Genesis: R-Kive

Three-CD box set spanning five decades... and five members’ separate careers.

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Genesis are the only other band apart from The Beatles to enjoy worldwide success together and apart. Messrs Gabriel, Collins and Rutherford all reached No.1 with their solo projects, and while Tony Banks and Steve Hackett enjoyed more modest commercial rewards, their combined total sales come in at nearly 300 million.

R-Kive tells this story chronologically, starting with The Knife from 1970’s Trespass and ending, on CD3, with Banks’s Siren (2012). You can follow the narrative as the band go through their changes and the individuals head off to do their thing. It’s the first such collection from Genesis – from any band – but it coheres well.

Adherents of the neo-classical Genesis will best appreciate CD1, while In The Air Tonight and Invisible Touch fans will rinse CDs 2 and 3. Their earlier, fussier music has dated better than the pop hits, perhaps because they were so out of time. The 10-minute The Musical Box seems to emerge from a strange Victorian netherworld. Don’t be fooled by the air of whimsy – the keyboard work is intense, the guitar solo incendiary. Supper’s Ready is the seven-section prog pinnacle with Biblical portents that ranges from the elegiac to the dynamic.

Compared to Yes and ELP, Genesis were churchy, not cosmic. But already by 1973 they were showing their pop hand: I Know What I Like (In Your Wardrobe) was their first charting single. Three tracks from 1974’s The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway confirm that double as their conceptual high-water mark, after which Gabriel left and Hackett dipped his toe first in the solo ocean with Voyage Of The Acolyte.

They evinced a new ability to connect emotionally with Ripples from A Trick Of The Tail. CD2 is effectively a Greatest Hits featuring Gabriel’s Solsbury Hill and Biko, Collins’s In The Air Tonight and Easy Lover, and Genesis’s Abacab, Mama and That’s All. CD3 sees them world-conquering heroes (Invisible Touch, We Can’t Dance, Mike & The Mechanics’ Living Years), culminating with the title cut from 1997’s Calling All Stations (and then there were two) and a track each from the five.

Diehards have been complaining that R-Kive contains nothing new. And it doesn’t. But they should be ecstatic to see their favourite band memorialised in all their multifaceted glory./o:p

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.