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Genesis - Genesis Live CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

3.98 | 869 ratings

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4 stars When 6th Formers raid their Mum's wardrobe

If Arthur Brown was of a litigious bent, and not the splendidly self-effacing man we know and love, I am sure the legal profession would be rubbing their collective hands in anticipatory relish were Messrs Gabriel and Cooper sitting in the dock awaiting cross examination. I'll wager also that Peter and Alice spend more on their lunch than would be deemed sufficient as an out of court settlement by any magistrate.

There is so much of Arthur's work unacknowledged in Gabriel's that the latter's uncontested mantle as creator of 'theatrical rock' would only be permissible in a truly, deeply crazy world. But enough of this bristling indignation and onto the heart of the matter. I prefer the live versions of most of these songs as their studio equivalents suffered from a murky production that obscures much of the detail.

Watcher of the Skies' - Superb anticipatory intro by Banks lush Mellotron which retreats to uncloak that famous distress signal of drunken morse code that permeates this song. Hackett's mastery of the volume swell technique creates a scrumptious 'sobbing' guitar sound that is employed in mesmerizing fashion during the quieter section towards the end.

'Get em Out By Friday' - Has its roots closer to vaudeville than Nashville, and represents one of the very few credible attempts by anyone at a composition deserving of the status of 'rock opera' (Sit DOWN Mr Townshend at the back and please pay attention)

The music is incredibly well written and changes appropriately depending on which particular 'personality' is inhabited by Gabriel during his delivery of the 'script.' Basically there appears to be an unscrupulous real estate agent (is there any other kind?) aided and abetted by a sinister piece of hired muscle called 'the Winkler' plus a young couple recently moved into their first home. (Yep, guess who they rented it from?) Gabriel summons forth yet another voice for the 'faceless corporation announcer' during the song's dramatic and very emotional conclusion.

As brilliantly as all this is done, there is something faintly nauseating about both a singer and his audience's presumption that what is presented constitutes some sort of 'high art.' The personas Gabriel creates amount to no more than entertaining Dickensian fictions that reek of a naivete born of privilege and a huge slice of patronising arrogance.

'The Return of the Giant Hogweed' - Hooray, he's back! (the Soviet shrub with attitude) One of the band's greatest and most memorable songs and if the brilliant playing and compositional details aren't enough to grab you, it is also just so wonderfully damn silly from start to finish. Only Genesis, that most quintessentially 'English' of progressive rock bands could write a song this blithely preposterous. If there is any greenfly at all on this magnificent bloom, it takes the form once again of Peter Gabriel's insatiable need to convince all and sundry just what 'incredibly weird' and 'smart' might look like.

'The Musical Box' - Another highlight from their rich and varied treasure trove from the early 70's which probably doesn't warrant any further detailed analysis on these archives. Suffice to say, this is what a horror story written by Lewis Carroll might resemble. The climactic 'Why don't you touch me?' refrain supported by those dripping tendril chords from Banks' organ still sends a delicious tingle down the spine.

Tip: Best to avoid playing croquet on a stripey lawn with any females who have a nurse in close attendance.

'The Knife' - To give Gabriel due credit, he displays here some legitimate worldly cynicism and casts a disaffected but faithful eye over the empty promises and hollow rhetoric of political and revolutionary summonses to action. The music wisely eschews most of those cliched martial conceits so beloved of Prog and instead romps through a spritely and infectious organ groove underpinned by that lovely dirty clanking bass sound that Rutherford lent his signature.

You really can't argue with the song selection for this 1973 Genesis live album as it contains five virtual no-brainers culled from the band's most fertile period. That said, 'Peter the Costume Changeling' still manages to irritate sufficiently throughout this truncated live concert 'snapshot' to grant his troupe sight of another empty and unilluminating star.

ExittheLemming | 4/5 |


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