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.
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.
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 SACD / DVD double disc set (including new 5.1 and Stereo mixes) is planned for release in November 2008.
|1974||Billboard Pop Albums||41|
|BPI – UK||Gold||1 February 1975|
|CRIA – Canada||Gold||May 1 1978|
|RIAA – U.S.||Gold||April 20 1990|