Reviews

Genesis, Sum of the Parts (Eagle Rock Entertainment, 2014)

As a child of the '80s, the first time I became aware of Genesis was via their pop radio staples "Misunderstanding" and "That's All." It wasn't 'til later in the decade, when my musical tastes started to develop further, that I realized that the Genesis I had become acquainted with was a much different animal from the one that existed a decade earlier.

Although the Phil Collins-led version of Genesis had massive mainstream success in the Reagan and Bush, Sr. eras, the band's earlier work with Peter Gabriel handling vocal duties found them delivering a series of studio albums that are considered seminal works in the progressive rock community.

Sum of the Parts is a new documentary that aims to capture the story behind Genesis' rise from prog-rock innovators to pop music hitmakers. The film features new interviews with the aforementioned Collins and Gabriel, along with current and former band members Tony Banks, Mike Rutherford, Steve Hackett, and Anthony Phillips.

Directed by John Edginton, an English filmmaker who has also helmed documentaries on Pink Floyd and Robyn Hitchcock, Sum of the Parts covers the kinds of dramatic highs and lows music geeks would come to expect from a project like it, but it's his focus on the musical side of the story that drives it over the top.

Outside of the previously unseen archival and rare performance footage Edginton includes in the documentary, Sum of the Parts also dives into the songwriting aspect of Genesis' different musical stages. I found that to be enlightening since I hadn't seen the members of the group touch upon that facet of their career in past featurettes I had seen on them before. Peter Gabriel, in particular, offers up some tasty tidbits about his creative process during his time in the band.

Sum of the Parts is comprised of a BBC documentary that aired late last year called Together and Apart, plus 30 extra minutes of previously unseen footage. I had the pleasure of watching the film in gorgeous Blu-ray, but there is also a DVD version of it, and a three-CD anthology that acts as a companion piece to the documentary.

With the exception of a few singles here and there throughout the years, I can't think of another band that has had such an artistically and commercially successful career in both the prog-rock and pop arenas as Genesis. Sum of the Parts does a wonderful job of threading both chapters of the band together.

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