The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway, would start to take shape at Headley Grange, Headley, Liphook Road, Bordon, GU35 8NG, England. It was reported via the NME magazine on the 1st June 1974 that Genesis were at Headley Grange writing and recording music for a new album. These sessions took the band through from June until August 1974. Also on the 1st June 1974, NME published an interview between Peter Gabriel and Steve Clarke. The interview never really got anywhere and in the end Steve Clarke had to pad the interview out with some group history that was already in the public domain.
Both Phil Collins and Steve Hackett have remarked about Headley Grange, a place used by Led Zeppelin and left in a terrible mess. When Genesis arrived there was a rat infestation, which Phil Collins later remarked, “They were climbing up and down the wisteria.”. Whilst Steve Hackett remembers his last day at the Grange, he washed his face and hands in the sink, only for the sink to fall through the floor, where he had been stood moments before. This and other experiences likely hastened the bands departure and dash to Glaspant.
The group would transfer all the writing and recording to Glaspant Manor, Capel Iwan, Newcastle Emlyn, Carmarthenshire, SA38 9LS, Wales, this was misprinted in the album artwork as Glosspant. Our research suggests that it was in July (owing to the birthdate of Anna Gabriel) when Genesis set up camp at Glaspant Manor. Producer John Burns says in an interview with David Negrin at the World Of Genesis, that it was only for three weeks. Phil Collins states in his book (Not Dead Yet) that the group spent two months in Wales recording the album.
Glaspant Manor has a steeped history, but the area that interests us starts in the early 70s when Glaspant was bought by Angela Lyle (Tate and Lyle) who designed and made stage clothes for rock musicians and with her family converted one of the outbuildings into a rehearsal/recording studio. Many famous bands would come and stay at Glaspant including:- Genesis.
Genesis embarked on their most ambitious album to date whilst at Glaspant, picking up from the sessions at Headley Grange and starting over at Glaspant cannot of been easy. What with the tensions in the band and the film director William Friedkin trying to poach Peter Gabriel for ideas things might have become rather fraught. Peter was also the first in the group to have a child and his wife Jill Gabriel had medical problems during the pregnancy, this meant Peter was driving to and from Glaspant to London.
So it was in July of 1974, Peter Gabriel remarks in the book Chapter & Verse his wife had a nightmare birth in that first week, with Peter driving from Glaspant to St Mary’s in Paddington, London. This then places Genesis who would have been rehearsing and recording in what is now known as Swift cottage around the last week of July, meanwhile Swift cottage is photographed here:
Back in 1974 no one would have thought that this out-of-the-way Manor and outbuildings would become a very upmarket holiday cottage retreat in the Welsh countryside. But in 1974 it provided Genesis a rehearsal / recording space. There are a variety of bootlegs out there that some suggest is primarily material that was trialled at Headley Grange, but some of it might be from the Glaspant sessions. They are, after all, bootlegs so the source location is always to be viewed as dubious.
The studio experimentation including sounds of Gabriel making moaning noises whilst glass bottles are smashed, sounds of an angle grinder have been suggested to have occurred once recording moved to Glaspant but it’s a guess. Although Richard Macphail, long time friend of the band , remembers visiting the band at Glaspant during this period that he detailed in his book (My Book Of Genesis), he more candidly reveals the band were in bad way at the time. Phil remembers that at Glaspant the band could go for walks in the countryside.
There are very few photos that have been made public of the sessions at Glaspant. Genesis and producer John Burns used the Island mobile studio to record parts of the album. The Island Mobile would really have been used to record live shows by bands looking to make a live album, but on this occasion it was put to use for Genesis to dabble when recording The Lamb.
Genesis would record in the studio space (now called Swift Cottage) and the music would be mixed and recorded by John Burns in the Island Mobile Studio.
It remains a mystery of what Genesis did or did not achieve here, but there was some creative work here which was transferred to Island Studios, Basing Street, London, W11. It has been suggested that the instrumental work of each track was pretty much 75% done and it was only at Island Studios that overdubs and lyrics were added.
After this the Lamb sessions transferred to Island Studios, Basing Street, London, W11. The rest, as is often said, is history.
Thank you to the following:
Simon Maggs for the two photos of Glaspant, both the Manor and Swift Cottage.
Genesis – Chapter & Verse for the image of The Island Mobile Studio at Glaspant.
The Internet for the Getty Images / Brian Cooke image of the inside of The Island Mobile Studio.
Sources and Further Reading:
If anyone has any new information on this subject, they are welcome to come forward and contact us.