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The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway

The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway (sometimes called simply The Lamb) is a double concept album recorded and released in 1974 by the British progressive rock band Genesis. It was their sixth studio album and the last album by the group to feature the involvement of lead singer Peter Gabriel.


The album tells the surreal story of a half-Puerto Rican juvenile delinquent named Rael living in New York City, who is swept underground to face bizarre creatures and nightmarish dangers in order to rescue his brother John. Several of the story's occurrences and places were derived from Peter Gabriel's dreams, and the protagonist's name is a play on his surname. It should be noted that in an interview Phil Collins remarked, "It's about a "split personality". In this context, Rael would believe he is looking for John but is actually looking for a missing part of himself. The individual songs also make satirical allusions to everything from mythology to the sexual revolution to advertising and consumerism. The title track, as well as "The Carpet Crawlers" and "In the Cage", are live favourites for the band and both have been included in 2007's Turn it on Again tour, with "The Carpet Crawlers" played as the closing number.

Most of the music on the album was written by band members Tony Banks, Phil Collins, and Mike Rutherford, without Gabriel's participation and with little participation from Steve Hackett as well. Gabriel insisted on writing the story and all the lyrics himself, which caused friction, in particular because Rutherford had originally suggested another project for the band — an album based on Antoine de Saint Exupéry's The Little Prince. Gabriel was absent from the album's writing and rehearsal sessions due to personal problems — his wife was having difficulties with her first pregnancy — which added to the strain. However, Banks and Rutherford wrote the words for "The Light Dies Down on Broadway", as Gabriel could not come up with a linking piece between "Ravine" and "Riding the Scree". Gabriel did contribute to the writing of the music more than has been assumed; his then-wife Jill pointed out in Spencer Bright's Peter Gabriel: An Authorized Biography that he wrote the main melody for "The Carpet Crawlers", of which he is especially proud. It should also be noted that tracks like "Anyway" and "Lilywhite Lilith" were developed from earlier unused compositions by the band ("Frustration" and "The Light" respectively) which were likely to have been group efforts, in which Gabriel had played some part in creating as well.

During the album's pre-production, Gabriel was contacted by filmmaker William Friedkin, (at the time enjoying great success with The Exorcist), about a possible film project after Friedkin read Gabriel's short story on the sleeve of the Genesis Live album. Despite his bandmates' disapproval, Gabriel left them to work on some early script drafts. However, the project came to nothing (Friedkin instead working with Tangerine Dream to score his next film, Sorcerer), and Gabriel returned to the band.

The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway met with mixed reviews (see above), and reached #10 in the UK, while nearly cracking the U.S. Top 40, reaching # 41 and eventually going Gold. The band went on a world tour upon its release, performing the album in its entirety 102 times. The Lamb Tour was slated to begin on October 29 1974, but due to an injury to Steve Hackett's hand, the tour was postponed until November 12 1974, days prior to the album's release to the public. Opening night for the tour commenced at the Auditorium Theatre in Chicago, Illinois on November 20, 1974. The final show on The Lamb tour was May 27, 1975 at the Palais des Sports in Besançon, France. Early into the tour, Gabriel decided he would be leaving Genesis, although he would finish the tour amicably with the band and not go public until August 1975.

Live performance

The tour saw the summation of Peter Gabriel's interest in theatrical presentation, masks and costumes, which had initially been something to hide his shy persona behind and to give the band a distinctiveness. In addition to Gabriel's theatrics, three screens above the band showed slides to accompany the story.

Gabriel showed restraint for the first half of the show, dressed as Rael in leather jacket, T-shirt and jeans, while relying on effective lighting and dramatic expression without the use of props or costumes. During the second half, however, the costumes and other visuals became much more elaborate. During "The Lamia", for instance, Gabriel was surrounded by a spinning cone-like structure decorated with images of snakes. For the last verse of the song, the cone would collapse to reveal Gabriel wearing a body suit that glowed under the stage's black lights. However, the most notorious of Gabriel's costumes was the Slipperman, an outrageous naked monster with inflatable genitalia and covered in lumps. At the intro to the final song "It," a huge explosion set off twin strobes, and the audience was faced with both Gabriel and a dummy dressed identically, clueless as to which was real.

Although these visuals were, as in past concerts, meant to enhance the experience, the rest of the band became frustrated with the press focusing only on the theatrical side of the show and not the musicianship. Another problem for the band was that many fans reacted as if Gabriel was the star and the rest of the group merely his backing band. Collins stated in Hugh Fielder's 1984 book, The Book Of Genesis, that backstage after a Lamb concert, "people would steam straight past Tony, Mike, Steve and I, go straight up to Peter and say, 'You're fantastic, we really enjoyed the show.' It was becoming a one-man show to the audience."

