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Calling All Stations - SACD-Hybrid / DVD - 2007


SACD / CD tracks:

Calling All Stations
Congo
Shipwrecked
Alien Afternoon
Not About Us
If That's What You Need
The Dividing Line
Uncertain Weather
Small Talk
There Must Be Some Other Way
One Man's Fool


DVD content:

Full album in Dolby Digital 5.1 (audio only)
Full album  in dts Surround (audio only)
Congo (video)
Shipwrecked (video)
Not ABout Us (video)
Making of Calling All Stations - 2007 Band interviews
Calling All Stations EPK
Calling All Stations - live at Rock im Park 1998
Polish TV - The Dividing Line / There Must Be Some Other Way (live)
1998 tour programme photo gallery


Technical data:
The music videos are available in stereo, Dolby Digital 5.1 and dts (as on the Video Show DVD). All other video content is in Dolby Digital 2.0. There are no subtitles.


Review


The album
Genesis end 20 year experiment, decide to replace Peter Gabriel as vocalist - this satirical press statement was released in early 1996 when Collins quit. This move did not surprise many people. After all, Collins had been enjoying two full-scale musical careers for 15 year. What was more surprising, at least for the general public, was the news that Genesis would continue without him. Tony Banks and Mike Rutherford faced the challenge of having to replace not only their singer but also their drummer...

Ray Wilson was not a nobody after his success with Stiltskin, but he was young. He joined the band late in the album preparation process when Tony and Mike had already written most of the material. This is why there are only three real group compositions on the album which had two drummers, Nick d’Virgilio and Nir Zidkyahu.

It is so very dark on the album. The title song begins with an electric guitar, Tony’s keyboards and the monotonous rhythm get everybody and Ray sings in a plaintive voice. It is a mission statement – this is where we want to go. But where is that? The beginning of the journey is very strong, stronger than most of the things that follow. Much of it is unfinished, not completely thought through. Take, for example the first single release, Congo. The song is unspectacular, but when it really becomes interesting it fades out abruptly.  It is a fate is shares with many songs, starting with the title song through to the grand There Must Be Some Other Way. The big highlight of the album, The Dividing Line, is the only song with a real ending. The Dividing Line shows Genesis at their best, drums, guitars and keyboards are fighting it out – just after Phil Collins has left the band Genesis feel like including a drum solo in their songs. The Dividing Line is up there with the big Genesis songs. Other pieces are irrelevant. If That’s What You Need for example, or the first part of Alien Afternoon. But the class Genesis always had keeps surfacing: In Uncertain Weather, a prog ballad, and in One Man’s Fool, the finale and definitely a Tony Banks song. Yes, there are also two good pop songs – no wonder Ray likes to play Not About Us and Shipwrecked to this day. Calling All Stations had a difficult start into its life, and the birth stress shows. But one can also see that the album has experienced parents. It would have been interesting to hear the second album of this line-up; however, that is not to be…

More information about Calling All Stations and a full review can be found here.


The new mixes

Calling All Stations has always sounded peculiar. It has this intentionally depressed sound, and still many things seemed to be arranged very clumsily. It is therefore no surprise that this album has benefited most from the new mixes, at least as far as the second boxset is concerned.


The new 5.1 surround and stereo mixes

The very beginning is depressing. Ray sings fervently as if he was about to step out of the centre speaker sweating and singing into your face. Congo and Shipwrecked are more open and more cohesive. The second part of Alien Afternoon has grown even better. If That’s What You Need has been changed a bit; the electric guitar is quieter in the second chorus than in the first. The Dividing Line carries the palm in the surround contest. This song makes you almost dizzy, it’s this good. Lots of interesting effects in Small Talk where the “conversation part” in particular is far more impressive than before. One Man’s Fool has a slightly altered ending.

SACD surround is the best choice with this disc as with the others. The difference to dts is minimal though, and only very careful listener will be able to tell. dts feels a bit stronger at times, but then it also seems to offer less details. The Dolby Digital soundtrack is useful if you want to test your surround equipment or lack alternatives as it simply has neither power nor precision.

A couple of newly-won details actually remain audible in the stereo mix, but many things are lost again of becomes part of the overall sound. It is more precise than on the original album. The end of One Man’s Fool may annoy some people as it does not end instrumental but with Ray’s vocals.


Video bonus material
As on all DVDs the corresponding music videos from the album were put on the DVD. Congo, Shipwrecked and Not About Us – all of them in 5.1 and dts. They still seem very stylish and up-to-date today.

In the band interviews 2007 Tony and Mike muse about the strengths and weaknesses of that phase as well as the missed opportunity to develop and improve the project. Phil throws in the odd remark as well. Ray Wilson is interviewed, too, and one has continually the impression that he would like to be far more outspoken than he actually is in the interview.

Equally surprising is the interview with drummer Nir Zidkyahu who gushes about The Dividing Line (“like a kid in a candy-store – you can hit every drum you want to) and praises Phil Collins. Tony Banks praised Nir Z because he had to play alone what Phil and Chester would play together before. Ray brings up the question why Run Out Of Time was not on the album. Good question, indeed…

The Calling All Stations EPK is known amongst many fans. A promo film that could be seen on several music TV stations before Calling All Stations came out. The live footage is a bit thin: Calling All Stations live from Rock Im Park and The Dividing Line and There Must Be Some Other Way, sourced from Polish TV. There could have been a bit more of that, e.g. footage from the performances in Cape Canaveral and on the TV tower at Alexanderplatz, Berlin.

by Christian Gerhardts
translated by Martin Klinkhardt


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