Friday, November 10, 2023

Genesis 23: R-Kive

With Phil Collins supposedly retired and Peter Gabriel happily touring on his own any further Genesis reunions seemed unlikely. But all the principals had been involved with a BBC documentary on their history, so somebody decided an overview of the band was due. The difference this time, however, was that R-Kive democratically included three extracurricular and/or solo tracks each, and not always obvious ones, by each of the five best-known members. (Sorry, Anthony Phillips.)

The first disc focuses on the complicated early material from the Gabriel period, focusing on such epics as “The Knife”, “The Musical Box”, “The Cinema Show”, and “Supper’s Ready”. Then the songs get shorter, but still challenge. The disc is capped by “Ace Of Wands”, a frenetic prog-fusion instrumental from Steve Hackett’s first solo album that features Phil and Mike Rutherford.

Disc two charts the evolution of the band with Phil as lead singer, starting with the gorgeous “Ripples” and “Afterglow”, detouring to “Solsbury Hill”, “Biko”, and a track each from Tony Banks (the poppy “For A While”, on which he plays a competent guitar solo) and Hackett (the tuneful “Every Day”, from his third solo album). It stays somewhat heavy through “Turn It On Again”, “Abacab”, and “Mama” with “In The Air Tonight” in between, then it’s all pop with “That’s All”, “Easy Lover”, and “Silent Running” from Mike + The Mechanics.

The ubiquity of the pop charts continues on disc three with three songs from Invisible Touch, plus “The Living Years”, a.k.a. the other hit by Mike + The Mechanics. “Red Day On Blue Street” comes from a Tony Banks album nobody bought wherein he worked with such vocalists as Marillion’s Fish and, in this case, Nik Kershaw. Three songs from We Can’t Dance are followed by “Over My Shoulder”—another Mike + The Mechanics track that spotlights Paul Carrack—and the title track from Calling All Stations. Nothing appears from So, despite having been endlessly promoted over the previous two years on Gabriel’s tours in support of its anniversary reissue; instead we get “Signal To Noise”. Similarly, of all the Phil songs to choose, somebody picked “Wake Up Call”. Just to give everyone their due, “Nomads” is a flamenco new age hybrid sung by Hackett with Chris Squire on bass, while “Sirens” comes from Banks’ second classical album.

While R-Kive was a nice idea, it was a missed opportunity. Chances are trying to coordinate all the solo Collins and Gabriel hits would have taken a lot of paperwork, but it still seems they felt it necessary to have that equal time for everybody. That third disc is just weird, but that’s roughly where the quality didn’t really keep up with the chronology. By now, anyone with a CD burner or premium Spotify account could make their own compilations, or dig out their old mix tapes. Still, most of the music makes it worth the listen.

Genesis R-Kive (2014)—3

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