Genesis' The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway turned forty recently
January 24, 2015 10:52 AM   Subscribe

The sixth Genesis studio album (and their last with Peter Gabriel), it's a two record, 94 minute conceptual monster which, "... tells of how a large black cloud descends into Time Square, straddles out across 42nd Street, turns into a wall and sucks in Manhattan Island. Our hero named Rael crawls out of the subways of New York and is sucked into the wall to regain consciousness underground."

But seriously, what's it about? According to the Annotated Lamb Lies Down on Broadway:

"I think it is a mistake to think the Lamb is "about" something, especially about one particular thing, and to think there is some correct answer to the question that starts "the Lamb is about ..." and goes on with a single "true" answer. [...] The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway is something that every listener must decide a personal meaning that satisfices as an explanation."

So in service of all that:

The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway Live 1974/5 "movie",

The album synched to the original live slide show,

The various members of Genesis weigh in on the writing and recording of the Lamb.

A recent Quietus review.


Various bootlegs,

Music Box's recreation of the full Lamb concert (including the original slideshow),

Keving Gilbert + Giraffe perform the full LAMB in 1994 (its 20th anniversary),

Genesis live in 1973 (the tour before The Lamb),

Genesis perform In the Cage live in the early 80s sometime (no sign of Peter Gabriel anywhere and Phil Collins is over-chewing the vocal scenery, but the lights are cool),

Steve Hackett performs Hairless Heart (from a few years back),

How to play the intro to the Lamb (tutorial),

A 12 year old plays the intro the LAMB very fast,

The Genesis Piano Project interpret the Lamia,

Francis Dunnery performs Back In NYC,

Human Drama covers the The Carpet Crawlers,

Some guys doing the Grand Parade of Lifeless Packaging in a basement,

Some bar band delivering the finale.

Peter Gabriel getting interrogated about a possible Genesis reunion
("I won't say never ever, but it's in the outside department of the betting shop".)
posted by philip-random (37 comments total) 61 users marked this as a favorite
I have such unambiguous love for this album... I first got into Genesis around 1978 or 79, and rapidly bought and digested their back catalog. TLLDOB was so fascinating to me from the very first listen, and I've listened to it a zillion times since then and I keep loving it.

It's just so strange. Body transformations, odd sexual situations, chasing after a penis-stealing bird... And at the end of this entire thing comes this sense of self-realization and self-actualization that, even after all these many years of listening, I find elating.

Got the 5.1 surround version a while back, and that's very elegantly and intelligently mixed, with any surround effects (aside from simply separating the instruments into 3D space) being used at exactly the right times. (Actually, the entire Genesis 5.1 catalog is great. Some of the best surround mixed music I've encountered.)

This is such an excellent post. Thanks p-r!
posted by hippybear at 11:01 AM on January 24, 2015 [9 favorites]

Prog Rock!
posted by Jessica Savitch's Coke Spoon at 11:30 AM on January 24, 2015

Carpet Crawlers and Fly On A Windshield were always my favorite tracks. Fly reminded me of the quieter Musical Box parts of Live, that moment before the sound gets, well, big.
posted by a lungful of dragon at 11:33 AM on January 24, 2015 [1 favorite]

The artwork oh my gawd
posted by naju at 11:47 AM on January 24, 2015 [3 favorites]

I have a brother John, he's number nine.

I am the 10th, and last.
posted by bricksNmortar at 11:49 AM on January 24, 2015

Jeff Buckley getting his Prog on with a cover of Back in NYC
posted by KingEdRa at 11:57 AM on January 24, 2015 [1 favorite]

And I'm hovering like a fly,
Waiting for the windshield on the freeway.
posted by jabo at 11:57 AM on January 24, 2015 [4 favorites]

Now that's an album!

...I miss albums. :(
posted by fairmettle at 11:59 AM on January 24, 2015 [3 favorites]

Oh god, the Lamb. 1977. So much hash smoked. So much pondering. So much staring at the album cover. So much sonic glory.
posted by jokeefe at 12:01 PM on January 24, 2015 [7 favorites]

A good time to mention Rewiring Genesis, a cover of the album that avoids synthesizers. Nick D'virgilio, who drummed on the last Genesis album and in the Giraffe performance above, put this project in place, singing and drumming on it and finding all the other musicians. I like the rearrangements, especially the big keyboard solos now done on horns or accordion.

