Let me clarify one thing first: In terms of sound, the new 5.1 mixes are masterfully done. Putting in the new disc of Wind And Wuthering or Duke and cracking up the volume will completely blow you away. Personally, I was left with one big "wow" - it was certainly worth the full wait and every penny, but then, I *am* a hardcore fan, so that's hardly surprising.
As for the presentation of the discs, the box itself is beautifully done, albeit not very practical - I do have a lot of trouble getting the discs out of the box, having tried various solutions such as inserting things and turning the box up-side down and shaking it (the latter being my currently favoured approach).
The box-set comes with a special booklet which is quite beautifully done, but whoes content doesn't impress me that much. Basically, a Michael Watt tells us his oppinion on all the ablums and songs, and that's not very helpful to me. To what can I use the fact that he finds 'Submarine' to be going nowhere and 'Me And Virgil' to be a failed experiment, when they just happen to be two of my favorite Genesis B-sides? Nothing ...
But enought a bout the general properties, let me give a disc-by-disc analysis of the set.
- A TRICK OF THE TAIL -
The oldest album of the set, and one that has improved significantly in terms of sound. Also, this disc has the most generous offering of extras: As every disc, the promo videos from this album, that being Robbery, Assault and Battery, Ripples and A Trick of the Tail; hardly that interesting, bearing in mind that these same videos were recently released on the Video Show DVD. A re-isue interview with each band member about the general situation of the band at this time, and the songs of the album. The interviews are really nice, and offers a great insight in the band and the album. On the downside, I will mention that the interviews are only available in stereo sound, this is annoying if you prefer the 5.1 or DTS surround mixes, because the interviews will hardly be audible with you changing the audio settings of your amplifier to stereo mode.
The real gem here, however, is the *complete* In Concert 1976 footage. Though more or less inferior versions have circulated among the fans for some time, it is good finally to have this wonderful show released on DVD from official site. Again, the sound is only in stereo, but it does sound amazing, and the performance, including I Know What I Like, Fly On A Windshield, Carpet Crawlers, Cinema Show part II, Entangled, Supper's Ready parts 5, 6 and 7, and Los Endos, is excellent.
Finally, there are visuals from a tour programme from this time, which isn't that that interesting.
- WIND AND WUTHERING -
This was always one of my favorite albums, and the new mixes sound just beautiful - Eleventh Earl of Mar, One For The Vine, and Unquiet Slumbers for The Sleepers In That Quiet Earth particularly blew me away.
The extras on this disc is a real let down. The interviews are really nice, but the overdubbed bootleg videos from US and Japan television are for me completely worthless. I am particularly dissapointed with the band deciding only to include Video footage, and not Audio footage from this town - there are tons of important live recordings lying around from this time, and any offering from the band would have been greatly appreciated. Also, if they wanted only video footage, they could have included the Seconds Out promo footage from Dallas.
- AND THEN THERE WERE THREE ... -
This was always one of the less appreciated albums, but personally I like it quite a lot. Though not the most profound of the band's albums in terms of musical quality, it is a very coherent album, and the production is nice. It is also one of the few albums where most of the songs sound better on the album that they actually did live. The new surround mix of Down And Out was one I had particularly looked forward to.
The exrtas on this disc is a mixed bag of candies. I'm very pleased to see the Three Dates With Genesis documentary included, a 50 minutes documentary following the band - and the crew! - on tour. But again, the lack of video footage from this era meens that we are completely derived of live footage. This tour accompagnying this album is one of the "lost" Genesis tours, where only small remnants have been released, and it would have been really nice to have some more audio footage included here. The fans certainly would have appreciated it much more than the promo videos - again! - and the programme images.
- DUKE -
By many considered the best album of the era, and probably rightfully so. The music is amazing, and the new surround mix of Behind The Lines is breathtaking. And Heathaze, one of their most overlooked songs, sounds amazing!
The extras are very good - included is the "Old Grey Whistle Test" footage from Lyceum, London, sadly only including the songs Behind The Lines / Duchess / Guide Vocal / In The Cage / Slippermen / Afterglow / Dance On A Volcano / Los Endos, but still essential footage, and the quality is amazing. I guess one can ask for no more.
- ABACAB -
Not one of my favorite albums, the songs always sounded better live than on the disc, but ironically one that is treasured by the band as well as many fans. The extras for this disc are truly disspointing, only including the promo videos, the interview, and still from the tour programme. Even though it is probably too much to ask for, I cannot help but feel it would have been natural to use this opportunity to release the Three Sides Live video footage on DVD, like they did with the In Concert video on the Trick Of The Tail disc.
- BONUS DISC -
The disc includes all - ALL - the B-sides from this era. Yes, this time we get also Match Of The Day and Me And Virgil, thank you! [These tracks were left off Archive II because the band felt they were of inferior quality.] As an interesting note, it seems they have restored the original version of Submarine, instead of the doctored version included on Archives II due to damaged masters!
About the extras on the disc - again, one could have hoped they would have included some "special" treat for those who actually bought the box-set, but no, all we get is the same Paperlate footage (overdubbed) as on the Video Show DVD, and a - rather short - interview on the general procedure of preparing this boxset. Dissapointing.
OVERALL RATING: 9 / 10
An amazing treat for the ear, and a fairly generous offering of exrtas - even though it could have been more, it certainly could have been less, so I guess we should be satisfied. The next box covering the late era should be out this autumn, but I guess the thing we all REALLY anticipate is the release of the third box sometime next year, covering the early era. I can't wait to hear what the new mixes have made of Nursery Cryme - it promises to be mind-blowing!