When it came to my evaluation of this set, I ran into a dilemma: what should I consider to be the main components and what are the extras? I decided that the albums themselves are the meat of the package and all the video material acts as supplements. This led to an odd reviewing issue since I didn’t discuss these elements in the body of the review but I now need to chat about their quality.
Stuck in this odd circumstance, I decided that I’d only grade the picture and sound quality of the package’s music videos. I’ll now discuss those videos in terms of content and I’ll get into visual and audio quality after that. I’ve rated all of the videos on a scale of 1 to 10.
Mama (Genesis): “Mama” was the first Genesis song I ever liked, and it’s also the first song we’ve encountered in this set that wouldn’t sound right at home on a Collins solo album. Yet another lip-synch clip, this one at least manages to use its moody sepia look and grimy cantina setting in an effective way. 6/10.
That’s All (Genesis, 1983): At heart another simple lip-synch performance, “All” adds some distinctiveness as it places the band in a Depression-era setting. It helps the tune itself is edgier than most Genesis ballads. 6/10.
Illegal Alien (Genesis): We head back to the realm of comedic social commentary here. The video casts the band members as Mexicans who seek a route to the US. It makes some minor points but mostly acts as an excuse for some goofiness. The song is oddly peppy given its subject, but it works. 7/10.
Home By the Sea/Second Home By the Sea (Genesis): As I’ve noted through this review, a lot of Eighties Genesis sounds like solo Phil Collins and lacks much connection to the band’s roots. For me, that’s not a bad thing, as I don’t particularly care for Gabriel-era Genesis; I’m one of six people to prefer pop Genesis to prog Genesis.
Anyway, the farther back we go, the closer to prog Genesis we get, and “Home” is one of the few songs that almost sounds like it could come from that era. It’s not as strange as the Gabriel stuff, but it’s also not as mainstream as most of the Collins material. Too bad the video is a simple lip-synch piece without much to make it interesting. 4/10.
Tonight Tonight Tonight (Invisible Touch): This moody, stylish video feels a lot like one of those commercials the band later parodied in “I Can’t Dance”. It mostly follows the basic lip-synch format but the dark atmosphere makes it more interesting than most. 6/10.
Anything She Does (Invisible Touch): The song sounds like an outtake from No Jacket Required, but that’s not a terrible thing. It’s a peppy little track, and guest star Benny Hill adds a fun tone to the video. He plays the band’s new head of security and goofs up a storm. 8/10.
In Too Deep (Invisible Touch): Another song that comes across like a leftover from a Collins solo album, “Deep” falls flat. It’s a dull ballad and the video does nothing to elevate the drab tune. It sticks with bland lip-synch footage. 3/10.
Invisible Touch (Invisible Touch, 1986): Riding on the heels of Collins’ massively successful 1985 solo album No Jacket Required, Touch became the biggest selling Genesis album, and it introduced them to an era in which they played stadiums. Whether this was good is a subject open to debate.
“Touch” the tune doesn’t stand among the best work done by the band or Collins solo. Its synth-based sound hasn’t aged well, though I thought it was a silly tune 21 years ago. The video offers little more than a goofy take on the usual lip-synch performance genre. Collins clowns around on the set and that’s about it. 4/10.
Throwing It All Away (Invisible Touch): Collins introduces this one to tell us we’ll get a behind-the-scenes look at Genesis on tour. Indeed, that’s what we get. We see a few performance shots and check out band and crew as they go through their work. None of this ever becomes particularly fascinating, though it’s a decent tour travelogue. 5/10.
Land of Confusion (Invisible Touch): One of the band’s most popular video, “Confusion” used the briefly popular “Spitting Image” puppets to create something unusual. Its parody of Ronald Reagan and its social commentary lack insight, but it manages to become fun and clever all the same. 8/10.
Hold On My Heart (We Can’t Dance): A simple video for a dull ballad, “Heart” shows little inspiration in either category. The tune definitely doesn’t go down as one of Collins’ better ballads, and the video simply shows the band as they lip-synch in a bar. The whole thing looks like it took about 10 minutes to create. 3/10.
Jesus He Knows Me (We Can’t Dance): This song would have been cutting edge commentary – five years earlier. By 1991, greedy, hypocritical televangelists were old news, so “Jesus” feels like headlines from yesterday’s papers. Despite that, the song proves peppy and enjoyable, and the video has its moments. Actually, it’s pretty predictable, but it includes some shots of hot women in bikinis, so I won’t complain. 7/10.
