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Genesis: 1976-1982 (Box Set)

The five titles in 1976-1982, the first of three box sets bringing the Genesis catalog into the 5.1 Surround Sound era, offer a valuable opportunity to re-evaluate (and perhaps even celebrate) the band's fertile period between Peter Gabriel's departure and Phil Collins' ego trip.

Much of Genesis' output has already been reissued, in a series hailed as the "definitive edition remasters," so Rhino execs have enticed long-time fans and casual listeners alike with two-disc sets of 1976's A Trick of the Tail and Wind & Wuthering, 1978's And Then There Were Three, 1980's Duke and 1981's Abacab that feature newly remixed versions of the original studio works, plus DVDs that include 5.1 Surround Sound and DTS mixes, as well as music videos (also available on The Video Show DVD), bootleg live performances and documentaries from the era, photo galleries, tour program reproductions and revealing present-day interviews with Collins, bassist Mike Rutherford, keyboardist Tony Banks and guitarist Steve Hackett (who left during the mixing of 1977's Seconds Out live record). The box even includes an exclusive bonus disc featuring tracks scattered among the band's EPs and B-sides although many can also be found on the Archive #2 1976-1992 box set.

A Trick of the Tail marks Genesis' poignant and powerful segue from the Gabriel years, and despite the band's initial intentions to make it mostly an instrumental record, it's a lyrically intense effort that has become so influential that, if you didn't know better, you'd swear you were listening to a so-called Third Wave of Progressive Rock band. "Entangled" and "Mad Man Moon," in particular, sound as if they could have been recorded by a band like Spock's Beard which even used to perform "Squonk" as an encore. This was the first hit album in the United States for Genesis.

Compared to its predecessor, the arty Wind & Wuthering (inspired by Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights) was a rambling and much more instrumental record. But taken in the context of 1976-1982, it is the title here most deserving of reassessment, simply because it marks the last truly progressive-rock album Genesis ever released. For proof, revisit lengthy pieces like "Eleventh Earl of Mar" and "One for the Vine." Wind & Wuthering also featured the band's first pop single, a rather dull and slightly strained verse-chorus-verse ballad called "Your Own Special Way" that still managed to clock in at longer than six minutes. Genesis would never be the same again.

After Hackett's departure, the band released the aptly titled And Then There Were Three an 11-track record that contained only two songs longer than six minutes. Clearly, Collins, Rutherford and Banks were already looking ahead to Duke and Abacab while leaving the last remnants of the original Genesis behind. Collins even admits in the accompanying DVD interview that he never particularly liked progressive music(!), and Rutherford offers the assessment that the band was getting better at writing shorter songs during this period. Indeed, ... And Then There Were Three contained two more pop hits, "Many Too Many" and "Follow You Follow Me" a significant entry in the Genesis songbook because it was written by all three band members. The trio's collaboration was about to get even stronger.

The pivotal Duke record proved to be Genesis' first No. 1 abum in the U.K. and almost broke into the Top 10 in the United States, thanks to the smash single "Misunderstanding." The band introduced a drum machine on "Duchess," rocked with an off-kilter vengeance on "Man of Our Times" and continued its three-way collaboration on standout tracks like "Behind the Lines" and the hit "Turn It On Again." In between the recording of ... And Then There Were Three and Duke, all three band members embarked on solo projects, and some songs here particularly the unexpectedly personal ballad "Please Don't Ask" would have been right at home on Collins' solo debut, Face Value.

The reinvention (and Americanization) of Genesis was complete with Abacab. Gone are the epics and orchestral passages, replaced by one of the most annoying songs in the band's canon ("Who Dunnit?"), a song with vocals that Gabriel might have attempted on one of his own solo records ("Dodo/Lurker") and a song featuring the Earth, Wind & Fire horn section ("No Reply At All"). At the same time, half of the title track was improvised in the studio, and the entire record packed a larger-than-life sound that still shines today. Indeed, in the DVD interview, Collins calls Abacab "our punk album." That might be a stretch, but Abacab certainly did its part to introduce a new generation of young listeners to a friendly, once- or twice-removed form of progressive music that no doubt turned some of those kids into proud progheads.

I'm proof of that.

Track Listings
A Trick of the Tail:
1. Dance on a Volcano
2. Entangled
3. Squonk
4. Mad Man Moon
5. Robbery, Assault and Battery
6. Ripples...
7. Trick of the Tail
8. Los Endos
Studio album in 5.1 Surround Sound and DTS
Videos: Robbery, Assault and Battery, Ripples, A Trick of the Tail
Genesis In Concert 1976
Reissue Interviews, 2007
"White Rocks" Premiere Program, 1977

Wind & Wuthering:
1. Eleventh Earl of Mar
2. One for the Vine
3. Your Own Special Way
4. Wot Gorilla?
5. All in a Mouse's Night
6. Blood on the Rooftops
7. Unquiet Slumbers for the Sleepers...
8. ...In That Quiet Earth
9. Afterglow
U.S. Television Bootleg Video (The Mike Douglas Show, 1977)
Japanese Television Bootleg Video, 1977
Reissue Interviews, 2007
World Tour Program, 1977

And Then There Were Three:
1. Down and Out
2. Undertow
3. Ballad of Big
4. Snowbound
5. Burning Rope
6. Deep In the Motherlode
7. Many Too Many
8. Scenes From a Night's Dream
9. Say It's Alright Joe
10. The Lady Lies
11. Follow You Follow Me
Videos: Many Too Many, Follow You Follow Me
Three Dates With Genesis, 1978
Reissue Interviews, 2007
Japanese Tour Program, 1978
Knebworth Program, 1978
German Festival Program, 1978

1. Behind the Lines
2. Duchess
3. Guide Vocal
4. Man of Our Times
5. Misunderstanding
6. Heathaze
7. Turn It On Again
8. Alone Tonight
9. Cul-De-Sac
10. Please Don't Ask
11. Duke's Travels
12. Duke's End
Videos: Duchess, Misunderstanding, Turn It On Again
Live at the Lyceum, 1980
Reissue Interviews, 2007
World Tour Program, 1980

1. Abacab
2. No Reply At All
3. Me and Sarah Jane
4. Keep It Dark
5. Dodo/Lurker
6. Who Dunnit?
7. Man on the Corner
8. Like It Or Not
9. Another Record
Videos: Abacab, No Reply At All, Keep It Dark, Man on the Corner
Reissue Interviews, 2007
World Tour Program, 1981

Bonus Disc:
1. Paperlate
2. Evidence of Autumn
3. Pigeons
4. You Might Recall
5. Naminanu
6. Inside and Out
7. Vancouver
8. Me and Virgil
9. It's Yourself
10. Match of the Day
11. Open Door
12. The Day the Light Went Out
13. Submarine
Video: Paperlate
Reissue Interviews, 2007

Added: August 30th 2007
Reviewer: Michael Popke
Related Link: Official Genesis Web Site
Hits: 3522
Language: english

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