Here's a link to some videos, he also did the album live with this project.
posted by dr. fresh at 12:21 PM on January 24, 2015 [4 favorites]

posted by jeff-o-matic at 12:22 PM on January 24, 2015

A good time to mention Rewiring Genesis,

Wow. Thanks, dr. fresh.
posted by philip-random at 1:05 PM on January 24, 2015 [1 favorite]

I have never listened to this album. And I never will. But I KNOW this is why punk happened!

posted by maupuia at 1:37 PM on January 24, 2015 [2 favorites]

I love that album! It's held up incredibly well over the years for me, especially considering the varied states of consciousness I have been in while listening to it. I'm pretty sure that In the Cage medley is from the Mama tour; I saw it at the Drum, where I had seen Phil Collins a few months earlier drumming for Robert Plant on the Principle of Moments tour. Most of the crowd was there for the post-Gabriel Genesis hits, but there were a lot of us that were thrilled when they got into the old stuff. Great memories!
posted by TedW at 1:42 PM on January 24, 2015 [1 favorite]

The Musical Box's note-for-note, slide-for-slide recreation of the Lamb live show has toured several times selling out thousand seat venues all around the US and Canada at $40-$50 a ticket. I am take second place to no man in loving the Lamb, but I thought the recreation was a bit more of an autopsy than a tribute. NDV's "Rewiring Genesis" has a lot more heart, that's for sure.

(I saw the Musical Box show a few years back. What stuck with me most was all the women clearly in the throws of pre-PTS over how truly dorky this was revealing their boyfriends / husbands to be.)
posted by MattD at 1:51 PM on January 24, 2015 [2 favorites]

All the pumping's nearly over for my sweetheart.
This is the one for me.
Time to meet the chef - oh boy! -

Well done. Genesis fan = mandatory flag as awesome.
posted by pianoblack at 1:56 PM on January 24, 2015 [1 favorite]

I have a really good tape of a show in Texas in 76 if that helps any...
posted by mikelieman at 1:56 PM on January 24, 2015 [1 favorite]

If you have Amazon Prime you can get this album for free via Prime Music.
posted by Splunge at 2:03 PM on January 24, 2015 [1 favorite]

> But I KNOW this is why punk happened!

"Sleazy" Christopherson, of Throbbing Gristle, was one of three partners in the Hipgnosis design studio. Among other things this means the punks were in charge of some of the most successful music promotions ever, on behalf of British prog rock stadium acts.
posted by ardgedee at 2:07 PM on January 24, 2015 [3 favorites]

I've never heard this but I had a vivid dream a couple of weeks ago in which I listened to most of it (it was great?). I'd heard of it half a lifetime ago and never gotten around to it, but after that dream I'm nervous to hear the real thing.
posted by OnSecondThought at 2:27 PM on January 24, 2015 [2 favorites]

But I KNOW this is why punk happened!

yeah, Back In NYC did kind of force things a bit, but the punks generally couldn't handle the weird time signatures.

But seriously, I think if you dig a little you'll find that The Lamb is one of the few prog albums that shows up in otherwise more punk-centric record collections. Because unlike so much so-called prog-rock, it wasn't wallowing in aerie-faerie realms, but going for darker, deeper, edgier stuff.

And it's no coincidence that Gabriel had resigned from the band before the tour was even complete (though he didn't actually leave until after the tour). He had no interest in going back to the Foxtrots and Nursery Crimes and indeed, never has. Short of his first solo tour and a one-off reunion in 1982 that was a fundraiser for his WOMAD festival, he's never even performed a Genesis song live as far as I know.
posted by philip-random at 2:27 PM on January 24, 2015 [4 favorites]

Well, I know what I'm doing with my weekend. ;)
posted by luckynerd at 3:04 PM on January 24, 2015

I have never listened to this album. And I never will. But I KNOW this is why punk happened!

