the multi-platinum success they aspired to. The title track, “No Reply At All” and “The Man On The Corner” all leapt inside the Top 40, sealing the group’s fate as reliable hit-makers. When several longtime fans heard about Earth, Wind & Fire played on “No Reply At All,” they smelled a rat and jumped ship. Say what you will about the group’s reversion to the pop standards of the day, but Abacab placed them in a comfort zone, giving each member legs to branch out and explore other areas of their creativity. Collins established a solo career that came dangerously close to eclipsing Genesis’ popularity, while Rutherford and Banks swerved and dodged the victories and pitfalls of life outside the inner circle. Abacab’s companion DVD includes reissue interviews, tour programs, and videos for “Abacab,” “No Reply At All,” “Keep It Dark” and “Man On The Corner.”

Purchasing the box set will net you one additional nugget: Extra Tracks 1976-1982, a disc of exclusive rarities, including the hit single “Paperlate” along with a number of B-sides such as “It’s Yourself,” “Open Door,” “Submarine” and “Evidence Of Autumn,” the flipside to the single “Misunderstanding.” A DVD includes 5.1 mixes of the Extra Track songs, as well as the video for “Paperlate” and another interview with the band. Like it or not, Genesis is back, and a treasure trove of classic music, cast in a new light, unleashes the potency of a band back in business after an extended vacation.

~ Shawn Perry

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