It’s very hard to say anything new about the Genesis story, and the BBC’s latest attempt, “Together and Apart“, which aired in the UK on October 4th (2014) was a failure at that point. Not only was it superficial, but it collapsed under its own weighty mission: to cover not only the band’s life-work, but to touch on multiple solo projects of band members.
The result was a mildly entertaining, but not very satisfactory, piece of public relations work, hiding behind the respectable cloak of “documentary” artisan-ship, and spanning only 90 minutes.
Genesis band members have interviewed themselves to death over the years. Their CD and DVD boxes were filled with extensive talking-head bits, describing in detail practically every album and song made by the band over their super-long history (1967-2007).
It would take more than 3 hours of video to handle this project with any level of respect. At least 2 hours for the band and 1 hour for the solo albums. Peter Gabriel’s work is, perhaps, the most influential. Not only has Gabriel’s music opened the doors for the world-music genre, but his political involvement justifies much more attention than BBC-2 was willing to give.
Besides the five band members, the film included exactly 20 interviewees, some of them from outside the band’s professional circle, with less interesting stories to contribute.
Missing pieces from the Genesis puzzle
- Chris Stewart – first Genesis drummer. Wasn’t interviewed or mentioned in “Together and Apart”
- Jonathan King – first producer for Genesis. His prison sentence wasn’t mentioned, perhaps in exchange for his willingness to participate in the film.
- John Silver – 2nd Genesis drummer. Just like Stewart, he wasn’t interviewed or mentioned.
- John Mayhew – 3rd Genesis drummer. As you’ve guessed, wasn’t interviewed or mentioned.
- John Anthony – producer for the Trespass album. Totally ignored.
- Paul Whitehead – artist for early Genesis albums. Didn’t make it to BBC’s final cut.
- Anthony Phillips – his solo work wasn’t covered in any way.
- King Crimson – huge influence on Genesis. Not a word in the docu.
- The Nice – direct influence on “The Knife” epic piece. BBC viewers will not know that.
- John Burns – producer for three early Genesis albums. Not in film.
- Tony Stratton-Smith (“Strat”) – Charisma label for Genesis. The band’s real patron and godfather. He’s dead, but wasn’t included even through archive pieces.
- Jill Moore – first wife of Peter Gabriel. Critical to “The Lamb” period, photographed but not interviewed.
- Brand-X – Jazz-Fusion group, side-project for Phil Collins in the 70’s. No real mention of the albums, band members or significance.
- Bill Bruford – hired drummer for late 70’s Genesis tour. Not mentioned.
- Steve Hackett’s solo career – not included at all. Perhaps the biggest flaw in the film. Hackett is furious over this. Maybe the longer DVD version will fix that.
- Milton Keynes Bowl reunion concert (1982) – important gig for the five. Not a trace.
- Nick Davis – producer for We Can’t Dance. Wasn’t on BBC.
- Ray Wilson – new singer after Phil Collins left in 1996. A huge miss for the film.
- Calling All Stations – Genesis album in 1997. Impossibly, not mentioned in the film.
- Genesis Archive box set (67-75) – great project that didn’t get any mention.
- Three Remaster Box Sets: 70-75, 76-82, 83-98 – all three dismissed.
- Collins’ 2007 accident on tour – reason for his inability to drum. Missing from final edit.
- Genesis Live 1973–2007 – another box-set that was thrown out of the film’s “plot”.
- Genesis Revisited II – even Hackett’s reworking of Genesis classics has been left out.
- Influence on other bands – a subject that didn’t appear anywhere. Marillion’s just one example.
- Tribute Bands – great groups such as The Musical Box and ReGenesis are missed here.
- Hall of Fame Induction – both Genesis & Gabriel. Not there in the film.
Any short biography book, like “Genesis Inside & Out” (by Robin Platts) gives you a fuller and a truer picture of the band’s story, compared with BBC-2’s “Together and Apart”. Of course it’s better than VH1 short docu (44 mins.), but it seems like too many important milestones and people were not even interviewed, because a 90-minute duration is just not enough to cover this epic journey.
The DVD-BluRay edition, titled “Sum of its Parts”, has 30 minutes of extra footage, but it doesn’t showcase an expanded narrative or different interviewees. So, the jury is out and the rating is pretty low: 7/10 for “Genesis – Together and Apart”, a PR product to promote the “R-Kive” 3CD set.
The real documentary on Genesis has not been produced yet. It would take much more work, and complete editorial freedom to include the darker stories of the band, the chapters untold in the BBC dry-cleaning effort, and a wider perspective on the band’s work on the rock, pop and prog-rock world.