Genesis made a splash this fall with their first reunion tour in a decade, and not surprisingly, their label quickly issued an updated hits album to support the tour (Turn It On Again: The Hits - The Tour Edition).
Now Atlantic and Rhino Records have gone the distance with the Genesis catalogue, first issuing a box set that includes all the band's albums from 1976-1982 (simply titled Genesis 1983-1998), and this week releasing a companion box set of the latter half of the band's career Genesis 1983-1998. Each of the included albums in both boxes are reissued as two-disc CD + DVD editions featuring new stereo mixes of the original albums. In addition, each box includes a comprehensive booklet with information about the albums and Extra Tracks discs presenting songs only available in these sets. Each DVD disc includes a 5.1 DTS Surround Sound mix of the album plus bonus video content, photo galleries and previously unseen 2007 interviews with band members filmed just for this reissue project.
For Genesis fans who already have all the albums, the inclusion of their music videos, documentary interviews and other bits, along with the surround sound mix of the albums, makes a good case for trading in the old to put these completist sets on the shelf!
The Black and White Album
No band since The Ramones has a band thrown down so many riff-rich anthems one after another played so…fast!
The Hives are a Swedish quintet who broke onto the U.S. rock scene with Veni Vidi Vicious seven years ago, at the same time as a late 60's garage band-meets-late ‘70s punk music sound revival was in full swing (reference also The Vines and The Strokes). They've since learned when you pound out manic 2-3 minute songs one after another that you can't put together a very long album without changing it up a little.
The Black and White Album clocks in at 45 minutes with 14 songs, and it crackles with energy, even on the “changeup” tracks.
Opening with the classic punk strut-derived “Tick Tick Boom” (not the Saliva song of the same name), the band then stomps into the call and response stereo guitars of “Try it Again” (which begs for head-banging!) and then into the just-try-playing-your-guitar-faster-than-this freneticism of “You Got It All…Wrong.”
They take a break then with “Well All Right!,” a zoot-suit-riot style song with big bass drums and lots of “wooo-hoo” background vocals.
They break again mid-album with “A Stroll Through Hive Manor Corridors” an organ-dominated percolating “intermission” style instrumental that sounds rescued from a ‘60s B-movie theater. That just sets the listener up for the manic attack of the pounding “Won't Be Long” and the goofy faux-disco swirl of “T.H.E.H.I.V.E.S.”
This is an album that needs to be listened to start to finish, as the pounding punk attacks slide into the quirkier rock explorations that serve to clear and whet the aural palate for the next attack of three-chord guitar distortion and anthemic vocal yells.
The Black and White Album should bear the cover admonition: “must be played loud.” But listeners will undoubtably figure that out.
She Wants Revenge
This Is Forever
The duo of She Wants Revenge garnered a surprise hit last year with their debut album, which seemingly nicked and rolled together all of the goth sound setpieces of Joy Division, Depeche Mode, and handful of other gloom-rock giants of the ‘80s. At times, it almost felt like a goth-caricature album, but nevertheless, it had an undercurrent of energy in its dreary setpieces that made it hard not to enjoy, and “Tear You Apart” managed a strong run on the dance charts.
Their sophomore effort This Is Forever is less successful, in large part because it holds none of the surprise of the first release; this seems like almost the same album, albeit with a drearier overall attack and a CD covermodel this time dressed in black instead of white.
Justin Warfield's Joy Division-meets-Psychedelic Furs droning vocals (which only seem to have a 5-note range) sound more bored than darkly mysterious this time around, and the chorus of “She Will Always Be A Broken Girl” listens like a remake of “These Things” from the last album. My favorite track is the one where Warfield doesn't sing -- the Dead Can Dance-ish elegiac instrumental “All Those Moments,” a funeral-ready wash of synthesizers and strings.
Lyrically Warfield delivers all the expected melancholic images in lines like“On the way to the wedding dressed in black” and “You taste like tearstains and coulda beens/but I love a good train wreck.”
Good goth bands are far between these days though, as the height of the black-lipstick-sporting musical movement is 20 years past. So for a soundtrack of gloomy synth-driven songs, This Is Forever isn't bad. For an introduction to the band though, I'd recommend their self-titled debut over this paint-by-the-same-numbers followup. If they record a third disc, here's hoping they learn some new tricks.