Review Summary: A landmark in the progressive rock music. A real gem for Genesis fans of the Gabriel’s era. A real cult live album because was the only live work released by Genesis with Gabriel as a band member.
“Genesis Live” is the debut live album of Genesis and was released in 1973. The line up on the album is Tony Banks, Peter Gabriel, Steve Hackett, Mike Rutherford and Phil Collins.
Chronologically, “Genesis Live” is the fifth album released by the group. It appears after the release of “From Genesis To Revelation” in 1969, which is a kind of a pre-record with its sound more close to the 60’s, with Anthony Phillips on guitars and Jonathan Silver on drums, after the release of “Trespass” in 1970 also with Phillips and this time with John Mayhew on drums and the release of “Nursery Crime” and “Foxtrot” in 1971 and 1972 respectively, already with Hackett and Collins as the new band members. And it was also recorded before “Selling England By The Pound” and “The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway”, both released in 1973 and 1974 respectively. So, “Genesis Live” is an album that belongs to the Genesis golden era and is performed by their best line up. This is also the only Genesis official live release with Gabriel still in the group, until the 1998 release of “Genesis Archive 1967-75”. So, “Genesis Live” became a cult album for Genesis fans, especially for the most prog, those who consider the group ended with the Gabriel’s departure from the band, in the end of the recording sessions of “The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway”.
The story of the album begun when Genesis was persuaded by their record label, Charisma Records, to release a live album as a budget priced title, to mark time, while the band recorded “Selling England By The Pound” in the mid of 1973. However, the group had no plans to release a live album at the time, because they were somewhat extremely busy with their new studio work. However, they agreed with Charisma to edit a live work, and the result was this debut live album. The tracks on the album were recorded at De Montfort Hall in Leicester, England, except for “Return Of The Giant Hogweed” which was recorded at the Free Trade Hall in Manchester, England, on the previous day, when the band was touring in support of “Foxtrot”. These recordings were originally made for the US radio show King Biscuit Flower Hour. However, they were never broadcast. So, as you can see, “Genesis Live” isn’t properly a traditional live album, because it’s made of some previous live recordings taken from the band, in different live performances.
About the five tracks on the album, “The Knife” originally appeared on “Trespass”, “The Return Of The Giant Hogweed” and “The Musical Box” originally appeared on “Nursery Crime” and “Watcher Of The Skies” and “Get ‘Em Out By Friday” originally appeared on “Foxtrot”.
“The Knife” is an excellent track and represents a great choice, because is the best song recorded on “Trespass”, and is undoubtedly the first masterpiece made by the band. Compared with the original studio version, this live version is a killer, because is much more aggressive. It’s the track with a more significant rearranging, probably due to the new band members, Hackett and Collins who replaced Philips and Mayhew. This track is with any kind of doubt one of the highest moments on the album and represents a great closing to it.
“The Musical Box” is another great choice because is one of the best themes composed by the band and is also my second favourite song on “Nursery Crime”, after “The Fountain Of Salmacis”. This is also one of the Genesis’ songs most played live by them, as band members or as solo artists, like Hackett usually do.
The remaining three tracks “Watcher Of The Skies”, “The Return Of The Giant Hogweed” and “Get ‘Em Out By Friday” are also three great tracks. Although, in my humble opinion, they aren’t as good as the two previous tracks are. However, “Watcher Of The Skies” is one of the favourite tracks of Genesis and is also one of the songs most played live by the group, and “Get ‘Em Out By Friday” sounds even more theatrical here than it does on the original version. It’s really fascinating listen to Peter reinventing his vocalizations in such a clever manner.
Conclusion: “Genesis Live” is undoubtedly a great live album from the 70’s and represents a real gem for all Genesis fans, particularly for those who love the Gabriel’s era. It offers a very decent retrospective of the group and of their live shows in those times. Although, some songs from that live shows were excluded, like “Supper’s Ready”, which is, in general, recognized as their great masterpiece track.
Fortunately, it did finally to surface twenty five years later on their first Archive box, the “Genesis Archive 1967-75” released in 1998. “Genesis Live” is real a great work and I especially enjoyed the live versions of “The Musical Box” and “The Knife”. However, and as I wrote before, it isn’t properly an originally recorded live album but a series of live tapings taken from a couple of live shows for broadcast in America. Therefore, “Genesis Live” doesn’t have unfortunately, in my humble opinion, the real consistency of a true live album.
Music was my first love.
John Miles (Rebel)