A three-disc set spanning more than four decades, mixing album tracks, hit singles and the cream of the solo excursions of key group members, R-Kive is the package that you’d hand to an alien daft enough to visit our planet and enquire: “So, this band Genesis... what are they all about then?”
As a companion piece for the BBC’s documentary Genesis: Together And Apart, and also as a self-purchased Christmas pressie for countless dads, it’s the most expansive anthology of the group’s music thus far, dwarfing its closest relation, 1999’s Turn It On Again: The Hits. While that collection skimmed the surface of each of Genesis’s studio records, R-Kive delves deeper still. The full 22 minutes of Supper’s Ready, from 1972’s immortal Foxtrot, are included – how could they not be? – along with a sizeable chunk of the so-called ‘difficult’ concept piece The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway.
A chronological presentation enhances the myriad historical twists and turns made by the participants. Ace Of Wands, from 1975’s Voyage Of The Acolyte, conceived while guitarist Steve Hackett was still with the group, follows the Lamb… segment. Meanwhile Solsbury Hill, that intoxicating slice of whimsy with which singer Peter Gabriel introduced himself as a solo performer in 1977, sits surprisingly well in the slipstreams of the excess-free, Phil Collins-voiced Ripples and Afterglow.
With Hackett having followed Gabriel out of the door, the Top Ten success of Follow You Follow Me awarded Genesis their biggest hit 45 to date and seemed to muddy the waters. Keyboard player Tony Banks remained on board but scratched his own solo itch with A Curious Feeling, as Hackett and Gabriel flourished with Every Day and Biko respectively.
By the time we return to Planet Genesis with Turn It On Again from Duke, it’s the turn of Collins to spread his wings. For Genesis purists, Collins’ mega-selling solo debut Face Value can retrospectively be viewed as the beginning of the end. Until a reality check intervened, bass player Mike Rutherford and Banks had attempted to continue with Ray Wilson of Stiltskin for 1997’s Calling All Stations, the title cut of which stands up rather well, but the third disc is dominated by solo material of varying quality, apparently chosen “democratically” (three songs apiece).
The chasm between The Living Years, Mike + The Mechanics’ triumph of blatant consumerism, and Siren, from Banks’ 2012 album SIX Pieces For Orchestra, is vast, though as our extraterrestrial friend will soon learn, this was always the Genesis way.