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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 | 2831 ratings

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rogerthat
Prog Reviewer
5 stars The Gabriel era of Genesis bows out here and saves its best for the last salvo. It is also, in a way, a culmination, a logical conclusion for that lineup. At this point, singer and lyricist Peter Gabriel's vision had begun to overpower the band (if you listen to their side) or at any rate was not something they agreed with a whole lot.

Much like the hard hitting The Wall stretched Pink Floyd to a point where the rest of the band wanted out, The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway just wasn't Genesis enough for the liking of most of Genesis. But as a musical odyssey that narrates the travails of protagonist Rael, it is just fabulous. It may not have been Genesis enough but it was so in ways that arguably added new dimensions and interesting shades of emotion to their sound.

While this website showers much love and affection on Genesis, in prog circles, they are typically seen as the 'least' of the big four or five of prog. One of the reasons for this is they were only fleetingly cutting edge up to this point. Their music is hugely interesting, especially their knack for managing shifts and transitions almost seamlessly. But they are not strongly linked to rock/blues influences and can sound distant to those newly initiated to prog. And while they are fortunately not cold and clinical, they also prefer to sound funny and clever rather than truly stirring your soul (these are just tendencies by the way). They also tend to be on the lighter side, rarely being particularly scary or menacing.

Genesis continue to be theatrically oriented on this album. But they have now added some serious edge to their sound. As a result, it is unlike any Genesis album before or after. There are moments when the music on this album is positively creepy. It is often spine chilling and yet so beautiful you cannot help feeling hypnotized and being drawn into the music. For that reason, it is perhaps the only Gabriel era album as a whole (and not speaking of specific tracks) that doesn't have to be looked at from a more analytical perspective to appreciate.

No, from the moment Tony Banks makes his splendid entrance in the title track, you are set for a Genesis experience like no other. Banks' piano on, say, Firth of the Fifth is beautiful. On Lamb Lies Down on Broadway, it is both beautiful and suspenseful. It builds your expectations and makes you want to hang onto every note just to discover what's next. And Genesis achieve this effect repeatedly on this album.

In terms of structure, it is far less epic than Foxtrot or Selling England By The Pound and yet, in many ways, more unorthodox and more daring. The title track is followed by Fly On A Windshield and instead of rapidly developing passages, you get imposing guitar being re-iterated for effect until you can, quite literally, feel the presence of a monumental wall of sound. In The Cage begins with heartbeats....Floyd-esque, ha!

This willingness to explore more nuanced ways of building a song is also evident on The Lamia. The Lamia belies the popular notion that a track must be heavy and abrasive to convey darkness and evil. It employs utterly beautiful textures but the notes warn you (and Rael) of what is to come. Gabriel''s singing too is largely soft and controlled and it only goes to make the experience more tantalizing. And when Hackett plays the coda, you are left completely at their mercy, hopelessly enchanted.

Brian Eno's 'enossification' also makes a telling impact on their sound, as Banks' tones now communicate and express like never before. The band as such is in top form, Collins being particularly impressive on tracks like In The Cage and It. Gabriel as the narrator of the rather ambitious concept is omnipresent. And even though Hackett doesn't get much time for himself, some of his most memorable contributions to Genesis are on this album.

That could actually be said of the band in general. This album gets flak for the presence of a fair few songs that are not too essential but it also has some utterly hot cuts. The number of tracks on this album alone that could be mentioned amongst the best Genesis tracks is crazy - the title track, Lamia, In The Cage, Chamber of 32 Doors, etc. As I have tried to convey above, Genesis have never before been so purposeful and probably never after either so the better parts of this album absolutely rule.

With this album, Gabriel had clearly crossed over to the other side. A side that has some likeness to his solo album Melt in a very loose sense (so don't go looking for any specific similarities) and a side that the rest of the band may not have been too comfortable with. I would not like to comment on the circumstances of Gabriel's departure from the band but if he had continued, the band would have been saddled with the unenviable task of outdoing this magnum opus. As it stands, it represents a high point in Genesis's career and also a point of departure from which the band necessarily had to change. One of the essentials of not only Genesis's discography but prog in general. 5 stars.

rogerthat | 5/5 |

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