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Genesis - Genesis 1970 -75 CD (album) cover

GENESIS 1970 -75

Genesis

 

Symphonic Prog

4.57 | 152 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Jeff Carney
1 stars I stand with jaw open as to how people can listen to Genesis in this fashion. I had hoped this box might be treated with a more audiophile approach after all of the complaints about the previous two, but clearly such was not to be the case.

I can only presume that some people have been listening to remastered CDs for so long now that they have lost complete touch with things like midrange, drums that don't sound like tin cans, and dynamics that haven't been sacrificed. I envy those who do not hear what all of this EQing and compression has done to this set. I truly do. But to me, right from the moment I put on Trespass, Mayhew's cymbals sounded like somebody hitting a can with a spoon right next to my head. Yeah, more clarity, but at what cost? The hi-hat on Trespass now sounds like pure tin. Drums don't sound like that no matter how loud they get. That's just massive EQ tweaking and compression gone wrong. Even Gabriel's voice is somewhat grating because of all of the EQ. The whole signal just pumps and sounds kind of sterile.

The EQing on these varies, and won't always be as bright as what I described above, but the compression remains pretty consistent, and is a sonic disaster for any but the fan who buys music he enjoys again and again and is content with hearing new detail as opposed to being concerned with the warmth and feel of the entire signal.

If one is so inclined to look at this stuff in a more scientific fashion to see what was done, you'll see that many peaks are just gone. I saw a comparison where the original 80s CD of Selling England was displayed next to this new mastering, and I kid you not, it was noted that on Cinema Show, the dynamics are about *half* of what they were. This is ridiculous.

It doesn't take a purist to find that these sound bizarre. Heck, I used to think people who said this type of sound makes you feel a bit weird or causes ear fatigue were New Age wackos, but I've come to understand that when music is squashed with compression like this it actually makes you feel a bit dizzy in the head just listening to it. How anyone could get through these entire albums without their ears feeling exhausted is something which simply eludes me.

Some people will look at the waveforms of these with software and think they've seen worse, but this is compression that was obviously done on individual tracks and in the mixing process and you'll really need to compare with early CD versions to see how much has been sacrificed in order to make these sound pumped up or modern or whatever the goal was here. Sure, when these were mastered, they cranked it up some more, but it's the whole thing being pummeled with compression in the *mixing* process that is obvious and creates this sound.

Now, if one wants the 5.1 mixes, I suppose this set might be interesting, but for stereo, original Charisma vinyl makes this stuff sound laughably bad. It is just unfathomable that anyone could have ever bothered to A/B these mixes with the originals at the same volume and think this could actually be pitched as an improvement. That is comical. To my ears, these should be called the Genesis demasters or demixes.

I guess Davis apparently learned his lesson from using no-noise to lessen hiss on the Definitive Editions, so thankfully that is one thing that is not evident. The breath is in the signals here, and I hear plenty of tape hiss, but the EQing and compression is not to be believed.

If you have no ability to play vinyl or generally prefer the CD medium, do some googling for something like Genesis best CD versions and you'll find that many Genesis freaks have been hunting down the old Virgin/Charisma CDs for Trespass, Nursery Cryme and Foxtrot. These may not be perfect sounding, but don't let the cheap packaging fool you. Sonically, those babies trounce this nonsense. For Selling England and The Lamb, the early Virgin/Charisma CDs are great but the Atlantic CD of Selling England and the Atco CD of Lamb are also the same mastering and equally superior to this approach. Not the case with the earlier stuff. There, you need the early Virgin/Charisma CDs with those stupid cropped covers. The Atlantics (or MCA for Trespass) aren't as good. Of course, even the no- noised and overly EQd Definitive Editions from 1994 are better than this, but real fans should do some research as many fans are out there trying to do comparisons and figure the Genesis catalog out on CD. The 80s CDs have compared most favorably but you need the right ones, because some of them were just garbage of a different kind. In recent comparisons, I have found that decent vinyl pressings of these albums crush any CD, but I kid you not, if you A/B some of those decent sounding 80s/early 90s pressings with this garbage and actually level match them so that they are the same volume, you'll see that this is ultimately just grating on the ears.

Ironically, I'd be glad to rebuy this music despite owning it in numerous formats, live versions, etc... but only if the original recordings were treated with *some* type of TLC and restraint. Not just put through a chain of tools and worked over like meat through a grinder. And I don't think it sounds better just because I am told or most people believe that technology has improved so much and blah blah blah. These mixes were works of art. They were intimate one minute and bombastic the next. Genesis was in your room and then blasting mellotron from the Moon all within a single piece of music. That feeling is gone. It has been disregarded in favor of mixes like Mama. I thought Mama was breathtaking, innovative and brilliant for its time, but I don't need to hear Can Utility and the Coastliners mixed to sound like Mama.

Metaphorically, maybe Banks thought his keyboard rig in the 80s sounded as organic and powerful as his rig in the 70s because he was adopting the technology of the time. But while that technology may have been of its time and accepted by most keyboardists as improved, in my view, it wasn't improved. In fact, I suspect that many would agree it wasn't nearly as good! Same thing here, folks. I'm sad to report this because this music means so much to me that I wanted this set to be different. Unfortunately, it's along the lines of the previous sets. Read all the glowing reviews you like, but at least try to find those that have some descriptions of tonality and actual comparisons. Those are perfectly valid as this is all subjective, but when reading fascinating insights like Nursery Cryme sounds better than I *remember* it sounding so buy this now and similar diatribes, just remember that those aren't actual comparisons. Instead, they are just reviews from people who, for whatever reason, want to believe that they have made a good investment or support anything the band does.

Jeff Carney | 1/5 |

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