Genesis Archives, Vol. 2: 1976-1992

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The first Genesis Archive made sense. It covered the Peter Gabriel years, an era that was not only supremely creative for the band, but filled with rarities, forgotten tracks, outtakes, B-sides, BBC sessions, and live performances begging for a collection. It was a box set for fans and it filled its purpose splendidly. Its sequel, Genesis Archive 2: 1976-1992, attempts to fill the role for the Genesis Mach II, otherwise known as the Phil Collins years, but the problem is, the Collins era was completely different from Gabriel's. It wasn't just that the band became progressively more pop oriented during these 16 years -- besides, they never totally abandoned their prog roots -- but the late '70s and '80s simply were not conducive to the kind of rarities that made the first Archive valuable. They didn't need to do BBC sessions, they didn't do non-LP rarities live, and their B-sides were often devoted to extended mixes for the dance club or live cuts. If there were outtakes, they were often left in the can because they simply didn't meet quality-control standards. All of this is borne out by the three-disc Archive 2. Although there are some nice moments scattered throughout the record, it all winds up feeling rather unnecessary. None of the remixes are particularly interesting and the live tracks, while listenable, are never revelatory -- and those wind up forming the bulk of the set. There's some value in the outtakes, but most of them are historical curiosities; only a handful, such as the Abacab leftover "You Might Recall" and an early version of "Paperlate," are truly worthwhile. For anyone other than hardcore fans, this can easily be overlooked.

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