no, it's why new wave happened - literally - brian eno produced and provided odd synth textures and treatments - back in NYC is 80s rock before the 80s happened and except for the baroque piano, so is the lamb lies down on broadway - i'm not going to list everything - and a lot of it is based on their older sound - but it was a much harder, edgier record, with quite a few songs that aren't really prog at all and many passages that were 5 years ahead of their time

i bought this when it came out and thought that much of it pointed to something very different than groups like ELP and yes were doing - and unlike those bands, lamb period genesis actually had a great deal of influence on future music

compare the bass riff on lamb to the one on gary numan's cars - the tone and feel and notes are pretty close

genesis was new wave before new wave happened on this album

oh, and malcolm mclaren's theories about situationist rock and all that were a lot more pretentious than anything yes ever dreamed of - a lot of punk was really art rock in disguise
posted by pyramid termite at 3:23 PM on January 24, 2015 [13 favorites]

By far not one of the most accessible albums...If find it quite avant-garde sounding at times and it also has some definite strong musical moments as one can expect from the likes of Genesis.
posted by Meatafoecure at 3:31 PM on January 24, 2015

I seem to remember Gabriel saying a few years back he been approached by Collins/Banks/Rutherford about doing the big reunion tour but that he declined since they weren't interested in working on new material. And I don't even think anyone even bothered to ask Steve Hackett if he was interested.
posted by KingEdRa at 4:22 PM on January 24, 2015

Nor, presumably, Ant.
posted by parki at 4:35 PM on January 24, 2015

I love the ambition of The Lamb, but given a choice, I'll take Selling England by the Pound, which is very close to perfect.
posted by davebush at 4:50 PM on January 24, 2015 [2 favorites]

One Week One Band covered Gabriel-era Genesis a while back. That week included one of my favorite clips: Peter Gabriel as the Sassiest Girl in America.
posted by pxe2000 at 4:51 PM on January 24, 2015 [3 favorites]

Selling England By The Pound is very very close to perfect. It's the quintessential first-phase Genesis album.
posted by hippybear at 5:03 PM on January 24, 2015 [2 favorites]

Selling England By The Pound is very very close to perfect.

I've always questioned this position, mainly because of The Battle of Epping Forest, which takes up a big chunk of side two and, for all of its lyrical and musical invention, the music and the lyrics really don't fuse very well. And don't take my word for it, the band talk about it in here. And then there's Firth of Fifth, a masterpiece until you actually read the lyrics which Tony Banks remains embarrassed about.

Great, great album ... but hardly perfect. Which for me is much of the appeal of the Gabriel-era Genesis. Their reach was always exceeding their grasp -- the definition of ambitious.

Battle of Epping Forest -- instrumental mix
posted by philip-random at 5:32 PM on January 24, 2015 [2 favorites]

Almost through all the links. Brings back good memories of my late husband, who loved this stuff and got me to love it as well. :)

I have to point out this version of Back in NYC by Kevin Gilbert from the Supper's Ready tribute album.
posted by luckynerd at 9:52 PM on January 24, 2015 [2 favorites]

Original Supper's Ready
posted by jabo at 10:04 PM on January 24, 2015 [1 favorite]

Meanwhile, Phil Collins abobes his legacy by donating his enormous collection of Alamo artifacts to the city of San Antonio.
posted by grumpybear69 at 5:12 AM on January 25, 2015

The Lamb is not my fave Genesis project, it's just a bit too overwhelming and unhinged overall for my taste. Mind you, its best moments are really excellent songs... I'm thinking of a live version of 'Anyway' which I've heard that's just stunning.
posted by ovvl at 1:00 PM on January 25, 2015

I have never listened to this album. And I never will. But I KNOW this is why punk happened!

... and why it so desperately needed to.
posted by Paul Slade at 12:48 PM on January 26, 2015

Sirens on the rooftops wailing,
But there's no ship sailing.
Groucho, with his movies trailing,
Stands alone with his punchline failing.

Klu Klux Klan serve hot soul food
And the band plays 'In the Mood'
The cheerleader waves her cyanide wand,
There's a smell of peach blossom and bitter almond.

Caryl Chessman sniffs the air and leads the parade,
He knows
In a scent,
You can bottle all you made.

There's Howard Hughes in blue suede shoes,
Smiling at the majorettes
Smoking Winston cigarettes.
And as the song and dance begins,
The children play at home
With needles;
Needles and pins.

posted by Rash at 10:45 AM on January 27, 2015 [2 favorites]

... and that's just track three.
posted by philip-random at 12:42 PM on January 27, 2015

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