In May 1982, Genesis was on their way to becoming superstars. Phil Collins had just stepped out to great success, one year earlier, with the Face Value album. The band secured hits with “Turn It On Again,” “Misunderstanding” and “No Reply At All” (from Duke and Abacab, respectively) and proven that, beyond more than a decade as prog rockers, they were ready for the Top of the Pops.
Released as a three-track EP, 3X3 appeared in the UK before the release of the band’s live recording Three Sides Live. That album would include, on the fourth record side, all three songs from the EP plus two others, “Evidence of Autumn” and “Open Door,” b-sides recorded years earlier with producer David Hentschel.
The single appeared in the US with “Paperlate” as the single side and “You Might Recall” as the backing b-side. Why Atlantic, or other US labels for that matter, was so reticent about singles including more than two songs, I do not know; I do know that it was an extremely rare occurrence though. One assumes they believed offering three of the five “new to you” tracks would undercut sales for the album.
The song went to #10 on the US charts, drove up sales for Three Sides Live, and I assume provided justification for Atlantic’s decision. The song itself, while catchy and enjoyable, also is a definite cousin to “No Reply At All,” both songs employing the same tempo, attitude and the Earth, Wind and Fire horn section.
The three songs that comprise 3X3 were, for long periods of time, not available on US domestic CD. The release (and subsequent remastering) of Three Sides Live omitted the entire studio side. When the Genesis Archive Vol. 2 came out, it only included “Paperlate” and “You Might Recall”. Collins has voiced a dislike for “Me and Virgil,” a track he classified as a failed attempt to write a song like The Band. You can actually hear a faint similarity to the structure of “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down” in the track, so it is an easily swallowed alibi.
With the release of the Genesis 1976-1982 box set, an additional disc was included with remasters of the albums from the specified time period and included all of the Three Sides Live studio tracks as well as other b-sides.
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