My problem with the album is that I don't really like side 2 (Illegal Alien onwards). I really love side 1, and the surround mix of Mama in particular sounds great on my humble Sony system. The extra content is fun, if nothing essential.
+ Phil Collins + Tony Banks + Mike Rutherford = Killer music without question, even with a drum machine! I even love Illegal Alien!
+ Surround mix is above average.
+ Definite improvement in detail. . .but is this a positive? (see below)
+ It’s Gonna Get Better: the song least impacted by the horrific SQ, best surround mix, and my favorite song on the album.
- Hyper-compression is atrocious; worst offender is Second Home by the Sea, which makes me want to rip my eardrums out. @: It was actually painful even at normal volumes; both my wife and I commented on how our ears ached after some of these songs.
- Shrill and bright EQ makes cymbals sizzle and Phil’s voice excessively raspy and unrealistic. For example, mixing engineer Jamie Tate proved upper-frequencies were adjusted a whopping +7-15dB on ATTWT (Source)
- Considering the type of music, the mix is no where near aggressive enough; too often felt like enhanced stereo and many times I felt that sound effects which would have been well-suited for the rears were kept up front. Sound quality so poor it may have distracted me from the surround mix; I will continue to evaluate.
- ...Re: Improvement in detail: SACD reveals the errors in the mixing and mastering of this music to make it sound even more offensive. Oh, goodie!
- Wasted opportunity all around. Play Hugh’s stereo mix and your ears will thank you! The positive difference when switching to the original Atlantic release was dramatic. The quality of Nick Davis’ work from the early '90s to today has deteriorated significantly, which is a true shame.
OVERALL - 4/10 (Below Average) (Rating not submitted in poll; will continue to evaluate)
This appears to be the last classic Genesis title I have not reviewed, so here it goes:
First off, this is my favorite album of the later Phil Collins years but not my favorite surround mix from that period (That would be "We Can't Dance"). They wrote a lot of great songs for this album that are very well performed and arranged ("Illegal Alien" being the only possible exception… )
It starts off with the very eerie 'Mama', one of the best Genesis songs of all time. Not a lot going on in this surround mix until that wicked laugh in the middle that mostly appears like it's coming from behind you, followed by Tony and Mike's call and answer on the synths and guitars.
Phil and Genesis may have already maxed out the 'big drum impact' moment at this point in time, but when the drums enter, it's still incredibly effective.
Then next comes the Beatles-esque "That's All", followed by favorite song(s) on the album "(Second) Home by the Sea". The instrumental section is definitely considered to be one of the best Genesis instrumentals of all time. Always wanted to hear this live. Too bad that will never happen…
Even though I mentioned before it's not my favorite song, "Illegal Alien" is one of those Genesis tracks made for surround. All those crazy sound effects running amok and gibberish in the middle of the track. The gang vocals also sound great in surround.
Following that is the beautiful ballad "Taking It All Too Hard" and the upbeat "Just a Job to Do", which featured the horn samples in the surround channels to great effect.
Next up would be "Silver Rainbow", which heavily features Phil Collins' Linn drums, along with other loops that makes for a very good surround presentation.
Last but not least would be "It's Gonna Get Better" with those cool strings loops, and well it doesn't get better after that, cause the next album following this was "Invisible Touch", but at least this disc ends on a good note with this lovely track.
Gave this disc a '9' originally, and that's what I would give it today, but it is recommended for sure!
I don't have a lot to say about this one. It starts off strong with "Mama", one of my favorite songs of the post-Hackett era. The opening drum machine pattern is up front, but then the low synth hum fills up the room. The eerie sounding synth lead sneaks up from behind and the guitar fill comes in somewhere to the left. In the middle, Phil's maniacal laugh scares the crap out of you coming from the rears and then there's a nice keyboard/guitar back and forth in opposite rear speakers right before the middle eight. When the heavy drums kick in, they're all around you. A very satisfying mix for this song. If the rest of the disc kept up like that, this would be a favorite title. Unfortunately though, after that the mix gets a good bit tamer. Not a whole lot of discrete stuff happening in the rears. There are exceptions. The sound effects in "Illegal Alien" are playfully mixed and there are a few cool synth things thrown around the surround field during "Home By the Sea" But overall, this is not a very adventurous mix. Like the final two Genesis albums, Nick Davis does use a lot of Tony Banks' keyboard washes to fill up the surround field, but I kept finding myself wishing that he had been a bit more aggressive. The "Home By the Sea" suite in particular is begging for lots more.
As for fidelity, I felt a little bit of harshness, but it's not nearly as bad as the shrill headache inducing Invisible Touch. And as or the music, this is an album of extremes for me. "Mama", "Home By the Sea/Second Home By the Sea" and "It's Gonna Get Better" are easily my three favorite songs in the 1983-1998 box set. However "Illegal Alien" may be my least favorite Genesis song of all time. The other tunes are pleasant enough, but don't really do much for me, although I have to admit that "Just a Job to Do" kind of rocks.