Tell Me Why: (We Can’t Dance): Serious Genesis returns in this “Save the World” clip. Actually, it’s a simple video, as it cuts between lip-synch shots of the band and scenes of needy folks. I give the video applause for trying to raise awareness, but it doesn’t make for an interesting piece, unfortunately. The presentation feels too much like a Sally Struthers commercial, and the song lacks much spark. 5/10.
No Son Of Mine (We Can’t Dance, 1991): With a nod toward Aerosmith’s “Janie’s Got a Gun”, this sepia-toned video looks at a teen boy and his abusive father. It intersperses those shots with images of the band as they play in the kid’s house. As often with Collins-oriented Genesis, the music is overproduced; a sparer version of the song would have a greater impact. Still, it sounds reasonably good and the video becomes effective. 7/10.
I Can’t Dance (We Can’t Dance): Comedy comes to the forefront with this clever clip. It opens with a parody of then-current Bugle Boy ads and continues to mock other promos as well as Michael Jackson. This seems more than slightly disingenuous; if I recall correctly Collins – with and without Genesis – indulged in corporate sponsorship, so it doesn’t make much sense for him to attack others for doing the same. Nonetheless, it’s an amusing video for a decent song. 8/10.
Congo (Calling All Stations, 1997): For our brief glimpse of post-Collins Genesis, we start here. The song sounds a lot like mid-Eighties Genesis, though the video clearly shoots for a younger crowd. We see little of old men like Banks and Rutherford and only a few shots of younger singer Ray Wilson. Mostly we watch bits of some story between a hunky guy and a bald chick. It all goes nowhere. 4/10.
Shipwrecked (Calling All Stations): Another dull tune, this one alternates band shots with images of essentially immobilized young folk. It wants to make a point, but I’m not sure what. 4/10.
Not About Us (Calling All Stations): Wilson-era Genesis ends with this track. Thank God! This video offers more nonsense with ordinary people and fails to become anything interesting. The bland ballad makes me long for Collins’ syrupy tendencies. 4/10.
The music videos appear in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 on these single-sided, double-layered DVDs; due to those dimensions, the image has not been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. These videos weren’t attractive but they were about what I expected.
The quality of the clips varied, but unfortunately, they usually presented fairly unattractive visuals. While they generally seemed typical for their eras, the videos nonetheless displayed more concerns than I expected. Mostly shot on film, the clips from the start of the Eighties and Seventies presented rather unattractive visuals. They suffered from flat and listless colors as well as imprecise focus, grain and other print flaws.
Colors tended to appear murky and loose. The tones depended on the visual styling of the videos, but even when I considered those constraints, the hues generally were too muddy and messy. Black levels looked reasonably dense, though they sometimes demonstrated inky qualities. Shadow detail was acceptably distinct but not any better than average.
I’ve seen lots of music video collections that span this set’s era, and most of them look about the same. Occasionally one surpasses the others, but the majority of them demonstrate similarly murky and muddy visuals. That’s just an artifact of the materials used in the various periods. I still didn’t feel the clips deserved a grade above a “C-“, but they remained consistent with what I anticipated.
Happily, no such concerns affected the excellent audio of these videos. The DVDs offered both Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS 5.1 soundtracks. I found the pair to sound identical, as I discerned no substantial differences between the two.
While the 5.1 remixes didn’t go nuts, they definitely added a sense of space that made them effective. Appropriately, the forward speakers always dominated, but the surrounds gave the music a feeling of airiness. Instrumental delineation seemed very clean and concise, and the audio still blended together well. The surrounds occasionally tossed in some unique percussion, vocals, guitar or effects, and they created a good atmosphere. These five-channel mixes seemed tasteful and worked nicely.
For all the tracks, audio quality seemed excellent. The music presented clean and clear highs, and vocals always sounded natural and distinct. Drums popped as they should, and guitar fills rang appropriately. Bass response appeared tight and deep, and low-end never become loose or rough. A few tracks were less impressive than others, but that related to the original production. Overall, I really liked the audio of these videos.
In addition to the music videos, each DVD includes other extras. Of prime interest are the remixed multi-channel versions of all four albums as well as the bonus songs on Extra Tracks. We find both DTS and Dolby Digital editions of the music. I thought these sounded just like the music video remixes, so expect continued high-quality audio from them. I really liked the expanded five-channel takes on the albums and found them to be a nice addition to the set.
