Saturday, December 13, 2014

Genesis - R-Kive (3 CD's)

By Chris James 
Trying to cover not only Genesis’s entire career, but also the solo careers of the key band members, on a 3-CD collection was bound to lead to some tough choices. Although many important songs from the Genesis discography have been left out, this collection does include some interesting solo tracks among the well-known hits of the 70s and 80s, which the three-man version had, as well as some fine examples of the earlier, five-man 70s progressive output.
But at whom, I wonder, is this collection actually aimed? The answer lies in that atrocious title and artwork, but I’ll come to that in a minute.
Timed to coincide with the Sum of the Parts DVD/Blu-Ray documentary, this collection shines a light on the extensive, and frankly staggering, talent the band incubated and nurtured. That’s no bad thing, but it’s difficult to imagine any potential for crossover remains. Gabriel’s fans no doubt know his history and have explored it. Ditto Collins’s vast fan-base. It is interesting to wonder what a Collins’ fan, who likes the foot-tapping disco of Easy Lover, would make of the magisterial art-rock of Supper’s Ready; or what a Gabriel fan thinks about the slightly misogynistic Invisible Touch. This compilation offers those contrasts and many, many more.
It is also difficult to believe that this compilation is aimed at new fans. A few years ago, Genesis released The Platinum Collection, which exceeds this set by some distance. What this new compilation really highlights is the fact that Genesis hasn’t put out any original work since 1998’s Calling All Stations. In truth, most older, Collins-centred fans regard We Can’t Dance as their last album, and that came out an awfully long 23 years ago.
The less said about the reaction to this release from dyed-in-the-wool Genesis fans, the better. Obviously there is nothing here we don’t already have, and the social media blitz of “exciting news!” a few weeks ago upset a great many fans who’d been hoping, if not for a reunion or a new album, then for some obscure demos and soundboard recordings which are known to exist, but which likely wouldn’t be profitable to release.
In truth, a reunion of any combination of Genesis remains a vanishing improbability. Gabriel, Rutherford and Hackett in particular have been packing them in on their solo tours; Collins has suffered well-documented health problems; and Banks seems to prefer to dawdle with classical compositions these days. There is simply no reason for these five to get back together to do anything original, however much us fans pray for it daily.
What’s left, then, is the back catalogues to be repackaged for new generations. And that’s where we come back to the face-palm-inducing title of this compilation: R-Kive (Geddit? Do you geddit?!). It is trite, simplistic, irritating, and shows a crushing lack of imagination, which is ironic since it titles a collection of songs which contain some of the most imaginative music in rock history. The cover rearranges the letters of “Genesis” into a drug-addled mess of bland, sweetly coloured pointlessness, which requires some low-level dyslexia to decipher, and that oh-so-clever shadow of a man’s face cast by the letters (See it? Do you see it?!), which describes no one in particular. It reminds me of the face on the front of Mike + The Mechanics’ 1985 album, in profile instead of portrait, but not much else. Thus, I suspect this compilation might be aimed at Generation Y (short for “WHY?!”), or possibly at Generation Z (short for “ZZzzz”), but whether they’ll buy it is an open question.
To try to make sense of it, I showed the cover to my eight-year-old daughter. She got it. The letter blocks reminded her of one of her old games, and she said the colours looked “pretty”. Fair enough. The Genesis legacy must continue. Fans who remember seeing the band live in 1972 are, like the band members themselves, in their sixties now, and probably more than a few have already fallen off the perch. Genesis needs new, younger fans, and if such a feeble-minded title and muddle-headed artwork convinces ‘da kidz’ to investigate the band further than the 80s hits they might have heard, then that’s fine with me.
In summary: Genesis is, and will always be, the Greatest Rock Band in the World. This is a collection of some very good examples of its material, as well as an eclectic mix of tracks from the members’ solo careers. There is much missing, but those hidden gems on the full albums remain for the new or thus-far casual fan to discover, enjoy, and fall in love with. If it helps to extend the legacy of Genesis’s vast and appallingly under-appreciated contribution to our cultural landscape, then all well and good - despite that hideously vapid title.

