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Genesis - Archive #2 1976-1992 CD (album) cover

ARCHIVE #2 1976-1992



Symphonic Prog

3.01 | 166 ratings

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Mr. Gone
3 stars Retrospective box sets are such troublesome things. There typically isn't a ton of complaint about things being included that maybe shouldn't have; more often, the complaints are about what was left off.

I know the first box set's potential omission of "Twilight Alehouse" sparked a fair amount of handwringing (or at least complaining) among the band's fans. I personally wished a live Gabriel-era version of "The Cinema Show" had been included as well ("Firth of Fifth" and "I Know What I Like" were there - why not that classic?). There were probably even a few who wanted a live rendering of "More Fool Me". Anytime a band leaves something off that was previously released or is known to be widely available, that will tend to cause some angst.

This set has some particularly curious omissions, though. Both "Me And Virgil" (the 3x3 EP in Britain, and the original version of Three Sides Live in America) and "Match of the Day" ( the Spot the Pigeon EP) were released and commonly known about. The band, however, decided that they did not like these songs and left them off. I find this puzzling and disconcerting. If they thought highly enough of the songs to release them initially, why hold them back now? Isn't it more up to the fans of the band to decide what they do and don't want to hear under these circumstances? I can understand that for an album of new material - not for an "archive" box set. It just doesn't seem right, particularly in light of the 12" single releases which Tony Banks claims to not care for all that much (and which the band didn't have a ton of say in, from what I can tell). I'm not going to claim to love "Me and Virgil" (I usually skip it), but it just seems it should be there.

There are also some live songs which I know for a certainty there are good copies of out there which were left off - "Eleventh Earl of Mar", "All In a Mouse's Night", a truer-to-the-original "Your Own Special Way" (not the tepid version included here), "Say It's Alright Joe", "Keep It Dark"...I'm sure there are others too. I have high-quality live renderings of these songs in my own collection (FBI/Interpol, please note that I did not pay a penny for them), so I know they exist, and I would have been happy to shell out more money to have them included in this box set. I don't know about songs like "Down and Out", "Ballad of Big" and "Like It or Not" as to whether there are good live copies out there, but Phil Collins supposedly recorded every show they ever did. I would think at least some of the tapes would still be in decent shape. Heck, even "Me and Virgil" was performed live (as were "Paperlate" and "No Reply At All" - with horns!) - toss those in too. Make it complete instead of fans asking "Why not?" over some omission. We can decide for ourselves if we like it. A live version of "Illegal Alien" was included, for crying out loud - I think most fans would rather hear "Mar" or "Joe" but wouldn't have minded "Alien's" presence if they'd been included.

I am grateful for the B-sides ("It's Yourself", "Naminanu", "Vancouver" and "Do the Neurotic" are real faves of mine), and while some of them are not fantastic to my ears - again, at least I was offered the choice. I appreciate that. And the live songs are very nice as well. "Man on the Corner", "Burning Rope", "Deep in the Motherlode", "Ripples...", "It's Gonna Get Better", "Duke's Travels/End"...all great stuff, very well done. The sequencing is a bit odd at times, though. Chronological might have made a bit more sense. As for the 12" singles - couldn't care less. Though, again, if other stuff was included, it maybe wouldn't feel as annoying.

Honestly - if there are good-quality live recordings laying around, I feel like the band should go the route of Gentle Giant and just start releasing them. They don't need extensive liner notes or artwork. Though I have great-sounding stuff from the Wind and Wuthering tour on up, I would still gladly shell out $20 to get a more official release. I appreciate what the band has done and enjoy their music, so why not? I'm pretty sure many others would feel the same way. That way, archive stuff like this wouldn't seem as essential, and all the material they've done live could be released in some form somewhere - again, letting the fans decide what they like (or not).

For the B-sides and the included live material, I can't give less than three stars. But I can't give more than that given what was left off either. So, what could've been quite great ends up average. A real pity.

Mr. Gone | 3/5 |


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