Genesis: R-Kive

Three CDs, no new music: Genesis's archive opens up for R-Kive

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This 3CD box set from the prog rock turned stadium rock band is the first collection of their work to also include their solo forays, with examples from Peter Gabriel, Phil Collins, Mike Rutherford, Steve Hackett and Tony Banks. Here’s what we’ve learned about it…

R-Kive, with its contributions from all five, confirms that the boys from Charterhouse (and Chelsea, and Chiswick) are number one, literally (well, almost).

They are the only band, surely, to reach number 1 on either or both sides of the Atlantic with their albums and singles, at least three of whose members also had number 1s with their own albums or singles, give or take the Fab Four. Phil Collins was one of the biggest stars of the ‘80s, with worldwide hits such as In The Air Tonight (ba dum ba dom ba doom BOOM BAM BAM), Sussudio and his team-up with Philip Bailey, Easy Lover. Peter Gabriel started off big with Solsbury Hill, then got bigger so that by 1986’s So he was almost as massive a star as Collins. Even Mike Rutherford reached the top (no 1 US, no 2 UK) with The Living Years by Mike & The Mechanics.

**Messrs Hackett and Banks, too, added to the stats. **

Admittedly, their work was more culty, but it still means that, overall, if you include Genesis and the various members, they’ve sold a gargantuan amount of records: around 300 million. That puts them in Zep/Queen/Floyd territory, only beaten by The Beatles with their billion sales.

**R-Kive features the band stuff and the solo contributions, side by side. **

Which is a first. It starts with The Knife, from Genesis’ 1970 album, Trespass (they don’t really like to talk about the one they made the year before, From Genesis To Revelation, with some bloke called Jonathan King), then it goes through Nursery Cryme (1971), Foxtrot (1972), Selling England By The Pound (1973) and The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway (1974). Then CD1 ends with Ace Of Wands, from Steve Hackett’s 1975 album, Voyage Of The Acolyte.

**R-Kive tells a story. **

CD1 takes us up to 1975. CD2 picks up the tale with A Trick Of The Tail, their first without Gabriel, then finds them Hackett-less after Wind & Wuthering (also 1976), then Gabriel releases his first solo single, Solsbury Hill, after which they’re a three-piece embracing pop on 1978’s Follow You Follow Me, Tony Banks struts his keyboard stuff on 1979’s A Curious Feeling, and so on.

**The story has a long climax, starting somewhere in the middle. **

Around halfway through CD2, the hits start in earnest, with Gabriel’s Biko, Collins’ In The Air Tonight and Easy Lover, Genesis’ Turn It On Again, Abacab, Mama and That’s All. And the first half of CD3 confirms that, between the mid-‘80s and the early-‘90s, Genesis were one of the biggest acts on the planet. Not many bands peak with their 13th album - Invisible Touch sold 15 millii copies.

**R-Kive ends not with a bang but with a solo flourish. **

After 1991’s We Can’t Dance album, Collins left - there is one track here from 1997’s Calling All Stations (the one with Ray Wilson on vocals), followed by a track each from the drummer, Gabriel, Rutherford, Hackett and Banks.

They could do creepy neo-classical song-suites with multiple sections, and they could do concise three-minute pop-rock.

With Genesis, there’s something for everyone: R-Kive is fun for all the family. There’s the hits for mum to bop to, there are complex meisterwerks like Supper’s Ready to satisfy your dad’s prog bent, solos for your brother to play air guitar (and air keyboard) to, and even weepies like Ripples for your sister to slow-dance to with her boyfriend.

There isn’t a single piece of new music on R-Kive.

No, and that has been vexing the Genesis online community somewhat. In fact, fan forums are seething about the lack of surprises - unreleased material, live versions, demos - on R-Kive. But if you want a handy introduction to - and encapsulation of - the 45-year career of Genesis, look no further.

Paul Lester

Paul Lester is the editor of Record Collector. He began freelancing for Melody Maker in the late 80s, and was later made Features Editor. He was a member of the team that launched Uncut Magazine, where he became Deputy Editor. In 2006 he went freelance again and has written for The Guardian, The Times, the Sunday Times, the Telegraph, Classic Rock, Q and the Jewish Chronicle. He has also written books on Oasis, Blur, Pulp, Bjork, The Verve, Gang Of Four, Wire, Lady Gaga, Robbie Williams, the Spice Girls, and Pink.