By Christian Gerhardts
English by Robin Morgenstern

Summer of 2014. The fans have been waiting for any kind of life sign from the band for quite a while now. While Peter Gabriel, Mike + The Mechanics and – most of all – Steve Hackett have been touring extensively, providing us with releases, it's been increasingly quiet around Phil Collins and Tony Banks. Phil at least came out of the woods almost a year ago and announced a comeback. Then – a little out of the blue – there was the announcement of the BBC documentary Together And Apart and, finally, a piece of exciting news at the end of August, which wasn't nearly as exciting for fans: a new 3CD set called R-Kive.
R-Kive prompts a lot of questions. The title is obviously a word creation alluding to the word “archive”. The cover design though was a far greater cause for irritation and discussion among fans. The letters are jumbled and quite a stretch is needed to read it as “Genesis”. Even more important: whose face is the shadow thrown by the letters supposed to represent?
To the content: there have already been a few retrospective albums by Genesis. Most notably Turn It On Again: The Hits (1999), Platinum Collection (2004) and Turn It On Again: The Hits Tour Edition (2007). While The Hits naturally focused on the more commercial phase, the Platinum Collection 3CD set was a relatively complete compilation of previous works. R-Kive is also a 3CD set. Of course there are many overlaps, but R-Kive has one distinctive feature: the set has three songs each from all five solo careers (Tony Banks, Phil Collins, Peter Gabriel, Steve Hackett and Mike Rutherford). This seems logical if the intention is to market the band as a “family” from now on. It's no coincidence that the BBC documentary Sum of The Parts will be released on DVD and Blu-ray less than 6 weeks later.
There are 22 Genesis songs on R-Kive. The selection offers some surprises. From Tony Bank's album Still, there is the opener Red Day On Blue Street, for example. Peter Gabriel's selection surprisingly doesn't include his super-hit Sledgehammer alongside Solsbury Hill and Biko, but Signal To Noise from the UP album. Phil Collins also had a lot to choose from. In The Air Tonight and Easy Lover were both obvious choices, but the inclusion of Wake-Up Call from the Testify album is more surprising. While Genesis included their most successful songs in the set, Gabriel and Collins most successful albums No Jacket Required, ...But Seriously, So and US are not represented. Mike Rutherford's contributions Silent Running, Over My Shoulder and the world hit The Living Years are limited to his time with the Mechanics. Steve Hackett has the first solo contribution on the chronologically structured compilation with Ace Of Wands (Voyage Of The Acolyte was also the first solo album of the classic 5 men lineup) and has another early song from his solo career with Every Day. Here the surprise is probably Nomads (from the album Out Of The Tunnel's Mouth). Anthony Phillips and Ray Wilson are only represented with their contributions to Genesis albums (The Knife from Trespass and Calling All Stations from the album of the same name).
Not all songs are the remastered versions of 2007, older remastered versions were selected for Abacab, Mama, That's All, Invisible Touch, Land Of Confusion and Tonight Tonight Tonight. In addition, R-Kive features the album version of Tonight Tonight Tonight. When we inquired further, it was confirmed that the band members chose themselves which mixes of the respective songs were to be used for R-Kive. The above songs were all produced by Hugh Padgham, so it's safe to assume that the band was already quite satisfied with the original versions.
The selection is really only interesting because of the solo songs. While it's played safe with Mike Rutherford's songs, both Phil and Peter didn't go for the most obvious choices from their almost endless repertoire. In Phil's case though, it could be argued that this would have happened with any selection of songs, since something would have seemed to be missing in any case. However, Wake Up Call from the not very popular album Testify surely is a personal choice aimed at drawing the focus to his later works. The other two were huge hits. This only goes for Solsbury Hill with Peter Gabriel. It speaks volumes that neither Games Without Frontiers nor Shock The Monkey nor the hits Sledgehammer or Steam are included and the always strong Biko and Signal To Noise from UP are included instead – both political statements and in case of the latter probably with the same goal as Phil's – to draw the attention to the later works. When taking a closer look, one might get the impression that it was done to not let the set end with Calling All Stations. Tony's last contribution Siren seems to hint at that (though it is commendable that a piece of his classical work was included). The same goes for Steve, even though a song from Darktown or Beyond The Shrouded Horizon might have been more fitting than Nomads. In any case, something will always be missing or seem strange with a compilation like this. Ray Wilson's and Anthony Phillips' solo songs aren't included at all.
The press release also said that after the release of R-Kive there will be the reunion documentary Gensis: Together And Apart at the beginning of October and, additionally, a DVD called Sum Of The Parts, which is set to be released in the middle of November.
Unlike the Platinum Collection, which back then came in the now mostly obsolete bulky CD boxes for two to four CDs, R-Kive comes in a fold-out Digipak. On the inside, there is a photo of the band from Lamb-times on the left and a current one on the right (it's an already familiar image from the "staircase session", similar to the photo on the right). The print on the discs themselves is simple and the booklet contains a long intro text by Craig McLean. The text itself reveals a few interesting things: Phil Collins is quoted as saying to always be the one "opposed to constant repackaging". However, he also recognizes R-Kive's significance in directing people's attention to the lesser-known songs that don't deserve being forgotten and overlooked. Hackett in turn perfectly encapsulates with a charmingly sarcastic statement why Ace Of Wands is actually a Genesis song, saying that it was just a different variation of "And Then There Were Three" since Mike and Phil also contributed to the song. While Ray Wilson is completely ignored in the documentary Sum Of The Parts, Tony Banks writes in R-Kive's introduction: "A phase of the band that is easily overlooked, but merits another look". Collins in his part defends his last album with his own songs, Testify, as being better than was thought back then, adding that this was why he chose Wake Up Call. The introduction is a good read and entertaining. It's all about the idea of the Genesis family that can finally present everything that sprung from it.
In addition, the cover of every album that has a song featured on R-Kive is printed in the Booklet. It's a little strange though that the ...HITS cover was used for Easy Lover.
As a final point, it shouldn't go unmentioned that the new design was another controversial issue. "Unfortunate" would be putting it mildly here. The logo isn't very distinctive since the band name "GENESIS" isn't exactly obvious on the first read. It should also be mentioned though that Genesis never saw a public internet debate about a logo change before. The last decisions in that area simply happened too long ago.
R-Kive tries to win over new groups of listeners and to remarket the band as a whole with its impressive solo careers. Accordingly, R-Kive isn't a release for fans, but more like a good introduction for newbies into the Genesis cosmos.

 Tracks Listing:

CD 1
1. The Knife (From "Trepass", 1970)
2. The Musical Box (From "Nursery Cryme", 1971)
3. Supper's Ready (From "Foxtrot", 1972)
4. The Cinema Show (From "Selling England By The Pound", 1973)
5. I Know What I Like (From "Selling England By The Pound", 1973)
6. The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway (From "The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway", 1974)
7. Back In N.Y.C. (From "The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway", 1974)
8. The Carpet Crawlers (From "The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway", 1974)
9. Ace of Wands (From Steve Hackett's "Voyage of the Acolyte", 1975)

CD 2
1. Ripples (From "A Trick of the Tail", 1976)
2. Afterglow (From "Wind & Wuthering", 1976)
3. Solsbury Hill (From Peter Gabriel s first self-titled album, 1977)
4. Follow You Follow Me (From "And Then There Were Three", 1978)
5. For A While (From Tony Banks' "A Curious Feeling", 1979)
6. Every Day (From Steve Hackett's "Spectral Mornings", 1979)
7. Biko (From Peter Gabriel s third self-titled album, 1980)
8. Turn It On Again (From "Duke", 1980)
9. In The Air Tonight (From Phil Collins' "Face Value", 1981)
10. Abacab (From "Abacab", 1981)
11. Mama (From "Genesis", 1983)
12. That s All (From "Genesis", 1983)
13. Easy Lover (Originally released in 1984)
14. Silent Running (From Mike & The Mechanics self-titled album, 1985)

