The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway by Genesis

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The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway by Genesis
The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway by Genesis

Album Released: 1974

The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway ::: Artwork
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Cole Reviews  24th Apr 2017
A frustrating double album. The first LP has a bunch of wonderful songs, particularly all of Side One, but the second LP - apart from "it" - can more or less be thrown out the window. And don't try to follow the storyline, it'll give you a headache.

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1.The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway4:50
2.Fly on a Windshield4:22
3.Broadway Melody of 19740:33
4.Cuckoo Cocoon2:11
5.In the Cage8:15
6.The Grand Parade of Lifeless Packaging2:45
7.Back in N.Y.C.5:24
8.Hairless Heart2:31
9.Counting Out Time3:42
10.The Carpet Crawlers5:15
11.The Chamber of 32 Doors5:41
12.Lilywhite Lilith2:42
13.The Waiting Room5:24
15.The Supernatural Anaesthetist2:59
16.The Lamia6:57
17.Silent Sorrow in Empty Boats3:07
18.The Colony of Slippermen8:13
20.The Light Dies Down on Broadway3:32
21.Riding the Scree3:57
22.In the Rapids2:26


Considering my aversion to albums that extend beyond the 60-minute mark, it's surprising I like as many double albums as I do (The Beatles, Physical Graffiti and Songs in the Key of Life are three that come to mind), but The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway really does test my patience.

This climax of the Peter Gabriel period of Genesis is a truly expansive set, following the adventures of a Puerto Rican character known as Rael, who goes to New York's underground where he has to face various creatures in order to save his brother John, although the lyrics are characteristically cryptic.

The music is also characteristic in its elaborate pieces. The problem is that there are too many songs that just don't do much for me, which is a shame because, at its best, this release does include some exceptional material.

Amongst those are the opening “The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway” (reworked, rather unnecessarily, later), “Lilywhite Lilith” and - most of all - the captivating "Carpet Crawlers", one of the most enchanting Genesis songs of all. Also of note is the gradual, exciting build-up of “The Grand Parade of Lifeless Packaging”, while "Riding the Scree" has grabbing synth work, and "It" is a rousing finale.

Overall though, I find this to be a frustrating album, especially since I know that at their best Genesis are almost my favourite progressive rock band (Yes just tops them), so I wish I could love it more. Instead, I have to say I love some of it, and maybe I'll grow to enjoy more of it over time. But that hasn't happened yet.

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by Reviewer: The Doctor

I'm oversimplifying, but Genesis had essentially been writing the same album over and over again until they perfected it with Selling England by the Pound. Since it seems they couldn't go any further down that road, they decided to do something different and create this sprawling, 23-track, double-disc Rock Opera instead.

This is very very pretentious, but that's not a shocker - this is Genesis, and they have always been pretentious, even back when they were a pop band aiming to be the next Bee Gees. Some listeners have complained that the concept here is way too difficult to understand, and I don't find it to be too tantalizing myself. It's a strange oftentimes abstract story, just like every other self-respecting Rock Opera out there. With that said, I've chosen not to try and interpret the narrative here, as it would take too much space. All I can say is that it's worth a bit of study.

The album begins with the explosive title track, which contains so much glory and drama that I can't think of a better way to open a Rock Opera. The song has me hooked right from the start, with Tony Banks' keyboards fading in. His beautiful keyboard textures are one of the hallmarks of this album, appearing on many of the most memorable tracks - “Cuckoo Cocoon” wouldn't have been remotely as absorbing if it weren't for Banks' enchanting keyboards. Similarly, I'm convinced “The Carpet Crawlers” is one of the most beautiful mystifying songs of all time thanks in part to his delicate keyboard patterns.

Of course, the keyboards aren't the only great thing about listening to this album. The melodies are frequently so rich and warm that I have trouble keeping myself from singing along with them from my heart (I should be embarrassed for writing that, but I've been growing much more comfortable with my geekery since I hit 25!). And “Counting Out Time” is one of the album's poppier songs, which makes it especially fun to sing along to, it might've even made a great Arena rocker.

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by Reviewer: Don Ignacio (blogging at Don Ignacio's Album Reviews)

One day, Genesis decided to produce a huge bloated rock opera. Well, Peter Gabriel did - he wrote nearly all the lyrics for this album, and insisted - for the first time - that they be credited to him rather than the band. The rest of the band cooked up most of the backing tracks without him.

Clearly, the stage was set for a breakup, and so Gabriel’s departure after the album’s supporting tour is not too surprising. He went on to put out some excellent solo albums, free of the tyrannical plastic fist of Tony Banks.

But here, we’re still talking about Genesis, two albums worth in fact. This massive 95-minute project tells the story of a fellow named Rael, a New York street thug straight out of A Clockwork Orange. Rael is plunged into a sort of nasty, R-rated Wonderland, where he confronts all the demons of his demented subconscious.

