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Reviews in this issue:
- Peter Gabriel - Play
- Genesis - The Video Show
- Genesis - The Genesis Songbook
- Genesis - Live at Wembley Stadium
- Genesis - Way We Walk Live (Live in Concert)
Peter Gabriel - Play
Tracklist: Father Son, Sledgehammer, Blood of Eden, Games Without Frontiers, I Don't Remember, Big Time, Lovetown, Red Rain, In Your Eyes, Don't Give Up, The Barry Williams Show, Washing of the Water, Biko, Kiss That Frog, Mercy Street, Growing Up, Shaking the Tree, Shock the Monkey, Steam, The Drop, Zaar, Solsbury Hill, Digging in the Dirt
Bonus Material: Video introductions, Programmable 18-track jukebox, Games Without Frontiers: Live 2004, Modern Love: original 1977 music video, The Nest That Sailed the Sky, Trailers: Family Portrait, Growing Up Live, Secret World Live
After ten years of silence it seems like there's a whole avalanche of Gabriel releases lately. The latest one in a string of quality products is the DVD Play. This DVD contains 23 video clips from Gabriel's solo career plus some bonus footage.
Peter Gabriel has always been at the front of innovative multimedia entertainment. Whether we are talking about theatrical performances on stage, new technologies in videos, the first music CD-Roms or stunning live shows, Peter Gabriel has always been a big innovator searching new ways
to support his music with other sensory stimulants. This DVD filled with all of Gabriel's video clips proves what enormous influence Gabriel has had on music videos. For instance, everybody knows the video for Sledgehammer; the most played video on MTV ever ! And surely, the usage of these videos moved Gabriel to super stardom as well.
Some of these videos might seem a bit dated now, but you have to remember that you're looking at videos which are sometimes 25 years old ! So the innovative ones might seem a bit amateurish by now, but they certainly weren't back then. At the same time, some of the other videos have stood the test of time very well and would not stand out as old fashioned if they were now played on music channels.
It was a real treat for me to finally see some of the videos which I have never seen before. There were also some other interesting surprises to be found on the DVD. Special treats are Washing of the Water, which has a rather uninteresting video but is accompanied by a wonderful jazzy version of the track. Also, Shaking the Tree is the original version from Youssou N'Dour's album which is different (and to be honest inferior) to the version on Gabriel's compilation album Shaking the Tree. Kiss That Frog is the remixed version and one of the first videos using extensive computer generated graphics. And of course, besides these videos which are also interesting from an audio point of view, there's a whole range of crowd favourites and highly entertaining clips.
There's quite a few extras on this DVD. A particularly nice feature is the option that lets you program up to 18 tracks in your own preferred order, enabling you to select your personal favourites in your own play list and even making it loop. This option has become very popular with my 10 year old son, who discovered Gabriel's material as the first music he is really interested in. He programs the DVD so he can watch all his personal favourites.
You can also turn introductions to the videos on and off. I personally found some of these a bit random and disappointing. Some videos come with short introductions from interviews with Gabriel (both 'then' and 'now'), while others are almost complete mini making-off documentaries and others are just footage from Gabriel experimenting in the studio in the early eighties without any particular relation to the clip which follows. Some videos don't even have an introduction. It would have been good if each of the videos would have come with an actual mini documentary and they would have taken the time to do an short interview for each and every video. Still, what you get is much better than what you can expect from the Genesis DVD below. But more about that later. And the material which is available is often highly interesting.
The other bonus material consists of three commercials ... err trailers ... for the Secret World, Growing Up Live and Family Portrait DVDs plus three additional video clips. One of them is the clip for The Nest That Sailed the Sky, which
consists of bird perspective footage of the Millennium Show. A rather uninteresting video for one of Peter's least interesting songs in the last 20 years.
I wondered why they placed the Modern Love video among the bonus material, until I actually saw it. Okay, this was 1977 but rarely have I seen something this silly: Gabriel dancing and play-backing on those airport transport belts ... right. The only really interesting video in the bonus section is the live version of Games Without Frontiers which shows the band performing on both the circular and a regular stage while Peter and his daughter Melanie ride around on this funny electronic ... err ... thingies. Since this song was not available on the Growing Up Live DVD it's an interesting extra. Then again, according to the booklet that comes with the DVD it is actually part of a forthcoming DVD of the Still Growing Up tour. So, it's actually a commercial again.