CD 3
1. Invisible Touch (From "Invisible Touch", 1986)
2. Land of Confusion (From "Invisible Touch", 1986)
3. Tonight Tonight Tonight (From "Invisible Touch", 1986)
4. The Living Years (From Mike & The Mechanics "Living Years", 1989)
5. Red Day on Blue Street (From Tony Banks' "Still", 1991)
6. I Can't Dance (From "We Can't Dance", 1991)
7. No Son of Mine (From "We Can't Dance", 1991)
8. Hold On My Heart (From "We Can't Dance", 1991)
9. Over My Shoulder (From Mike & The Mechanics "Beggar On A Beach Of Gold", 1995)
10. Calling All Stations (From "Calling All Stations", 1997)
11. Signal To Noise (From Peter Gabriel's "Up", 2002)
12. Wake Up Call (From Phil Collins' "Testify", 2002)
13. Nomads (From Steve Hackett's "Out Of The Tunnel's Mouth", 2009)
14. Siren (From Tony Banks' "Six: Pieces of Orchestra" (2012)

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Steve Hackett - Genesis Revisited: Live At The Royal Albert Hall

By John Kelman
Recorded just five months after the three-CD/two-DVD Genesis Revisited: Live at Hammersmith (Inside Out, 2013), it's not an unreasonable question to ask: why another show from the same tour (given the tour has been extended even further, by popular demand, into 2014 under the moniker Genesis Extended, featuring the same lineup with the exception of Nick Beggs replacing Lee Pomeroy on bass, bass pedals, guitar and vocals)—especially when this is the music of Genesis, a group renowned for its desire to perform its music as faithfully to the studio recordings as possible?
The answer is simple: this is, indeed, Hackett revisiting the material of Genesis, the band in which he played between 1971 and 1977, and for whom he truly is the torch-bearer for its glory prog years. But unlike the rigors of the original group, Hackett's approach to the music is more liberal; yes, the signatures must all be there, but as he demonstrated on both the 2012 studio release, Genesis Revisited II and Live at Hammersmith, the guitarist who left Genesis on the cusp of its greatest successes also leaves both more interpretive room for his band mates (and himself); he also allows for extended soloing that departs significantly from those recorded on those classic albums, most of them collected in 1970-75 Box Set (Rhino, 2008), along with two that appeared in the 1976-82 Box Set (Rhino, 2007) and two further in the Live 1973-2007 Box Set (Rhino, 2009).
Still, with a studio album and live album out since 2012, do we really need another Genesis Revisited entry?
The answer: for Genesis fans—and clearly there are many—unequivocally yes. But more than just for the music, Live at the Royal Albert Hall represents some significant upgrades over Live at Hammersmith. First, unlike Hammersmith there are three editions of Royal Albert Hall: a two-CD/one-DVD edition that features both the audio and video of the complete concert; a two-CD/two-DVD edition that also includes a bonus disc with both a 37-minute Backstage film, with plenty of interview footage, and Album by Album feature where Hackett steps through the recording of his entire discography as a solo artist; finally, as is becoming the norm in an industry struggling to remain viable, an 11"x11" Limited Artbook Edition that contains the two CDs, two DVDs, a Blu-Ray which contains all the contents of the DVDs in higher resolution, and 38 pages (on thick stock) with a bevy of photos from the Albert Hall performance, along with notes about all the members of the band.
Beyond all the extras, what about the music? While there is some significant crossover with Hammersmith, there is also enough material that didn't appear on that previous live release to render it worthwhile, not to mention a largely different set order which suggests that, unlike Genesis, this band alters its set list from night-to-night. Specifically, Royal Albert Hall contains "Carpet Crawlers," from 1974's The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway (Charisma); "The Return of the Giant Hogweed" and "The Fountain of Salmacis," from Hackett's debut with Genesis, 1971's Nursery Cryme (Charisma); "Horizons," from Foxtrot (Charisma, 1972); and "Ripples," from the group's first album after founding singer Peter Gabriel left, 1976's A Trick of the Tail (Charisma).
Furthermore, while Hammersmith featured a number of guest appearances, so, too, does Royal Albert Hall: King Crimson alum John Wetton is back, this time singing a far more suitable—and, consequently, far more impressive—"Firth of Fifth"; Amanda Lehman also returns, this time delivering an even more paradoxically fragile and powerful "Ripples" than she did on Genesis Revisited II; in addition to a gorgeous look at The Lamb's "Carpet Crawlers," ex-Genesis singer Ray Wilson contributes a look at the group's early hit, "I Know What I Like," from 1973's Selling England By The Pound (Charisma), that also breaks down into a downright funky instrumental section where saxophonist/flautist/percussionist/keyboardist Rob Townsend, in particular, gets to strut his stuff; and, on "Hogweed," a guest appearance from Hackett singer Nad Sylvan's band mate in Agents of Mercy (as well as guitarist/vocalist with The Flower Kings and Transatlantic), Roine Stolt, whose inspired playing and end-song guitar trade-offs inspire Hackett to quip, after a particularly massive round of applause, "Ah, those Swedish guys certainly can play."
But guest appearances aside, Hackett's group has—for this tour and the slightly altered Genesis Extended follow-up this year—managed to find that fine line between reverence and a healthy irreverence that allows for personal interpretation. Keyboardist Roger King may faithfully emulate many of Genesis keyboardist Tony Banks' tones but he updates them too; and—while he is also respectful of the parts that simply must be played to assure complete authenticity and, consequently, credibility with the legion of Genesis fans that have managed to turn Genesis Revisited II into a globe-trotting, two-year tour that may be the most successful of Hackett's career—he also takes liberties too. At the opening of Nursery Cryme's "The Musical Box" King contributes a new musical box part that somehow turns increasingly ominous as it morphs into the familiar guitar chords that introduce the tune proper .
