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Genesis - Three Sides Live CD (album) cover

THREE SIDES LIVE

Genesis

 

Symphonic Prog

3.41 | 355 ratings

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SouthSideoftheSky
Special Collaborator
Symphonic Team
2 stars Better called 'Four Sides Live' (if you have the right version)

Three Sides Live was Genesis third official live album after 1973's Genesis Live and 1977's Seconds Out. While Seconds Out was recorded at what must be considered a peak of the band's career, Three Sides Live was (partly) recorded on the tour for the weak Abacab album. It surely would have been more appropriate to release a live album directly following Duke which was a much better album to represent the early output of the three man line-up of Tony Banks, Mike Rutherford and Phil Collins. Still, four songs here are taken from Duke; Turn It On Again, Behind The Lines, Duchess and Misunderstanding. Though all good, I certainly would have preferred to hear the Behind The Lines/Duchess/Guide Vocal/ Turn It On Again/Duke's Travels/Duke's End-suite as it was performed on the Duke tour (as can be seen on the recently released Live In London DVD). Here, Only Behind The Lines/Duchess are played together which constitutes one of the highlights of this live album. Turn It On Again functions very well as a stand-alone and as the opening number. Misunderstanding is decent but hardly among the better songs from Duke.

The songs taken from Abacab are much weaker, though the title track is a good song (even if I prefer the version from the Live At Wembley DVD). Dodo is decent, but Me And Sarah Jane is a bit of a bore. And Then There Were Three is represented with Follow You Follow Me which, again, is hardly the best song from that album.

For fans of the older Genesis, the In The Cage-medley is clearly the most interesting part of the three vinyl sides (the content on the fourth side depends on which version of the album you have). This medley contains, apart from In The Cage itself, also snippets of The Cinema Show, Riding The Scree and The Colony Of Slippermen. It then flows very nicely into Afterglow, resulting in 17 minutes of continuous, progressive music. This closes the third side of the original album. Why they decided to fill the fourth side with something else is a bit of a mystery as there clearly was enough live material from the time to fill all four sides of a double vinyl release. I think this could have been a much better live album had it stayed more true to the actual set list of the time (or ever better, the set list of past times!).

On some versions, the fourth side is filled with non-album b-sides and on other versions it contains older live material. It is the version with the extra live material that is the most common version today (and the b-sides in question have since been made available elsewhere). This is in effect, then, not three sides live, but four sides live! We get here the excellent One For The Vine, the great Fountain Of Salmacis and a long version of Watcher Of The Skies with It. All nice but a bit out of place here.

I would strongly recommend starting your investigation of live Genesis with Seconds Out which is a much better representation of the band's live act at the peak of their career. After that, there are several live concert DVD's that are clearly preferable over the Three Sides Live album. The aforementioned Live In London DVD features a full set list from the Duke tour and as such it contains all of the best songs also present on Three Sides Live plus a plethora of more classic Genesis material from the 70's (the sound and picture quality is, however, not the best). Also the early 90's live DVD The Way We Walk is, in my opinion, much more enjoyable than Three Sides Live. These other releases makes Three Sides Live primarily a release for fans and collectors. There surely are some great bits and pieces here, but overall it is a rather incoherent and strange album. Besides, most of the best bits are, as indicated, available in better live versions elsewhere.

Recommended for fans and collectors

SouthSideoftheSky | 2/5 |

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