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Genesis - Archive 1967-1975 CD (album) cover

ARCHIVE 1967-1975



Symphonic Prog

4.28 | 285 ratings

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Easy Livin
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars I know what I'd have liked!

Having had such high hopes for this box set when it was announced, I was somewhat disappointed to find that half of it was dedicated to a live version of "The lamb lies down on Broadway". While I enjoy that album I have always rated it some way below the other Gabriel era Genesis offerings. The performance itself is pretty much faithful to the studio version, Gabriel's slightly more aggressive vocals and between song narratives being the most notable differences. Since the studio album was originally released as a double LP and this CD release maintains the same track distribution between 2 CDs, the performance fills just over half of each of the first two CDs. What a waste of the space available on a four CD retrospective box set! The unused hour or so could easily have been filled with more live performances and rare studio tracks, or even just selected tracks from albums of the period covered.

Sides three and four are much better, or at least more interesting, as they contain many rare and unreleased tracks. Among the most sought after of these are the legendary "Twilight alehouse" and "Happy the man". I would have preferred that the studio tracks had appeared chronologically from the start of side three, with the live tracks appearing in a less ordered way towards the end of the album. This would have allowed the collection to close on a familiar high with say "Supper's ready". Instead, the collection goes out with something of a whimper, with a selection of out-takes from around the time of Jonathan King's involvement. Thankfully, King's production is notably absent from these tracks though, and thus so are the strings. The tracks include demos and early versions of songs which ended up on the "From Genesis to Revelation" album, plus a handful from around the time of "Trespass". While there is an endearing naivety to the songs, they are little more than early attempts at writing pop material, far removed from the prog classics the band would go on to create.

Looking more closely at some of the rare tracks, by the time "Twilight alehouse" was actually recorded, it had been part of the live set for some time. It never made it onto an album, but eventually appeared as the B-side of the single "I know what I like". It is certainly a decent song from the period, but perhaps falls short of those which did make their early albums. "Happy the man" was a non-album single A-side, released after "Nursery cryme". It is more whimsical, and only really of historical interest.

The live performances gather in a cross section of songs from Gabriel era albums not previously available in live format, at least with Gabriel still in the line up. Many of these are taken from a performance at the Rainbow Theatre in London in 1973. They include a complete rendition of "Supper's Ready" (not therefore the one omitted from "Genesis live"), and Phil Collins early flirtation with centre stage on "More full me". The unreleased single version of "Watcher of the skies" is interesting, as it has a completely different latter section.

The two Genesis Archives sets are split neatly between the Gabriel and Collins led eras; thus this first volume takes us nicely up to Gabriel's swansong on "The lamb..". Neither this, nor volume two should be mistaken for anthologies as neither contains any studio material which has previously appeared on the band's official album releases. They are therefore mainly intended for fans and collectors, and not for those who are new to the music of this seminal band.

Easy Livin | 3/5 |


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