Bassist Lee Pomeroy manages to fill Genesis' then-rhythm guitarist/bassist/bass pedal player Mike Rutherford with similar verisimilitude while, at the same time, doing things like, as drummer Gary O'Toole describes in the Limited Art Book Edition, playing "with the time signature on [The Lamb's] 'Broadway Melody of 1974,' with Lee playing as far behind me as he could. What this achieved was to give the song its own character. It wasn't a case of merely doing what had been done before, but making it a little different within the expected song structure." The pair also take similar but different liberties during King's solo during the "Apocalypse in 9/8" segment of Foxtrot's epic "Supper's Ready." And O'Toole takes his own freedoms vocally, in particular on "Fly on a Windshield" and "Broadway Melody of 1974" where, like Sylvan, he manages to find the perfect balance of singing expected lines and introducing interpretive differences that make the songs his own.
If everyone is a star in this group, Sylvan is the one who has, perhaps, ascended the most, especially when listening to his work with the group from Hammersmith in May, 2013, his Royal Albert Hall performance and his appearance with Hackett at Gatineau's Casino du Lac Leamy, just across the river from Ottawa, Canada, a scant 19 days prior to the Albert Hall date. Sylvan manages to sound like Gabriel and, for the post-Gabriel material like "Afterglow"—from Hackett's final studio appearance with Genesis, 1977's Wind & Wuthering (Charisma)—like drummer-turned-singer Phil Collins, while at the same time making every song personal—sometimes with just the subtlest turn of a phrase, other times more dramatically. The anthemic "Afterglow" is, in particular, a much better reading than John Wetton's take on Hammersmith—and there's no disrespect intended; only that, as Royal Albert Hall's "Firth of Fifth" demonstrates, sometimes it all comes down to a matter of song choice rather than whether or not someone is singing well. With "Firthg of Fifth" more suited to Wetton's range and delivery, it's further evidence of how, over the past couple of years, he has returned with a voice as good as it's ever been—maybe even better.
As with the previous reviews, it's also a treat to hear this material with the harmony vocals that were a part of the studio recordings but which Genesis really didn't recreate live to the same extent. And if Hackett can't overdub parts as he did on the studio records, when Townsend, on soprano sax, harmonizes with him at the end of "Supper's Ready," it's as spine-tingling as it's ever been, before Hackett embarks on the kind of unfettered solo that he'd have never been able to take when he was with Genesis beyond, as he explains in the Limited Artbook Edition, "the early years," which would have been before the group began making inroads in North America.
Townsend, too, gets his moments in the spotlight, in particular during "I Know What I Like" and at the end of a transcendent, set-closing "Los Endos." As the audience delivers one of many standing ovations, there are huge smiles all around the band—smiles that can be seen throughout the show, too, as it's clear that playing to a packed house at Royal Albert Hall has been a high point in a series of tours filled with them.
As the video of the concert also demonstrates, Sylvan also understands the need to perform in ways that allow him to visually project to the furthest reaches of a venue—in particular one as large as Royal Albert Hall, whose view from the "gods" seats is included in the Limited Artbook Edition imagery, as well as with some of the pans in the concert video. If Hammersmith was an impressive watch, Royal Albert Hall is even better because, in addition to the lighting and screens with which the band toured, lighting designer and operator Russell "Tigger" Matthews and visual mapper Ian Holmes also takes advantage of the huge circular acoustic tiles on the roof of the massive hall, instead of focusing solely on the stage, turning the entire venue into a light and visual show. With a multi-camera recording, director, producer, editor, and post-production wizard Paul M Green has rendered a high definition concert video that stands amongst the best around.
Sonically, with the Blu-Ray offering 24/48 LPCM Stereo and DTS 4/1 Master Audio, Royal Albert Hall trumps Hammersmith from the opening notes of its set opener, "Dance on a Volcano"—where, whether listening through speakers or headphones, Pomeroy's bass pedals can literally be felt in the gut as much as they're heard. And that's only one aspect of a sound mix that is crystal clear and thoroughly punchy throughout.
Beyond being a guitarist who may be impressive to hear but avoids any rock star posturing, Hackett is described as the ultimate nice guy by literally everyone in the band, and the interview footage on the bonus DVD and Blu-Ray make it even more abundantly clear; relaxed, amiable, self-deprecating and a fountain of knowledge, Hackett comes across as a man proud of his own post-Genesis career, but also as the one member of Genesis that really appreciates the legacy of this music, and has therefore made the decision to create a recording and tour that, for those too young to have heard Genesis back in the day, have the opportunity to experience "Genesis Plus"; all the signature music of this influential progressive rock band, but taken into the 21st century and given the freedom to be even more than what it once was.
There are those who may question Hackett's continuing to mine the Genesis catalog—though the truth is he has always included some Genesis material in his electric set lists—and those who may further question the need to release Live at the Royal Albert Hall, but the simple truth is: this was a different performance than Hammersmith and, clearly, a particularly significant one for Hackett and his group. Rather than choosing one over the other, Genesis Revisited: Live at the Royal Albert Hall is a perfect dovetail to Live at Hammersmith, and provides an even larger, more dramatic window into a project that has turned into one of Hackett's most successful ever—and, based on both live sets, for very good reason.
Track Listing: 
CD1: Dance on a Volcano; Dancing With the Moonlight Knight; Fly on a Windshield; Broadway Melody of 1974; Carpet Crawlers; The Return of the Giant Hogweed; The Musical Box; Horizons; Unquiet Slumbers for the Sleepers; In That Quiet Earth; Afterglow; I Know What I Like. CD2: Firth of Fifth; The Fountain of Salmacis; Supper's Ready; Watcher of the Skies; Los Endos. DVD1: Entire Concert (all songs from CD1 & CD2); DVD2: Backstage; Album by Album. Blu-Ray: Entire Concert (all songs from CD1 & CD2); Backstage; Album by Album.
Steve Hackett: guitar, vocals; Roger King: keyboards; Nad Sylvan: vocals, tambourine; Gary O'Toole: drums, percussion, vocals; Lee Pomeroy: bass, bass pedals, Variax, 12-string guitar, vocals; Rob Townsend: saxophone, woodwind, percussion, vocals, keyboards; Amanda Lehman (CD2#2, DVD1#14, Blu-Ray#14); Ray Wilson: vocals (CD1#12, DVD1#12, Blu-Ray#12); John Wetton: vocals (CD2#1, DVD1#13, Blu-Ray#13); Roine Stolt: guitar (CD1#5, DVD1#5, Blu-Ray#5).

