Music Review – MIKE + THE MECHANICS – LET ME FLY (2017)

Mike + The Mechanics
Let Me Fly (2017) ∗∗∗∗

Image result for mike = the mechanics let me flyMike Rutherford – Guitar, Bass, Drum Programming
Andrew Roachford – Vocals, Keyboards
Tim Howar – Vocals
Gary Wallis – Drums
Luke Juby – Keyboards
Anthony Drennan – Guitar

Clark Datchler – Piano (5, 6 & 9)
Zak Kemp – Drum Programming (5 & 6)
Patrick Mascall – Drum Programming (8 & 11)
Let Me Fly Choir (1)

Tracks 1-6 Produced by Mike Rutherford, Brian Rawling and Paul Meehan
Tracks 7, 9, 10 and 12 Produced by Harry Rutherford and Mike Rutherford
Tracks 8 and 11 Produced by Mark Taylor and Mike Rutherford
Recorded at The Farm Studios, Metrophonic Studios & Mike’s Home Studio

TRACKS:
1  Let Me Fly (Rutherford/Datchler/Roachford) ∗∗∗∗∗
Classic Mechanics. Uplifting anthemic chorus heightened by gospel choir and Roachford’s soulful vocal.
2 Are You Ready? (Rutherford/Datchler/Howar) ∗∗∗∗
Up-tempo rock number with a catchy chorus and moody middle-eight.
3 Wonder (Rutherford/Datchler/Roachford) ∗∗∗∗
Piano based mid-tempo song reminiscent of Don Henley/Bruce Hornsby. Its gliding groove gets under the skin.
4 The Best is Yet to Come (Rutherford/Datchler) ∗∗∗
Poppiest song on the album. Selected as the second single.
5 Save the World (Rutherford/Datchler/Roachford) ∗∗∗∗
Heartfelt ballad delivered with real passion by Roachford.
6 Don’t Know What Came Over Me (Rutherford/Datchler/Roachford) ∗∗∗∗
First single has a chorus that stays with you.
7 High Life (Rutherford/Drewett) ∗∗∗
Nice little understated diversion with a delicate vocal from Howar.
8 The Letter (Rutherford/Taylor/Mascall/Datchler/Roachford) ∗∗∗∗∗
Great repeated riff from Rutherford and a more complex structure with room for a brief guitar solo. Along with the title track the strongest cut. Reminiscent of Silent Running.
9 Not Out of Love (Rutherford/Roachford/Howar) ∗∗
The least successful song on the album is a mid-tempo chugger lacking a strong hook.
10 Love Left Over (Rutherford/Datchler/Howar) ∗∗∗∗
Gorgeous ballad showing Howar can deliver a soulful vocal as well as out and out rock. A real grower.
11 I’ll Be There for You (Rutherford/Taylor/Mascall/Roachford) ∗∗∗
Another of the poppier songs on the album. It has a more modern programmed sound.
12 Save My Soul (Rutherford/Roachford/Thorneycroft-Smith) ∗∗∗
Low-key finish to the album with lush keyboards underpinning a soulful delivery from Roachford. Moody guitar adds to the late evening feel.

Mike + The Mechanics’ eighth album in a career spanning 32 years is the band’s best since Beggar on a Beach of Gold back in 1995.  Singers Andrew Roachford and Tim Howar return, having appeared on the band’s previous album The Road (2011), which had been an inconsistent affair with the new band trying to find its feet. Here, after intervening years of touring, the band is more relaxed and the quality of the songs is stronger. There are echoes of earlier Mechanics albums in some of the tracks – a deliberate move by Rutherford to recapture the sound of those early days. The album shows the band still has much to offer and Rutherford is a writer of well-crafted, classy songs.

Music Review – PHIL COLLINS: …BUT SERIOUSLY (1989) and THE ESSENTIAL GOING BACK (2016)

The final pair of remastered re-releases of Phil Collins’ studio albums completes the Take a Look at Me Now campaign. A 2-CD and 3-CD collection of his singles (unimaginatively but accurately titled The Singles) will follow in October alongside an autobiography (Not Dead Yet).

