BBC Broadcasts by GenesisRelease date: March 3, 2023
Label: Atlantic Records / Rhino
When Genesis finished their tour promoting The Last Domino for three nights at the O2 arena in London from March 24 to 26 last year, it marked the end of an era. It’ll probably be the last time we’ll ever see the trio onstage again. But what a legacy they left behind. From psychedelic, progressive, pop, arena, stadium, and soft rock, they were the people’s band. Yes, they were never the critics darlings, but what a ride they’ve embarked on. That and this 5-CD set released this year covers the sessions the band did for the BBC.
The BBC Broadcasts set includes the eras from Peter Gabriel, Phil Collins, and for the first time, the Ray Wilson-era from the Calling All Stations period at the NEC Arena in Birmingham on February 25-26, 1998. Most of these tracks I heard before years and years ago. From the box sets of Genesis Archive 1967-1975, to 1970-1975 they put out originally from 1998 to 2008. The green box was the one as an early birthday present.
It also includes the full-length performance of the band at the Lyceum on May 6 and 7th, 1980 during the time they were promoting the Duke album which was featured on The Movie Box 1981-2007, along with the Wembley Stadium gig on the 4th of July in 1987 during the Invisible Touch-era. So, it’s quite a trip down memory lane from the early ‘70s to Knebworth in 1992.
Not to mention that the box set is incomplete with unearthed material that had been previously “bootlegged“. Curating the box set is Genesis alumni Tony Banks and engineer, producer, and mixer Nick Davis who had been the band’s remastering go-to guy. Going through the Anthony Phillips period from the gentle beauties of the Night Ride sessions of ‘Shepherd’ which features Tony on the second lead vocal, the lullaby waltz of ‘Pacidy’, and the Bee Gees-sque walk across the park on ‘Let Us Now Make Love’.
It wasn’t until Steve Hackett replaced Anthony Phillips as the group found their niche during their performances at the Paris Studios (Foxtrot years) in London going through an intense take of ‘The Fountain of Salmacis’ and their sessions for John Peel going through a blistering run of ‘Get ‘Em Out by Friday’, ‘Twilight Alehouse’, the medieval textures on ‘Harlequin’, followed by an incredible humouristic toeless criminal on the run with ‘Harold the Barrel’.
As the first set ends with the Lamb-era in 1975 at the Empire Pool doing ‘Watcher of the Skies’ as an encore, it marked the end of Peter’s run with Genesis as he embarked with a successful solo career, followed by Hackett’s departure from the Wind & Wuthering and Seconds Out release in 1977 whilst the band found even more success as a trio. With Daryl Stuermer and Chester Thompson in the touring lead, their gig at Knebworth in 1978 which was at the time they were on the road promoting And Then There Were Three, shows there’s a bit of the Prog touches they had in their music.
From the incredible ‘Drum Duet’ between Collins and Thompson, to the glorious roller-coaster ride with ‘Dance on a Volcano’ whilst bringing everything to a standstill on ‘Los Endos’ their performance at the Lyceum which features the late Tommy Vance for the Friday Night Rock Show as a Post-Christmas request.
The Lyceum performance is Genesis at their best. You can tell either watching or listening to the show, you have a front-row seat of the band bringing the house down as they kicked it off with their Beach Boys-like approach of ‘Sail On Sailor’ with ‘Deep in the Motherlode’, a powerful take of ‘One for the Vine’, and Tony taking a stroll across the walk on Broadway with his keyboards and Collins bringing his Cockney accent for ‘The Lady Lies’.
I can hear the audience at times singing along to the songs, knowing that how much they were a part of the soundtrack to their lives. You can hear it in the closing section of ‘Turn It on Again’, ‘The Carpet Crawlers’, an excerpt of ‘Dancing with the Moonlit Knight’, and clapping along and chanting to the band’s jam section of ‘I Know What I Like (In Your Wardrobe)’ as they lay down the Hancock funk that speaks of the Headhunters-era.
The chemistry between Rutherford and Collins’ banging on his tambourine, it shows how far they have achieved their goals. Phil wants to make sure the audience are having a blast before returning to his drum kit whilst Struemer and Rutherford are taking turns with their improvisations. Yes, Daryl may not be Steve Hackett, but what a hell of a guitarist he really is. He also makes sure that he keeps his textures into place by adding a little bit of a reprise from the Trespass-era into place.
And the audience lends the band more help even more at Wembley Arena, giving Phil a helping hand with the Beatle-sque approach of ‘That’s All’ from the Invisible Touch tour in 1987. Then, they go into an experimental New Wave approach with ‘The Brazilian’ which was featured in the 1986 British adult-animated post-apocalyptic classic, When the Wind Blows.
The two-parter of ‘Home by the Sea’ and ‘Second Home by the Sea’ sees Genesis returning to their Prog roots as Tony gives his leeway throughout the stratosphere at the Wembley venue with hard rock and electronic music, rolled into one. The audience themselves are riding inside this train as it heads into another universe with the Ray Wilson period. I was a little skeptical about Wilson when I was embarking on the BBC box set.
I ignored the Calling All Stations period during that time frame in the early-to-mid 2000s. But once he sings the alternative acoustic crisp of ‘Not About Us’ and the brutal attack on ‘The Dividing Line’, I had a change of heart. During my teen years when I was in High School, I was jumping to conclusions. But once those two tracks came to life at the N.E.C. Arena, you can feel the fire, and the intensity that Wilson brings into the arena in Birmingham.
Some love it, some don’t. But those two tracks that close Disc 4, maybe it’s time to give Calling All Stations another listen. Disc five brings everything to an end with Genesis’ return at the Knebworth Festival in 1992 which was Phil’s last time with the band during the We Can’t Dance tour before he left in 1996.
Who couldn’t forget the Bluesy, drum machine, heavy shuffle of ‘I Can’t Dance’, followed by the ‘Old Medley’ in an eight-part suite that covers their golden years in the ‘70s and early ‘80s period. The closing section of ‘The Musical Box’ to the glorious improvisation on ‘Firth of Fifth’ sees Tony going back in time with his synthesisers playing the highest note and giving Daryl, carte blanche with his incredible tapping and arpeggiated textures to revisit Selling England by the Pound once more at Knebworth.
There is going to be criticism for the box set. As I’ve mentioned earlier, this is an incomplete set without all of the Peter Gabriel-era sessions that the group did during their hey-day, the performance at the Hammersmith Odeon where Phil replaced Peter on vocals during the Trick of the Tail tour, and the complete ’78 Knebworth Festival, simply known as the “Midsummers Night Dream”.
I can understand what Tony and Nick were trying to do, but if you want to do a BBC box set, you might want to release the entire sessions as a massive set. Not just cherry pick classics, but do in the way that Bob Dylan, Miles Davis, and Tangerine Dream have been doing, simply known as “The Bootleg Series” or “The Official Bootleg Box Set“, and “The Official Bootleg Series“. There will be those diehard fans who will be very disappointed with this, which I respectfully agree with them on.
Most of the sessions and performances that I’ve mentioned a couple of minutes ago, have been previously “bootlegged“. So, it’s time for each of those live recordings to be unearthed and the full-length BBC Sessions of the Gabriel years get the proper treatment it deserves. Now, where is the full-length 1973 Genesis Live album that featured ‘Supper’s Ready’ which was left out on the original release at the De Montfort Hall in Leicester?