Monday, June 16, 2014

Genesis: Together And Apart ! - BBC 2014

By ProgTeamRock
It was announced this morning that the members of the classic Gabriel-era- Genesis will reunite for a BBC Two documentary to air later this year.
The band will appear in their own feature-length documentary which is currently going under the working title Genesis: Together And Apart. The BBC claim that the show will reunite the original members of the band for the first time since 1975. Obviously that does not take into account footage of most of the band members in the 2008 DVD release The Genesis Songbook, nor the reuniting of the classic line-up for the 1999 re-reording of The Carpet Crawlers for the Turn It On Again: The Hits compilation.
The programme forms part of a new series of music programming on the BBC to highlight the inaugural BBC Music Awards which is set to take place at Earl's Court in December. At this morning's launch, Director General of the BBC, Tony Hall said: "Today's the start of something very special for everyone who loves music. BBC Music is a celebration of the brilliant music talent across our country. We'll be joining up music on television, radio, iPlayer and online like never before. there'll be new shows; new partnerships; and whole new ways to support music on the BBC."

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Steve Hackett - Genesis Revisited: Live At Hammersmith CD´s & DVD´s

By John Kelman
With such a broad repertoire of classic progressive rock, it's a very good thing, indeed, that guitarist Steve Hackett—despite leaving the group on the cusp of far greater commercial success (but, alas, also compromising its progressive nature)—has kept the music of Peter Gabriel-era (and slightly beyond) Genesis alive since leaving the group in October, 1977. But while Hackett's post-Genesis live sets have, in the ensuing decades, almost always included selections from the group's songbook—beginning with his first appearance with the group formed by Charterhouse School mates Gabriel, Mike Rutherford and Tony Banks, 1971's Nursery Cryme, through to his final studio recording with the band, 1976's Wind & Wuthering (all on Charisma)—he's never dedicated an entire tour to replicating the music of Genesis. That changed this past year, when he hit the road around the world, focusing on music from the Genesis catalog that he'd re-recorded, first in 1997 with Watcher of the Skies: Genesis Revisited (Camino, 1996), but even more successfully on Genesis Revisited II (Inside Out, 2012).
A whopping double-disc set co-produced with longtime musical partner, keyboardist Roger King, with Genesis Revisited II Hackett managed to be reverential to his source material while, at the same time, bringing some new elements (sometimes subtle other times more overt) to a set list ranging from classics like "The Musical Box" and epic "Supper's Ready" to lesser-known but no less compelling tracks including the unfairly overlooked "Can-Utility and the Coastliners," from Foxtrot (Charisma, 1972). GRII also included music, from Hackett's solo career, that the guitarist had originally written with Genesis in mind, like "Please Don't Touch," "A Tower Struck Down," and "Shadow of the Hierophant," the last co-written with Mike Rutherford for Hackett's first solo album, 1975's Voyage of the Acolyte (Charisma).
GRII also featured a long list of guests. '80s pop star Nik Kershaw's "The Lamia," originally from The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway (Charisma, 1974), actually—and, perhaps, blasphemously—trumped Gabriel's version on the Genesis singer's swan song before leaving the group to embark on what would ultimately prove to be a far more successful solo career. '70s-era King Crimson alum John Wetton also joined in alongside new millennium progressive rock stars such as Steven Wilson, Jakko M. Jakszyk, Neal Morse
and the Flower Kings' founder, guitarist and vocalist Roine Stolt. For the tour, however, Hackett had to find the perfect group to deliver his nearly three-hour sets with absolute authenticity while, at the same time, speaking with its own voice.
He also had to find a singer who could handle the majority of the music all on his own. Enter Nad Sylvan (who also appears on three of GRII's tracks), born in the USA but raised by his grandparents in Sweden. Sylvan first came to public attention with Unifaun (Prog Rock Records, 2008). That most Genesis-inspired duo record with Bonamici soon found the attention of Roine Stolt, who recruited the singer/songwriter for a new project, Agents of Mercy, whose most recent recording, The Black Forest (Foxtrot, 2011), was an exceptional modern progressive record that, sadly looks like AoM's final record—at least for now. Still, with the good news that Sylvan is now working on a solo record, hope can still spring eternal—despite the reformation of the Flower Kings last year, and with two albums already out, including Desolation Rose (Inside Out, 2013)—that Stolt will decide to reunite Agents of Mercy again sometime in the future.
Sylvan proved the perfect singer to handle an entire evening of Genesis music when Hackett brought his group to the Casino du Lac Leamy, outside of Ottawa, Canada, in October, 2013. Along with Sylvan and Roger King, Hackett's group consisted of bassist/guitarist Lee Pomeroy, woodwind/reed multi-instrumentalist Rob Townsend and drummer/vocalist Gary O'Toole. It was a tremendous show that, like the studio recording, hit all the right buttons for the Genesis fans packing the theater, while at the same time allowing more interpretive freedom for the group than Genesis did back in the day, when its goal was to replicate its studio recordings as closely as possible in concert.
With the success of the Genesis Revisited Tour, it was only a matter of time before the obligatory live DVD/CD set was released. If Genesis Revisited: Live at Hammersmith was somewhat inevitable, it's also exactly what those fortunate enough to have caught the tour will want as a permanent document, while providing those who were unable to attend any of the shows a chance to see what they missed. Recorded in England, at London's famous Hammersmith, its location also allowed Hackett the opportunity to make it something a little more special, by inviting a few of his other friends from the studio recording along.
As on GRII, some work better than others. Once again Kershaw knocks "The Lamia" out of the park early in the set, with Marillion's Steve Rothery joining in, as he does on the studio re-recording, to engage in some inspired guitar trade-offs with Hackett during the song's coda. Amanda Lehmann also delivers a lovely version of "Shadow of the Hierophant," while Jakko Jakszyk brings his own interpretation to "Entangled," one of Genesis' more beautiful post-Gabriel songs, from A Trick of the Tail (Charisma, 1976). The only questionable choice is John Wetton for "Afterglow," the powerful, post-Beatles closer to Wind & Wuthering. Wetton is, in fact, singing better than ever these days, after a long period where, frankly, it seemed as though his best days were behind him. The problem is that, while in every other case, the matching of singer and song was absolutely perfect, there are other songs from the Genesis repertoire that might have better suited the tonality of Wetton's voice—Gabriel-era songs, more likely, rather than a song originally sung by drummer Phil Collins, who joined Genesis around the same time as Hackett, but assumed lead vocal duties after Gabriel's departure.
But it's a small quibble, as Wetton's delivery is certainly assured and committed. But for the rest of this three-CD/two-DVD box set, with the exception of a couple of equally superb lead vocal showings from drummer O'Toole (in particular, "Blood on the Rooftops"), it's Sylvan's voice that brings the music into the new millennium. There's a certain Gabriel-esque quality to his voice, to be sure, which is what makes him such a perfect choice for the group, but equally, this is no mere imitation; Sylvan's delivery makes "The Musical Box," "Watcher of the Skies," "Eleventh Earl of Mar" and, in particular, the epic "Supper's Ready" some of the set's best, knowing exactly when to stick to the script and when to deviate. He's also clearly aware that he's got to reach everyone in the audience, from the front row to the back, so a touch of makeup and a strong visual presence renders him a charismatic front man, which is a good thing because, as much as Hackett's guitar work is superb, he doesn't command much visual attention, even though there's plenty of footage that will, no doubt, please aspiring guitarists.
And his playing is superb; while others have claimed first ownership, Hackett really does appear to be the first guitarist to make extensive use of two-handed tapping on the neck, something heard as early as 1971 on "The Musical Box." And he has, as would be expected, improved significantly as a guitarist over the decades, making his interpretation of this music even better now than back in the day. Like Sylvan, he knows when it's important to stick with the signature lines that define the music; equally, however, he knows when he can take more liberties—which he does, throughout the set.
The rest of the group is top-notch, too, with Pomeroy handling all the Mike Rutherford duties—bass guitar, bass pedals, 12-string guitar and something that didn't exist in the '70s: a Variax, which is an electric guitar modeling system that makes it possible for one instrument to not just emulate a plethora of guitar makes and models, it can emulate altered tunings and even make a six-string electric guitar sound like a 12-string acoustic.
Pomeroy also contributes background vocals—another important aspect to Genesis Revisited, as so many of the vocals found on Genesis studio recordings were not reproduced in concert at the time. Here, however, with Sylvan, Pomeroy, O'Toole, Townsend and Hackett all capable of singing backup, it's great to hear songs like "Watcher of the Skies" and "I Know What I Like" delivered with multi-part harmonies.
The lighting at Casino du Lac Leamy was similar to that on the DVD, but three rear projection screens behind the band at Hammersmith add even greater visual appeal. And from an editing perspective, in a time when so many concert DVDs seem to be all about fast cuts—and there are plenty of them here—there are also passages where director Paul M Green's editing lets cameras hold, more leisurely, on single musicians or wide angle shots of the entire stage.
The entire concert (with some of the introductions abbreviated or completely excised) is spread over three CDs, while the show, including intros, occupies the entire first DVD—with options of both stereo and 5.1 surround sound. A second DVD includes a 37-minute "Behind the Scenes" feature that provides more useful information than most. Containing interview footage with everyone in the band (but, of course, more with Hackett), it describes how the project and this particular band came together.
The set list is similar to Hackett's Casino du Lac Leamy show, but there are differences, like the inclusion of "Shadow of the Hierophant," making Genesis Revisited: Live at Hammersmith both a perfect document of one of Hackett's most successful tours and a harbinger of things to come, as demands for this show have been so great that he's now booking dates into 2014, albeit with Nick Beggs replacing Pomeroy.
Some groups—Yes comes immediately to mind—now sound like pale versions of their former glorious selves; Hackett, despite leaving the group more than 35 years ago, has been a relentless torch-bearer for the music from Genesis that time has proven to be most enduring. His current band, Genesis Revisited II and now Genesis Revisited: Live at Hammersmith prove that this is no mere tribute, though there would be nothing wrong with that. Instead, Hackett, his group and this exhilarating live set—as much as it is, indeed, a trip down memory lane for many—also successfully brings the progressive-era music of Genesis into the new millennium, proving it fresh, enduring and, most importantly, relevant.

