Genesis really made their name with their early progressive rock material and live shows. Peter Gabriel would tell some bizarrely fascinating stories as lean-ins to the songs, and he would come out in various outrageous costumes, making for quite the spectacle. But the band would not have lasted as long as it has without great songs, and incredible performances by supremely talented musicians, and that is what is evidenced in this live album.
Most of the songs on this set are from the Selling England By The Pound album, with one notable exception. This was a highly revered album not just by Genesis fans, but fans of prog rock as a genre. The songs were melodic, yet layered; the band was comprised of master musicians who were building more than a simple pop song. Just as the lyrics told a complex story, so did the music. This was the merging of classical music and rock, and none did it better than Genesis. In addition to Gabriel's unique vocals and presentation style, two newcomers made significant contributions to the band's progression: Steve Hackett specialized in giving songs an atmosphere with his guitar work. Phil Collins is known now for his vocals, but he had a distinct percussion style, and pulled off some extremely complex time signatures and tempo changes. Gabriel's fellow founding members Mike Rutherford (bass) and and Tony Banks (keyboard) round out an all-time great lineup of musical talent.
One of the most underrated Genesis songs is Cinema Show. Parts of the song would live on in the In The Cage medleys the band performed, but since so many of the band's songs were quite long, this clocks in at over eleven minutes, they don't tend to get radio play, and eventually fall off the concert set list in favor of newer songs. The lyrics refer to Father Tiresius, a mythological figure who lived both as man and woman. The instrumentals on this song are just gorgeous, perfectly performed. This, along with "The Battle of Epping Forest", are only available on this disc, they were not included in the Archives Vol. 1 boxed set.
Cinema Show has often shared a lead-in story of Romeo and Juliet with the all-time classic prog rock piece, "Supper's Ready". This came from the Foxtrot album, and also was performed by Collins on Seconds Out, by it's inclusion is a huge treat for Genesis fans. This one clocks in at over twenty-three minutes, and not a single not is wasted. It's an epic journey told in seven sections, each a static change in mood and tempo from the last, yet with consistent musical and lyrical themes throughout. If you are a Genesis can, this is something of a Holy Grail. If you are unfamiliar with this song, this is a major piece of musical history. It will take several listens to fully appreciate what band is doing here, but you will glad you did.
Fans of Collins will find one of his earliest lead vocal performances here in "More Fool Me". Collins sounds slightly nervous in the beginning, but once he starts he's completely comfortable, accompanied only by acoustic guitar.
Overall, this is an awesome disc. There are only two tracks not available in the Archive boxed set, by they are key tracks that truly help give the listener a more complete feel for what the band could do at this time. This was an all-time great lineup of musicians at the creative top of their game performing some of progressive rock's best offerings. Any fans of the genre, or of the band, would be happy to include this as part of their collection.