I had bought and heard the blue box set (1976 to 1982) and the red box set (1983 to 1998) So I was well aware of what kind of magic and life Nick Davis had worked into the old albums, and at times he had even managed to pull out hidden artefacts within some of the most well know tracks of the Genesis back catalogue, I therefore became complacent with what Nick could do to improve on the work of the band and its various producers and assistant producers had managed to commit to vinyl/tape and a botched CD release But oh I was extremely surprised on the one hand and in a few places disappointed of which I shall elaborate on further into this review .
My experience of multi channel surround sound is varied; I mean most of us now have small home theatre systems. But music wise I have only a small collection of multi channel recordings. These are as follows; Pink Floyd Dark Side of The Moon, Jeff Wayne War Of The Worlds, The Blue Genesis box set “all on the SACD Multi channel hybrid format” with these SACD releases I am able to gauge what the format has to offer along with what a professional producer such as Nick Davis has to offer.
I must state that when I say that surround sound is much more than a marketing gimmick as believed by others in different circles.
Contained within the Green Box is the following:
- Nursery Cryme
- Selling England By The Pound
- The Lamb Lies Down On Broad Way
All of the Albums are double’s containing a SACD/CD Hybrid and a DVD which has a DTS 5.1 track on them, The visual extras in my opinion are a worthy bonus and in some respects are improvement on the originals.
The system I have reviewed the box set on comprising of a Denon SACD/DVD player and a Yamaha Amp with four Sony speakers and a Yamaha sub with a Cresta centre speaker, although you could get similar results with a small all in one Sony System which is what I used to use for my Home Cinema Surround Sound exprience.
Nick Davis has earned his pennies deservedly, but not so the sometimes abusive comments on another forum on the internet with great moans about compression this and compression that. Every album has been remixed to the point in which it practically wipes the slate clean of all of the previous album format incarnations. If anyone thinks Genesis are fool hardy not to oversee the project then guess again as Tony Banks the corner stone and one of the former members has over seen or in real terms listened to all of the box sets and at times requested practical changes to some of Nick Davis’s work.
The DVD DTS 5.1 Audio sounds slightly different in this case the bass is more defined but it is still good and worth the money also especially if your system will not play the SACD.
The Knife, I had never heard the studio version of this song until now previously I had of course heard live versions of it. I was quite surprised at the musician ship of Ant Phillips and John Mayhew as well as the sound effects especially the Loud Hailer voice! Absolute genius of the producer at the time to have achieved that effect especially when you consider the album was recorded in 1970.
Watcher of the Skies, The story behind the song is strong enough but now the Mellotron really does give the impression of the imposing nature a UFO of genuine origin would have upon us all if Aliens came to earth. Although the surround sound now gives the listener the chance to feel a part of the action it is almost War of the Worlds summed up in such a short time.
Suppers Ready, a battle between good and evil with quiet and delicate bits of 12 string guitar work mixed with very loud and prominent parts that take you the listener on an incredible journey of course the classically whimsical Willow Farm is balanced out by the frightening Apocalypse in 9/8 which now with the benefit of the format of surround sound is enough to reach down inside your soul.
The Battle of Epping Forest, a story of east end “of London” gangsters having a gangland fight mixed in the reverend section of course. This song takes on a better form in surround sound what with the marching snare at the start to Peter’s various impressions and then the crazy reverend piece, with a surreal journey back to the battle field. You really do feel as though you are a journalist covering the day’s event as it happened thanks to the surround sound capabilities.
Carpet Crawlers, A classic in my opinion from the guitar rift and the piano through to the mantra of “You’ve got to get in to get out” on the vocals this is truly magical in 5.1 surround sound.
Bonus Disc For once Genesis have shocked and amazed most of the fans and me the reviewer by including the much talked about but seldom heard Jackson tapes, Although the sound is not A1 what the Jackson tapes do provide the listener and more so the fan is an insight into Genesis at the time and the music of which they didn’t use until three or four years down the road in some instances, a worthy bonus in my opinion.
Perhaps I missed something here, Phil Collins, Steve Hackett, Tony Banks, Ant Phillips, Mike Rutherford, Peter Gabriel and what the hell happened to interviewing John Mayhew? A kind spirited fan found him up in Scotland and yet he couldn’t be found for the interview for the box set. Something doesn’t feel quite right there.
The Lamb Slides and footage was a highly tasteful and accurate exercise for me and made for a truly worthy extra, although some of the concert footage was a little suspect in terms of quality am I right to suspect that Genesis or its management did not obtain the TV companies archival footage?
Some of the footage provided really did not compare well to the bootleg footage of the same TV appearances or concerts is this perhaps because some of it was sourced from the bootleg footage?
The booklet within this box set has taken a different approach with band friend and roadie and tour manager of the 1970’s Richard Macphail having written most of the text and a retrospective on the Trespass album, the other albums have been written about by celebrities from the UK such as David Baddiel who writes about Nursery Cryme and is formative life with music, Then there is Roger Taylor “The drummer of Queen” who writes with equal passion about Foxtrot, Jeremy Clarkson of the motoring magazine and TV programme Top Gear who writes about Selling England By The Pound, and finally Tony Robinson of Black Adder and Time Team fame writing about The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway with a passion these contributions make for an interesting read.
I really am enjoying the box set and it contained five albums and an extra’s disc which was worthy of the retail price of £89.99.
One thing you could say is Genesis did prog with a style and innovation which was rarely matched by its contemporaries unless you consider one or two Pink Floyd albums.
For more information about Genesis please visit there official website genesis-music.com