The Silent Sun

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A Europe-only 1981 compilation of 1968-1969 recordings by the teenage Genesis, The Silent Sun has few portents of the mock-epic progressive rock that would eventually make the group's name. Instead, these tracks are part of the subset of British psychedelia known to latter-day collectors as "toy box" music, childlike and whimsical light pop heavy on the acoustic guitars, orchestral arrangements, and fanciful lyrics that sound like the work of a sensitive sixth-former who isn't of much use on the rugby field. This collection features both sides of each of the band's 1968 singles (at the time of release, extremely rare and sought-after, although the CD era has made them much easier to find) and a smattering of tracks from the group's commercially stillborn 1969 debut From Genesis to Revelation; all the tracks are remixed a bit, boosting John Silver's drums and pushing back Jonathan King's occasionally distracting string arrangements. That slight change (along with the deletion of the album's more ponderous and weaker songs) only points up these songs' charms, which are admittedly slight in comparison to the more full-bodied material of the Trespass/Selling England by the Pound era. On their own merits, however, tunes like the Bee Gees' homage "The Silent Sun" (Peter Gabriel sounds frighteningly like Robin Gibb) and the lovely quasi-instrumental "A Place to Call My Own" are quite nice, as good as, if not better than, most of the "rare pop-sike masterpieces!" that command three-digit prices online. Had Genesis never made another batch of tunes, many of those who dismiss them would be falling all over themselves in praise of these charming but slight psychedelic pop ditties.

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