Thursday, September 15, 2016

Genesis - 1973 [1994] "Live" [Remaster]

Genesis Live is the first live album from the English rock band Genesis, released in July 1973 on Charisma Records. Initially recorded for radio broadcast on the American rock program King Biscuit Flower Hour, the album is formed from the recordings of shows at Free Trade Hall, Manchester and De Montfort Hall, Leicester in February 1973 during the band's tour supporting their fourth studio album Foxtrot (1972).
Genesis Live is the band's first album to enter the top 10 in the UK, reaching No. 9. Following its US release in 1974, it peaked at No. 105.

In early 1973, Genesis allowed the taping of a couple of live shows for broadcast in America as part of the King Biscuit Flower Hour syndicated radio show -- most of their current set, drawn from their albums up through 1972's Foxtrot, was represented. A few months later, Tony Stratton-Smith, the head of Charisma, to which the group was signed, approached them about allowing him to fill the extended gap between Foxtrot and their next album, Selling England by the Pound, by releasing a live album from this same taped performance. The bandmembers, who now say they were somewhat distracted at the time by their work on the new album, agreed to it. And the result was Live, which was originally the only official document of the group in performance with Peter Gabriel in the lineup. And it's not just the singer, but everyone who shines here -- it's doubtful that anyone ever got a richer sound out of a Mellotron on-stage than Tony Banks does on this album, and Steve Hackett, Mike Rutherford, and Phil Collins' playing is all quite amazing as a whole unit, holding together some very complex music in a live setting. And on that basis alone, this album was an essential acquisition for fans of the group, as well as a key link in solidifying their growing popularity -- the intensity of the performances on "Watcher of the Skies," "Get 'Em Out by Friday," "Return of the Giant Hogweed," "The Knife, and, especially, "The Musical Box," easily transcend the work (superb though it was) on the studio originals, and is an in-your-face presentation of the theatrical intensity that Gabriel and company brought to their work on-stage. What's more, the very fact that the band could pull off some of what they do on-stage -- and this was in an era where other prog rock bands, such as Emerson, Lake & Palmer, were running up against a brick wall in terms of re-creating their complex studio sounds in concert -- is mighty impressive. Additionally, in the case of "The Musical Box" and "The Return of the Giant Hogweed," both songs originally recorded on Nursery Cryme, the versions here documented this lineup's true approach to these pieces -- at the time when Nursery Cryme was recorded, guitarist Steve Hackett had barely joined the group (and fragments of music composed by his predecessor, Anthony Phillips, still exist on the album), and most of the guitar parts there were actually the work of bassist Mike Rutherford (who did, in fact, take over most of the group's guitar chores after Hackett's departure in the late '70s). So what we hear on this album are the definitive interpretations of these pieces by this version of the band, more so than the studio originals. And one also gets to hear the classic version of the band tackle the oldest part of their repertory, "The Knife," which went back to their first Charisma album -- and it's a killer compared to the original. And one could say that about the whole album, as well as being the best representation of this version of the band at this point in their history, but for one glaring flaw -- the original King Biscuit broadcast included the epic "Supper's Ready" from Foxtrot, which Stratton-Smith was compelled to leave off of the album, rather than face the economic challenge of issuing a three-sided double-LP. That flaw aside, this is about the best single-LP representation of what this band could do on-stage, and to the surprise of a lot of people, it actually won them lots of new fans ahead of the release of Selling England by the Pound

1973's "Genesis Live" is the only live album in the Genesis catalog from the Peter Gabriel era, documenting the band on tour for their 1972 album, "Foxtrot." It's a brilliant but much-too-brief live Genesis set, leaving the listener hungry for more. Still, what the album does contain on it is classic live Genesis, with Gabriel, Tony Banks, Phil Collins, Mike Rutherford & Steve Hackett rocking through their prog classics "Watcher Of The Skies," "Get 'Em Out By Friday," "The Return Of The Giant Hogweed," "The Musical Box," and the grand finale, "The Knife," with great relish. Also featuring the occasional bit of song introductions from Gabriel, "Genesis Live" also gives glimpses into what a grand showman Gabriel was as the group's flamboyant frontman.But with just five tracks on it (albeit long tracks), "Genesis Live" is still too darn short. It was originally planned as a double live album that also would've included the band's magnum opus, "Supper's Ready," at the album's conclusion, but was trimmed at the last minute in order to make the album more affordable. Thankfully, the problem has been corrected somewhat, as there's now more live Gabriel-era stuff to be found on the band's "Genesis Archives Vol. 1" box set, including the coveted live version of "Supper's Ready." However, keep in mind that that's a bigger, separate purchase (though totally worth it).Still, "Genesis Live" is a great little slice of vintage live Genesis, so if you love the band's early days with Peter Gabriel, you can't go wrong by adding "Genesis Live" to your collection.

As brilliant as they are in the studio, they often perform their songs even better live. "The Musical Box" is a real highlight here; it sounds like there are dueling lead guitars in the middle, but actually it's Steve Hackett on guitar dueling with Tony Banks on a clavinet; you also get to hear Peter Gabriel and Phil Collins sing in a call & response manner -- the sort of thing that's been missing since Pete's departure; and let's not forget Mike Rutherford's unacompanied bass pedal solo (though don't we hear him tuning his cello there?). One thing that made them so interesting to listen to is that they went to great lenghts to get a variety of tones and it worked out really beautifully. You hear both Mike and Steve using 6-string electric and 12-string accoustic guitars. Mike would also use a double-neck instrument that allowed him to instantly switch between electric bass and electric 12-string guitar while supplementing his sound with bass pedals. Tony was already using several different keyboard instruments, and he would also play a bit of 12-string guitar. Phil had his drum kit, but he also had a set of bells. Pete not only had the same unique, beautiful, powerful voice he does today, but you also hear him playing wonderful flute lines as well as suplementary bits of percussion. [If you are lucky enough to see footage from this period, you will see that Pete was as much an actor & dancer as a musician when Genesis performed live.] The other thing that makes them so interesting to listen to is the way the songs are written. There is so much dramatic contrast, both from song to song, and within individual songs. One passage or song can be really mellow and pretty, while the next can be hard as nails. Either way, the rhythms, melodies, and harmonies were almost always worth many listenings.

Rolling Stone gave the album a brief but positive review, commenting that "this album goes a long way toward capturing the gripping power and mysticism that has many fans acclaiming Genesis as 'the greatest live band ever.

Tracks Listing

1. Watcher of the Skies (8:34)
2. Get 'em out by Friday (9:14)
3. The Return of the Giant Hogweed (8:14)
4. The Musical Box (10:55)
5. The Knife (9:46)

Total Time: 46:43

Line-up / Musicians

- Tony Banks / organ, mellotron, piano, acoustic 12 string guitar, backing vocals
- Phil Collins / drums, percussion, backing vocals
- Peter Gabriel / lead vocals, flute, bass drum, tambourine
- Steve Hackett / electric guitar, acoustic 12 string guitar
- Mike Rutherford / acoustic 12 string guitar, bass guitar, bass pedals, backing vocals