Live, released in 2013

Songs / Tracks Listing: 
1. Watcher of the Skies
2. The Chamber of 32 Doors
3. Dancing with the Moonlit Knight
4. Fly on a Windshield
5. Broadway Melody of 1974
6. The Lamia
7. The Musical Box
8. Shadow of the Hierophant
9. Blood on the Rooftops

1. Unquiet Slumbers for the Sleepers
2. In That Quiet Earth
3. Afterglow
4. I Know What I Like
5. Dance on a Volcano
6. Entangled
7. Eleventh Earl of Mar
8. Supper's Ready

1. Firth of Fifth
2. Los Endos

DVD1 - Full live show
DVD2 - Behind the scenes featurette

Line-up / Musicians: 

- Steve Hackett / Guitars, Vocals
- Roger King (Gary Moore, Snoop Doggie Dog, Jamelia) / Keyboards,
- Gary O'Toole (Kylie Minogue, Chrissie Hynde) / Drums, Percussion, Vocals
- Rob Townsend (Eddie Henderson, Bill Bruford, Django Bates) / Sax,Flute, Percussion,
- Lee Pomeroy (Take That, Rick Wakeman) / Bass
- Nad Sylvan (Abba's Michael B Tretow) / Vocals
- Nik Kershaw / Vocals
- Steve Rothery / Guitar
- John Wetton / Bass, Guitar, Vocals
- Jakko Jaksyzk / Guitar, Vocals
- Amanda Lehmann / Guitar, Vocals

Releases information:
Label: Inside Out Music 2013.
Available as: 3CD/2DVD Box Set & Digital Download
Out 21st October 2013 (EU) & 29th October 2013 (US).

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Genesis - Live in Poland DVD

By D. Negrin
I was thrilled to see that the Genesis 1998 Calling All Stations Tour was finally getting officially released on DVD (NTSC, Region 0). For those who do not know, it was the (often forgotten) tour after Phil Collins officially announced his departure from Genesis. The band line up included co-founding members Mike Rutherford (guitars/bass) and Tony Banks (keys) with new lead singer Ray Wilson and backing musicians Nir Z (drums) and Anthony Drennon (guitars/bass).

