Archive Collection Commentary

Ant's track-by-track commentary on the contents of Archive Collection Volume 2

Comments extracted from an interview with Jonathan Dann

Guitar Song (demo, 1973)
This was experimentation with different guitars recording with two Revoxes.  The guitar used on it was a John Bailey 6-string.

The Anthem From Tarka (demo, 1988)
I'm pretty certain that the idea of developing the theme from Movement One of Tarka into The Anthem was something I thought of myself.  Looking back on it, that part of the first Movement was quite romantic and did lend itself to that sort of treatment.

Deep In The Night (demo, 1977)
This was one of the songs with Mike that was on the fringe rather than being one of our 'big hitters' if you like but it has a lot of the characteristics of the time is and quite pretty.  I don't have a big recollection of doing it with Mike although we did do it and it's down as one of our potential set.  There were no lyrics completed; it was never developed into a fully-fledged song.

Bleak House (instrumental mix, 1978)
The song was inspired by seeing a theatrical group called Shared Experience doing a production based on the book with them handling multiple parts and using no props or costumes.  They were totally convincing.  What we've got here is the piano part stripped so you hear the basic part with just a few extra overdubs and I think it works well.

Our Man In Japan (library piece, 1979)
This was recorded after Sides which was supposed to be the big commercial breakthrough hadn't broken through and I came back from the promo tour of the States feeling a bit nonplussed by things generally.  I did feel as though I'd sold my soul as I'd moved away from The Geese & The Ghost and been led down a more commercial path kicking and screaming.  There was this opportunity to do some instrumental pieces and I was given free studio time at night to do this for a company called Himan Music.  I'd done stuff for them before including a Library production in 1976 from which various pieces had been used but there were no actual albums of the material issued in those days.

Nachum Himan who ran the company was very kind and I never had to pass any checks or present the material.  I got given an engineer, a very nice chap called John Reiner and we used to work every night after the jingle session during the day had finished.  I think we work from around 7 at night until 4 or 5 in the morning.  The project was a mixture of guitar bits and synth pieces and this particular track has a slightly oriental feeling, hence the title.

Child Song (demo, 1973)
This was one of the flood of songs that came out just after I left Genesis.  Principally the most well-known songs that I wrote then were Which Way The Wind Blows and God If I Saw Her Now.  Child Song was short-listed for The Geese & The Ghost when we recorded the album but it didn't quite fit in.  It's been restored for inclusion on Archive Collection 2.  I think it has a naive charm to it.  I recorded this around the time Take This Heart and Silver Song were demoed in 1973 so Mike gave some help on the recording side.

Old Wives Tale (solo version, 1976)
I do prefer the version that's on Antiques of this with more guitars because that makes it sound more interesting but it's more personal this way.  It's not easy to play but I think it works as a contrast.

Scottish Suite II (1973/76)
These are most of the extra sections originally recorded for the Macbeth project but not included in the original Scottish Suite.  In a sense this is more coherent in terms of the story that it tells and it's got a wider range.  It hasn't got the heavy electric bits but it's got the very disturbing elements like Walpurgis Night.  It may be a little confusing with themes from Henry being quoted in this but people do need to bear in mind that at the time this project was done, The Geese & The Ghost had not come to fruition and might well not have done so all that music was up for grabs.  It was like a great big melting pot of bits at the time with things intermingling and I was hoping that the right combination would come out at the end.  It's nice to be able to use stuff that is based more around the actual play.

Sally, Guru, Sistine (instrumental mixes, 1982)
Again I think there's some raw power on these - it's more naked and rougher in a way but arguably there are a surfeit of frills on the final version and you could say that the vocals on the final track are not the strongest element so I hope people think it's valid.

There are arguments for saying that Guru was at it's most exciting earlier on.  Obviously you haven't got some of the later drum fills and just have the basic rhythm pattern but I think there's some sort of analogy with the recent Beatles release Let It Be...Naked as these tracks just have Richard and I doing just the basic drums, bass, guitars and keyboards before you got all the extra parts added during the later stage of recording Invisible Men.  So hopefully people will find it valid.

Windmill (demo, 1971)
This is a very early improvisation at Send following on from the Genesis tradition of putting drawing pins in the piano to make it sound like a harpsichord.  When this was recorded the drawing pins weren't all the way up the piano so you've got a strange mix with some of the piano with pins and some without.  Like all improvisations it has moments of great inspiration and other moments where it appears to slightly tread water and it's always a bit difficult to work out where the one justifies the other.  But if Peter Gabriel says that it moves well then that's good enough for me!

Tregenna Afternoons (demo, 1973)
I think this version is significantly different - it has a different format and there are different sections with different instrumentation like electric guitar so I think it's valid. 

Variation on a Theme of Fantomas (demo, 1973), Fantomas opening theme (film music, 1973)
There was some debate over whether to include the entire Fantomas score which was my first real attempt at writing and recording a soundtrack, albeit for a student film.  The decision that we made was that ultimately it was too picture-dependent and somewhat fragmentary so we decided to stick with just the initial title music.  But we also came across this piano piece using the main theme which again does work as it's not picture dependent and it exists as a piece of music with a start and an end.  It has a slight mystery to it which has a definite feel of the film.

The one piece we have used from the film is the main theme, which is actually a sort of prelude just before the film begins.  They wanted a piece that has a kind of black humour quality to it going with almost a sort of party atmosphere so there's an almost deliberate kind of ambivalence between a very loose, almost "good time" quality to it.  It has a sort of night club feel to it in a way.  John Silver came down and played brushes as he always loved that kind of stuff. 

