Genesis – BBC Broadcasts (2023)

Genesis - BBC Broadcasts (2023)
Artist: Genesis
Album: BBC Broadcasts
Genre: Symphonic Prog
Label: Atlantic
Year Of Release: 2023
Quality: FLAC (tracks+.cue)

Tracklist:
CD 1:
01 Pacidy (Live on Night Ride, BBC Radio Two – rec. 2/22/1970)
02 Shepherd (Live on Night Ride, BBC Radio Two – rec. 2/22/1970)
03 Let Us Now Make Love (Live on Night Ride, BBC Radio Two – rec. 2/22/1970)
04 The Fountain of Salmacis (Live at Paris Studios, London – rec. 3/2/1972)
05 The Musical Box (Live at Paris Studios, London – rec. 3/2/1972)
06 Stagnation (Live on Sounds of the Seventies, BBC Radio One – rec. 5/10/1971)
07 Harlequin (John Peel Session – rec. 1/9/1972)
08 Get ‘Em Out by Friday (John Peel Session – rec. 9/25/1972)
09 Harold the Barrel (John Peel Session – rec. 1/9/1972)
10 Twilight Alehouse (John Peel Session – rec. 9/25/1972)
11 Watcher of the Skies (Live on BBC Radio One in Concert, 1975)

CD 2:
01 Squonk (Live at A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Knebworth House, England – 6/24/1978)
02 Burning Rope (Live at A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Knebworth House, England – 6/24/1978)
03 Dance on a Volcano (Live at A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Knebworth House, England – 6/24/1978)
04 Drum Duet (Live at A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Knebworth House, England – 6/24/1978)
05 Los Endos (Live at A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Knebworth House, England – 6/24/1978)
06 Deep in the Motherlode (Live at the Lyceum Theatre, London, England – 5/7/1980)
07 Dancing with the Moonlit Knight (Live at the Lyceum Theatre, London, England – 5/7/1980)
08 The Carpet Crawlers (Live at the Lyceum Theatre, London, England – 5/7/1980)
09 One for the Vine (Live at the Lyceum Theatre, London, England – 5/7/1980)
10 Behind the Lines (Live at the Lyceum Theatre, London, England – 5/7/1980)
11 Duchess (Live at the Lyceum Theatre, London, England – 5/7/1980)
12 Guide Vocal (Live at the Lyceum Theatre, London, England – 5/7/1980)
13 Turn It On Again (Live at the Lyceum Theatre, London, England – 5/7/1980)
14 Duke’s Travels (Live at the Lyceum Theatre, London, England – 5/7/1980)
15 Duke’s End (Live at the Lyceum Theatre, London, England – 5/7/1980)

CD 3:
01 Say It’s Alright Joe (Live at the Lyceum Theatre, London, England – 5/7/1980)
02 The Lady Lies (Live at the Lyceum Theatre, London, England – 5/7/1980)
03 Ripples (Live at the Lyceum Theatre, London, England – 5/7/1980)
04 In the Cage (Live at the Lyceum Theatre, London, England – 5/7/1980)
05 The Raven (Live at the Lyceum Theatre, London, England – 5/7/1980)
06 Afterglow (Live at the Lyceum Theatre, London, England – 5/7/1980)
07 Follow You, Follow Me (Live at the Lyceum Theatre, London, England – 5/7/1980)
08 I Know What I Like (In Your Wardrobe) (Live at the Lyceum Theatre, London, England – 5/7/1980)
09 The Knife (Live at the Lyceum Theatre, London, England – 5/7/1980)
10 Mama (Live at Wembley Stadium, London, England – 7/4/1987)
11 Domino (Live at Wembley Stadium, London, England – 7/4/1987)

CD 4:
01 That’s All (Live at Wembley Stadium, London, England – 7/4/1987)
02 The Brazilian (Live at Wembley Stadium, London, England – 7/4/1987)
03 Throwing It All Away (Live at Wembley Stadium, London, England – 7/4/1987)
04 Home by the Sea (Live at Wembley Stadium, London, England – 7/4/1987)
05 Second Home by the Sea (Live at Wembley Stadium, London, England – 7/4/1987)
06 Invisible Touch (Live at Wembley Stadium, London, England – 7/4/1987)
07 Drum Duet (Live at Wembley Stadium, London, England – 7/4/1987)
08 Los Endos (Live at Wembley Stadium, London, England – 7/4/1987)
09 Not About Us (Live at the National Exhibition Centre, Birmingham, England – 2/26/1998)
10 The Dividing Line (Live at the National Exhibition Centre, Birmingham, England – 2/26/1998)

