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Genesis - Platinum Collection Review
by Morley Seaver

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I've had a love/hate relationship with Genesis over the last few decades and I'm not the only one. I was there from the beginning, rejoicing waist deep in the prog pool… slobbering over every release like some bank robber caressing his table-laden loot. Then one by one, the members left…most notably vocalist Peter Gabriel who was not only a primary songwriter but also the nutso defacto. I remember reading an interview in like '75 where Gabriel told the interviewer, totally serious; he regularly flew through the air. Man, you had to pay attention to somebody like that. Hey, Motley Crue wasn't around yet, people.

And with Anthony Phillips, Gabriel, and then Steve Hackett gone, the material quickly took a less-convoluted form. The songs became shorter and more melodic. Although drummer/later vocalist Phil Collins would say that the melody line was always the beginning of each song, it was usually quickly augmented by the egos of five/four or three superlative musicians.

That's why it was so strange to fast forward to Genesis in the '80s where material like "Abacab" and "Illegal Alien" was being scooped up by yuppie yucks who couldn't tell Tony Banks from Chester Thompson (and didn't know Phil Collins played drums). And then the nail in the coffin was Collins himself. Collins is a supremely talented man who started out as the band's drummer. One of my favourite all-time quotes is from when an interviewer asked him about the band's then new album The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway. He answered, "Don't ask me about anything about what it all means. I'm just the drummer." Just the drummer. Well, that drummer quietly stole into the still-warm spotlight, vacated by Gabriel, and while maintaining his drumming chores, assumed all lead vocals as well as majorly increasing his songwriting output.

With bassist Mike Rutherford and keyboardist Tony Banks and Collins at the helm, the band enjoyed massive radio play (Genesis on the radio?????) and went from a band enjoyed by other musicians and geeky prog-freaks to world-wide attention. And that's where they turned the corner that cost them some fans. And to add insult to injury, Collins started a solo career where he was crooning songs like "You Can't Hurry Love". Collins protests that just because he became the front man, it did not mean that he was solely responsible for the new direction. Rutherford and Banks had as big a role as he did, he argues. And anyone who has heard Mike & The Mechanics would have to agree.

But what's a band to do? If they had still regurgitated "Supper's Ready" over and over, people would have accused them of a lack of imagination and labeled them as dinosaurs, unable or unwilling to change with the time. And with a few exceptions, the latter material retains all the embellishments of previous works, just to a more refined focus - idea-wise. In concert the band was still able to weave "Carpet Crawlers" next to "Mama" and have it all make sense. So I guess people like me have to just shut up and accept change. The band did not sell out, cash in or any other back-door option. They simply tunnel-vision-ed their output and it just so happened that millions of people around the world were eager to receive that output.

The Platinum Collection recently released by Atlantic / Rhino is an awesome set that covers the entire career of the band and serves to show what a classy and phenomenally gifted group they were. There are two components to the set; a three-CD set and a DVD which houses the bands library of videos including some early ones that will thrill the more rabid fans.

First the DVD. There are 32 videos here which contain everything backward in time from "Congo", "Shipwrecked", and "Not About Us" from their 1997 "Calling All Stations" record after Collins left and was replaced with Ray Wilson. The earliest tracks are "Ripples" and "Robbery, Assault and Battery" from "A Trick of the Tail". Accused of being one of those serious, stick-in-the-mud bands, Genesis surprised many with some of their videos in the '80s, like "Illegal Alien", "I Can't Dance" and "Land of Confusion."

The CD section of the package is bursting with a whopping 40 songs. The CDs run from the most current to the earliest cuts on the third CD. The first runs from "Calling All Stations" through to "PaperLate" from the 3X3 EP. CD two contains all the early '80s stuff like "Abacab" to "Los Endos" from "A Trick of the Tail". The third disc is the Gabriel era starting with "Lamb…" back to "The Knife" from "Trespass".

Casual fans of the band will love this all encompassing collection. Hard-core fans will appreciate being kick-started back into the Genesis gear. It's truly an amazing set of songs and a great showcase for a band that maintained a truly high-level of performance for such a long period of time.


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Genesis - Platinum Collection

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