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

THE LAMB LIES DOWN ON BROADWAY

Genesis

 

Symphonic Prog

4.29 | 2675 ratings

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Epignosis
Special Collaborator
Eclectic Prog Team
5 stars This is the first Gabriel-era Genesis album I ever heard, although for quite a long time I contented myself to listening to the first five tracks only, practically savoring this work. Gradually, I began to listen to more and more, exploring as it were the lurid world with Rael very cautiously. As a result, the melodies and rhythms and lyrics are all etched upon my mind- I doubt I could ever forget any of them, and yet every time I listen to this album I seem to hear something I hadn't before, almost as if it's growing on it's own?

"The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway" The fading in of the piano underscores the dream-like quality of the album as a whole, and then leaps head first into a grand refrain. The narrative lyrics operate over the same melody with the exception being a gentle bridge, the tune of which will be revisited on the listener later.

"Fly on a Windshield" This is an amazing and almost overlooked Genesis masterpiece. Gabriel's eerie voice hovers over a stark and chilling guitar. A haunting Mellotron moves in suddenly, as Steve Hackett graces over it. One of several music motifs is introduced here as Gabriel describes a ghostlike scene, something of a who's who of America.

"Broadway Melody of 1974" The scene described previously was originally meant to be this track, but the CD relegates "Broadway Melody of 1974" to a mere thirty-three second segment. As it is, it's a lovely segue.

"Cuckoo Cocoon" A light, terse song with noteworthy vocals, lyrics, and flute give the listener a rare clear glimpse into the mindset of Rael.

"In the Cage" I count this extended song among my favorite Genesis works. From that creepy opening line over pulsating bass: "I've got sunshine in my stomach, like I just rocked my baby to sleep" to the urgent, almost panicked vocals, from Mike Rutherford's bouncy contribution throughout the song and especially in the instrumental break to the dazzling synthesizer solo from Tony Banks (perhaps among his most brilliant moments), this is one song that is loaded with desperation all the way through, and is a work of art in and of itself. A barely audible yet graceful segment rises up after the song proper concludes.

"The Grand Parade of Lifeless Packaging" Co-written by Brian Eno, this happens to be one of my less favored tracks from this masterful work, especially at the end with the belch-like vocals.

"Back in N.Y.C." Rael asserts his machismo despite (or perhaps because of) everything he has gone through- he presents himself as the ultimate badass, but his audience knows just how fragile he really is. Gabriel's dramatic vocals and the quirky music are not exactly an oddity on this brilliant menagerie of music, and this stands as a highly enjoyable number in this bizarre rock opera.

"Hairless Heart" For such a gorgeous instrumental, the title (and the narrative concept it entails) is just plain weird, but with swirling keyboard, dashes of powerful Mellotron and Hackett's pleasing electric guitar, this is about as good as it gets in under three minutes, and I'm left shrugging my shoulders and asking "What's in a name anyway?"

"Counting Out Time" I personally don't like how the lovely "Hairless Heart" jumps right into this giddy jingle that sounds like a David Bowie single. The amusing lyrics give way to eccentric instrumentation, and while not a bad ditty at all, it adds to the queerness of the album, which inexplicably adds to the appeal.

"The Carpet Crawlers" This is one of the most repetitive and simplistic songs Gabriel-era Genesis ever recorded, and yet it remains one of the finest pieces in their repertoire even to this day. While the lyrics are at their most unfathomable, they are sung with a stalwart conviction. The inscrutable key is repeated throughout: "We've got to get in to get out."

"The Chamber of 32 Doors" The whole band delivers one of their most poignant and dramatic performances ever. The tempo shifts, the Mellotron, and the fantastic guitar cooperate to produce a breathtaking piece of music. Gabriel's vocals as Rael are full of pleading and desperateness.

"Lilywhite Lilith" The second half kicks off with loads of energy and the very atypical feeling of optimistic hope.

"The Waiting Room" By far my least favorite track on the entire album (and in all of 1970s Genesis), "The Waiting Room" is something of an enigma to me, a time to ask myself, "This album is quite obscure and strange enough, so what were they thinking?" Essentially, this instrumental is Genesis's foray into spooky avant-garde territory. As I recall, the band largely improvised this in the dark, essentially only composing the uplifting section at the end. In fact, it's working title was "The Evil Jam." Oddly enough, this peculiar piece seems to fit the nightmarish atmosphere of Rael's surroundings quite perfectly.

"Anyway" That dark piano run gives way to a sudden vocal, singing some of Genesis's most obscure yet somehow viscerally understandable lyrics. The melody is simply one of their best, not only in accommodating the words, but in garnering awe as music in and of itself. A musical theme is snuck in the middle just before a brilliantly simple guitar solo, but it's that last verse- "And it's good morning Rael-" that echoes inside me in an unexplainable way.

"The Supernatural Anaesthetist" With a short and masterfully quirky vocal bit, the band is off, largely allowing Hackett to have some fun. There is one distinct section, however, that almost sounds like it was lifted off a piece of "The Ancient" by fellow Englanders Yes. Still, it's fabulous either way.

"The Lambia" This hauntingly beautiful piece is one of my favorites from this album. The lonely piano allows for the timid Rael to describe what is going on, to describe the lamia in seductive detail. An abrupt synthesizer introduces the more intense chorus. A gorgeous guitar solo graces the ears of the listener in the end.

"Silent Sorrow in Empty Boats" The title of this piece, which is shamefully dismissed by so many, is taken from a line in the previous song. Sure this instrumental is short and rather uneventful, but it almost serves as an evocative breathing space.

"The Colony of Slippermen" The weirdness continues here, with strange jungle or tribal noises that carry on for about two minutes. Then suddenly the music dives right into traditional symphonic territory, beginning with a great keyboard run and a quote from poet William Wordsworth. Gabriel uses a monstrous voice to growl as the slippermen. Banks uses what might best be described as a slippery tone for his work in the middle just before his solo proper.

"Ravine" This airy track has less going on in it than "Silent Sorrow in Empty Boats," but it lends to the atmosphere and sets up the listener for the intense finale the remaining songs contain.

"The Light Dies Down on Broadway" Using the bridge from the title song, this semi-reprise builds in intensity, and while it carries much of the melodies of it, it is a different creature from the first track, and maintains a foreboding atmosphere with quirky synthesizer.

"Riding the Scree" Banks speeds through a solo before playing the main theme of the piece, a piece which is ultimately his show. Somewhat eccentric vocals and outstanding drumming from Phil Collins create

"In the Rapids" This amazing song not only is home to one of the best melodies of the album, but it is also the vehicle by which the climax of album (wherein Rael makes the all-important self-discovery).

"it" A ripping synthesizer leads into the final track, which is like a festival after a long, dark, dank journey. The Rolling Stones had just finished up their album It's only Rock and Roll a few months before this album was released, so it's funny that Gabriel should conclude the album with the line, "Yes it's only knock and know all, but I like it." Lots of speculation has gone into what it could mean, but I kind of think that's just Gabriel's sense of humor. Either way, the glib line does nothing to sum up the fantastical tale spun throughout the course of about ninety minutes, and yet it seems to sum up everything.

Epignosis | 5/5 |

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