Genesis Three Sides Live 1981

Three Sides Live is the third Genesis live album, mainly recorded on the 1981 Abacab tour. This is partway on the move from prog-rock to pop-rock.

It’s a confusing background with different versions of the album released in the UK and the USA.

The American version of the album had three sides live and one side of an LP with studio recordings.The British version had extra live songs from earlier, more progressive concerts.

In 1994 the British version of the album was remastered and released throughout the world.

Some of the songs were recorded at the NEC, Birmingham on 23rd December 1981 and I think I was at that gig. I certainly saw Genesis several times at the NEC in the early eighties.

Genesis Three Sides Live

Genesis Three Sides LiveThree Sides Live Set List

  1. Turn It on Again – 5:16 (from the album Duke)
  2. Dodo – 7:19 (Abacab)
  3. Abacab – 8:47 (Abacab)
  4. Behind the Lines – 5:26 (Duke)
  5. Duchess – 6:43 (Duke)
  6. Me and Sarah Jane – 5:59 (Abacab)
  7. Follow You Follow Me – 4:58 (And Then There Were Three)
  8. Misunderstanding – 4:06 (Duke)
  9. In the Cage – 11:53 (The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway)
  10. Afterglow – 5:14 (Wind & Wuthering)
  11. One for the Vine – 11:04 (Wind & Wuthering)
  12. The Fountain of Salmacis – 8:37 (Nursery Cryme)
  13. It/Watcher of the Skies – 7:22  (The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway / Foxtrot)

Tracks 1 to 6 and 8 to 10 are from the 1981 tour, tracks 7 and 11 are from 1980, track 12 from 1978 and track 13 from 1976.

The American version had five studio tracks on side four – Paperlate, You Might Recall, Me and Virgil, Evidence of Autumn and Open Door in place of tracks 11 to 13. The track selection has since been stabilised on CD as the British version with all four sides live.

I lost much of my interest in Genesis in 1977 (coincidentally when Steve Hackett left and the punk movement started) so I am much more familiar with the earlier songs than those off Duke and Abacab. These were a more commercial style and attracted new fans and repelled older ones.

I did however to continue to see them live in concert until about 1983.

The album neatly divides into the pop rock that Genesis were moving towards and the older prog rock that first made their name.

Of the older songs played from track 9 onwards, we had a short version of Afterglow on Seconds Out and Watcher of The Skies on Genesis Live.

One For The Vine is a track I would have loved to have heard on Seconds Out. It’s off the Wind & Wuthering studio album that I’ve always thought was under-rated.

The Fountain of Salmacis and In The Cage were newly issued live and both benefit from the added power you get but both come the Peter Gabriel era and I miss him.

Here are a few videos of Genesis playing in 1980 to 1981.


One For The Vine

In The Cage

This Live Album vs The Studio Albums vs A Genesis Compilation Album

If you only want  few Genesis albums, how essential is Three Sides Live?

First I can rule out a compilation album. The idea makes me shudder at the thought of trying to combine Supper’s Ready with Invisible Touch.

I believe Genesis have recorded three essential studio albums – Foxtrot, Selling England By The Pound and A Trick Of The Tail.

I also think that Seconds Out did an excellent job of summarising these three albums although I may quibble about some missing songs (please extend Seconds Out) and there is the Peter Gabriel issue.

Three Sides Live does a very good job of supplementing Seconds Out with the highlights from the next three studio albums and filling in some holes from their prog rock phase.

If you prefer Genesis as a prog band, then Genesis Live toughens up their early prog anthems and is also recommended.

I’ve owned the first two Genesis live albums for over thirty years but I only bought Three Sides Live in 2011 because the set list put me off. I was probably too biased against Genesis and, as years passed, their continued movement to pop rock didn’t encourage me to challenge my prejudices. It’s a much better album than I thought.

I’d therefore grab the Genesis live albums in this order:

  1. Seconds Out
  2. Genesis Live
  3. This one – Three Sides Live

What Other People Say About Genesis Three Sides Live

While the two previous albums – Genesis Live and Seconds Out – have featured in the greatest live albums lists, this one hasn’t.

At Amazon, the feedback is positive.


Buying Three Sides Live by Genesis

To help you to find the album quickly and easily, I’ve given you the following links::

If you decide to buy this album, you will need to take some care about choosing which version you want because of this three sides or four sides live issue.

What Do You Think About Three Sides Live?

What do you think about the new emerging style that appears on Three Sides Live and the Duke and Abacab studio albums?

Do you think this is the best Genesis live album?

What Are The THREE Best Genesis Live Albums? (Click on the links to go to the reviews)

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My bias was so strong that I was reluctant to include Three Sides Live into the poll for the best prog rock live album but I eventually conceded.

Because there are so many great progressive rock live albums I have split the poll into two and you may find some of your favourites in the second division. Albums will be promoted when they get enough votes.

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Because there are so many excellent classic rock live albums I have split the poll into two and you may find some of your favourites in the second division. Albums will be promoted when they get enough votes.

What Are The FIVE Best Classic Rock Live Albums (SECOND DIVISION)? (Click on the links to go to the reviews)

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