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Genesis - The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway CD (album) cover




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TGM: Orb
Prog Reviewer
4 stars

Review 13, The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway, Genesis, 1974


Because four great albums weren't enough for Genesis. A very interesting change in format took place between Selling England By The Pound and The Lamb. There are no really extended songs, although The Colony Of Slippermen and In The Cage are reasonably long, some of the songs move into psychedelic and ambient territory and the album has a much more American feel than anything Genesis had previously done; lastly, the excellent lyrics are always related to the concept, and are often narrative. On the minus side of these developments, I feel that fades are overused, when they aren't generally needed or feel out of place. Overall, an album that is on a par with other Gabriel-era efforts, and certainly not to be missed.

Beginning with a supple piano solo, The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway is very much representative of the album as a whole. Brief, with compelling drums and a great lead bass part, Hackett sounding suspiciously like a piano (!), clever, small background additions to give it more depth, diverse sections, musical foreshadowing of the later Carpet Crawlers. Great, biting lyrics and vocals from Gabriel, and an acceptable fade.

'There's something solid forming in the air'. Soulful guitar and vocals leads into the powerful, gripping Fly On A Windshield, with Hackett, Banks' and Collins driving right past the ears and into the brain. Intelligent, constructed, and brilliantly-delivered lyrics from Gabriel here. An absolutely stunning track. The highlight for disc 1, and one of Collins' best drum performances. The beautiful Broadway Melody of 1974 is tacked onto the end of this.

Cuckoo Cocoon is decent, but doesn't really stand out. Does what it was intended to do, lyrically and psychologically, and prepares neatly for the driving In The Cage, but doesn't really go beyond it. Also has a weird slightly delayed guitar sound that doesn't work that greatly here. Not bad, but unexceptional.

In The Cage. What to say? No doubt the most widely-favoured track of the album, with a moving bass-and-vocals opening, leading to a driving, powerful keyboard riff, with good lyrics, occasional changes in mood to heavier or more serious-sounding sections, and then to lighter, more frivolous sections and back again. A very strong song, and vital for those who consider Banks' solos and Gabriel's voice the highlights of Genesis.

The Grand Parade of Lifeless packaging is brief, enjoyable, random, mostly mindless music, with a heavy focus on the chaotic distortion by Brian Eno. Acceptable, but not my thing.

Back In New York City is essentially a relatively normal song. Fairly weak, but probably concept-crucial lyrics, near-punk vocals from Gabriel, and a generally amusing main theme, though it gets a bit repetitive after a while. The chorus is great, catchy and quirky, much like Jethro Tull's Locomotive Breath: embarrassing to sing along to, but I can't help it.

Hairless Heart is a beautiful quiet instrumental, led by Hackett (acoustic + electric guitar) and Banks (mainly synths), with Collins providing an appropriate drum beat.

Counting Out Time is, in my opinion, the funniest (though not the best) of the Genesis humourous songs, with a pretty amusing concept and lyrics, whimsical music (held up by a guitar riff and bass) and a hilarious guitar solo. Gabriel's tentative, questioning vocal fits the song perfectly, and the harmonies/fade on 'Without you mankind handkinds through the bluuues...' are delightful every time.

Carpet Crawlers simply doesn't interest me at all. I like the piano tune, I like the music, I like the vocals, but I don't like the song. I don't know why, but it leaves me absolutely cold every time, and occasionally even annoys me. Still, one of the widely liked songs on the album, and perhaps would be the highlight for any ATOTT fan.

The Chamber Of 32 Doors begins with a great solo from Hackett, and superb drumming from Collins, though most of the song is dominated by Gabriel's vocals, Banks' piano and the bass. There are some beautiful lyrics here, 'I'd give you all of my dream...if you'd help me find the door...that doesn't lead me back again...take me away.'. A superb conclusion to the first CD.

The second disc opens with a nice, somewhat explosive pop-rock tune, Lily-white Lillith. Great harmonies, powerful music, a bit of Hackettry, good lush keyboards from Banks, great vocals, and a good echo of the Broadway Melody of 1974 on the end.

The Waiting Room is certainly psych rock, though other tracks on the album and the way the album's constructed as a whole have a psych-y feel to them. A gradual progression with tingling, orderless percussion, screeches on the guitar and synths, with several themes being dabbled with and developed or dropped, explosions and an emergence into a full band piece, which continues to develop and shine. Complete and utter chaos, and something that took me a while to acquire in context, but completely my thing.

Anyway is my highlight for the second CD, with a gorgeous piano part courtesy of Banks, Gabriel's searing, echoey vocals, strong, original lyrics, relating to delirium and death. The sprawling piano on the instrumental break in the middle leads to a truly stellar guitar solo from Hackett and then returns to the main theme with added synths (or possibly guitar that sounds like synths), more vocals, percussion and some organ.

The Supernatural Anaesthetist is essentially Hackett on the loose, with Banks and Rutherford shadowing him. There are a few vocals on the start. An interesting combination of ways to play guitar, and the narrative (see the CD booklet) comment on the events taking place is absolutely priceless.

The Lamia is a soft multi-part song, showcasing Gabriel's vocals and lyrics (beautiful and at the same time advancing the story) and Banks' piano and keys, though Collins and Hackett are both very important in places, and the drumming stands out. A real grower, and a standout track on an excellent album.

Silent Sorrow in Empty Boats is interesting, with some more of that tingly percussion, a single repeated slow riff at various volumes, choral additions (probably done with some sort of synth, I guess) and interesting overlaid music.

The Slippermen begins with a minute and a half of seemingly random psychedelic noodling, and then dims to prepare for the most surprisingly explosive 'bubbity-bub' in the history of rock, followed by an extensive, silly song with great solos on keyboards, some well-concealed additions on guitar, great, eclectic drumming and addictive riffs. Superb vocals from Gabriel, with lots of small harmonies, and whimsical lyrics. A great fade here, and absolutely seamless music. Really good fun to listen to, and the weirdness hasn't grown old on me yet.

Ravine is a somewhat darker continuation of the Silent Sorrow... idea, with the same riff, but very different in its sound.

The Light Dies Down On Broadway is an echo of the album's opener, and absolutely great, with a compelling drum performance. More great vocals, and very strong lyrics (IIRC, from Collins, here). Good organ from Banks, and an enjoyable bass part.

The somewhat dancy Riding the Scree is an oddity, with a great rhythm section (Collins sounds like he's crossed himself with Mike Giles), blaring soloist keyboards, and a nice vocal. Great stuff.

In The Rapids is opened by Hackett, who's a strong presence throughout, together with Gabriel. Rutherford twangs on the bass once or twice, while Collins adds his own style. Essentially an atmospheric lead-up to It.

'It' has very catchy music, and great vocals, with lyrics that only really make any sense in context, but are still enjoyable. Fairly memorable performances from everyone involved, and the synth screech moving to the guitar riff is great. A good closer to the album.

All in all, a very strong four star effort, though it may take more time to get the same position of pride as other Genesis albums. Completely atypical of Genesis at the time, but nonetheless highly enjoyable, with a great mixture of styles. Perhaps too great a mixture of styles for the band's own good, since it seems unlikely that everything on the album will appeal to the average listener. Two discs of great material, and worth getting even at the price.

Favourite Tracks: Fly On A Windshield (disc one), Anyway (disc two)

Rating: Four stars

Edit: Old review replaced with shiny one that I wrote after shaping up a little. Truly Lucassed.

TGM: Orb | 4/5 |


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