In the nearly three decades of their existence, Genesis went through a rare, wholesale stylistic change that left the group with two distinct musical personalities. As fronted by original vocalist Peter Gabriel
, the quintet was a prog-rock juggernaut given to complex lyrics, lengthy compositional flights of fancy, and fantastical stage shows. And while drummer and replacement frontman Phil Collins
started out on a similar path following Gabriel's 1975 departure, by the time Collins himself left 21 years later, the then-trio had morphed into a global hit-making machine whose proggier tendencies bubbled up only amid the deeper album cuts. As such, this three-CD anthology -- the first-ever comprehensive Genesis retrospective -- nicely compartmentalizes the band, both for fans of their hits and for prog diehards. Disc 1 focuses on the mid-'80s forward, beginning with material off their breakthrough, self-titled 1983 album
, including the resigned "That's All," the sinister "Mama," and "Illegal Alien," a lighthearted yet pointed think piece on undocumented immigrants trying to cross the border. But Genesis always showed an impressive range, dishing out punchy pop hits like "Invisible Touch" and the yearning "Hold On My Heart" as well as songs spiked with topical commentary (e.g., the crooked evangelists at the heart of "Jesus He Knows Me") and those revealing the group's art-rock roots (the synth-soaked and occasionally ethereal "Home by the Sea"). If there were a '70s prog-rock primer, then Disc 3 would make up a substantial chapter, thanks to Gabriel's fervent imagination and the band's instrumental prowess. The closest this incarnation of Genesis comes to the outward melodicism of their later years is the lush title track from the 1975 concept album The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway,
its complex rhythms comparable to Yes
's Chris Squire/Alan White tandem, and the Beatlesque "Counting Out Time." Most of the songs, however, boast intriguing time changes and suite-like structures, such as the 20-plus-minute epic "Supper's Ready." Disc 2 serves as a bridge between the two sides of Genesis's musical personality. Classic rock fans will sup on staples like the angular "Abacab," the anthemic "Turn It On Again," and weighty yet non-schmaltzy ballads like "Follow You Follow Me" and "Your Own Special Way." In addition, they'll be exposed to bite-sized prog pieces, such as the very Yes-like "Behind the Lines" and the gorgeous "Ripples." Given the twists and turns of Genesis's career path, Platinum Collection
is an artfully laid musical buffet, allowing fans to pick, choose, and sample whichever sounds suit their fancy.