The menus are quite nice with moving coloured play dough clay accompanied by instrumental remixes of several of Peter's hits. The DVD comes as a digipack in a slipcase plus a 24-page booklet with pictures and full credits for every clip. It also features some liner notes by Gabriel himself and information about new footage that has been added to a handful of clips.
It's a shame that not all of Gabriel's videos are present on this DVD. There seem to be a couple missing, which makes me wonder why they have been excluded. If Modern Love was included for the sake of completeness they surely should have included the rest as well.
To conclude, there might be a few flaws in the bonus material department, but with no less than 26 videos - among which several which wrote pop history - there's hardly reason for real complaining. A highly recommended release !
Conclusion: 8.5 out of 10
Genesis - The Video Show
Tracklist: No Son Of Mine, I Can't Dance, Hold On My Heart, Jesus He Knows Me, Tell Me Why?, Invisible Touch, Throwing It All Away, Land Of Confusion, Tonight Tonight Tonight, Anything She Does, In Too Deep, That’s All, Mama, Illegal Alien, Home By The Sea/Second Home By The Sea, Paperlate, Abacab, Keep It Dark, No Reply At All, Man On The Corner, Turn It On Again, Duchess, Misunderstanding, Follow You Follow Me, Many Too Many, Trick Of The Tail, Ripples, Robbery Assault And Battery, Congo, Shipwrecked, Not About Us, Carpet Crawlers 1999
Now, even though this may look like a companion release to The Platinum Collection 3CD set, and although in some ways it is, beware ! Don't be fooled by the images from the Musical Box and Foxtrot artwork. Those who are looking for old material with Peter Gabriel on this DVD will be very disappointed. Peter's only appearance is as a vocalist on the rerecording of The Carpet Crawlers. All of the other material on this DVD concerns the 'Collins era' and 'Wilson era'. Talking about the Wilson era, I found it a bit shocking that the three clips with Wilson were placed at the end of the disc while all of the other material basically is in backwards chronological order. It almost seems like somebody was ashamed to put it on the DVD, and I personally find it a bit disrespectful to Ray Wilson and the directors of these videos. Especially since, artistically, these three videos are among the best on the DVD.
Anyway, as mentioned you'll get a collection of mainly Collins clips on this DVD, and considering that these were video clips you'll also understand that it covers the more commercial material by Genesis. Now, lots of you seem to fiercely dislike that material but I personally think it contains some of their best stuff. Sure, I like all the classics of the Gabriel years but the first Genesis album I ever bought was the 'yellow album' with it's impressive A-side (and disappointing B-side). Stuff like Mama and (Second) Home By The Sea got me into the band which eventually made me buy the old stuff as well and kick-start my love for prog rock. The same thing actually happened with Pink Floyd and Yes; I first liked their commercial stuff and later bought their more daring works.
A quick look at the contents of this DVD shows that one third of the clips originate on the enormously successful albums Invisible Touch and We Can't Dance. The 'yellow album' is present with 4 songs, Abacab with 4, Duke with 3, Then There Were Three with 2, Trick of the Tail with a remarkable 3 songs and Calling All Stations with 3 as well. Furthermore, there's the aforementioned rerecording of The Carpet Crawlers with a rather weird clip and Paperlate from Three Sides Live. I'm not sure if there were any clips for these songs, but it would have been good to have some footage from the Wind & Wuthering album, e.g. a live recording of Afterglow.
