Top positive review
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The most under-rated band of the Nineties...
on 5 March 2014
Can it really be 20 years already? 20 years since Gene rose to promenence, with "For The Dead", and 10 since they quietly disappeared, mourned by a handful, and forgotten by many? At one point they could have been kings. Now, overlooked and ignored by Megador Records, the band have quietly faded from view to day jobs and memories. In time, the bands work - an elegant body that combined the majesty of The Smiths with the muscular strength of The Faces and 60's era Mod bands, has aged with dignity and power. Over four albums, and catch all b-sides compilation "To See The Lights", the band explored humanity with increasing effectiveness and skill. This reissue series finally gives the band the dignity they deserve, with expanded editions of each record, appended with every b-side, an enormity of radio sessions (almost every single one the band recorded for the BBC,), and several live shows from the period, showcasing embryonic and early versions of many songs from subsequent albums - are a fascinating insight. In terms of unreleased material, there is little until the time the band were released from their Polydor contract, at which point the band had control of their own recordings. Each of the editions is packed in a double CD set, with the original album appended by b-sides and extra songs. Disc 2 of each package generally tends to be a live radio session recorded for the BBC and live material.
"Olympian", the first album, was a confident 11 track missive, which didn't sound like a band tentatively making its debut, but more an assured statement from a band that had been doing this for years. (To an extent, they had, working together in various forms in other bands such as the dreadfully named Sp!n, before becoming the final Gene lineup). As such, it's a record where some of the bands best songs of the time - "For The Dead", "Be My Light, Be My Guide", "I Can't Help Myself", weren't even on it ; favouring new material rather than old singles. Then again most bands would be overjoyed to have an album with three songs as good as "Sleep Well Tonight", "Olympian" and "Haunted By You," The album is appended by two single-only recordings, and several BBC Sessions, The second disc 2 offers two live BBC broadcasts (from Bristol and London), offering about 20 songs in total. Sure, since the band didn't have 20 songs at the time, there is a lot of repetition, - the title track appears four times (I think), but thats not to say this isn't anything other than a bountiful set of treasures. To be honest, there's little more a fan could expect given the circumstances, and the limited commercial interest and profile this band currently has, and whilst it is a musical loss that Gene were not blessed with a 30 year journey similar to obvious contenders of sometimes lesser skill but wider appeal, this is as good as it gets.