GENESIS – R-KIVE (2014, Virgin, 3CDs) ∗∗∗∗∗
Songs: Disc 1: The Knife; The Musical Box; Supper’s Ready; The Cinema Show; I Know What I Like (In Your Wardrobe); The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway; Back In N.Y.C.; The Carpet Crawlers; Ace of Wands (Steve Hackett); Disc 2: Ripples; Afterglow; Solsbury Hill (Peter Gabriel); Follow You Follow Me; For A While (Tony Banks); Every Day (Steve Hackett); Biko (Peter Gabriel); Turn It On Again; In The Air Tonight (Phil Collins); Abacab; Mama; That’s All; Easy Lover (Phil Collins); Silent Running (Mike + The Mechanics); Disc 3: Invisible Touch; Land Of Confusion; Tonight Tonight Tonight; The Living Years (Mike + The Mechanics); Red Day on Blue Street (Tony Banks); I Can’t Dance; No Son of Mine; Hold On My Heart; Over My Shoulder (Mike + The Mechanics); Calling All Stations; Signal to Noise (Peter Gabriel); Wake Up Call (Phil Collins); Nomads (Steve Hackett); Siren (Tony Banks)
Whilst there is a certain logic in a compilation of the music of Genesis alongside solo songs from the 1971-5 line-up (of which each member chooses three each – not always the obvious ones). The end result is unlikely to satisfy hardcore fans of the band or any of the artists individually. For that you would need to look to each member’s solo compilation packages and Genesis’ Platinum Collection.
But this package is not aimed at the band’s collective or individual core fan base. It is designed to re-introduce and familiarise the music buying public with the extraordinary breadth of talent that came from this group of five writers and musicians. Arguably the only such instance outside The Beatles themselves.
The package is also an obvious tie-in to the BBC documentary Together and Apart (due for broadcast on 4 October 2014) and the Blu-Ray/DVD release to follow, The Sum of The Parts. As such it is an adequate reminder of the varied music produced by the members individually as well as the transition of the band from experimental prog-rock to a more mainstream approach. There are Genesis fans who like one and dislike the other and those who like it all. I fall into the latter camp having come on board with Duke in 1980, then having rapidly collected the back catalogue – in reverse order. Each new album from Abacab (1981) onward would also bring something new to the band’s history. That album in particular seems to be the dividing point for the fans who like prog Genesis only and those who like mainstream Genesis only.
What the solo material shows is how diverse these musician are individually. Gabriel explores world music and rhythms; Collins perfects a version of white soul; Rutherford produces finely crafted and tuneful songs; Hackett stays closest to his prog roots but explores different guitar styles such as flamenco; Banks loves challenging harmonies and an orchestral approach.
The music they produced together as Genesis has elements of all these things, but the hybrid makes for an even more exciting listen. The band evolved through musical epics such as Supper’s Ready via the surreal imagery of I Know What I Like and Carpet Crawlers with Gabriel fronting the band to the beautiful melodies of Ripples and Afterglow more suited to Collins’ vocal style. After Hackett’s departure, some of the adventure, but none of the craft disappeared. Mama is a bitingly hot tale of obsession that demonstrated the band could still produce challenging music alongside the hits.
As a collector of the band’s music I have purchased this and it will sit with the rest of their output. As a fan, it is unlikely it will be the prime source of my future listening – I will return to individual albums to enjoy all phases of the band’s career. But for casual listeners this will open up the band’s broader catalogue and serve as a strong representation of the talent within the Genesis family.