Genesis: Archives: 1967-1975

Genesis: Archives: 1967-1975

Back when drummer Phil Collins had hair, singer Peter Gabriel wore goofy costumes, and Genesis was about as far from the Top 40 as any act could be, the then-young prog-rock band, with its smart arrangements and oddball sense of humor, was an ambitious and formidable musical unit. Archives: 1967-1975, a long-awaited four-disc set, should prove a windfall for fans of Genesis' early years, before Gabriel left for his solo career and Collins transformed the band into an international hit-making juggernaut. Discs one and two contain a live performance of the sprawling, virtually incomprehensible The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway, arguably Genesis' creative apex. The libretto concerns a Puerto Rican street thug named Rael who achieves some sort of vague enlightenment in New York City, but there's no point in following along. These lengthy and complicated concepts are part of the reason prog-rock is so frequently derided, but in actuality, pieces like The Lamb aren't nearly as silly or pretentious as, say, The Who's inexplicably cherished Tommy. Thanks to Gabriel's narrative, Tony Banks' organ filigrees, and a host of classical, jazz, and folk guitar motifs, Genesis did, in a sense, achieve some sort of a new form that warrants the term "progressive." Meanwhile, Collins' prodigious drumming kept things anchored to the realm of rock, reminding the listener that Genesis was and always will be a pop band. The other two discs contain an assortment of rare live and studio tracks, including the early single "Happy The Man" and a few choice B-sides, though disc four specifically sticks to very early demos and stuff from the BBC vaults. With an informative booklet (which reprints, among other novelties, the press release Gabriel wrote announcing his departure from the group) and good sound, Archives is essential listening for both fans of the band and those curious about Genesis' genesis.

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