Picardy Pictures (demo, 1972)
That was very much a test piece really recorded during a period of sudden inspiration when I was also recording things like Beauty and the Beast.  This was a lot of John Bailey 6-strings, quite a melancholy piece with a couple of extra things added like bass and 12-string.  It suffers a little from that slight wandering quality but there was also a lot of inspiration and you can tell that the exploratory nature of it is very positive.  I was never too sure about using it as the sound quality was not perfect.  It was very popular with Jeremy Gilbert and one or two other friends at the time so it was really waiting for an opportunity to be released.

The Ridophi Plot (demo, 1978)
This was one of the many extra demos for Sides that was rejected.  It's played on the 8-string Rudloff, which has the two sympathetic strings at the bottom so you have a lot of extra bass.  It was going to be a song but didn't work out so hopefully it's a nice guitar piece in this form.

Falling For Love (instrumental mix, 1982)
The difference between this and the other Invisible Men-era tracks is that this went to the big studio so you have got real drums and other extra elements, most notably the brilliant solo by Martin Drover.  This is definitely a piece of music that has a good feel about it.

Prelude #1 (1981), Siesta (1981), Bubble & Squeak (1981)
These pieces date from the last days at Send Barns which was my parents house at the time.  There was a lot of recording going on during this period - 1984 had been done and was released, my plans were a little uncertain as I was about to move house so I decided to record these pieces then.  I think I wrote more on classical in those days because I was still teaching.  There was a group of four preludes, two of which are included here.

Shady Arbours (1974)
This was really just another knock-about piece recorded with Mike Rutherford from when we were just loosening up during the very early stages of recording The Geese & The Ghost in September and October 1974 at Send.  Mike is playing a kind of repetitive motto, he's holding things down as it were and I'm doing the more florid stuff on top.  It was a spontaneous piece that we just swung into.

West Side Alice (1983)
This is a little piano variation from one of the pieces in Alice.  There's a vague reference to West Side Story in there, hence the title.

Vic's Tango (demo, 1983)
This was a demo for a film project and I was encouraged to record something that had a South American feel to to it.  It was quite fun to do.  The drumbox is obviously quite basic but we've remixed it and hopefully made it a little bit more palatable.  

Seven Long Years (instrumental mix, 1976)
I think this works quite nicely.  It's quite empty and the sound quality is really quite good for that time.

Romeo & Juliet (library piece, 1976)
This is from the first big library project I did late in 1976 when The Geese & The Ghost had been picked up for release by Passport.  I think it was actually used for a shampoo advert but the tuning I was using at the time has a slightly medieval quality and Romeo & Juliet seemed like an appropriate title for it.

I Saw You Today (1978)
This is a song I've always had a soft spot for and there have been different versions of it at different times.  With a song like this that's not reliant so much on sounds and effects you can do so many different versions of it.  In a way it's a sort of classic 'live' song up to a point and one that you can chew up the words and bend the tempo around so no two versions would ever be remotely the same.  Hopefully that will justify this version.

Quadrille (from Alice) (1983)
This is actually one of the demos I did in late 1983 for Alice.  We got commissioned from Leeds Playhouse to do the musical and we were already working with the director Nick Hytner.  They wanted to hear more of the music so I had to very hastily do a lot of mock-ups.  This was quite difficult as I had to do a lot of tempo changes and in those days you couldn't pre-program things with computers as you can do now so it's quite loose in a way.  But in a sense I suppose it does capture some of that live quality when people are changing tempi up and down all the time.  There is a kind of excitement as things speed up towards the end.  The quadrille was a very kind of ornate, decorous dance.  Alice is a mixture of things looking forward into a very technological age - in fact Richard Scott was well ahead of his time as there are references to computer stuff that make perfect sense now but at the time people didn't really understand.  The quadrille was a step back into almost the Victorian age.  It was great fun; I loved it.

Desert Suite (1980)
This was for an audio visual for Atmosphere - music for a film project based around Saudi Arabia.  The pieces included are those which we felt worked best away from the picture.  I suppose the piece that works best is the guitar piece which is not bad for the time and is quite exciting.

Sisters of Remindum (basic mix, 1977/78)
The title for this came from a terrible pun when I tried to say 'system of reminders'!  This is another chance to hear Messers Giles and Perry in their full glory despite the best attempts of the pianist to muck it up!  Again, like a lot of the best things when there's not too much going on and things are stripped bare it's great.  I'm not saying that the final version isn't valid as well but it is quite exciting to hear how it all started and it's superb playing by both of them.

Will The Last Man Off The Ice Rink (Please Turn Out The Lights) (1973)
I didn't have any proper reverb in those days so the echo on this track comes from "bouncing" the sound from track to track on a Revox.  I always liked the chord sequence on this - it's quite simple but effective.

Finale (instrumental mix, 1982)
This was going to be another of the Invisible Men tracks but the order of the day with a couple of exceptions was commercial so this was more of a throwback to some of the earlier stuff.  It wasn't a million miles away from something that Genesis might done in the early days when we were influenced by Procul Harum.  There's a definite rambling quality to this one with quite a long verse and it has a guitar solo that was quite influenced by Steely Dan as the big solo at the time was on their track Third World Man.  It was quite a mixture of things with those influences as well as my own style.  It was going to have words but when it got to the final list of what to take further for Invisible Men there were too many tracks and so this fell by the wayside.  This is just the original backing track.

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