RATINGS: A = must own B = buy it C= average D = yawn F = puke

Genesis - Sum of the Parts
Eagle Rock Productions

Rating: B+

Genesis fans will be delighted just to see the main five members gathered together in the modern day talking about the band’s rich history.  Tony Banks, Phil Collins, Peter Gabriel, Steve Hackett and Mike Rutherford reunited for discussion... and discuss they did.  Genesis is a band that went from the cutting edge of British prog rockers in the 1970s to pop chart darlings of the 1980s.  As they gained fans with massive success, they also alienated band members and fans as well. The story of Genesis, unlike the book in the Bible, has many beginnings.  The band was able to re-invent themselves time and time again, seemingly more successful each time out (at least till Phil Collins left, then the ascension was over). 

Sum of the Parts implies that the band was more than just one key member, and there is some truth to that.  A better way to put it would be to say that Genesis was doomed each time one member became the perceived leader and look of the band.  Peter Gabriel was the first to fulfill that roll.  His crazy costumes and intense stage persona made him the ‘star’ of the band, much to the chagrin of some of the other members.  Peter ended up splitting and went on to create an amazing solo career.  While Steve Hackett was never the poster boy of Genesis, the band certainly changed after his departure.  Hardcore fans easily anger when Hackett’s contributions are not appreciated.  Hackett fits into that mold, and he has publically stated his disappointment at the story told in the documentary.  Lastly, Phil Collins was ‘the man’ and with Phil as the leader they sold something like a bazillion albums.  He, like Gabriel, went on to have a hugely successful solo career, but unlike Peter, he stayed in the Genesis line-up, and enjoyed the best of both worlds.  Ultimately, his pop influence led to the demise of Genesis.   

Let’s face it, the Genesis most of the world cares about is the Genesis that produced Duke, ABACAB, Genesis and Invisible Touch.  Yes, they had many albums before their FM success, and those albums are really cool and more daring, musically.  The documentary actually spends a lot of time discussing the Gabriel years, which was great for hardcore fans.  The progsters that are ‘early Genesis’ would probably only be happy if there was a twenty-hour documentary based SOLELY on the early years... but that is not going to happen.  Besides, up until the late ‘80s, Genesis had pop hits but was still easily recognizable as a band.  They had solid musicianship and wrote chart hits without sacrificing musical integrity.  In later years, Collins became pop chart addicted and they leaned too much to the middle.  The first few albums with the band only having the three members -Collins, Rutherford and Banks- were pretty incredible, musically.  “Turn It On Again,” “No Son of Mine,” “Invisible Touch,” “Mama,” “Down by the Sea” and “I Can’t Dance” are great pop gems.  This was a band that, for a while, could do no wrong. 

Sum of the Parts really does a great job of telling the Genesis tale, but also divides the parts too, as Collins, Gabriel and Rutherford’s solo careers are discussed in-depth as well. The documentary first aired on the BBC, but has been released now by Eagle Rock Entertainment.  The Blu-Ray has over 30 minutes of bonus footage as well. 

At the end of the day, this is a very good documentary that sees the members openly talking to each other and into the camera... even admitting some truths that they are not comfortable discussing.  

While some will wish for more, for what this represents, it was done well.  The classic albums and songs are all discussed, and the band member’s solo careers are covered nicely. 

Really, what more could you ask for? And don’t say re-union tour...

By Jeb Wright