In early 1973, Genesis allowed the taping of a couple of live shows for broadcast in America as part of the King Biscuit Flower Hour syndicated radio show -- most of their current set, drawn from their albums up through 1972's Foxtrot, was represented. A few months later, Tony Stratton-Smith, the head of Charisma Records, to which the group was signed, approached them about allowing him to fill the extended gap between Foxtrot and their next album, Selling England by the Pound, by releasing a live album from this same taped performance. The bandmembers, who now say they were somewhat distracted at the time by their work on the new album, agreed to it. And the result was Live, which was originally the only official document of the group in performance with Peter Gabriel in the lineup. And it's not just the singer, but everyone who shines here -- it's doubtful that anyone ever got a richer sound out of a Mellotron on-stage than Tony Banks does on this album, and Steve Hackett, Mike Rutherford, and Phil Collins' playing is all quite amazing as a whole unit, holding together some very complex music in a live setting. And on that basis alone, this album was an essential acquisition for fans of the group, as well as a key link in solidifying their growing popularity -- the intensity of the performances on "Watcher of the Skies," "Get 'Em Out by Friday," "Return of the Giant Hogweed," "The Knife," and, especially, "The Musical Box," easily transcend the work (superb though it was) on the studio originals, and is an in-your-face presentation of the theatrical intensity that Gabriel and company brought to their work on-stage. What's more, the very fact that the band could pull some of what they do on-stage -- and this was in an era where other prog rock bands, such as Emerson, Lake & Palmer, were running up against a brick wall in terms of re-creating their complex studio sounds in concert -- is mighty impressive. Additionally, in the case of "The Musical Box" and "The Return of the Giant Hogweed," both songs originally recorded on Nursery Cryme, the versions here documented this lineup's true approach to these pieces -- at the time when Nursery Cryme was recorded, guitarist Steve Hackett had barely joined the group (and fragments of music composed by his predecessor, Anthony Phillips, still exist on the album), and most of the guitar parts there were actually the work of bassist Mike Rutherford (who did, in fact, take over most of the group's guitar chores after Hackett's departure in the late '70s). So what we hear on this album, which has now been upgraded on CD at least twice, once in the '90s and again in 2009 as part of the Genesis Live 1973-2007 box set, are the definitive interpretations of these pieces by this version of the band, more so than the studio originals. And one also gets to hear the classic version of the band tackle the oldest part of their repertory, "The Knife," which went back to their first Charisma album -- and it's a killer compared to the original. And one could say that about the whole album, as well as being the best representation of this version of the band at this point in their history, but for one glaring flaw -- the original King Biscuit broadcast included the epic "Supper's Ready" from Foxtrot, which Stratton-Smith was compelled to leave off of the album, rather than face the economic challenge of issuing a three-sided double-LP. That flaw aside, this is about the best single-LP representation of what this band could do on-stage, and to the surprise of a lot of people, it actually won them lots of new fans ahead of the release of Selling England by the Pound.
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Performance CreditsGenesis Primary Artist
Phil Collins Percussion,Drums,Vocals,Group Member
Peter Gabriel Flute,Percussion,Vocals
Steve Hackett Bass,Guitar,Group Member
Tony Banks Keyboards,Vocals,Group Member
Mike Rutherford Bass,Guitar,Group Member
Technical CreditsPhil Collins Composer
Peter Gabriel Composer,Contributor
Steve Hackett Composer
Anthony Phillips Composer
Tony Banks Composer,Contributor
John Burns Producer
Mike Rutherford Composer
John Silver Composer
Bob Gruen Photo Courtesy
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Until 1998 and the Genesis archive box set, this was the only officially released live document of the Peter Gabriel era Genesis, and it is a very good one. The band's best material up to that time (1972-1973, Foxtrot tour) is well represented, I think the versions of ''Hogweed'' and ''The Knife'' are better than the original studio versions. The power of the band is more clearly evident on this album than on any of their early studio albums. It stinks that they could not include ''Supper's Ready'' on the album, but I think with the ''Second's Out'' version and the Gabriel era version on the Archive box, we've had more than enough Supper. Definitely a must in anyone's Genesis collection, for it probably is the most interesting.
I wish I could have gone to a Genesis concert in the 70's; because they must have been fabulous. Peter Gabriel launches this first live album off with two great classics from Foxtrot. The atmosphere of the concert hall really sets the scene for this album. 'Hogweed' and 'Musical Box' are great pieces of program music. The best live track on the album is 'The Knife.' The fans seem to love the songs too, as Peter Gabriel offers some comedy in between songs, and as the band sets the stage for major success in years to come.
Easily one of my top 10 live lp's. It's a shame there aren't 5 more songs to couple with these. One of my "wish I'd been there" live lp's. "The Return of the Giant Hogweed" is my favorite. The powerful conclusion on this one is worth every pound you could sell England for. Peter Gabriel plays his flute, giving the sound a "celt" flavor. "Get 'Em Out By Friday" is good & "The Knife" is perfect to end with. Five songs that all rank in at masterpiece! Old Genesis is great to look back on!