CD 5:
01 No Son of Mine (Live at the Knebworth Festival, Knebworth, England – 8/2/1992)
02 Driving the Last Spike (Live at the Knebworth Festival, Knebworth, England – 8/2/1992)
03 Old Medley (Live at the Knebworth Festival, Knebworth, England – 8/2/1992)
04 Fading Lights (Live at the Knebworth Festival, Knebworth, England – 8/2/1992)
05 Hold On My Heart (Live at the Knebworth Festival, Knebworth, England – 8/2/1992)
06 I Can’t Dance (Live at the Knebworth Festival, Knebworth, England – 8/2/1992)

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Personnel:
– Tony Banks
– Mike Rutherford
– Phil Collins
– Peter Gabriel
– Steve Hackett
– Daryl Stuermer
– Chester Thompson
– Anthony Phillips
– John Mayhew
– Ray Wilson
– Nir Zidkyahu
– Anthony Drennan

BBC Broadcasts is what it says on the tin – a collection of Genesis recordings originally broadcast on BBC radio, both in-studio sessions and live recordings. There’s been plenty of bootlegs using such source material in the past, but this is a bit more official, since the set has been carefully curated by Tony Banks, allowing listeners to pick it up with a bit more confidence that some of their hard-earned money might actually be going to the performers rather than lining the pockets of bootleggers.
Before I get into this, I should clarify that I’m reviewing the 5CD version of this boxed set. There’s also a vinyl version, but it’s on a mere 3LPs – and many of you will have already spotted there, because 5CDs of music simply won’t fit on three standard-size vinyl discs. Sure enough, the track listing on the vinyl version is absolutely, comprehensively massacred – to the point where some live sets represented on the CD version are removed entirely, and more or less all that remain get songs roughly trimmed from them.

In fact, the vinyl version of this set has less than half the tracks of the CD version – a trimback so severe that it isn’t really correct to call the vinyl release a “version” of the CD set at all; it’s more of a sampler, with more than half the material reserved for CD. I cannot for the life of me see how, if you’re keen enough on Genesis to want to get this many radio broadcasts from them all in one set, you would ever be satisfied with the vinyl version; releasing it seems to have been a near-total waste of time.

First up is a disc or so of Peter Gabriel-era BBC sessions, many of which have been widely bootlegged over the years – as, for that matter, has much of the collection. The collection here is not complete – anyone who’s looked into those bootlegs will see that quite quickly – the intention seems to have been to avoid redundant presentations of the same song and to keep the set down to a manageable size, though I’m sure the market would have been more than happy with a more complete Peter Gabriel era set and then a subsequent set or two for the Collins-fronted era.

The only track which was particularly new to me here was a version of Watcher of the Skies from an encore to a 1975 Lamb Lies Down On Broadway gig. It’s mildly infuriating that the entire concert isn’t on here – but this is specifically a “Broadcasts” box, and apparently only Watcher got broadcast, so there you go. The rest of the Gabriel-fronted material here consists of solid renditions of familiar songs from the 1971-1972 era, plus some non-album rarities like the 1970 tracks Shepherd, Picady, and Let Us Now Make Love and the 1972 piece Twilight Alehouse. Let’s slap four stars on that – the sound quality is patchy enough, especially on the earliest tracks, to hold it back from more than that, and some may lament the lack of a more complete set (or any Lamb material!), but it’s not half bad either.

For the remaining four discs, there’s no more Peel Sessions or the like – instead it’s all live recordings, most of which present more complete versions of the relevant live sets than the 1975 snippet on the Gabriel disk. There remains some editing here and there – some more complete versions of these gigs have circulated on bootlegs for donkey’s years – but the aim here may be for quality over quantity, or it might be another attempt to avoid redundancy or pack a wider range of material onto the set by trimming redundant tracks.

First up is a 1978 appearance at the Knebworth Festival, with the band offering Burning Rope from ?.And Then There Were Three but otherwise largely concentrating on Trick of the Tail material. This includes one of the legendary Drum Duet segments the band would start incorporating into their live sets once Phil ended up on lead vocals, but hey – it’s under two minutes long and, thanks to there being two drummers performing for the price of one, it’s actually much more vibrant and exciting than your typical 1970s rock drum solo, and it makes for a fine bridge from Dance On a Volcano to Los Endos. There’s some significant sound issues here and there – as is often the case when recording from a festival stage – but the band’s ability to execute Trick-era material perfectly despite the lack of Steve Hackett is noteworthy. Call it four and a half stars, the sound issues meaning that a five-star rating would be inappropriate. The setlist has been fairly extensively cut back from what was played on the day, though the aforementioned sound issues may have something to do with that.