...BUT SERIOUSLY (1989) ∗∗∗∗∗
THE ESSENTIAL GOING BACK (2010/2016) ∗∗∗½

…But Seriously was Collins’ monster hit album. It is a slickly produced affair with a very strong collection of songs. Thematically Collins veers between social conscience (“Another Day in Paradise” – the plight of the homeless and “Colours” – racial oppression); relationships (the slow ballad “Do You Remember” and the lighter, upbeat “Something Happened on the Way to Heaven”), regret (the reflective “All of My Life” and bluesy “I Wish it Would Rain Down”). There are also the contrasting tempos from the stomping white soul of “Hang in Long Enough”, the mournful lament at the troubles in Northern Ireland in “That’s Just the Way it Is” and the jazzy instrumental short “Saturday Night and Sunday Morning”. The album closer is a plea to “Find a Way to My Heart” and with this album many listeners did just that. Whilst …But Seriously may lack the adventure of Face Value, it is perhaps the strongest example of the quality of Collins’ songwriting abilities and as such is the most representative album of his solo career. The second CD contains a collection of b-sides, live material and demos.

Collins apparently felt there was too much material on Going Back, Collins’ 2010 release of meticulously authentic Motown covers. The Essential Going Back is therefore an edited version of that well-received album. The biggest debate will be around what songs were left on and what were taken off and as such this release may not find a home in the racks of those who own the original. But the second CD contains a live performance of the songs that makes this an essential purchase for fans.

Phil Collins April re-issues reviewed

NO JACKET REQUIRED (1985) ∗∗∗∗½
TESTIFY (2002) ∗∗∗½

NO JACKET REQUIRED, released in 1985, was the album that launched Collins into the stratosphere. A monster hit and Grammy winner, Collins says it is the least representative of him personally. You can see what he means as he veers away from personal issues and produces a more crafted and upbeat album. From the punchy dance inspired “Sussudio” and pounding “Only You Know and I Know” to the political comment on the then situation in Northern Ireland with the evocative “Long Long Way to Go”, Collins is distancing himself from the introspection of his first two albums There is also the story of a patient escaping a mental asylum on the wonderfully anthemic “Take Me Home” – possibly Collins’ best song. It adds up to one of his strongest collections. “Inside Out” powers along to a contagious rhythm and other upbeat songs such as “Don’t Lose My Number” and “Who Said I Would” are obviously inspired by the dance/soul numbers of the day. Even a couple of his songs dwelling on personal relationships (“I Don’t Wanna Know” and “Doesn’t Anybody Stay Together Anymore”) are played at a fast tempo – the latter propelled by Collins’ heavy drums. But he still finds a place for the slow late night plea of “One More Night” and the gorgeous Beatles-like “We Said Hello Goodbye” making this album his most balanced to date. From here on Collins would dominate the airwaves both as a solo artist and with Genesis for a further seven years.

2002’s TESTIFY is (to date) Collins’ last album containing original material. It’s a much more mellow affair reflecting on an artist about to enter a state of retirement from writing to spend more time with his family. There is a warmth to a number of the songs including the reassuring “Come with Me”, the romantic lament of “This Love This Heart”, the undulating rhythms of “Swing Low” and the lullaby closer “You Touch My Heart”. There is also a cynicism apparent on the otherwise bouncy “Don’t Get Me Started”, which seems at odds with the general feel of the album. His cover of Leo Sayer’s “Can’t Stop Loving You” was the single release and maybe hinted that whilst he could still write nice songs, like the upbeat opener “Wake Up Call”, the angst-ridden title track and the throwback “The Least You Can Do”, this batch were less hook-laden than those produced in his heyday.

Both albums have again been released with recreations of the original covers and extra CDs featuring live material, B-sides and demos.

Phil Collins and Tony Banks February reissues/remasters

This week has been a bumper one for Genesis fans with four re-releases – two each for Phil Collins and Tony Banks. Collins has continued his Take a Look at Me Now reissue/remaster campaign with HELLO, I MUST BE GOING! (1982) and DANCE INTO THE LIGHT (1996) whilst Banks has commenced his with A CURIOUS FEELING (1979) and THE FUGITIVE (1982) both of which have been remixed and remastered. Engineer Nick Davis has worked on both projects.