We get 2007 Reissues Interviews for each album. As for the others, we hear from band members Phil Collins, Mike Rutherford and Tony Banks across all three sessions, while replacement singer Ray Wilson and drummer Nir Zidkyahu also show up for Calling All Stations. In terms of running time, Genesis’s clip runs 17 minutes, seven seconds, while the Invisible Touch segment goes for 19 minutes, five seconds. The portion from We Can’t Dance fills 15 minutes, 10 seconds, and the Calling All Stations bits fill up 18 minutes, two seconds. Finally, the Extra Tracks disc includes a mere three minutes and 20 seconds of material.
Across the interviews, we learn about various album and song details as well as the band’s evolution over the period covered, the writing process, cover designs and music videos. We hear a little about how Collins’ solo success affected the band and also the change in lead singers before Stations.
I would’ve liked a little more about the impact of Collins’ mega-success on his own, as that subject doesn’t get a lot of attention. Still, we learn a lot about the various albums, and the interviews consistently entertain and inform. Wilson’s remarks prove the most interesting, as he offers some candid thoughts about his stint in the band.
On the Genesis DVD, we find Mama Tour Rehearsal Footage. In this 58-minute and 10-second reel, we see band rehearsals from a one-camera set-up. The shots look bad and the sound isn’t much better. The camera angle comes from a distance, so we see the whole band but they all look small, so we don’t get much detail from them. A few zoomed close-ups occur, but the video resolution stinks, so the shots remain blurry.
Despite those technical failings, this is a very cool piece. The band plays “Dodo”, “The Carpet Crawlers”, “That’s All”, “Mama”, “Illegal Alien”, “Firth of Fifth”, “Man on the Corner” and “Whodunnit?”. That’s an eclectic set, and the variation makes the show even more interesting. Yeah, I wish it looked and sounded better, but this remains a very welcome addition.
Over on the Invisible Touch DVD, we open with a documentary entitled Visible Touch 1986. This 16-minute and 28-second piece includes comments from Collins, Banks, Rutherford, touring drummer Chester Thompson and touring guitarist Daryl Stuermer as they discuss the new album and tour. We get some live footage as well, though they’re brief enough to lose their relevance.
Which is too bad, as they would’ve made “Visible” more interesting. As a tour diary, it lacks much insight. It gives us a superficial look at life on the road, but there’s not much meat here.
For a look at the video’s creation, we go to the eight-minute and 38-second Behind the Scenes – “Land of Confusion”. It gives us the “fly on the wall” perspective as we watch director Jim Yukich pitch the video to Genesis. We also see aspects of the video’s shoot. It turns into a nice behind the scenes glimpse of this creative video.
Next we head to a Genesis special from The Old Grey Whistle Test. Rock Around the Clock lasts 25 minutes, 14 seconds as it looks back over the band’s history through 1986. It provides remarks from Collins, Rutherford and Banks as they discuss the history of Genesis. Though shopworn, the stories prove interesting. It’s not a great program, but it keeps us involved.
Now we go to the We Can’t Dance DVD and find a period documentary called All Access. This 45-minute and 55-second show takes us into the studio to follow the creation of the album. We get the “fly on the wall” view of the sessions along with some comments from Collins, Banks, Rutherford and producer Nick Davis. We learn about the evolution of the songs as well as some other aspects of the band. Though “Access” takes a rather fluffy, promotional viewpoint, it includes enough good glimpses of Genesis at work to merit a screening.
In terms of Calling All Stations extras, we get a 10-minute and 29-second EPK meant to sell the album. It provides remarks from Banks, Rutherford and Wilson as they discuss the change in singers and the Stations release. As expected, the promotional side of things dominates, but not to the exclusion of some decent information. This never becomes a terribly rich piece, but it goes down without pain.
Some live material comes via the six-minute and 50-second Rock Im Park 1998. It shows a festival performance of “Calling All Stations” – and a really lifeless one, at that. Maybe the band needed more time to gel as a unit, but this rendition of the tune seems awfully bland and flat.
Polish Television 1998 goes for 20 minutes and 52 seconds. It provides live performances of “There Must Be Some Other Way” and “The Dividing Line”. Almost 21 minutes for only two songs? Yes, that means those tracks ramble on forever, and not in a satisfying way. My general disdain for Genesis Mark 3 doesn’t find any reason to disappear via self-indulgent stuff like this.