Some people seem to be put off by the album's somewhat disjointed story, but I don’t mind it at all, it is a dream world after all, so it can’t be expected to make sense all the time. Gabriel’s lyrics are interesting, and if they lack deep meaning, then at least they have some facsimile thereof.

Sadly though, there are some serious problems here. The guitar and flute, never the most prominent parts of the band’s arsenal, have seen their share of the limelight drastically cut here. Even more than in the past, Gabriel is forced to carry the rest of the band by sheer charisma. He does the job ably, but I nevertheless can’t escape the feeling that most of these songs could've been vastly improved by placing the focus on something, anything other than Banks' all-consuming keyboard fetish.

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by Reviewer: S M Hellebore

This monstrosity of a double concept album is like the similarly-styled Pink Floyd album The Wall, in that there are things I like and things I dislike about it.

Firstly, the sound is pretty different from that of previous Genesis albums. For one, Hackett is obscured again, and Banks' keyboards are much more prominent, so - more organs, more synths, less guitar. So although the album's storyline and almost all the lyrics were conceived by Gabriel, the music is different - this is no Selling England by the Pound, it's darkish / strange story-telling music.

I'm not saying the album is not Genesis-like. It is Genesis-like. But the aspects of Genesis shown here are not the aspects I enjoy the most. Sure, there are melodies, eccentric theatrical performances, and cool playing, but it's all kinda unfocused. And Banks is wanking everywhere - there's just too much Banks. The problem is not Banks per se, but the over-use of synthesizers and stuff.

Still, the album is pretty varied, and it's useless to make too many generalisations about it. First and foremost, it's a big concept album - almost a rock opera of sorts. Gabriel tells the story of this dude Rael, who dies for some reason, and goes on a long arduous journey to see if he belongs in Heaven or Hell. There are several tests presented to him, and most times the situations are kinda obscure and unclear, which can make the story misleading. But yes, there is a plot, and it's quite comprehensible, if a little vague. Following Gabriel's commentary in the liner notes help quite a lot.

As for the songs - well, there are plenty of those. The first portion of the album is quite darned great. The title track opens the album in a great rockin' mood, and is quite 'straightforward' for a Genesis song, but it's only the first of twenty-three songs, and the complexity lies in the album as a whole. Nonetheless, it's a Genesis classic, with a cool riff and good singing.

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by Reviewer: Fernando Canto (blogging at Sir Mustapha's Album Reviews [Defunct])

This was Peter Gabriel's last album with Genesis, and what a labyrinthine, crazy, art/pop mess it is.

All things considered, most of the tracks are relatively short (for Genesis), but they're all fused together, making each side of this double-album seem like one long song with various movements - typical Genesis fare in other words. "In the Cage" is one of the best tunes in that vein, and the ballads are all winners too - "Hairless Heart" / "The Chamber of 32 Doors" / "The Lamia" / and "In the Rapids".

Overall, the album's 90+minute running time is a gargantuan task to tackle in one listening session, and because the songs don't really make sense outside the context of the album, you're forced to sit through the whole thing to get the gist of it.

Some of the material does become a bit samey, but it's easy to see why Gabriel would leave the band after this. Still, as I'm a self-proclaimed fan of 'messy' albums, maybe I just need a little more time with this one.

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by Reviewer: Austin

By this point, Gabriel had very nearly left Genesis with the intention of becoming a scriptwriter, but was persuaded to rejoin the band when his plans didn't work out. The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway ended up being his final venture with the band anyway, and he left after completing the tour in support of the album.

This is a concept album, no less! It's a story of sorts, although not one that's easy to make sense of. It tells of the life of Rael, a Puerto Rican youth who lives on the streets of New York. As the story progresses, various emotional and often surreal things appear to happen to, and around, him. That's the gist of it anyway, as Gabriel's original concept.

The songwriting saw Gabriel take on a greater role - he wrote all the lyrics, and appears to have been the dominant creative force, although the musical aspects were co-written by the rest of the band, primarily Banks and Rutherford.

Whilst the album wasa double-LP / concept album, it's by no means a typical prog/rock album, either in sound, length of songs, or even a typical Genesis album of the early- to mid-70's - the band's prog/rock phase is considered to have peaked either with "Suppers Ready", or with Selling England By the Pound - Genesis recordings that had plenty of impressive and noticeable guitar parts.

Come The Lamb Lies Down, not only do the guitars play a far less prominent role, but during an album that has over twenty individual tracks, only a couple top 6 minutes in length. The sound is very modern, and the production clever and astute, with Brian Eno receiving thanks for his 'Enossification'.

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by Reviewer: Adrian Denning (blogging at Adrian's Album Reviews)