PHIL COLLINS:
HELLO, I MUST BE GOING! (1982) ∗∗∗∗
DANCE INTO THE LIGHT (1996) ∗∗∗

Collins released HELLO, I MUST BE GOING! nearly two years after his debut FACE VALUE and between the Genesis albums ABACAB (1981) and GENESIS (1983). Like his debut this album contains a wide variety of musical styles and whilst as a whole it does not quite match its predecessor, this is still an impressive follow-up. Standouts include the bitterness and anger of the drum propelled “I Don’t Care Anymore”, the heart-wrenching “Don’t Let Him Steel Your Heart Away”, the dark and brooding “Do You Know, Do You Care” and the big band inspired “The West Side”. There is also the melancholy of the closing “Why Can’t it Wait ‘Til Morning” and the brass driven duo “I Cannot Believe it’s True” and “It Don’t Matter to Me”. The album is perhaps best known for Collins’ first UK solo number 1 with his cover of Diana Ross and the Supremes’ Motown hit “You Can’t Hurry Love”. There is the occasional misstep – “Thru These Walls” comes across as a little too creepy and recycles Collins’ signature drum fill from “In the Air Tonight” and “Like China” feels a little forced in trying to create its cockney geezer charm – but this is a very solid album that would lift Collins a step closer to super-stardom. The second CD features demos and live tracks, which will be of interest to fans.

1996’s DANCE INTO THE LIGHT was Collins’ first album following his announced departure from Genesis, although he would return to the fold in 2007. The album mixes Collins’ standard soulful approach (“Dance into the Light” and “Oughta Know By Now”) with Beatlesque pop (“That’s What You Said”, “Love Police”, “It’s in Your Eyes” and “No Matter Who”) and African rhythms (“Lorenzo”, “River So Wide”, “Take Me Down”). “Wear My Hat” is Collins’ riff on Paul Simon’s “You Can Call Me Al” and there is the warm romanticism of “The Same Moon”. He even finds a place for some social commentary in “Just Another Story”. With his star on the descent following some bad press in the media surrounding his split from his second wife, the album feels as if Collins is throwing out a number of hooks in an attempt to gain a commercial bite. He even finished the album with a bombastic cover of Bob Dylan’s “The Times are A-Changing”. The result is an album that fails to fully satisfy despite some strong songs. In attempting to follow other artist’s styles, Collins seemed to have lost his own voice. Two of his best songs from the sessions sit on the second CD amongst live tracks and demos. The reflective “Another Time” and melancholic “It’s Over” show Collins could still write very strong personal songs.

TONY BANKS:
A CURIOUS FEELING (1979) ∗∗∗∗
THE FUGITIVE (1983) ∗∗∗

Tony Banks found time between Genesis’ …AND THEN THERE WERE THREE… (1978) and DUKE (1980) to record his debut solo album A CURIOUS FEELING. Banks’ story concept for the album of a man rediscovering his life having suffered memory loss was inspired by the short story Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes. String Driven Thing’s Kim Beacon provides warm vocals and the album also features Genesis touring drummer Chester Thompson. Banks plays the rest of the instruments including guitar and bass in addition to his keyboards. The synth-dominant music is pure Banks mixing beautiful soaring instrumentals such as “The Waters of Lethe” and “Forever Morning” with tuneful songs “Lucky Me” and “For a While”. He also stretches out on the romantic “You”, which has one of his best instrument segments to close out the song, and rocks hard on the pounding “Somebody Else’s Dream”. The re-mix has enhanced the sonic spectrum considerably and the songs breathe better as a result. Banks’ solo work would never better this excellent debut.

Like Collins’ HELLO, I MUST BE GOING!, THE FUGITIVE was released in the Genesis hiatus between ABACAB and GENESIS. Here Banks decided to take on the vocal duties himself in an attempt to stamp his own identity on his music. As a result the songs were kept simple following the trends set in the streamlining of the Genesis sound over their previous two albums. Banks’ vocals have a certain charm if not range and the songs here suit his vocal style. The opening reggae infused “This is Love” sets the tone and the songs across the album are all tuneful and sometimes catchy, if less adventurous than those on A CURIOUS FEELING. “And the Wheels Keep Turning” has an infectious hook and “By You” is fluffy synth pop. Bank’s increased use of programmed drum sounds means instrumentals “Thirty-Threes” and “Charm” have a robotic feel to them that plays against Banks’ natural deftness for flowing musical melodies and arrangements. There are flashes of brilliance on the rocking “At the Edge of Night” but other tracks, such as the ballad “Say You’ll Never Leave Me” and the mid-tempo “K2” have a plodding rhythm, which fails to bring life to Banks’ melodies. Again Nick Davis’ remixes have brought out some previously hidden delights on an album that, whilst mixed in quality and execution, has its moments of charm and elegance.

