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Genesis - Three Sides Live CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

3.46 | 534 ratings

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4 stars Genesis had just had released two #1 albums, DUKE (1980) and ABACAB (1981), and the band was growing into one of the biggest live acts in the world. Not surprisingly, the trio decided to release their third live album. Considering the time this live album was compiled, (fresh off the ABACAB tour), THREE SIDES LIVE is still a remarkably good album, and for the most part, features Genesis's more progressive repertoire of the early 1980's and latter 1970's. It a good representation of the groups live concerts of the time, and while not quite as strong as GENESIS LIVE (1973) or SECONDS OUT (1977), it is worlds better than the groups 1992 live album, THE WAY WE WALK. Genesis was still a potent band in 1981, and was just beginning it's ascent to mass MTV stardom.

The album begins slowly with Rutherford's guitar, in the excellent pop song, Turn it on Again. This song is fresh and exciting, and is much richer here than on the DUKE studio performance; it is a strong show-opener for Genesis. This leads into Dodo, the strongest track off of 1981's ABACAB. This is an excellent live replica. It truly is one of the best songs later Genesis wrote. The live rendition of the song Abacab grows a little wearisome. The extended jam is just as bad on the studio version. They should have stuck to the pop-single, and cut off five minutes. Behind the Lines and Duchess are all played well and are faithful to the originals. One wishes they had included the Guide Vocal and Duke's Travels here, as they would have flowed beautifully with these tracks, (completing the 'Duke Suite'). Despite this, Duchess is simple, but amazing. Me & Sarah Jane is a track that is initially weak, but grows on you. Bank's keyboards have a funky/light feel to them, making it an enjoyable track. Disc One closes with the haunting pop number, Follow You, Follow Me, which is a good track, although it does not come through as crisply as in the studio, and suffers for it.

While Disc One showcases much of Genesis's stronger work from their last three studio albums, while Disc Two is comprised completely of older material from the 1970's, and is therefore much more progressive in character. It begins with the awful Phil Collins number, Misunderstanding, which is in contention to be the worst Genesis song ever. Collins' annoying tendency to repeat lines endlessly makes this track even worse. This disc quick picks up from there. At this point in time, one couldn't expect to hear classic (Gabriel era) Genesis numbers in full form, and they were relegated to medleys. Luckily, these medleys are performed exceptionally by the band, which makes up for their shortened lengths. Medley: In the Cage/Cinema Show/Slippermen, is an enjoyable trip down memory lane. Since this track is off of the 1976 tapes, it features Prog Rock drummer, Bill Bruford (who toured with Genesis in '76), and the former Genesis guitarist, Steve Hackett. The track benefits greatly from the presence of these top musicians, and is executed seamlessly. Many Genesis fans believe Phil Collins handled the vocals on In the Cage better than even Peter Gabriel could. Sadly, Cinema Show and [The Colony of] Slippermen are only instrumental run-throughs, and do lose power without lyrics. (Phil Collins simply could not duplicate Peter Gabriel's vocal theatrics on a track like Slippermen). The next track is Afterglow, and excellent and emotional Prog- ballad. This song, (like always), is great, but unnecessary as it appeared on 1977's SECONDS OUT live album. The next track is probably the strongest on the entire album. It is a resurrection on the 1977 mini-epic, One for the Vine. This version runs circles on around the studio version. First of all, it rocks much harder. Tony Banks is great but his compositions can be a bit spongy at times. The instrumental bridge five minutes in is much stronger, due in large part to the first-rate drumming of Mr. Chester Thompson, who turns in one of his strongest performances with the band. Surprisingly, Fountain of Salmacis gets its first live treatment here, and is performed well, with cohesive guitars, drums, and keyboards. The second medley of the album is comprised of It and Watcher of the Skies. I never thought these songs came out well in this setting. It is much more emotional with Gabriel handling the vocals, and like Cinema Show, we see Watcher of the Skies receive only and instrumental run-through, a disgrace for this caliber of song, considered by many to be Genesis's anthem. While Steurmer does adequately on Watcher, his guitar is very weak on It.

Like on SECONDS OUT, this live album closes with a short taped clip of Ethel Merman singing "There's no business like Show-Business!" - An interesting touch. The playing on this album is exceptional, (some say prodigious), and while Genesis's creative talents were disappearing, they were still first-rate live musicians. I gave this album a Four Star rating, as the instrumentation is exceptional, it is bogged down by some weaker tracks (i.e. Misunderstanding, Abacab), and while it does put up a fight, it simply cannot compete with the live Genesis of the Gabriel days.

(Note: These tracks were recorded in 1981 in Europe and America, with the exception of tracks 4 and 5 on Disc Two which were recorded in 1980, and tracks 2 and 6 on Disc 2 which were recorded on the 1976 tour).

(Note: initially, there were two copies of this album, one released in the UK and one in the US. The edition reviewed here is the UK version, which features a fourth live side. The US version had 'three sides' of live material, hence the title, and a fourth side of studio material. This fourth side of studio material was released in the UK as an EP titled "3 X 3". For the most part, these tracks are garbage, and it is no surprise they never made in on an album. It did contain the UK hit Paperlate).

NetsNJFan | 4/5 |


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