- A box set of rare material was on the cards back in 1990. Writing in Record Collector (April 1990, #128) Ben Barclay
stated: "It has recently been rumoured that Virgin are planning to bring out a CD box set of the "Early Years", covering
Johnny And The Self Abusers material, 1978 demo
sessions and rare B-sides, plus albums ranging from
Life In A Day through to
Sons And Fascination. This would sell for around £35
with a limited CD set aimed at collectors. A Simple Minds video is also on the cards, most probably a live film of their
Street Fighting Years tour."
- (Although he later admitted that he made it all up).
- The video eventually appeared as Verona whilst the B-sides idea transformed into the Themes Volumes.
- In 1998,
The Early Years 1977-78 quitely and quickly appeared, which collected together some of the band's
early demo recordings. It was intended as a start of a series of archival recordings, but due to legal problems it was withdrawn.
- The subject of a box set was brought by by Jim in 1999 whilst being interviewed by
Todd Richards for his annual Some Sweet Day event. But it wasn't until 2000 that the idea was
fleshed out: "I'm due to meet Steve Prichard from Virgin next week regarding that
very subject. I like him a lot, he did a great job with [the] Roxy Music box set and a Genesis box set.
He's got a lot of ideas, we've got a lot of ideas on top of that." Briefly, the idea was to celebrate the 25th year of
Simple Minds in 2001.
- Jim added: "I think I'd get it out because the way I see it if we don't look at kind of every scrap...
I mean I know there has to be an editing process but... If we don't look at every scrap, if we don't do it,
someone else will do it. And they'll do it poorly or shoddily. That's my attitude to it, try to find the rarities
as well as. Because, well you know for people that already own everything there's that added pleasure of having something else."
- In 2001, Virgin delivered the unexciting
The Best Of, which turned out to be the start of an album
remastering series. However, with the band busy with
Neon Lights and
Cry, the subject of a 25th anniversary box set went
- By 2003, the idea had resurfaced and was more formed. The box set would include all the rarities that Virgin had the
rights to: radio sessions, shows, TV appearances and outtakes. A more contenious issue was to drop the release of
Our Secrets Are The Same as a separate album and package it in the box as well. However, the track listing
and release date was changing weekly.
- After the release of the Seen The Lights DVD in late 2003, the stage was set for the
box set. The title was finally confirmed as A History and dates were set. Originally due to coincide with the band's festival
tours, the box slipped to September.
- By July, the name had changed to Silver Box. Jim mentioned that
A History was a boring title.
- Billy Sloan was originally pencilled in to write the sleeve notes (a task he'd already
performed for The Early Years 1977-78 and The Best Of) but due to work commitments, he was unable to do so.
Instead, the group's long-term biographer, Alfred Bos wrote the essay instead.
- Marlin Hanlin trawled through Glasgow looking for pictures and memorabilia for the 76-page booklet. Band members'
personal archives and that of Virgin Records were used for the illustrations.
- The first published listing of the track listing included
War Babies [Bascombe Mix] as the final song, but this
was eventually dropped. Another demo, entitled
In Every Heaven also disappeared; as did the live version of
- Despite the press release claiming that all the tracks were exclusive
Stand By Love,
Banging On The Door,
See The Lights,
Belfast Child and
Ghostrider had been
previously released the B-sides of Stand By Love and
Real Life. Additional tracks also appeared on the
fan-club only Real Live 91 release.
- Promos (consisting of 5 CDRs in typed paper sleeves with a hardcopy of the press release) started circulating on the
1st August. This was followed by a ten track sampler CD.
- Copies were distributed on the 15th October in Europe. By the 18th, the set was on sale in the UK, with the stock
quickly selling out. Virgin were quick to start manufacturing more copies, but some online
retailers, unable to meet their customers' orders, cited 'manufacturing faults' as a cause of the delay - which was rubbish.
- However, there were some problems with some copies i.e. discs missing and some pages in the booklet inserted upside down.
- The European versions were Copy Protected.