Music Review – PHIL COLLINS: FACE VALUE (1981) and BOTH SIDES (1993) – Remastered reissues

FACE VALUE (1981) ∗∗∗∗½
BOTH SIDES (1993) ∗∗∗Phil Collins’ back catalogue is being reissued at a rate of two releases per month. The first batch under the umbrella release title of Take a Look at Me Now… consists of the Genesis singer/drummer’s 1981 debut solo album FACE VALUE and his introspective 1993 release BOTH SIDES. Both albums have been remastered by Nick Davis and include a second CD containing live versions of some of the songs from that album alongside demos. They also feature recreations of the original album covers.

The writing process for FACE VALUE began in 1979 whilst Genesis had taken a hiatus so Collins could try and patch up his broken marriage. Tony Banks and Mike Rutherford took the opportunity to record their debut solo albums (A CURIOUS FEELING and SMALLCREEP’S DAY). When Collins found his marriage was beyond repair he found himself with time on his hands and started writing. The resultant songs were reflective of his state of mind at the time but also drew on his wide range of musical influences. Two of the songs, “Misunderstanding” and “Please Don’t Ask” (demos of which are available on CD2), made it onto Genesis’ next album DUKE (1980). Once that album and the following tour were complete, Collins took the opportunity to take the rest of his songs and record his first solo album. He used his demos as the basis for the tracks and added instruments in studio with musicians such as Eric Clapton, Alphonso Johnson, John Giblin, Stephen Bishop, Joe Partridge and Daryl Stuermer. The resultant album is the most varied of his career with lead-off single, the stark and dramatic “In the Air Tonight”, a huge hit buoying sales of the album. The song has Collins’ powerful signature drum fill, which has been become part of music history. Although the bitterness evident in the lyrics fuelled the view that this album was a series of open letters to his ex-wife. That view ignores the broader range of songs and sentiments on the album. There is the romanticism of new love found in “This Must Be Love”, the middle-eastern inspired instrumental “Droned”, the aching desperation of “The Roof is Leaking” and the psychedelic rock of his more melodic cover of The Beatles’ “Tomorrow Never Knows.” Collins also adds a horn section to the Motown-style soul of “I MIssed Again”, the anthemic, big band influenced instrumental “Hand in Hand” and the warm soul of “Thunder and Lightning”. He reworks “Behind the Lines” from DUKE into a fast and punchy lament. Other songs include the bright “I’m Not Moving”, the piano led ballad “You Know What I Mean” and the late-night saloon-styled reflection of “If Leaving Me Is Easy.” Collins had demonstrated his versatility as a writer and musician and had set the wheels in motion for a decade of hit albums both on his own and with Genesis.

By contrast BOTH SIDES is Collins’ most introspective album. It is his personal favourite amongst his catalogue and this is largely driven by the fact he played everything himself in realising his vision for the songs, which were written with a spontaneity that recalled some of his writing on FACE VALUE. The album is made up of mainly slow to mid-tempo songs which are highly personal and reflective, such as the warm yearning of “Can’t Turn Back the Years” and the hopeful “There’s a Place for Us.” The more up-tempo songs such as the driving “Both Sides of the Story” and the call to arms of “We Wait and We Wonder” take on more generic social and political themes mirroring his approach on …BUT SERIOUSLY. Whilst it is easy to see why this album meant so much to Collins, his uncompromising approach gives the songs a sameness of feel that leaves the listener searching for a sudden change of tempo or a blast of horns (absent from this album). The songs individually are strong, but as a whole the album just needs the variety that is so much in evidence on its sister reissue, FACE VALUE. Whilst the lovely melodic “We’re Sons of Our Fathers” delves into new ground for Collins with a bluegrass feel to it, it calls out for authentic instrumentation rather than synthesized simulation. Many of the songs would come to life more on stage, as can be witnessed on the second CD, which carries some rare live material from the tour that followed. There is a particularly bouncy unplugged version of “Both Sides of the Story” and “Can’t Turn Back the Years” benefits from a lovely worked intro between on-stage musicians Brad Cole (keyboards), Daryl Stuermer (guitar) and Nathan East (bass). BOTH SIDES can be viewed as an album that is less than the sum of its parts, but demonstrating a side to Collins that showed he wasn’t afraid to experiment and work against his public image.

