To get the rundown on the first box, ICE spoke with project coordinator Glen Colson from his home in England. Colson worked with the Genesis as their press agent in the early '70s, leaving after the Nursery Cryme album. More that 20 years later, Colson was again pressed into service by Virgin Records (Genesis' U.K. label) to liaise with the band in compiling this set.
Covering 1967 through 1975, The Gabriel Years' four discs show the progression from the group's earliest demos to a live rendition of their magnum ous, 1974's The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway. What follows is the track list, with comments given by ICE by Colson:
DISCS ONE AND TWO:
The complete concert of The Lamb, taken from a January 1975 performance at the L A 's Shrine Auditorium. Fans who saw the show vividly recall the elaborate staging and costumes that accompanied the tale of NYC graffiti artist Rael and his decent into another realm to save his brother. Those costumes (especially the bulky"Slipperman") often got in the way of clearly recording Gabriel's vocals, to the point where Gabriel has gone back into the studio to redo his vocal over these parts. Guitarist Steve Hackett has also re-recorded some of his guitar parts.
While some may feel this is tampering with music history, Colson feels otherwise: "It's the band's music and they can do whatever they want with it," he states unequivocally. "If they feel they wanted to make it better, they can. They're not pretending they haven't done it, whereas loads of people pretend."
The double-CD performance includes renditions of such Genesis underground classics as " The Carpet Crawlers" "Back in N.Y.C." and the title track. In addition, the final track, "It," has been completely re-recorded as a studio track because " the tape ran out" during the original recording of the concert, Colson says.
"Dancing with the Moonlit Knight," "Firth of Fifth," "More Fool Me," "Supper's Ready" and " I Know What I Like (In your Wardrobe)" - all recorded live in the late 1973 at London's Rainbow Theater. "Stagnation", and "Twilight Ale House" - a live version of the Trespass track along with a rendition of a rare B-side, both from a 1972 BBC session. "Happy the Man' - a rare 1971 single. "Watcher of the Skies" - an edited version of the Foxtrot classic, previously available only as a long-deleted US single.
"In the Wilderness" - 1968 rough mix of the song sans strings. "Shepherd," "Pacidy" and "Let Us Now Make Love" - all from a 1970 BBC radio program, "Nightride." "The BBC-trained engineers were really good," Colsons says. "Some of the best music a lot of bands ever recorded was done there." "Build Me a Mountain"- another 1968 rough mix of a previously lost track from their first album. "Going Out to Get You," "Dusk," "One Day," "When the Sour Turns to Sweet," "In the Beginning," "The Magic of Time," "Hey!," "Hidden in the World of Dawn," "See Bee," "The Mystery of the Flannan Isle Lighthouse," "Hair on the Arms and Legs," "She Is Beautiful" (an early version of the "Serpent"), "Image Blown Out," "Try a Little Sadness" and an early version of "In Hiding" entitled "Patricia" - All demos from 1967-1969. "They're just Tony Banks playing the piano with Gabriel singing. Very indie, they sound absolutely brilliant." In the set's booklet, Banks explains the origins of these tracks in detail.
At press time, the set's packaging was undergoing some redesign. Expect at least a 64-page booklet with photos of all phases of the Gabriel years, including their first recording sessions done for U.K. producer Jonathan King. The box set itself was to be in the shape of an old Bible, but instead will now take a more conventional form.
In addition to the originally planned three boxes, a CD-ROM of archival footage was once planned for inclusion. However, that plan has been scuttled for now. Colson confirms that the CD-ROM has been completed, but the band is unsure of what they want to do with it. It may appear one day as a bonus disc to a best-of collection, but this speculative at best. At any rate, Colson calls the CD-ROM "absolutely brilliant for fans of their."
Finally, the planned second box will collect "all the unreleased and specialized stuff from 1975 up to about the We Can't Dance tour," Colson says. That set may also include some previously unreleased live tracks from the Trick of the Tail tour in which the drum chair was occupied by Bill Bruford.
© Ice, by Michael Villano