Next up is the 1980 concert from the Lyceum, on the Duke tour. It’s a legendary gig, and some fans may be frustrated that the presentation here isn’t necessarily all that complete – in particular, there’s versions of Squonk, Dance of a Volcano, Drum Duet, and Los Endos which were performed, but don’t appear here, possibly because they were performed at the Knebworth set. This doesn’t help the sense that this is a slightly awkward presentation of it, since the gig starts partway through disc 2 and finishes partway through disc 3; it feels like it could have happily been put out as a complete two-disc release, either by itself as an official offering to displace the various third party releases of the same material or in the context of this set.

One wonders whether Banks and company were told they had to stick to a five-disc budget, and were trying to incorporate as wide and varied a spread as they could manage within that – which in turn makes me wonder if we’ll see an even more expanded version of this material coming out later on.

Still, what we do get of the Lyceum concert is ample, taking in picks from albums ranging from Trespass to Duke – the latter including a full performance of the “Duke suite” (Behind the Lines/Duchess/Guide Vocal/Turn It On Again/Duke’s Travels/Duke’s End) which was disguised on the album but hangs together nicely as a cohesive piece of work here. The picks from ?And Then There Were Three work somewhat better here than they do on that album, suggesting that really the problem with that release is that the band didn’t give themselves enough time to polish the material and recalibrate for the loss of Steve Hackett.

Though the balance of the material here is from Trick of the Tail onwards – as you would expect – the Gabriel-era choices are an interesting selection, with a medley of Dancing With the Moonlit Night with The Carpet Crawlers working particularly well, finding Phil putting his own emotional mark on those songs.

The sound quality on the Lyceum songs here is quite excellent too – a quantum leap beyond the Gabriel-era cuts or the 1978 Knebworth recording – which will only increase the sense that this is really the crown jewel of the boxed set. Were it a separate release, I’d be giving it five stars.

Next up there’s a 1987 appearance at Wembley from the tail end of the Invisible Touch tour. Aside from another Drum Duet leading into Los Endos capping off the set, the songs here are all from that album or their 1983 self-titled release – after all, this is Genesis after their transformation into 1980s art pop giants, so you’d rather expect that. This has been subject to more trimming than the Lyceum show, mind – a medley of older material from the middle of the show, renditions of Land of Confusion, Abacab, and Tonight, Tonight, Tonight, and the closing medley of Turn It On Again with classic rock and roll tunes have all been cut away.

These cuts may well reflect the original form of the broadcasts, or may be motivated by cutting out redundant tracks or substandard performances. Nonetheless, they do have the effect of distorting the setlist and not really giving a true picture of the concert, and risks affecting the flow.

The sound quality on the Wembley tracks is alright for the most part, but perhaps a notch down from the Lyceum – no doubt a by-product of the technical challenges involved in going from a theatre setting to a stadium show. You can very much tell – especially on the vocals – that the sound’s going out on a big 1980s PA system, and it loses some subtleties as a result, though admittedly it’s an approach which the new material lends itself well to. I’d rate this material a tentative four stars – or rather, extracts from something which could have been four stars had it been presented in a more complete form.

Disc five takes us back to Knebworth, in the band’s 1992 appearance at the festival in the wake of We Can’t Dance. Five of the six tracks here are from that album, but there’s also an “Old Medley” of material ranging from Nursery Cryme to the 1983 self-titled album. Again, the actual setlist on the day is more extensive, but has been rather harshly cut back.

As with the earlier Knebworth tracks, there’s significant sound quality issues here – it’s not as bad as in 1978, but you can definitely tell this was recorded at a festival, put it that way. If you don’t like We Can’t Dance, this might not offer loads to you, but I think the cuts from the album make a good showing here – and the Old Medley here is an intriguing blending of Genesis sounds from a vast range of eras into one 20-minute epic which makes the case of the band’s later era not being so incompatible with its earlier as some believe. Again, call it a four-star performance, albeit one only heard in extracts.

Oh, and there’s a couple of Calling All Stations-era tracks tucked onto the end of disc four, but let’s face it, the bulk of the people interested in this set aren’t here for that. Good on Tony for finding a little space to whack those on so that Ray Wilson can get a chunk of change from the royalties, but be honest: their presence or absence was never going to make or break anyone’s decision to get this collection.

On the whole, this box has much which will be of interest to Genesis fans, but some of the edits will frustrate listeners. Frankly, the Lyceum show is far and away the star of the show here, and I wonder if it would not have been more sensible to just release the full, uncut show separately – and then use the space saved in this box to present fuller versions of the other material. One can only hope this is just the start of more deep archival dives into the Genesis vault, now that the Last Domino has fallen and the band have bid adieu to live performance.

Call the whole package a four star piece which could have been pushed to five stars without those edits – and slash half the stars off of the vinyl version, because if the edits here and there somewhat undermine the CD edition of this collection, they absolutely rip the guts out of the vinyl release.
Review by Warthur

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