Genesis [DVD/Bootleg]

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The first bootleg Genesis DVD, simply entitled Genesis, has shown up courtesy of Silvertone Films, and it is a wonder, combining the official 1973 Charisma Records promotional film Genesis in Concert and Belgium 1972 -- between them, much of the group's major repertoire from Trespass to Selling England By the Pound is represented. Genesis in Concert is almost like a slightly later film equivalent to Genesis: Live, encompassing some of the same repertoire, except it's a film and not just a recording, and includes "Supper's Ready," which was done at the show that became Genesis: Live but was never released. The image is a bit grainier than a legitimate release would probably look, and it's difficult to tell what kind of source was used for this film, but it does capture the excitement that the band could generate on-stage -- Peter Gabriel with his costume changes and dramatic presence, Steve Hackett in his own little guitar world seated somewhere to Gabriel's right, Tony Banks bent over his keyboards, and Phil Collins pounding away furiously on his drums everywhere the music needed it -- as it happens, the group's studio recordings were fairly close to their live performances in terms of content, though the extension of the ending on "Dancing With the Moonlit Knight" is a pleasure, and "I Know What I Like" works better as a concert piece than it ever did in the studio. The fact that this was a professionally made promotional film also ensures that all of the instruments are captured properly on the audio track, and it's all about as fine a full hour of live, classic Genesis as one could hope for, concluding with a triumphant rendition of "Supper's Ready."

The second half of the program consists of live-in-the-studio performances off of Belgian television from 1972, featuring "Fountain of Salmacis," "Twilight," "The Musical Box," and "The Return of the Giant Hogweed" -- having the guys sit there playing with their amps turned down somewhat (though not too) low makes this almost an "unplugged" document, lacking the excitement and tension of a stage performance but revealing some of the inner detail and the source of certain effects from the original renditions; Phil Collins seems a little more engaged than the others in what's going on, but all of the members are worth watching. And in the case of both films, the editing is astonishingly good, cutting rapidly to the right members at just the right moments, in ways that Ed Sullivan's directors could mostly envy. The Belgian TV footage makes a nice supplement to the concert film. The disc comes with a real menu and each song gets a chapter marker. And if the group or their record label objects to this release and then uses it as the model for a legitimate release, this reviewer will happily buy that, too.