Mark Hornsby: Why Cover a Classic When You Can Remake the Entire Album?

Back in 1974, the British prog rock band, Genesis, recorded their final album with then-front-man Peter Gabriel, — a double-LP concept album entitled The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway. Although it wasn’t one of the most popular releases in their catalog at the time, The Lamb achieved Gold status in the United States. But more important than its popularity in the Seventies, it subsequently went on to be regarded today as a classic concept album from the period, up there with other essential concept albums like The Wall or Tales From Topographic Oceans. Today, you’ll find The Lamb routinely cited by modern prog musicians as an influential body of music.

It’s not surprising to find musicians remaking classic songs from their early influences, but remaking an entire album? Or, in this case, a double album? Who would have the audacity to do something so unimaginable to such a venerable classic?

Enter Nashville-based producer, Mark Hornsby, and musician Nick D’Virgilio, the extraordinary drummer and vocalist from progressive rock band, Spock’s Beard (not to mention a few thousand other studio and touring credits). A casual NAMM-show conversation about the classic record led to the idea of recording one song, which then morphed into a much larger thing. “Mark suggested, jokingly I think, that we record ‘Slippermen’ in a bluegrass or country kind of style,” explained Nick. “I was going out to Nashville for a session with Mark and he said if there was time we should try it just because we could. Sometime between that conversation and when I got out there, he and John Hinchey had written charts for the whole record!”

The rest was history. Together with a band of top Nashville session players, some of who had never heard the original recording until beginning the Lamb sessions, they reinterpreted the classic album, infusing it with a healthy does of Nashville-ness featuring lots of acoustic instruments instead of classic synthesizers. The results are a fresh and exciting new album that pays appropriate homage to the classic album, performed in a way that is tributary much more than it is emulative. Fans new and old will each enjoy this fabulous collection of music.

We had the opportunity to meet up with Mark Hornsby at Java Jive Studio, a fantastic recording studio located just outside of Nashville, Tennessee that Mark calls home. Although a man behind-the-scenes and unfamiliar by name to many of our readers, Mark Hornsby is no stranger within the industry (and thus you should get to know him). His credits include work with such diverse artists as The Judds and Jon Anderson, Travis Tritt and Jerry Marotta, The Jordanaires (they backed Elvis) and Danny Gottlieb.

Mark Hornsby spoke with us about his career in music production and engineering as well as his work on this groundbreaking project, Rewiring Genesis: The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway. Just as Alan Parsons never played a note on the classic Alan Parsons Project records, Mark was just as instrumental in the creation of this special recording while not actually performing on it. Could he be following in the footsteps of that luminary producer/engineer?

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