Aside from the band's frustration at the amount of attention given to Gabriel, the tour was frought with other difficulties. According to Tony Banks, the slides which accompanied the music never worked perfectly and came close to working perfectly on only four or five occasions. Gabriel often had difficulty getting a microphone near enough to his mouth to be heard in some of his costumes, especially the Slipperman. And, during a performance of "It" in one concert in Oslo, a stage manager's error resulted in an explosion so intense that it caused the band to stop playing, fearing for their safety. Still, the concerts were not without some enjoyable surprises: at the final Lamb concert in Besançon, roadie Geoff Banks, just for a laugh and without telling the band beforehand, put on the dummy's leather jacket and – wearing nothing else – replaced the Gabriel dummy on stage for the intro to "It." Collins said it was an image he will never forget.

Genesis never had any of their Lamb concerts filmed in their entirety, although several pieces from the show were filmed, including some bootleg footage taken by audience members. There is a nearly-complete audio recording of their Lamb performance from January 24, 1975 at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles that is available on their box set, Genesis Archive 1967-75, although it has some re-recorded vocals and guitar parts by Gabriel and Hackett, as both men were dissatisfied with their performances on the original concert recording. Also, the tape ran out during the performance of "It," so a remastered version of the studio original, with a new lead vocal by Gabriel, is substituted.

In 2004, Genesis considered reuniting for a brief reunion tour of "The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway." All five former band members met in November 2004 to discuss the possible "Lamb" tour, but ultimately Gabriel bowed out due to his solo commitments, which precluded Hackett's participation. In 2007, Banks, Collins and Rutherford went ahead with the Genesis reunion tour without Gabriel and Hackett, playing only a couple of "Lamb" songs during the show, the standard live numbers "In the Cage" and "Carpet Crawlers." However, the trio had all stated that they still hope a reunion tour of "The Lamb" with Gabriel and Hackett would still happen at some point, but it all depends on Gabriel's availability and commitment.


A digitally remastered version of "The Lamb" was released on CD in 1994 on Virgin in Europe and on Atlantic in the US and Canada. The remastered CD's booklet features the lyrics and story that came with the original vinyl, though some of the inner sleeve artwork was not reproduced.

A SACD / DVD double disc set (including new 5.1 and Stereo mixes) is planned for release in November 2008.

Notable covers

  • In 1994 Kevin Gilbert and his band Giraffe performed an abbreviated version of the album (12 songs) at Progfest '94, celebrating its 20th anniversary. Gilbert also provided a version of "Back in N.Y.C." for the Genesis tribute album "Supper's Ready" (Magna Carta, 1995).
  • In 1998 Jeff Buckley's posthumous album Sketches for My Sweetheart the Drunk was released, featuring a cover version of the song "Back in N.Y.C.".
  • In 2000, The Flower Kings covered the title track of the album on their first live album Alive on Planet Earth.
  • In 2001, the entire album was performed by a Genesis tribute band called ReGenesis at G2, the second international Genesis fan convention, in Guildford, UK. This included a completely new multimedia show. The band then toured their Lamb show all over the UK and Europe.
  • In 2004 and 2005, the entire Lamb was performed by a Genesis tribute band called The Musical Box during their worldwide tour, celebrating its 30th anniversary.
  • In 2005 the band …And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead covered "Back In N.Y.C.", re-titling it without the abbreviations as "Back In New York City".

Track listing

All songs by Tony Banks, Phil Collins, Peter Gabriel, Steve Hackett and Mike Rutherford.

Side one

  1. "The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway" – 4:50
  2. "Fly on a Windshield" – 4:23
  3. "Broadway Melody of 1974" – 0:33
  4. "Cuckoo Cocoon" – 2:12
  5. "In the Cage" – 8:13
  6. "The Grand Parade of Lifeless Packaging" – 2:46

Side two

  1. "Back in N.Y.C." – 5:43
  2. "Hairless Heart" – 2:13
  3. "Counting Out Time" – 3:40
  4. "The Carpet Crawlers" – 5:15
  5. "The Chamber of 32 Doors" – 5:41

Side three

  1. "Lilywhite Lilith" – 2:42
  2. "The Waiting Room" – 5:25
  3. "Anyway" – 3:08
  4. "Here Comes the Supernatural Anaesthetist" – 3:00 (called "The Supernatural Anaesthetist" on some versions)
  5. "The Lamia" – 6:56
  6. "Silent Sorrow in Empty Boats" – 3:07

Side four

  1. "The Colony of Slippermen (Arrival - A Visit to the Doktor - Raven)" – 8:14
  2. "Ravine" – 2:04
  3. "The Light Dies Down on Broadway" – 3:33
  4. "Riding the Scree" – 3:56
  5. "In the Rapids" – 2:24
  6. "It" – 4:17



Year Chart Position
1974 Billboard Pop Albums 41


Organization Level Date
BPIUK Gold 1 February 1975
CRIACanada Gold May 1 1978
RIAAU.S. Gold April 20 1990


External links

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