The Last Domino? — the title may be taken from Genesis‘ ten-minute composition “Domino”, but the question mark suggests that the 2021-2022 tour of the same name may be the band’s final run. To commemorate what might be the prog-turned-stadium act’s last hurrah, VirginRecords are releasing two different editions of the double compilation The Last Domino? – The Hits, one for the United Kingdom market and one for the United States.
The differences between the two seem arbitrary and downright pointless considering the ubiquity of music on YouTube and Spotify these days. If you pick up the UK edition, the “exclusives” you get are “Duke’s End”, “Second Home by the Sea”, “The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway”, and “I Know What I Like (In Your Wardrobe)”. Including “Home by the Sea” and not following it with “Second Home by the Sea” is like including “Long Distance Runaround” on a Yes compilation but omitting “The Fish”.
For the US, you get “Misunderstanding”, “Los Endos”, and “The Musical Box”. This is strange, considering that Genesis were a British band, and the only inclusions from such quintessentially English albums as A Trick of the Tail and Nursery Cryme are on the American editions. When it comes to the songs that overlap both additions, the running orders are equally jumbled. This review concerns the UK edition since that’s what I was given.
Genesis haven’t released any new music since 1997, but they have released eight box sets, and the compilation Turn It on Again: The Hits in that time. R-Kive was a great way to get acquainted with the ambitious songs from the Peter Gabriel era like “The Knife” and “Supper’s Ready” and also offered the listener a chance to dip their toes into the solo careers of Genesis’ members. Mike Rutherford’s Mike + The Mechanics, Peter Gabriel, and Phil Collins may have gotten the lion’s share of radio airplay in the 1980s, but R-Kive made sure you heard solo recordings from keyboardist Tony Banks and guitarist Steve Hackett as well.
The treat that came with Turn It on Again: The Hits was Gabriel rerecording the 1974 “Carpet Crawlers” with his old bandmates. The two-CD tour edition was even better because it gave you “Paperlate”, “Pigeons”, and “Inside and Out”. If you wanted to rock out to the Spot the Pigeon and 3×3 EPs in their entirety, you could spring for the boxset that covered those particular eras of Genesis. Each one came packaged with each album, a collection of rarities, and corresponding DVDs. The cupboards are pretty much bare at this point, meaning that the only reason The Last Domino? – The Hits exists is as a tour souvenir.
Of the 27 songs on the UK edition, only six come from the Peter Gabriel era. Let’s face it, they’re longer and often take up more space, notably “The Cinema Show” and “Dancing With the Moonlit Knight”. Four songs come from Selling England by the Pound, and two come from The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway, and that is as far back as the UK edition of The Last Domino? goes. The remaining 21 songs are from the pop-friendly Phil Collins era, with 1986’s Invisible Touch taking the lead with six of its eight tracks.
Coming in second is 1991’s We Can’t Dance. Here, the compilers made a somewhat bold choice by including the ten-minute “Fading Lights”. The 1983 self-titled hit album is represented with four songs, and 1980’s Duke gets three. Abacab, …And Then There Were Three…, and Wind & Wuthering only get one track apiece, and if you’re even a casual Genesis fan, you can probably guess what songs those are. The Ray Wilson-fronted Calling All Stations is not accounted for.
I tried comparing The Last Domino? – The Hits to my Genesis CDs to see if there was any difference in the mastering. Whether it’s my 2007 remaster of Duke or the initial printing of We Can’t Dance (which, to my knowledge, hasn’t had a remaster yet), they all sound identical. The one significant difference is that the second disc concludes with an edit of “Abacab”, which is nearly three minutes shorter than the original. With a CD run time of 79-plus minutes, I guess their hands were tied. So if you wished that the song “Abacab” were shorter, you’ve got that going for you.
The only thing left to discuss is the running order which, as I stated earlier, seems arbitrary. The whole package starts with the instrumental “Duke’s End”, which is pretty interesting unto itself. The songs from the ’70s tend to get clumped together. The first CD has “Afterglow” following “The Cinema Show” and the second CD has “Firth of Fifth” followed by “I Know What I Like (In Your Wardrobe)”. There are four Invisible Touch songs in a row on the second CD, but the other two are nowhere near one another on the first CD. Having the “The Cinema Show” appear after “Fading Light” might have been an effort on the compilers’ part to ease listeners from one Genesis era into another, but let’s face it, the Genesis of 1973 and the Genesis of 1991 still sound like two completely different bands.
But I consider that to be a good thing. There are plenty of pop/rock bands that have stayed on our collective radars for 20 years without changing their sound a great deal. Genesis were one of those bands that could and did retool their approach within just a few years’ time. In that respect, The Last Domino? – The Hits reminds us of a time when rock music, be it progressive, popular, both, or neither, was afraid to stay stagnant. Like a shark, it pushed aggressively forward and left a startling legacy in its wake. The current Genesis tour may not have such lofty goals, but you can’t blame them for trying to make the most of it while they can.