Disc 1 contains a dozen songs that were released as B-sides, but also four tracks that were included on the “Three Sides Live” album as the fourth, studio, side. Several of the tracks are excellent, “Paperlate” even got some radio airplay. The real gem here is “You Might Recall”, which was left off the “Abacab” album in favor of “Whodunnit”, a tragic mistake as that song was more of an experiment than a song. “You Might Recall” is a beautiful, well-crafted song, classic Genesis in that at points each instrument gets a moment to shine before they all come together. Mike Rutherford’s guitar sets a rhythm, then Tony Banks’ keyboards take over before Collins’ drums crash in, and they join back together. “Evidence of Autumn” is a soft, beautiful, almost mournful song that would have fit in well with the Duke album. Notably absent, the only track from “Three Sides Live” not to make it to the set is “Me & Virgil”, a strange sort of folk song for Genesis about brothers surviving on the frontier. Most of the other tracks on this disc are clearly B-side material, but enjoyable. “I’d Rather Be You” and “Feeding the Fire” stand out from the Invisible Touch sessions.
Disc two is all live material. The songs here had not appeared on any of their live albums, and so are generally not the big hits. True fans will really enjoy some excellent versions of songs, like an extended version of “It’s Gonna Get Better” and “Burning Rope”. The performances are excellent, and there are some great choices here, particularly “Duke’s Travels”, which is really the full instrumental suite from the “Duke” album. The only real gripe comes with the inevitable comparison to the first Archive set. That one had the full performance of “The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway” album, and there’s a certain continuity to a full performance recording that is very appealing to the hardcore fans that are the target audience for these sets. Even the third disc from that set came largely from the performance that the “Genesis Live” album used, and you got a bit more of the banter and stories from the band. Perhaps a fourth disc could have been added to this one as well, to maybe accommodate a full performance. This is really a small gripe, as the tracks are excellent, and some of the choices are really interesting.
The final disc is a bit of a mish mosh. There are three extended club-type mixes from the “Invisible Touch” album, including an epic 12-minute version of “Tonight, Tonight, Tonight”. There are a few more live performances, the highlight being the underrated “Man On The Corner” from the “Abacab” album. Also included on this disc are some more b-sides, including two tracks from the “Pigeons” EP. Missing from this disc is the track “Match Of The Day”, which was done for the BBC sports program of the same name, a bouncy little theme that the band members are not very fond of, so it was left off. The Archive ends with a “Work In Progress” version of “Mama”. These are always interesting to fans, and I wish they included more of these. Particularly with the way Genesis works, collaborating on songs, just kind of jamming until something clicks, this would have made a fascinating extra disc. The one we did get is a good one, though, and you can hear the kinks being worked out as the song is developed into what it would eventually become.
Overall, this is a good set, not a great set, and definitely meant for those who are already fans. The B-sides and rarities are great for those who know the work already, but they won’t win over any new fans.