BY Ian DanzigPublished Jan 13, 2009

As a fan of Peter Gabriel-era Genesis (he left the group in 1975), defending my fascination with the band has always clashed with the following 20 years of Genesis that was fronted by their drummer, Phil Collins. Although there were certainly transition albums (Wind and Wuthering, Trick of the Tale), to my ear, these were two completely different bands. That's why my one criticism to level against this ultimate collection for the early Genesis fan has to do with a logo. The box that houses this seven-CD, six-DVD collection, and captures the band up to 1975, uses a logo the band introduced in the '90s! WTF? Digging into the great depths of video commentary included here from the band members sheds some much-needed light. We learn that the only two consistent members of the band - keyboardist Tony Banks and guitarist Mike Rutherford - seem to be somewhat embarrassed by their most consistently revered early material (especially Rutherford). The recent interview footage compiled specifically for this collection, discussing each of the five studio albums contained here (Trespass, Nursery Cryme, Foxtrot, Selling England by the Pound, The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway) displays a refreshingly honest rift between the long-term band members (Banks and Rutherford), who transitioned the band into a top-40 stadium outfit in the '80s, and the members who quit in the '70s, like singer Peter Gabriel and guitarist Steve Hackett. That would explain why a logo from the 1991 pop group finds its home on the casing of these early '70s tracks representing a very epic and grandiose British progressive rock band that had a strong taste for fantasy and the surreal. For the very first time, five of the band's first six albums are provided here in a new 5.1 Surround Sound Mix. (It should be noted that the band's very first pre-prog album, From Genesis To Revelation, is not included.) The extra material makes this collection spectacular. A sixth CD is added, bringing together rare and B-side tracks that reflect on their late '60s demos and BBC recordings. A very recently uncovered 1969 suite of four tracks, intended as a soundtrack for a BBC documentary that never saw fruition, is rare indeed. This "Jackson Suite" gives early glimpses at song ideas that turned up as late as The Lamb, six years later. In addition to the aforementioned interviews with individual members going into exhaustive detail on each track, there's a 48-page book full of great commentary, graphics and photography. Yet, the most exciting inclusion is the first official DVD release of Gabriel-era TV appearances and of the band's legendary concert performances. The costumed, story-telling front-man, Gabriel turned the band's musically complex and passionate compositions into true performance art, verging on theatre. Their 1973 tour, featuring a full rendition of their genre defining track "Supper's Ready," finds the band at their peak. One can only guess why it took so long for this in-demand footage to find proper release. Reading between the contained interview quotes, I'll venture to guess that 35 years later, some members are still concerned about Gabriel's showmanship hijacking their band's name. Thankfully, this complete document of the band's early '70s work is now irrevocably part of their "official" history.

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