Music Review: JEFF LYNNE’S ELO – ALONE IN THE UNIVERSE (2015)

JEFF LYNNE’S ELO – ALONE IN THE UNIVERSE (2015) ∗∗∗½
Tracks: “When I Was a Boy” / “Love and Rain” / “Dirty to the Bone” / “When the Night Comes” / “The Sun Will Shine on You” / “Ain’t It a Drag” / “All My Life” / “I’m Leaving You” / “One Step at a Time” / “Alone in the Universe”  Bonus Tracks: “Fault Line” / “Blue”
All songs written by Jeff Lynne
Produced by Jeff Lynne
Musicians: Jeff Lynne – All instruments except the shaker and the tambourine; Steve Jay – shaker, tambourine, engineer; Laura Lynne – background vocals on “Love and Rain” and “One Step at a Time”.
Last year’s triumphant performance at Radio 2’s Hyde Park gig spurred Jeff Lynne back into writing songs for a new ELO album and tour. It’s been 14 years since the last ELO album, the overlooked and underrated Zoom, and here Lynne effectively produces a solo album under the band’s name. He brings in a range of influences from his heroes – The Beatles (“When I was a Boy” and “The Sun Will Shine on You”) and Roy Orbison (“Blue”) – to hints of disco (“One Step at a Time”) and reggae (“When the Night Comes”) in a varied collection of melodic songs. Whilst the album doesn’t reach the heights of the band’s classic mid-1970s period – A New World Record, Out of the Blue – and lacks the sustained excellence of 2001’s Zoom, this is still a classy selection.

Music Review – TONY BANKS: A CHORD TOO FAR (2015)

TONY BANKS – A CHORD TOO FAR (2015, Esoteric, 4CDs) ∗∗∗∗

CD1:

  1. Rebirth – From Soundtracks
  2. At The Edge Of Night – From The Fugitive
  3. Walls Of Sound – From Strictly Inc.
  4. Lion Of Symmetry – From Soundtracks
  5. The More I Hide It – From Bankstatement
  6. Shortcut To Somewhere – From Soundtracks
  7. The Waters Of Lethe – From A Curious Feeling
  8. I Wanna Change The Score – From Still
  9. Water Out Of Wine – From Still
  10. Something To Live For – From Strictly Inc.
  11. By You – From The Fugitive
  12. Never Let Me Know – From Strictly Inc.
  13. Thirty Three’s – From The Fugitive

CD2

  1. Charity Balls – From Strictly Inc.
  2. An Island In The Darkness – From Strictly Inc.
  3. The Border – From Bankstatement
  4. Lucky Me – From A Curious Feeling
  5. Another Murder Of A Day – From Still
  6. Moving Under – From The Fugitive
  7. Still It Takes Me By Surprise – From Still
  8. Red Day On Blue Street – From Still
  9. After The Lie – From A Curious Feeling
  10. Redwing – From Soundtracks

CD3

  1. Queen Of Darkness – From Bankstatement
  2. A Piece Of You – From Strictly Inc.
  3. Big Man – From Bankstatement
  4. Angel Face – From Still
  5. This Is Love – From The Fugitive
  6. I’ll Be Waiting – From Bankstatement
  7. Back To Back – From Still
  8. For A While – From A Curious Feeling
  9. Throwback – From Bankstatement
  10. You Call This Victory – From Soundtracks
  11. And The Wheels Keep Turning – From The Fugitive
  12. You – From A Curious Feeling
  13. The Final Curtain – From Still

