Top critical review
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Good base product, but incomplete contents and disappointing extras
on 9 October 2007
- THE NEW MIXES -
I think the new 5.1 DTS mixes sound pretty good. Actually, most of those I've heard a pretty close in sound to old mixes, which I think is a good thing. I haven't heard them all yet, though. There are some changes - you'll notice things in the backing tracks which you didn't hear before, Anything Now seems to have some new effects on the intro, there even seems to be a slightly different vocal-line in 5 seconds towards the end of Since I Lost You. For some reason, there's a quite annoying high-frequent tone during the keyboard-parts of Dividing Line which is almost painful to my ear. Mike talks very warmly about the new mix of Illegal Alien which he thinks sounds amazing, but frankly, to me the song is still crap.
There's been a lot of talk about the stereo mixes being overly compressed (someone put it like this: The loud parts sound LOUD!, and the silent parts sound LOUD!). I think this, to some extent, is also true for the 5.1 mixes. They are not completely off, as someone has said, but they could have done with less also.
- BONUS DISC CONTENT -
One of my main gripes with the box-set is that it's very incomplete in the B-sides section on the bonus disc. So what, you may ask, but here's the deal: Back in 1999-2000, the band released the Archives boxsets, where they excluded a couple of B-sides from the Phil Collins Era. Fans around the world made major complaints about this, because when you're a hardcore fan and purchase a £ 50 (or as here: £ 90!) box-set, you want to have *everything* - and if the band feals that a couple of songs are below par - well, let us decide for usself.
Well, the band made up for that by including ALL the B-sides from the appropriate era on the first 5.1 Boxset, including these two tracks. One would think they had learned the lesson. But no! - this time around they exclude no less than FIVE tracks from the CAS-era, which the band has mixed fealings about. These include 4 B-sides (Banjo Man, Papa He Said, Phret and 7/8) which might not be the best they ever did, but as explained above, that's besides the point, and then one planned-to-be-A-side but unreleased track Nowhere Else To Turn. The latter is an extremely enjoyable track leaked to fans as mp3 through informal ways, and this would be the obvious opportunity to finally get this wonderful song properly released - but no, that should not be. For that, alone, I deduct one star in the rating of the box-set.
- SPECIAL EDITION BOOKLET -
The liner notes of the booklet are written by Jim Yukich. Jim who, you might say? The guy who's responsible for all the band videos from 1983-1992. But those videos are horrible?, you might say. And yes indeed, almost each and every one of these videos span the range from embarassing to boring (ok, Jesus He Knows Me was kind of humerous), so why they chose him is beyond me (ok, I have a guess, as written below, but that's just me).
Anyway, I could accept him writing the notes if he had something intelligent to say, but frankly, what he wrote mostly just *beep* me off, sorry for the language. One thing is not liking CAS, but the guy is downright hateful towards Ray and just goes on and on and ON about how poor he thinks his voice and singing capabilities are and how much better it would have been had Phil sung these songs. Give me a break! If you don't like it, just shut up please. That they actually chose this crap as liner notes for the album is a direct slap in the face of Ray, as I see it. As for the rest of it - what the hell can I use the fact that he finds Silver Rainbow to be below par to, when I just happen to love the song? And why does he go on and on and on about those damn videos - as if I cared? This is not the Video Show release, you know ...
- GENESIS EXTRA MATERIAL -
Apart from the Re-issue interviews, which are generally all extremely interesting, although a couple of them might have been a bit more specific on more songs on the albums, this disc includes the only really worthy bit of extra material in the whole boxset, which is the Mama Tour Rehearsal footage. Before anybody gets too excited, I should say that the footage is mono-cam filmed from a distance (but with pretty good picture) and that sound is like an audience recording, albeit a very good one. There are no close-ups, and light-show is a scraped-down version of what was used on the tour, but it's still quite nice. Songs included Dodo/Lurker - Carpet Crawlers - Mama - Illegal Alien - Eleventh Earl Of Mar / Ripples / Squonk / Firth Of Fifth - Man On The Corner - Who Dunnit?, totalling an hours' worth of footage. The most exciting part, obviously, is the Old Medley, here present in the rather rare form only performed once or twice on the tour featuring two verses of Eleventh Earl Of Mar and Ripples! Plus, Phil does an absolutely spine chilling vocal at the end of Firth Of Fifth. Collector value: 4/5. Btw. this footage is taken from Jim Yukich's private collection - I wonder whether it was the delivery of this, that earned him the spot for writing the liner notes?
Apart from this, there are the videos once again and the tour programmes, which are btw. not very easy to make out in detail. No sign anywhere of the Mama tour footage, however, which once again raises the demand for a live boxset! Also not included are the extended mixes of the songs Mama and It's Gonna Get Better which were released as B-side to the Mama single - obvious choices for extra material, but nowhere in sight.
