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Review: Genesis The Movie Box 1981-2007

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© allaboutjazz, by John Kelman

Genesis: The Movie Box 1981-2007With its entire audio discography now remixed and remastered on 1976-1982 (Rhino, 2007), 1983-1998 (Rhino, 2007), 1970-1975 (Rhino, 2008), and, most recently, Live: 1973-2007 (Rhino, 2009), legendary progressive popster Genesis finishes its series with Genesis: The Movie Box. Like the Live CD box, The Movie Box: 1981-2007 collects a series of concert performances—some making their appearance on DVD for the first time—leaving space for When In Rome 2007 (Rhino, 2008), a three-DVD concert set from the group's 2007 reunion that also includes a nearly two-hour tour documentary, Come Rain Or Shine. Like the other boxes, it's CD-size, with DVDs housed in CD-style jewel cases.

The disappointment is that, while the box documents every Genesis tour from Abacab (Rhino, 1981) forward—with the exception of the much-maligned and, sadly, overlooked Calling All Stations (Rhino, 1997), where Genesis co-founders Mike Rutherford (bass, guitar) and Tony Banks (keyboards) were forced to replace departed drummer/lead vocalist Phil Collins with Ray Wilson—there's nothing from the group's rich and innovative pre-1981 period. The reality is that there's simply not that much material available from Peter Gabriel-era Genesis up until 1975, nor is there much from the pre-Abacab period that began with Trick Of The Tail (Rhino, 1976), where Collins took over front man duties. What video material there is has been included on DVDs in the audio boxes which, amongst other features, also include 5.1 Surround and new stereo mixes of Genesis' entire discography.

What Genesis: The Movie Box does not represent is Genesis' earliest days as the groundbreaking band that contributed, amongst other things, the iconic "Watcher of the Skies," epic "Supper's Ready" and concept-heavy The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway (Rhino, 1974), along with classic albums including Selling England By The Pound (Rhino, 1973), Trick Of The Tail (Rhino, 1976) and the transitional Wind & Wuthering (Rhino, 1976) to the progressive rock pantheon. What it does document is the group's ascendance to arena-rock megastar, one of the most commercially successful groups of the 1980s, 1990s and, with the success of a 2007 tour that saw Banks and Rutherford rejoined by Collins, the new millennium as well.

Genesis (Live At Wembley Stadium, 1987): left-to-right: Phil Collins, Tony Banks, Mike Rutherford, Daryl Stuermer, Chester Thompson

Over the course of five concert performances, massive radio hits including "Invisible Touch," "Turn It On Again," "Land Of Confusion," "That's All" and "Tonight, Tonight, Tonight" are balanced by longer pieces like "Driving The Last Spike," "Domino," "Home By The Sea" and "Dodo/Lurker"—all demonstrating that, while the group seemingly left its more experimental roots behind both musically and lyrically, it still operated along the progressive rock continuum, albeit in a more simplified, accessible fashion. All but twelve songs recorded on Abacab, Genesis (Rhino, 1983), Invisible Touch (Rhino, 1986) and We Can't Dance (Rhino, 1992) appear at least once during the nearly ten hours of concert footage (including When In Rome's 160-minute show), in addition to numerous medleys bringing together material dating as far back as Trespass (Rhino, 1970), right through to Duke (Rhino, 1980), generally considered the groups' final progressive gasp.

Stereo, Dolby and DTS surround mixes are clear and crisp throughout, though the video quality does vary. Three Sides Live, making its first appearance on DVD, is perhaps the least impressive visually, but it is an early opportunity to watch the group tackle older material like The Lamb's "In the Cage" and an excerpt from "The Colony of Slippermen" as part of a longer "Old Medley" that included a variety of segments from the group's more progressive past. Live at Wembley, representing the group's tour in support of Invisible Touch, is the only show to desert, at least as documented here, Genesis' Gabriel-era material completely. Elsewhere, the "Old Medley" would change from tour-to-tour, though the thrilling 7/4 instrumental excerpt from Selling England's "The Cinema Show," heard here, would make a return appearance on later versions—as would an eventual segue to the hit-that-should-have-been, Wind & Wuthering's "Afterglow." Three Sides Live distinguishes itself further with performances of then-current progressive fare like the thundering "Dodo/Lurker," as well as much of the material from Duke that bookends that album's two major radio hits, "Misunderstanding" and "Turn It On Again."

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