CD4

  1. Blade – From Six Pieces For Orchestra
  2. Black Down – From Seven
  3. Siren – From Six Pieces For Orchestra
  4. Earthlight – From Seven
  5. From The Undertow – From A Curious Feeling
  6. Spring Tide – Demo
  7. Neap Tide – Demo
  8. City Of Gold – Demo
  9. The Chase – From The Wicked Lady
  10. Kit – From The Wicked Lady
  11. Poppet – Previously Unreleased
  12. The Wicked Lady – From The Wicked Lady

Tony Banks is the most influential contributor to the Genesis sound and yet his solo career has been the least successful of all the band’s core members. Listening to this excellent collection it is evident that his solo output is of a high quality and should appeal to Genesis’ fan base. But where Banks has suffered in comparison to his band mates is in the personality department. He has never been at home in the limelight and his reluctance to front his own songs – with the exception of The Fugitive, he has relied on others to interpret his songs – has led to them having a lack of identity. Phil Collins and Peter Gabriel had the advantage of being singers in the first place, whilst Mike Rutherford employed two of the best in Paul Carrack and Paul Young for his Mike + The Mechanics project. Secondly Banks has never been one to compromise or overly simplify and whilst many of the songs here eschew his prog rock roots, they also are more complex in structure and harmony and therefore more challenging to the listener.The first thing you notice about this collection is the excellent remixes of tracks from the earlier albums – notably the period of A Curious Feeling through to Bankstatement. The initial CD releases had lacked a certain dynamic quality, which has been fixed here bringing new life to those tracks (A Curious Feeling having already been spruced up a couple of years ago). Banks has also sequenced the 4 CVDs and not simply followed a timeline. This gives a good balance to the collection and allows for some new creativity with the morph of the gentle instrumental “Redwing” into the rocking “At the Edge of Night” working particularly well at the outset.

Banks has employed some significant talent over the years and they are evident over the first 3 CDs. Singer Kim Beacon and Genesis touring drummer Chester Thompson worked on his debut A Curious Feeling, which remains the album from his solo career that Banks feels closest to with six of the tracks featured here. It was the album that was closest to his work with Genesis and it remains a very satisfying experience. Banks sang himself on 1983’s The Fugitive and did a decent job. The songs were simpler and more pop orientated, but still has the essence of Banks’ ear for harmony and chord structure. Five tracks are represented here. The Wicked Lady (1983) and Soundtracks (1985) featured instrumental and vocal work he had contributed to films in the early to mid 1980s. The synth pop of “Lion of Symmetry” is a classic example of how Banks can build a song with Toyah Wilcox supplying distinct vocals and lyrics.

The catchy “Shortcut to Somewhere” was one of three collaborations with former Marillion vocalist Fish. The other two coming from 1991’s Still – the brooding “Angel Face” and the meandering but dramatic “Another Murder of a Day” actually work much better. That album also saw him link up with 1980s pop star Nik Kershaw as well as Andy Taylor and Jayney Klimek, having worked with the latter on Bankstatement two years earlier. Alistair Gordon was the other vocalist on that album.

Banks’ tasteful compositions and arrangements are evidenced on tracks such as the breathy “I’ll Be Waiting” and the reflective “The Final Curtain”. His taste for the epic is demonstrated with the 17-minute “An Island in the Darkness” from 1995’s Strictly Inc on which Banks collaborated with vocalist Jack Hues of the Hues Corporation fame. The lack of success of that album in particular led to Banks moving into the classical world where he could be more true to his flare for melody, harmony and complex musical structures. Seven (2004) and then Six (2012) followed to warm reception and this work forms the majority of CD4, on which there are also his demos of some of the pieces that would appear on these albums.

All in all this is an excellent collection, but one primarily targeted at Genesis’ and Banks’ fan base. To those curious to find out more It serves as a splendid sampler to one of rock’s most creative writers and inspirational keyboard players. The set comes with a beautifully presented and illustrated 60-page book written by Banks himself. There is the promise of a re-release of Banks’ full catalogue in 5.1 Surround to follow. It is a catalogue worthy of re-appraisal.

Music Review – GENESIS: R-KIVE (2014)

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)

818bjr+dEzL._SL1500_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.