Judge Adam Arseneau always liked Genesis. Especially the blast processing. Take that, Nintendo!
I can't dance.
For a band that predated music videos by a good decade, Genesis was as visually experimental and technologically inventive a band in the music video medium as any modern-day band you care to name. The musicians were not content with being cutting edge, but instead opted to be more than a few years ahead of their time, crafting elaborate music videos and cinematic musical compositions for no discernable reason at the time. After all, there was no MTV to carry them to the masses. Of course, when MTV did arrive, Genesis was all over it like white on rice, churning out some of the most creative and genre-bending music videos ever constructed.
Genesis: The Video Show is a massive collection of Phil Collins-era Genesis music videos spanning more than 25 years; some professionally crafted for television, others experimental home videos, and the best usually combinations of the two.
The 32 videos included are:
• "No Son of Mine"
Standouts include "Land Of Confusion," which plays like a political satire take on Jim Henson's Labyrinth, full of hideously deformed yet oddly realistic puppet replicas of the band; "Jesus He Knows Me," an oddly surreal television evangelical satire that Collins is way, way too comfortable performing, and "Illegal Alien," a politically incorrect faux Mexican romp full of false mustaches, aviator glasses, and bad black wigs eerily reminiscent of Spike Jonze and the Beastie Boys' "Sabotage" video. The videos are listed in something of a reverse chronological order, each video going further and further back in time, the music getting less FM-radio friendly and more progressive and experimental. The last few videos are from the "new" Genesis, sans Phil Collins: the keyboard player and guitar player with a new young lead singer and drummer. I'd comment, but truth be told, I turned them off almost immediately.
The breadth of the material is staggering. Having 32 videos spanning over 25 years of music on a single DVD is a unique pleasure not afforded by many bands, simply because people actually stop living within the span of a quarter century, let alone keep the same job. There are precious few artisans in music with a sufficient body of work to draw upon to warrant such exposure. I mean, entire ecosystems have collapsed during the span of Genesis's career, to say nothing of their musical contemporaries.
The stark white packaging is striking, slim, and handsome, folding out to reveal album artwork for each single. Every aspect speaks of a well-designed DVD, from the "information" button displayed briefly on screen prior to each song, which you can select to display liner notes and artwork, if you are quick enough with your thumb on the remote (it moves fast), to the handy "play all" feature.
The video quality shifts dramatically depending on the music video in question, with later videos faring much higher in the fidelity department than earlier ones. It is difficult to set a bar for fidelity on The Video Show since Genesis themselves were early adopters of video technology, shooting on a hodge-podge of film stocks and analog video often years ahead of (and behind!) their times, depending on the look they wished to achieve.
Three audio modes for each video are selectable, a Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo track, a Dolby Surround 5.1 track, and a DTS 5.1 track. The stereo does the job well enough, with full bass response and reasonable clarity, but loses in both categories to the 5.1 track, which is quite detailed and makes excellent use of the rear channels. The step up to DTS is not quite as drastic as often seen on concert/music DVDs, but there is no doubt of its superiority in this situation, only that its charms are more subtle in nature. The DTS track echoes more, has more life and dynamic range throughout the surround space, providing a much more immersive experience, with brighter highs and smoother lows. Switch to the 5.1 track, and the brightness vanishes. Both sound quite superb, so pick the one that suits you best.
For Genesis fans, what could possibly rival this DVD? A virtual treasure trove for Phil Collins-era Genesis fans, Genesis: The Video Show unfortunately leaves Peter Gabriel-era Genesis fans out in the rain, but this is due less in malicious intent on the part of the DVD producers than in the inaliable fact that Gabriel quit Genesis before television itself was invented. Well…at the very least, music videos.
Discs like this make being a film critic far too easy a job. When you cannot find anything bad to say about a DVD, passing a recommendation becomes infinitely easy. This is the king of no-brainer blind buys for anyone fond of the band, and a downright tantalizing choice for anyone who wants to appreciate the band for the first time.
Of course, find me the guy who hasn't heard a Genesis song. Last time I checked, he was hanging out with Jimmy Hoffa.
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