Considering the video clips themselves, most of them are a completely different affair than those on the Gabriel DVD reviewed above. Whereas Gabriel's videos were innovative and mini-movies in their own right, most of the clips on this DVD find Collins, Rutherford and Banks doing playback performances on stage or in studio settings. Some of these show Collins both on vocals and drums. Less informed viewers will probably have thought for years that there were twins in Genesis. I personally find clips like that a bit boring and not really worth repeated watchings, but that might be a matter of taste. Positive exceptions are of course the funny I Can't Dance (a parody on jeans commercials), Land of Confusion (the Spitting Image clip), Illegal Alien (the band as Mexicans) and Jesus He Knows Me (the band as TV evangelists) clips. Other highlights are the atmospheric clips for No Son of Mine, Mama, Anything She Does (featuring Benny Hill) and Home By The Sea. The latter might be one of those mimed performances but it is one of my favourite Genesis songs and the light show in the video is absolutely stunning. Invisible Touch is nice as well as it pokes fun at the type of videos that fills half this DVD. I was also pleasantly surprised by some of the acted scenes in Robbery Assault and Battery, which is actually the oldest video on the DVD. Some videos however are downright horrible. Take for instance the Duchess clip in which the band performs in raincoats, which completely strips away the atmosphere of the song.
Regardless of the quality of each individual clip, something I must add is that Genesis is one of those bands that make 'serious' music but never take themselves too serious. This clearly shows in the videos that are normally filled with lots of banter, pulling faces, dressing up, etc unless the subject matter of the song is not appropriate for making fun (e.g. Tell Me Why). As a result, even the dullest studio miming performances are often still amusing to watch.
There is no real bonus material on this DVD. Every track comes with some background information and credits, but these can also be found in the DVD case, so they don't really add much (besides being readable, while those on the DVD digipack hardly are). As with Gabriel's DVD this one also comes as a digipack in a slipcase.
To sum it up, there's some good stuff and some less interesting material on this DVD. Whether or not the comparison is fair, this DVD has less to offer as far as the average innovativeness of the videos and bonus material is concerned than Peter Gabriel's DVD above. Everybody will have to decide for himself if he likes the Collins era enough to cough up the cash for this release. If you do, rest assured that even with the disappointments of this disc, 156 minutes of material might well offer you good value for money.
Conclusion: 7 out of 10
Genesis - The Genesis Songbook
Bonus Material: Phil Collins joins Genesis, Steve Hackett Joins Genesis, Horizons, Writing Supper's Ready, The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway, Firth of Fifth, Bill Bruford Joins Genesis, Chester Thompson & Daryl Stuermer join Genesis, Follow You Follow Me, Afterglow, No Son of Mine
I have come across this DVD many times but I never had the urge to actually buy it. For some reason the packaging gave me the feeling that it might be a quickly flung together collection of archive footage. When I recently completed my Genesis and Gabriel DVD collection (which also triggered this review special), I decided that I might as well give it a try, and I was quite pleasantly surprised.
As you might have seen in earlier DVD reviews (e.g. the Dark Side of the Moon DVD) I'm a big sucker for 'rockumentaries'. I just love all the background stories behind songs and albums and the histories of my favourite bands. Now, the packaging of this DVD might give you the impression that we're dealing with a DVD that discusses the meaning of all, or at least a lot of Genesis songs. The truth is far from that though. The Genesis Songbook could be considered a full overview of the history of the band from the very early days when the band tried to sell their material as songwriters to the final days with Ray Wilson. And indeed, it does discuss the meaning and development of some of the songs, but this is mainly done to illustrate how the band developed musically and lyrically. Some songs which are discussed in more depth are The Musical Box, I Know What I Like, The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway (album), Afterglow, Follow You Follow Me, Turn it on Again, Mama, Invisible Touch, Land of Confusion, No Son of Mine and I Can't Dance. Other highlights include the story about Gabriel appearing on stage in a dress, wearing a fox head and how Grandmaster Flash inspired Mama.
The main documentary, which runs for an hour, features interviews with all former members of Genesis; Collins, Hackett, Gabriel, Banks, Rutherford, Philips and even Bill Bruford, Ray Wilson, Daryl Stuemer, Chester Thompson and first drummer Jonathan Silver. The band's manager, Tony Smith, music journalist Chris Welch, photographer Armando Gallo, fanzine editor Alan Hewitt, producers David Hentschel & Hugh Padgham and video director Jim Yukich have one or more interesting anecdotes to add. All of these people discuss their roles and the way they joined or left the band very openly.