All of that being said, I was extremely disappointed to find out upon playing the DVD that it is the same quality as the bootleg in wide circulation (from Polish television) and the claimed '5.1 surround sound', is completely bogus. It's actually audio that is equally disbursed through four stereo channels. So, the quality is only so-so, and the audio is only so-so overall. The only positive is that the discs and packaging are attractive. I later came to learn that this DVD is not sanctioned by the band or their management, which explains why the item is sub-par in comparison to the band's other DVD releases.

While its nice to have this largely undocumented tour on a pressed DVD set (only excerpts appear on the video portion of the official 1983-1998 Box Set 5CD/5DVD), it will leave some people feeling disappointed.

By Seamonkey
Yes..this is a bootleg! the video quality leaves much to be desired, I have VHS tapes of concerts that look much better than this.
It's a shame Genesis never released this concert, especially after seeing the 2 songs(Some other way & The Dividing Line)from this concert included in the 5.1 remastered CAS DVD. Both songs are crystal clear and the audio is superb.
Genesis had a perfect opportunity to include this show in a quality format in the box set and for some reason they seem to want to delete it's existence from their past...GET OVER IT! it's part of your history and I think it's a good concert.
I have seen every Genesis tour since seeing them on the Selling England by the Pound tour, including the reunion tour of several years ago.
I had tickets for this tour(N America)and was very disappointed when it was cancelled, like other Genesis fans, I have always wanted to see them perform this tour live but never had the opportunity. I did hear of bootlegs of this show being available, but I don't belong to any trader club or don't have a DVD recorder on my computer.
I only skimmed through this DVD when it was delivered and will watch it all this weekend.
First impressions:
The video is 5 out of 10
The audio is not true 5.1 as the other reviewer has written but it sounds pretty good, not great but good.
It's nice to hear a different approach on the songs, especially the addition of Nik and the guitarist. I think they add a freshness and rejuvination to material that has been played so many times it's predictible.
When I listen to Nik playing on The Dividing Line..I think..Phil who???
On the second DVD Genesis peforms 3 unplugged numbers,Dancing with the Moonlit Knight, Follow You, Follow Me and Suppers ready. Tony even steps away from the keyboards and plays guitar.
It's a nice touch and perfectly suits Ray's vocal styling.
Maybe I will update this after viewing the entire package this weekend.
In summary, it's a bootleg, the video quality leaves a lot to be desired but the stereo mix sounds good and allows one to hear Genesis live with Ray Wilson.
His vocals are off a bit now and then but unlike most DVD concerts where the rough spots are fixed in the studio, this is raw as it was that night.
I'm sure if Genesis had taken the time to release this themselves, everything would sound fantastic and the rough bits fixed.
If you're like me and you enjoyed Calling All Stations and like Ray Wilson, then you will like the concert.
I would recommend picking up one of the used ones for half the price or check one of the Genesis trading sites to see if someone will give you one but most I've seen don't have all the setlist that's included here.
I have a feeling this will sell quite well and Genesis will wished they had released it.
I also have a feeling there will be a cease and desist order on this DVD and CD and copies will no longer be available.
Do I feel bad I bought a bootleg? No
Do I feel bad I had to because Genesis wouldn't release this? Yes
thanks guyz
a disappointed lifetime fan.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Steve Hackett - Genesis Revisited II

By Ryan Reed at ultimateclassicrock 
Ever since vocalist Peter Gabriel abandoned Genesis‘ classic quintet line-up in 1975, following the release of the double-album concept-epic ‘The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway,’ the band’s ’70s purists have pined for a full-prog reunion.
The closest we’ve come was in 1999, when all five members (Gabriel, drummer-vocalist Phil Collins, bassist Mike Rutherford, keyboardist Tony Banks, guitarist Steve Hackett) joined forces for a stylish re-interpretation of ‘Lamb’ highlight ‘The Carpet Crawlers,’ released on the compilation ‘Turn it on Again: The Hits.’ But in 2012, it appears that dream is dead: Gabriel’s far too focused on his solo career and humanitarian efforts, while Collins — saddled from drumming by a debilitating spinal injury — announced his retirement last year.
Throughout it all, Hackett has always embraced the material from Genesis’ peak-prog period, reflecting fondly in interviews, constantly expressing his interest in a possible reunion (which is sad considering he was left out of the 2007 trio reunion), and playing the ’70s classics on-stage. His critics (and even his former bandmates) seem to feel Hackett’s stuck in the past — but he clearly still loves interpreting these songs, adding new textures and flourishes as the years go by.
The double-disc ‘Genesis Revisited II’ is Hackett’s second collection of updated Genesis tunes, and it’s a far more cohesive and inventive set than 1996′s ‘Watcher of the Skies.’ Utilizing the same basic format as that album, ‘Revisited II’ is almost entirely comprised of Genesis material, balanced out by a handful of solo Hackett tunes, most of which were originally rehearsed by Genesis in the ’70s.
As with any ‘Revisited’-style album, it’s tough to know where to draw the line. What’s the point of a note-for-note cover (especially since the early albums have been remastered)? On the other hand, is diverging from the source material prog-rock blasphemy? Hackett strikes a mostly successful balance: adding a few new intros, expanding a few Guitar Hero-style solos, and taking some bold liberties with his taste in singers, all-the-while keeping the songs’ core mysticism in-tact.
‘Lamb”s ‘The Chamber of 32 Doors’ is given a glistening classical guitar intro, while vocalist Nad Sylvan nails the nuance of Gabriel’s theatrical vocal; Porcupine Tree’s Steven Wilson adds warmth and color to ‘Foxtrot”s overlooked ‘Can Utility and the Coastliners,’ which is augmented by live orchestrations; ‘Wind & Wuthering’ highlight ’Blood on the Rooftops’ perked up by some excellent soprano sax. The album’s true highlight is, unsurprisingly, the 23-minute epic ‘Supper’s Ready.’ Hackett utilizes several vocalists, none of whom — at least on paper – -seem logical singing on the same track: Opeth’s Mikael Akerfeldt belts passionately; Simon Collins echoes the smooth delivery of his dad, and …And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead’s Conrad Keely adds a punk edge to the track’s ripping mid-section. Hackett adds extra guitar flourishes throughout, ending with a furious finger-tapped solo.
There are numerous reasons why Hackett’s ‘Revisited’ project works so well. One is that he joined forces with some of prog-rock’s finest players and singers; another is that he never views the material through a nostalgic lens. ‘Revisited II’ has an urgency most ‘tribute albums’ don’t, mostly because Hackett’s so liberal about letting the songs go to some often strange new places.
Sometimes, though, the risks don’t pay off — mostly due to some awkward vocalist choices: Gary O’Toole is distractingly macho on ‘Broadway Melody of 1974′; Amanda Lehmann’s throaty vibrato is distracting amid the swirl of ‘Ripples” tender acoustics; meanwhile, Nik Kershaw’s more straightforward, sleepy vocal interpretation on ‘The Lamia’ feels out of place given the track’s absurd lyrics.
But without taking a few gambles, the project wouldn’t feel so vital. Warts and all, ‘Revisited II’ is the stuff diehards dream about — and in 2012, it’s about as close to in-the-flesh classic Genesis as it gets.

