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

THE LAMB LIES DOWN ON BROADWAY

Genesis

 

Symphonic Prog

4.30 | 2928 ratings

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TenYearsAfter
5 stars My review # 240.

"Slubberdegullions on squeaky feet"

The main features of the unsurpassed Classic Prog bands are the huge variety, the outstanding musicianship, the frequently shifting moods and the extreme creativity. On TLLDOB Genesis adds an element into their music that is not really a feature of Classic Prog, personal emotions, fuelled by its frontman Peter Gabriel. He grew up in an upper middle class family, in the wealty 'stiff-upper-lip' era in south England. But Peter was also a very sensitive person with a huge imagination. These contrasting elements evoked a lot of conflicting thoughts and feelings to Peter, about religion, relationships, sexuality, spirituality, imperialism and capitalism, but also the bad way people treat animals and the cruel history of Britannia and its colonies. He decided to put his wide range of emotions, feelings, experiences and opinions into the lyrics and music on TLLDOB. In 1974 this was a daring and adventurous approach, not in the vein of the previous albums Foxtrot and SEBTP. But nowadays TLLDOB is considered as one of the most fascinating and compelling progressive rock albums ever released, with the stunning graphics, stories and pictures as an extra dimension to the story of the young Puerto Rican guy Rael, walking his way in New York.

The 23 tracks are a varied and unique collection, from alternating 24-carat symphonic rock and dreamy ballads to pure rock or experimental, often impossible to pigeonhole, only as 'typical The Lamb compositions'. Just listen to Back In NYC: raw and screamy pre-punk vocals and a New Wave sounding synthesizer. And The Waiting Room(aka The Evil Jam): the band decided to switch off the lights and make weird sounds on their instruments, this is avant- garde Genesis. Or The Grand Parade of Lifeless Packaging: a mellow atmosphere gradually turns into lush to end in a chaotic and bombastic final part, another example of the unique songs on TLLDOB.

The focal point on TLLDOB is Peter Gabriel, he is the musical brainchild of this concept double album. Peter delivers a wide range of outstanding vocals, layered with emotion: powerful in the opener TLLDOB, compelling in In The Cage, raw and agressive in Back In NYC, intense in The Chamber of 32 Doors (like a child that cries for 'basic security'), tender in The Carpet Crawlers and cheerfull in It, the swinging final track, he feels released after his long and confronting journey.

His often puzzling lyrics are loaded with wordplays, vowel rhyhms, metaphors, Freudian language and especially references, from the Bible and Greek mythology to famous and historical persons. This gives the vocals and the music an extra dimension, and the fans extra work to understand what TLLDOB is all about, like "Slubberdegullions on squeaky feet" in Colony Of Slippermen, interesting, to say the least!

Peter Gabriel is the #1 on TLLDOB but second best is Tony Banks, he shines with his varied keyboard contributions, that starts with sparkling piano intro in the opening titletrack. Very exciting is his work on the ARP Pro Solist synthesizer (that he bought before SEBTP), just listen to his long and dazzling soli in the compelling In The Cage, the alternating The Colony Of Slippermen and the swinging Riding The Scree, a rare self-indulgent spot for Tony Banks! But he also delivers majestic work on the Mellotron M400, often in combination with Steve Hackett his howling, volume pedal driven electric guitar, like in Fly On A Windshield, Hairless Heart and Silent Sorrow In Empty Boats.

Steve Hackett complained about a kind of sidelined during TLLDOB, he considers his contributions as mighty close to minimal. Despite his disappointment I am blown away by Hackett's very distinctive and stunning guitar work, like the awesome (abovementioned) interplay with Banks his Mellotron, a moving and powerful guitar solo in the outro of The Lamia, and especially his fiery guitar solo in Anyway ( sublimating his frustrations about his broken marriage), one of his most inspired!

The rhythm-section is awesome featuring Mike Rutherford his growling and powerful Rickenbacker bass sound and Phil Collins his inventive and dynamic drumming.

Due to the mounting problems from Peter to finish the lyrics the band was running out of time. So Peter got some help with writing the lyrics and working out the final parts of his ideas about the music. Later he told the press that this lack of time resulted in more vague lyrics than he intended to write. Perhaps this is the reason why a few tracks on 'side 4' sound a bit less inspired, especially the mediocre song The Light Dies Down On Broadway.

But this doesn't keep me from rating TLLDOB as a masterpiece, it's an unique and adventurous journey to varied musical landscapes in progrock history. And not only the music thrills, also the lay-out, the graphics and pictures, all part of Peter Gabriel his compelling story about the young Puerto Rican guy Rael in New York.

P.s. 1: About the meaning of Peter Gabriel his Rael story and lyrics, I highy recommend The Annotated Lamb Lies Down on Broadway by Jason Finegan, Scott McMahan and other members of Italian music magazine Paperlate. It is an extensive read but very interesting, revealing a lot of the often puzzling lyrics. Nonetheless, it remains a pretty subjective case, this is also emphasized by the authors.

P.s. 2 : On November 15th I will attend a gig by The Musical Box, the mindblowing Genesis tribute band, they will perform 1970-1977 Genesis. I have seen them many times, their version of TLLDOB was the most impressive. This gave me an idea how exciting it must have been to watch Genesis on stage performing TLLDOB: with the triple screen projections, Peter Gabriel and his stage antics and, last but not least, the unique approach of progressive rock by Genesis on TLLDOB!

TenYearsAfter | 5/5 |

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