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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 | 2807 ratings

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baz91
Prog Reviewer
2 stars This has to be one of the most over-rated prog rock albums in my opinion. This may be heresy to a lot of proggers, but I cannot say that I really enjoy this album enough to give it any higher than 2 stars! I've gone up and down the reviews list, and there are other reviewers on this site who agree with me, so I know it's not just me that believes there are some serious flaws with this album that is rated so highly.

Lets start with the obvious. The story, it's a bit silly isn't it. I wouldn't say that this alone is a bad thing, since Gong proved outright that silly can be great with their Radio Gnome Invisible trilogy. This story though is presented far too seriously. Genesis were always known to be good story tellers, but somehow they get it all wrong here. With '...Hogweed' and '...Friday' you felt they were telling faux-fables, which had a slightly comic air about it. With The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway however, after a few songs your going to be utterly confused as to what's going on here. A man named Rael is transported to a dream world and tries to save his brother John is the simplest way to explain it, but the story is so convoluted with redundant parts and nonsensical parts that it's difficult to keep interested. The Hipgnosis designed cover, while looking very cool, just doesn't fit Genesis music either, making the album look extremely cold and serious. The Paul Whitehead album covers made the albums seem somehow warmer and more inviting. Between the bizarre lyrics and Gabriel's cryptic story in the liner notes, the listener is left to piece together the story for themselves.

Second, there are too many songs! Granted this is a double LP, but there are 11 songs on the first disc, and 12 songs on the second: too many for a band as symphonic as Genesis. This works out at an average of 4:06 per song! I can't help myself, I like longer songs! Dissappointingly, there are no songs over 10 minutes in length; the longest songs are In the Cage and The Colony of Slippermen both being 8:12 in length. But in fact they don't even last this long: 'In the Cage' has a bizarre minute long coda, and 'The Colony of Slippermen' has an awkward 1:48 intro. The short song structure gives the album a rather convoluted feel, which goes well with the convoluted feel of the story.

Most importantly though, the music itself is very inconsistent. I can safely say that no individual song on here is a stunner. There is certainly nothing of the standard of 'The Musical Box' or 'Firth of Fifth'. Thankfully though, there are a few good highlights in this album. The frenetic keyboard solo from 'In The Cage' is the main reason I listen to that otherwise OK song. The lyric I see no sign of free will, so I guess I have to pay! is really clever. Counting Out Time is a great tune, tricking you into thinking it's a bouncy pop tune, but upon close listening revealing itself as quite a twisted dark track. The melody for the song Anyway was actually written as far back as 1969, five years before the album itself, but fits beautifully here. The lyrics and sound of the song are just brilliant and leave you wanting more. This leads into Here Comes The Supernatural Anaesthetist which has a fantastic yet brief vocal section right at the beginning, before going into a very awkward groove. These are all the really good highlights I can think of.

Parts of the rest of the album sound atrocious. One major point I dislike is the frequent use of effects to change Gabriels voice. Listen to the beginning of 'Dancing with the Moonlit Knight', and you'll hear pure, unadulterated beauty in that man's voice. Listen to the title track of this album and you'll hear something very nasty indeed. The effects make some of the lyrics uncomprehensible, but mostly distort his voice into a very annoying sound. The point where he screams I'M RAEL! is such a case. Probably the best example of where his voice isn't distorted is on the acoustic sounding The Lamia.

Some of the other effects are annoying too. That keyboard sound in Back in N.Y.C. carries on for the whole track and annoys the hell out of me. The only saving grace of the song is that it is in 7/8. The closing track it. is also one of the worst closing tracks I have heard on an album. The dreadful riff used throughout the song really grates my ears. Also the song itself is a bit of a cop-out when you are trying to follow the twisting story. Rael looks down at John, and sees himself, and then Peter Gabriel starts spouting gobbledigook about it whatever it is, leaving me very dissatisfied. The least I wanted from the story was resolution, and since there is none, it's hard to enjoy it that much. The line It's only knock and knowall, but I like it. is NOT GOOD ENOUGH to finish a double LP concept album!

Other parts that annoy me is how there seems to be more filler towards the end of the album. There are several long dull instrumental tracks on the album, most of which are on the second LP, including Silent Sorrow In Empty Boats and Ravine. Most people would say that their least favourite track is the very avant-garde The Waiting Room but in fact this is one of the more enjoyable parts. It's genuinely very creepy, but after about 3 minutes, the band come in with a very strong riff. I can't help comparing instrumentals like Hairless Heart to Pink Floyd's The Great Gig in the Sky, which perform the same function as an intermission between lyrics, but how Pink Floyd pull it off so much better.

With all these negative points about the album, you might be wondering why I give this 2 stars and not 1. The answer is that I don't genuinely dislike this record, but I think listening for the first time under the impression that this is a masterpiece is very wrong. Since there has been an overwhelming amount of praise, I felt that I should make clear the flaws on the album. Out of the seven "progressive" Genesis albums between Trespass and Wind & Wuthering, I regret to say that this is my least favourite. However, if you consider yourself a true progressive rock fan, you should hear this album at least once, as it has become a very important album, much like Yes's Tales From Topographic Oceans. Just don't expect too much, OK?

baz91 | 2/5 |

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