Genesis was one of the most successful progressive rock bands (and bands in general) of all time. They were also one of the most polarizing. A band it's never really been "cool" to like, its fans are fiercely loyal. Much like with Van Halen, different camps exist supporting a preferred singer, in this case Peter Gabriel or Phil Collins. The documentary Sum of the Parts assembles the classic lineup of Gabriel, Collins, Mike Rutherford, Tony Banks and Steve Hackett for a series of interviews -- both separate and together -- and attempts to make sense of it all.
The documentary begins with backstage footage of the Collins'-led lineup from Helsinki 2007, the reunited group's first performance in 15 years. Sum of the Parts pretty much pretends that the Ray Wilson years never happened, which is disappointing as, while it was a footnote in the band's career, they did release one album with him and tour in support of it. The documentary otherwise covers the group's career in chronological order. In addition to the band member interviews, a number of music critics and talking heads, such as New Statesman music critic, Kate Mossman, are interviewed about the band as well.
Like many bands, Genesis' members met at their charter school. Original guitarist, Anthony Phillips is interviewed for the documentary, but separately from the "big five." None of the three pre-Collins drummers are interviewed, nor are they mentioned by name. The band started to build a name for themselves, playing around England and the group's members would ditch school to play events such as the Atomic Sunrise festival. Some killer footage from the Roundhouse Club from March 1970 is included, though it is sadly incomplete. They shared the bill at that show with David Bowie, who would become one of Gabriel's influences in terms of the band's theatricality.
Gabriel speaks at length about his elaborate, and increasingly bizarre, stage costumes, stating that he'd sometimes sneak them into the shows and wear them unannounced to avoid being vetoed by his more conservative band mates. Such was the case when he took to the stage wearing one of his wife's dresses and a fox head, an image from the group's Foxtrot album cover. While the band, particularly Banks, may not have been thrilled with some of his attire, the press ate it up and the group did appreciate the increased coverage they started getting, at least at first.
Gabriel announced to the rest of the band that he'd be leaving after they completed their Lamb Lies Down On Broadway tour, a fact that was kept hidden from the fans and the press. Among the reasons was that he didn't want any lingering resentment over the fact that the press tended to view the band at that point as his group, with the rest of the group as almost sidemen. After auditioning a number of singers, the group decided to just promote Collins to the front. They recorded two albums and an EP before Hackett, frustrated over not getting more input on the records, departed the group, leaving them as a trio, which they would remain for the duration of Collins' tenure with the group.
The documentary attempts to discuss not only the band's career, but also its member's solo careers, the notable exception being Hackett's. While he reportedly recorded segments talking about his solo albums, they are not included on the Blu-ray, in neither the documentary nor the bonus footage. Touring members Daryl Stuermer and Chester Thompson are interviewed as well, with footage of Stuermer playing the solo to "Firth of Fifth," not Hackett, who played it on the album, included.
The video is presented in 1080i High definition Widescreen 16x9 and looks great. The archival footage generally looks good for its age as well. Audio options include LPCM Stereo and DTS-HD Master Audio. The Blu-ray includes roughly a half hour of bonus interviews with the band members. While the documentary contains a lot of great footage, it is all incomplete. None of it is included in the bonus section.
While Sum of the Parts probably won't teach the diehard Genesis fan many new facts about the band, it is a good introduction for most fans. It's nice to see the classic lineup all in the same room, as their dynamic is one of brothers at a family reunion. Some complete archival clips and more input from Hackett would have been nice, but it still makes for interesting viewing for Genesis fans.