I find it hard to believe that Nebraska-based alternative rockers 311 have been doing their thing for a quarter century. With more than a dozen albums to their credit, the lads celebrate their 25th anniversary with the mammoth “Archive” boxed set. This four-CD, 81-track collection of B-sides, demos, alternate versions and pre-production recordings includes more than 60 previously unreleased tunes. Basically, it’s a 311 fan’s dream come true.
Truth be told, I never was a huge fan of 311’s hybrid mix of punk, reggae, funk and hip-hop, but “Archive” is a fascinating gathering of tunes. The set also includes a 60-page book filled with rare photos, flyers, memorabilia and artifacts.
“In preparing to make ‘Archive,’ we took a trip through our own history and the history of our studio recordings from (1993’s) ‘Music’ to (2014’s) ‘Stereolithic,’” frontman Nick Hexum notes. “We felt that we didn’t really need another greatest hits compilation so we started searching for things we knew a true 311 fan would like to hear and see. It is our sincere hope that you will love this collection as much as we loved making it.”
Among the highlights here are unreleased recordings “Writers Block Party,” “Time Is Precious” and “Week of Saturdays”; demos “Strong All Along” and “Sick Tight”; and B-side “Dancehall.” Rock on. (Jeffrey Sisk)