The documentary also features snippets of video clips and live performances, including footage with all frontmen (Gabriel, Collins & Wilson). Some of the live performances are acoustic renditions that Collins, Banks and Rutherford played while getting together in Autumn 2000 for the making of this DVD. Songs performed during these sessions were I Can't Dance, plus the ones mentioned below in the bonus material. Bits of these performances are used in the documentary while some longer versions are included in the mentioned bonus material.
There's 11 additional scenes in the bonus material section that were not used, or were only partially used in the main documentary. These add up to another 40 minutes of material including acoustic performances of Horizons by Hackett and No Son of Mine, Afterglow and Follow You Follow Me. The bonus scenes also pay more attention to various (session) musicians joining the band and the way Firth of Fifth and Supper's Ready were written, demonstrated by Banks of the piano. For those who know all of the details of the band's history by heart, this bonus section might well be the highlight of the disc.
To wrap it up, there's also a simple discography of the main albums the band released (leaving out the compilation albums) and a set-up section where you can switch between stereo and surround sound or chose one of six subtitle languages (among which 'Neederlands', what's that ? 19th century Dutch ?).
All in all an unexpectedly pleasant DVD with a highly informative, entertaining and well produced documentary that combined with the bonus material runs for 100 minutes. It comes recommended to anybody wishing to find out a bit more about one of the most influential prog bands ever or those Genesis fans that are looking for 21st century footage of the band performing together.
Conclusion: 8 out of 10
Genesis - Live at Wembley Stadium
Bonus Material: Tour Documentary, Photo Library, Tour Programme sections
This DVD was previously released as a VHS video called Invisible Touch Tour in 1988 and also broadcasted on TV one or more times. It must have been because I've had a tape of this concert lying around for more than 15 years. It features the band performing live at Wembley Stadium during their (as you've probably guessed) Invisible Touch tour.
A problem with these Wembley concerts (or stadium gigs in general) is often that there's still daylight when the concert starts. As a result the first couple of songs don't have a clear light show because it's simply too light. When the sun has finally set though, during the second half of the show it's often far too dark to actually make out anything on stage. Footage seems blurred, out of focus, too dark and shaky. This only seems to improve well into the second half of the concert. What a shame.
And that's probably the biggest disappointment about this concert. The set list is good, the performances are great, the band is having loads of fun but the lightshow for which Genesis has been known so well is rather disappointing for most of the show. So, unlike the live DVD reviewed below, don't expect a lot of spectacular visual material. As such, the audio aspect of this DVD is more interesting than the visual aspect. Even though the mix seems a bit messy during the louder sections at times.
On this DVD the band, including Daryl Stuermer and Chester Thompson, play all of the Invisible Touch album, except Anything She Does, which seemingly was too difficult to play, and In Too Deep which was probably dropped from the set list by the time they played Wembley. There's also several other songs from their 80s albums (Mama, That's All, Abacab, Home By The Sea, Turn it on Again). The only 'oldie' present on this DVD is Los Endos. It's a shame that the other older songs that were performed during this tour, including the In The Cage Medley (In The Cage/In That Quiet Earth/Afterglow), the ending of Supper's Ready and Follow You Follow Me are not included as extras on this DVD. They were not included on the original video, but I find it hard to believe that these songs were not filmed during the four Wembley gigs.
The extras that are included are a 16 minute Tour Documentary. This feature is clearly a rather thrown together documentary that was done for MTV at the time and features some of the same footage as used in some of the video clips for the Invisible Touch singles. This documentary is not all that interesting since it consists of very short snippets of interviews, combined with some backstage footage of the band being silly and strange enough live footage with the sound of the studio versions !
The Photo Gallery and Tour Book features show a series of pictures, among which some of the live show that actually show how beautiful the lights could be if it was dark enough, and thereby only make the Wembley footage even more disappointing.
The performances of the songs are brilliant. Some of the songs have been extended or there's new arrangements or solos. As such, Abacab is much stronger than it's studio version, Throwing it All Away features a longer sing-along intro and the Turn It on Again Medley featuring several classic tunes is always good fun to hear (an alternative version can be found on the Knebworth DVD and double CD). There's also the impressive Drum Duet between Chester and Phil.
