Tracking Surround: Genesis

Genesis: 1976-1982 Rhino
Music Overall •••• Mixes Overall •••• Extras Overall ••••
In the print-magazine teaser for this online review, I joked that it "seems like we've been waiting in the rain for years" for the Genesis studio albums to start appearing in surround sound. Well, in point of fact, it has been years: The very first announcement said that The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway would launch the reissue series in the summer of 2004. Get out!

As it is, we're still waiting for The Lamb, because the boxed set of Genesis: 1976-1982 begins with the following album, A Trick of the Tail, and concludes with Abacab. To explain: Instead of progressing chronologically, Rhino's release plan for its three boxes of the complete Genesis studio material begins in the middle with 1976-1982, continues later this year with 1983-1997 (from Genesis to Calling All Stations), and concludes (by Christmas? early next year?) with 1970-1974 (from Trespass to The Lamb).

This seems sensible enough. After all, what with the reunion tour on the horizon, starting in the middle whets everyone's appetites: from those who prefer the still-heavily-progressive Trick to those who jumped on the modern, populist bandwagon of Abacab. This plan also avoids having the series culminate with the weakest link, which itself culminates with the most forgettable album, Stations (a.k.a. And Then There Were Merely Two, Not Counting the New Singer, Who Wasn't Worth Counting). Instead, the series will finish with not only Rael but, for the longest-term fans, the full grail: all of the early 1970s recordings with original vocalist Peter Gabriel. (Not entirely all, however. Missing is the chamber pop of Album No. 1, From Genesis to Revelation. For that, we can blame producer Jonathan King, who still holds the legal rights to those songs and, Midas-like, refuses to license them.)

So then, what we have here in 1976-1982 is a 6-CD, 6-DVD set featuring keyboardist Tony Banks, singer/drummer Phil Collins, and bassist Mike Rutherford, with guitarist Steve Hackett still onboard for the first two albums (after which, Rutherford took over that job, too). The CDs have stereo remixes of A Trick of the Tail, Wind & Wuthering, And Then There Were Three, Duke, Abacab, and 13 extra tracks gathered on a disc called, um, Extra Tracks. The DVDs hold a total of 13 music videos, 7 tour programs, 5 new band interviews, 2 concert segments, 2 TV appearances, 1 vintage documentary - and yes, every studio recording (including the Extra Tracks) mixed by latter-day Genesis producer/engineer Nick Davis in 5.1-channel surround sound, offered in both DTS 96-kHz/24-bit and Dolby Digital.