With that we go to the Extra Tracks 1983-1998 DVD. It starts with an EPK for the Archive 2 – 72 to 92 CD boxed set. The 18-minute and 54-second piece includes interviews with Collins, Rutherford, Banks and Stuermer as they chat about the compilation of the boxed set as well as reflections on the material included. The piece offers a decent examination of the elements found in the Archive package.
For live material from the We Can’t Dance era Genesis, we get Knebworth 1993. This festival concert lasts 40 minutes, 58 seconds and provides a medley of “Dance on a Volcano”, “The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway”, “The Musical Box”, “Firth Of Fifth” and “I Know What I Like (In Your Wardrobe)” followed by “Home By the Sea” and “Domino”.
That’s an ambitious set for a festival crowd, though it’s clear Genesis played a longer show than what we find here. We join the concert in progress, and some ugly editing reinforces the omissions. There’s a rough jump from the medley to “Home”, and that track also ends prematurely.
Since this show represented one of the final performances by the Collins-led Genesis before his mid-Nineties split, it stands as an interesting historical document. It also presents a pretty solid performance, with a lot of energy evident on stage. Unfortunately, the quality is mediocre at best, as the picture and audio show more than a few flaws. Nonetheless, it’s a cool addition to the set.
MMF Awards Ceremony 2000 runs 20 minutes, 40 seconds. To honor award-winner Tony Smith – the band’s long-time manager – the Collins/Rutherford/Banks edition of Genesis reunited for an “unplugged” set. Along with Stuermer, they rip through “Invisible Touch”, “Follow You Follow Me”, “I Can’t Dance” and “Turn It On Again”. On the disappointing side, Peter Gabriel attended the event and came on stage at the end, but he didn’t perform with Genesis. The set itself is a winner, though. It’s a warm occasion and Genesis provides an intimate and unusual look at their material via these stripped-down renditions.
For the first four DVDs, we get stillframe reproductions of tour programmes. These come for “Tour 1982” (13 screens), “Mama Tour 1983/4” (18), “Six of the Best 1982” (10), “Tour 1986” (23), “UK Tour 1992” (24) and “Tour 1998” (13). The size of the reproductions makes it difficult to discern details, but I like the inclusion of these programmes nonetheless. They’re a cool archival element.
(Footnote: due to an odd glitch, you have to use the chapter skip button to advance during the 1998 section. All the others let you press “Enter” to go “Next”, but for reasons unknown, that doesn’t work for the 1998 piece.)
Speaking of glitches, if you go to the Calling All Stations DVD, you may find what is either an Easter egg or some material unintentionally put on the disc. If you watch the EPK and let it run through its conclusion, you may encounter some bonus bits. It’s not clear that if versions of the Stations DVD include these pieces; some fans report finding them while others don’t. Maybe only an initial pressing included this cool “glitch”, but it’s worth investigating on your copy; there’s some interesting stuff to be found here.
Finally, the package includes a 44-page Booklet. In addition to a slew of photos from the era covered, we get text. A long essay from director Jim Yukich discusses the albums, the songs, the videos and some aspects of working with Genesis over the years. Yukich gives us some nice thoughts that round out the set in a positive manner.
Much of Genesis 1983-1998 represents the band at the peak of their popularity – for better or for worse. I mostly like the pop side of Genesis, especially while they remained moderately edgy with 1983’s Genesis. 1986’s Invisible Touch and 1991’s We Can’t Dance are spottier albums, though generally enjoyable ones. Only 1997’s post-Collins Calling All Stations truly disappoints.
As for this set, it’s a nice package of audio and video. We get a nice array of music videos that don’t look good, but that’s due to the restrictions of the source material. The 5.1 remixes are simply terrific, and the release includes a lot of nice archival material. While not exhaustive, 1983-1998 provides a fine compilation.
Note that most of the CD/DVD album combos found here can also be purchased on their own; you can get each of the four albums individually. However, Extra Tracks and the booklet are exclusive to this set. Those add about $20 to what it’d run you to get the four albums solo, which I think makes the box worthwhile if you want all four of these CD/DVDs. That’s a big if, of course, since a lot of fans won’t embrace each of the albums – especially the smelly Calling All Stations. I like the Extra Tracks element and the booklet, but it’s hard to justify the additional cost if you don’t want to own all four of the albums.