Collins shows his strength as a charismatic front men and stand-up comedian, even stimulating some audience participation while explaining the 'domino principle', the sing-along for Throwing it All Away and the 'séance' to call up the ghosts for Home By The Sea.
The DVD comes with a 16 page booklet which is really a bit of a waste of paper since it doesn't really contain anything interesting besides two pages of credits. I mean, having a shot of Wembley arena from bird perspective four times on the ugly DVD cover already, why do we need another blurred shot on two pages of the booklet ?
All in all a fine two hour performance which unfortunately has been captured visually in a rather disappointing way and lacks really interesting extras compared to the original video.
Conclusion: 7.5 out of 10
Genesis - Way We Walk Live (Live in Concert)
Bonus Material DVD1: Tour Programme, Photo Gallery, Interviews Part 1
Tracklist DVD2: Dreaming While You Sleep, Home By The Sea, Hold On My Heart, Domino, The Drum Thing, Tonight, Tonight, Tonight, Invisible Touch, Turn It On Again
Bonus Material DVD2: Photo Gallery, Interviews Part 2
Now were talking great DVDs ! Every element that was disappointing about the Wembley DVD above is simply stunning on this one, which captures the band during their We Can't Dance tour in 1992 (previously released on VHS and Laserdisc in 1993). The filmed footage is great and clear, no wonder since it was filmed indoor at Earls Court instead of in a big open air stadium. There's loads of great extras, there's a stunning multimedia show designed by Mark Brickman of Floyd fame with three enormous 'Jumbotron' screens that can move individually above the stage and show some excellent footage. And if that wasn't enough, the performances are splendid, often with extended or altered arrangements and the set list is excellent (including the two epics from We Can't Dance, the Old Medley with 25 minutes of blasts from the past and other proggy highlights like Home By The Sea, Domino and Tonight, Tonight, Tonight).
A very interesting feature you get with this DVD is the option to fiddle around with camera angles. 12 cameras were used to film the gig and in every song you get to choose from up to three extra 3 'angles' which represent a specific camera or combination of cameras. So instead of viewing a song as it was directed on the video, you can watch a specific musicians or watch the songs with just full-stage shots (an option I personally like a lot). There's about 8 hours of footage to choose from, so be your own director and see the show from perspectives you've never seen before. The discs of the double set contains extensive information about the camera angles and which angles can be chosen during every song. The only disadvantage of the multiple camera option is that the concert had to be divided over two DVDs. An inevitable necessity and considering the advantages of the extra footage, you won't hear me complaining about it.
The animated menus are done very well. The track selection option features animations of the projection footage for each song. The two photo galleries are 2 minute slide shows set to instrumental versions of Living Forever and Way of the World, which is always more interesting than having to flip through a silent album. There's also a tour program with some great pictures and interesting tongue-in-cheek liner notes. It's a shame though that there's quite a few sloppy typos in the text, so I doubt if anybody ever proof-read it.
So far so good. Up till now it's all very wonderful, but surely there must be something to complain about, right ? Well, we haven't mentioned the interview and commentary track yet ....
Besides the choices of Surround and Stereo sound there's also an option to listen to the band's commentary while playing the concert. Now, this might seem like an extremely cool option but it's amazing how few interesting anecdotes the band members come up with while watching the show. The only thing they seem to do is make jokes and ridicule each other. And often you can hardly hear what someone's saying. It is very clear that this was an informal set-up with the band viewing the DVD together instead of them actually adding something interesting about the show or the songs. What an absolute waste of soundtrack and what an uninspired contribution.
The interviews are a rather weird affair. The questions are actually very interesting and concern background details about various Genesis songs, but the way they are presented is really annoying. First of all, all members are asked the same set of questions and since their answers are very consistent this causes a lot of duplication. Worst however, is the fact that you never hear the interviewer. Instead all of the questions are in the DVD menu, so you read the question in the menu, have to press Enter and than hear Tony, Mike or Phil give the answer. Now, this is downright stupid, since it has you pressing Enter 55 times !!
If you can ignore the commentary and can get over the annoying navigation of the interviews, what you're left with is an absolutely excellent package with many great extras. This is as good as re-release DVDs get ! Highly recommended !
Conclusion: 9 out of 10