1976-1982 (Rhino)

The saga of Genesis breaks down into three distinct eras, beginning with Peter Gabriel's epic and theatrical grandeur and concluding with Phil Collins' successful conversion into pop-chart Svengali. This compactly massive 6-CD/6-DVD box set – five albums in CD/DVD double-disc sets and an extra tracks bonus CD/DVD – documents the recently regrouped UK franchise's seamless transition between these two periods, detailing the often-inverse relationship between an album's artistic merit and its commercial success. In the wake of Genesis' definitive musical statement, 1974's miraculous (not-included) The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway and Gabriel's departure, Collins' move to lead singer incites the group's regressive rock on 1976's A Trick of the Tail, a slicker and more pretentious way of selling England by the pound. A previously unreleased 40-minute concert film from 1976 proves, however, that the group was still a tour de force live, at least during the extended instrumentals of older material where Collins' drumming matches Michael Rutherford's and Steve Hackett's fiery guitar work and Tony Banks' keyboard wizardry. The same can't be said for Japanese and U.S. bootlegs from 1977's unremarkable Wind & Wuthering, which have been horrendously overdubbed. Things worsen quickly following Hackett's departure. And Then There Were Three and 1980's Duke further emphasize melody over matter as Collins guides the trio into the realm of adult contemporary, a fact made even more apparent by producer Nick Davis' remastering and the group's lackluster live performances. 1981's Abacab ushers in the new era, now sounding more dated than ever. Band interviews, photos, and MTV videos provide a supplementary arc for the transformation, unlike Michael Watts' commentary in the accompanying 44-page book, while the added tracks disc and its DVD-stereo counterpart, which includes all three songs from 1977's Spot the Pigeon EP, are simply spiritless and superfluous. Clearly this isn't the era of Genesis worth commemorating.


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