- INVISIBLE TOUCH EXTRA MATERIAL -
The extra material on this disc is decidedly more mediocre. Again, the Tour Documentary makes the highlight (collector value 3/5), mostly worth seeing for the tantalizing snippets of In The Cage and Supper's Ready from the 86 tour! Yes, there IS video footage of this performance, and no, they did NOT include it in its entirety. The OGWT "Rock Around The Clock" is an interview with the band from this time (collector value 2/5) - nothing much new in this, apart from the partial video clip of a Tony Banks solo song called This Is Love. I guess you have to be more die-hard than I am to be really excited about this. Also, there's a tantalizing 2-minute or so clip of the band performing The Lady Lies at Knebworth 78, which is very nice to view - but again, we don't get the whole thing.
Then we get a behind-the-scenes feature of the Land Of Confusion video - hasn't bothered to whach yet, so will not say anything about that - and of course the videos from the area. Trie not to feel too embarassed when you watch Invisible Touch video (about which Jim Yukich proudly writes that he intended to show how much fun the guys had with each other - yuck!!!) and Anything She Does, or fall asleep of boredom when you watch Tonight, Tonight Tonight or In Too Deep video.
- WE CAN'T DANCE EXTRA MATERIAL -
Here things start to get really scanty. Apart from the mandatory videos and the nice re-issue interviews, what we get is only the No Admittance feature, which follows the band during the work on the album. Actually, the feature does have a couple of interview parts that are pretty interesting - we get some more specific oppinions on individual tracks, which is not mentioned in the new interviews - but apart from that, it's hardly groundbreaking. I wonder how many times I'll watch this ... (collector value 2/5).
- CALLING ALL STATIONS BONUS MATERIAL -
I guess the greatest boon here is the footage from Polish Television (collector value 2/5). Picture quality is very nice, although there is written POLIZCHA TELEVIZIONA or something like that across the bottom of the picture during the whole thing. The footage itself is not too rare, but nice to have it from official hand. I would have wished them to include more songs, though - Congo would have been nice, as I always liked the live arrangement a lot, and we know footage of the whole show exists. The performance of Calling All Stations from Rock Im Park is decidedly uninspired, and I don't quite understand why they didn't take the track from the polish broadcast instead.
The Re-issue interivews feature parts with Ray Wilson and Nir Zidkyahu also, which I think is a nice touch. The interviews are surprisingly frank, and it's kind of funny to compare some of the statements between the EPK from back then and the new interviews ... nough said.
- BONUS DISC EXTRA MATERIAL -
The bonus disc this time around holds some extra material as opposed to the first box-set, where the only included material was the Paperlate video besides the interviews. What we get is a selection from Knebworth 92 - not mindblowing or particularly rare, but well, it's appreciated. The Old Medley is always nice, whereas the inclusion of Home By The Sea without Second Home By The Sea is puzzling to say the least - the song simply unceremoneously cuts off about 5 seconds into the drum part of SHBTS! I actually got the impression that this was a blunder from editing, but I'm not sure, as the booklet only mentions Home By The Sea, and no Second Home. We also get Domino, which is always appreciated. The sound struck me as being not mind-blowing on this feature.
We also get the footage from MMF awards 2000 where Tony Smith is celebrated. The band does a nice acoustic performance of Invisible Touch, Follow You, Follow Me, I Can't Dance and Turn It On Again which I think was not seen before (collector value 3/5). I was never that keen on acoustic things like this, but Phil's vocal is in top shape on I Can't Dance.
- OVERALL CONCLUSIONS -
Overall, the box does what it sets out to do, to present the new mixes of the albums. I don't dare to say whether the mixes could have sounded better, but I will say they sound very good - although perhaps the improvements in terms of sound quality are for the most tracks minor, as these albums are fairly new.
In terms of extra material, I think the box falls short - not that there isn't a lot of stuff included, but frankly, there are some VERY obvious picks that they KNOW we want to see, which they did not include. This includes ALL the B-sides from CAS era, unreleased track(s) from same era, In The Cage / In That Quiet Earth / Supper's Ready video footage from the Invisible Touch tour - there IS footage of at least parts of this, so give us what you have! - and ANY video footage from the Mama tour - either in terms of a DVD version of the old Mama Tour VHS or - drools - previously unreleased footage.
The lack of Live footage here once again raises demands of a LIVE Box Set including the major Live albums of the band - Genesis Live, Seconds Out, Three Sides Live and The Way We Walk - and then including a wide range of extra live footage in video and/or audio form to fill all the gaps.