By Xapam/USA
I was in line for the pre-order of this superlative CD set. My vinyl copies of most of the originals that were culled for this song roster have suffered a strange fate that I can only account for by vaguely remembering that I had my records stacked on the floor and leaning against a heat-radiator which (while a student in Buffalo NY), was hot for endless winters... Stunned to find them warped beyond playability I have lived without this music for a long time. I find much of digital (CD) music generally sonically disappointing these days and was hesitant to replace my now-useless LP's with dubious digital versions.
But still I could not resist the compulsion to go after this set and I will testify that I am not disappointed. This is a highly recommended re-creation of much of the classic-period (as I would define it) Genesis repertoire.
These kinds of musical exercises can pretty much go in one of two basic directions, a faithful recreation, maybe with a few of the original cast being one; I was pleased to see that Mr. Hackett and company took the other fork - avoiding the county-fair 'oldies-show' pitfall while re-imagining the music from a modern point of view and taking advantage of the bias of your particular instrument/s while opening the process up to folks who are equally enthusiastic about the journey.
I can see that a fair amount of time has gone into the track sequence and the various ways these songs were re-conceived and performed. The engineering of the material (primarily Roger King) is wonderful in it's innovation, punch and clarity and the reclamation of Steve Hackett's guitar authority within these songs, for my ears, reinvigorates and expands the originals. That hanging guitar sustain at the commencement of 'The Chamber of 32 Doors' will tell you all you need to know about Mr. Hackett's approach to this music and his role in it's original conception.
I confess that I went out and bought a sub-woofer, to upgrade the near-antique conglomeration of Hi-Fi (see how old I am?) components I cling to, essentially at the time of committing to this music purchase. I was stunned at the contribution to the output of my almost silly-looking paired Tandberg Fasett speakers those new-found lower bass notes made and this recording has plenty of those, even at the more subtle, low bass setting I prefer to maintain.
There are so many exemplary performances and vocal treatments here that both pay homage to and build upon the originals. I was afraid I would miss Peter Gabriel and Phil Collins' voices but after a couple of playings and the expected getting-used-to period, I came to realize that it was the music that held steadfast and the new players brought something to the endeavor.
I have read through the various reviews here and agree with many of the comments; I also disagree with a few perspectives. So, I think that Gary O'Toole hit his marks on all his vocalizations; these never sounded better. Contrary to some opinions here, I greatly enjoy Amanda Lehmann's handling of 'Ripples' and found that it opened up a new way of hearing that song, so-far "owned" by Phil Collins. Forget about who she is or is not sounding sort-of like; just listen to the intent of the music. I hit the repeat button a few times here (I had a similar reaction to hearing Shelby Lynne sing 'Surfer Girl' on Brian Wilson's Musicares tribute video; I think some of this may involve getting over the gender bias of an original music and see what new may come of it). Rob Townsend's wind contributions really do nudge a lot of this music into the improvisational jazz arena that it often tends toward. I have greatly enjoyed Mr. Hackett's association and projects involving Steven Wilson and have yet to be disappointed with those outcomes; in so doing, I have become a huge fan of Mr. Wilson's work with Porcupine Tree and on his own - this originating with these more recent collaborations of two creative thinkers. The participation of the Hungarian jazz ensemble Djabe in support of this music (and vice-versa) seems like a natural collaborative extension of their combined musical capabilities and interests.
Without pursuing the 'favorites' quagmire (okay, I'll allow Musical Box...), I highly recommend this music purchase: obviously to Genesis freaks but also to younger listeners possibly new to what we still call 'progressive rock' - those who may find something missing or redundant in much of the musical out-pour these days. The long form, epic, 'tone poem-ish' nature of Mr. Hackett's recent original works and now this particular 'musical rehash' - which may suffer under the "progressive" moniker - lends itself to introspection, absorption and a degree of musical feeling that remains with you after the demands of the day inevitably take you back over. The original or traditional classical and other musical references (the music-box intro; Greensleeves) which 'set up' or embellish certain selections help to redefine, enrich those pieces and bridge the chasm to other music forms and your own music memory.
Get it, queue it up, crank it up (I definitely agree with that fellow!) and sit down and listen. It's quite excellent.

Disc: 1
1. The Chamber of 32 Doors
2. Horizons
3. Supper's Ready
4. The Lamia
5. Dancing With the Moonlit Knight
6. Fly on a Windshield
7. Broadway Melody of 1974
8. The Musical Box
9. Can Utility and the Coastliners
10. Please Don't Touch

Disc: 2
1. Blood on the Rooftops
2. The Return of the Giant Hogweed
3. Entangled
4. Eleventh Earl of Mar
5. Ripples
6. Unquiet Slumbers for the Sleepers
7. That Quiet Earth
8. Afterglow
9. A Tower Struck Down
10. Camino Royale
11. Shadow of the Hierophant