Posts Tagged ‘Shepperton Studios’

Genesis In Pictures: 1970-1975

If you’re of a certain vintage then you will remember Peter Gabriel’s visually stunning Sledgehammer video from his award-winning 1986 album So. You will have had your heart strings tugged by his In Your Eyes and its pitch-perfect appropriation in Cameron Crowe’s Say Anything. 

But if you are of a slightly earlier vintage, you will remember these fine musicians for an entirely different reasons. The high-seriousness of Genesis, as fronted in its heyday by Gabriel, with Collins pounding the drums. Though the band persisted well into the 80s and 90s after Gabriel’s 1975 departure, and as Collins took the lead, die-hard Genesis fans swear by its classic configuration, with its surreal concept albums and stage shows rivaling Wall-era Pink Floyd or Bowie’s Stardust phase. If you’re none too keen on later Genesis, but recall the aforementioned flamboyant productions of English prog-rock tea, then here is a treat for you.

Just above is a fully restored concert film of a 1973 performance at England’s Shepperton Studios, “perhaps,” the single best representation of Peter Gabriel-era Genesis on film.” Though the concert precedes the band’s Gabriel-era swan song—double concept album, The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway—it does showcase the strongest material from their two previous records, Foxtrot and the truly excellent Selling England by the Pound. Prominently on display are the eccentricities that sharply divided critics and enamored fans: the odd time-signatures and abrupt tempo changes, virtuosic musicianship, literate, esoteric lyrics, and Gabriel’s theatrical makeup and costuming. The effect of it all is sometimes a bit like Rush in a production of Godspell, and while This is Spinal Taptook a lot of the air out of this sort of thing three decades ago, the film remains an impressive document even if the performances are hard to take entirely seriously at times.

tracklist:

“Watcher of the Skies” (8:04)
“Dancing with the Moonlit Knight” (9:02)
“I Know What I Like” (5:46)
“The Musical Box” (11:39)
“Supper’s Ready” (23:59)

The story of this film’s restoration is intriguing in its own right. The Shepperton footage was rescued by a small group who pooled resources to buy it in a New York estate sale. Since then, Youtube uploader King Lerch and his confreres have upgraded the original restoration to the HD version you see above. Read more about the impressive project here, and see a much more stripped-down Gabriel-era Genesis below in a not-so-HD television concert from 1972. And for a full history of the mercurial Genesis, be sure to check out this comprehensive 1991 documentary.

Shepperton Studios, UK: 30/31 October 1973

Watcher of the Skies (0:00)
Dancing with the Moonlit Knight (8:36)
I Know What I Like (17:40)
The Musical Box (24:00)
Supper’s Ready (37:10)

It was 40 years ago that Genesis performed in this studio and 10 years ago that I did our first transfer of this 16mm film in PAL format (720×576). The results of this effort along with the generosity at meeksgenesis, SAB for the audio work, RH for the artwork, and a host of others well documented, created a masterpiece that has been used countless times after on TV, bootlegs, “review” DVDs, and even the official Genesis boxed sets. Who would have thought that our work would go so far? Well, I am here to try to push the envelope a little further…I give you Shepperton HD.

The definition we are presented with here is amazing HD (1440×1080), and a beautifully low contrast image. If you thought it was impossible to see more detail than the DVD we created 10 years back, your eyes will feast on this. Cymbal grooves, wood grain, each string on a 12-string guitar…it’s all here. Of course in addition to even more film grain, we can see new imperfections like hairs and dust. But I noticed that most of these imperfections switch as the camera view switches, and then switch back when the angle switches back. This means is that these are as a result of the original film recording/creation/editing, and are permanently on the print I have and cannot be removed. I did “clean” some of these digitally, but this is an inexact process and I estimate I was able to remove only about 30% of these imperfections.

Because of the amazing video transfer, I felt that the audio was a not a good match in quality. This 16mm film uses “optical” audio, printed down the side of the film like waveforms. This is common for 16mm and fine for dialogue, but not good for music. And unfortunately, there is no great machine to get a better audio transfer, and no great audio source has been discovered even after all these years. So I decided to resync it. Of course there are stories before some songs that could not be redubbed, so they are there in their original form. But I estimate that I was able to achieve about a 90% match for the entire film. I used various soundboards and radio shows, switched and layered and cheated and fine tuned to get it as close as possible. Thanks to Willem for help reviewing my work and suggesting alternate audio sources, and to Dave Raphael for some amazing original artwork as well as suggestions on the film itself.