In 1974 Genesis releases the masterful The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway

Genesis in 1974 at Headley Grange (pinterest.com)

Genesis (fltr: Phil Collins, Mike Rutherford, Tony Banks, Peter Gabriel and Steve Hackett) in 1974 at Headley Grange

Introduction

Just like the article on The Who’s Tommy was a ‘trip down memory lane’, the same applies to this article as well. The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway was one of my father’s (and his friends) favorites, which was often played at home. And, just like The Who’s Tommy, it was a concept album (with an equally ‘over the top’ story). This is the tale about the creation of the album The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway and the consequences for the careers of both Genesis and Peter Gabriel.

Genesis

Genesis - From Genesis To Revelation (spotify.com)

Genesis – From Genesis To Revelation

One of the major symphonic rock bands of the early 1970’s, that was a lot less popular than I had imagined: Genesis. The band was founded by singer Peter Gabriel, keyboard player Tony Banks, guitar player Anthony Phillips, bass and guitar player Mike Rutherford and drummer Chris Stewart, when they all went to school at Charterhouse School. They recorded a demo which found its way to old-student Jonathan King. He got the band, which at the time consisted of all minors, to sign a one-year deal with Decca Records. During recording some potential singles, the band name Genesis was chosen.

Following the release of two unsuccessful singles the album From Genesis To Revelation was recorded during the summer break in August 1968. After the band finished recording, additional recordings were made, unbeknownst to the band. The record cover displayed the album title to a black background, prompting many record stores to label it as a religious album (as both Genesis and (Book Of) Revelations are titles from the Old Testament). The album was released in March 1969 and “after a year or so, had sold 649 copies”. The band said goodbye to King and Decca Records.

Genesis - Trespass (spotify.com)

Genesis – Trespass

After a temporary break, the band, with a different line-up, went to work on new songs and made a demo, which sparked no interest whatsoever. Nonetheless, the band persevered and started practicing seriously, sometimes up to 11 hours a day. At a show a representative of Charisma Records saw the band play, which eventually led to the offer of a contract allowing the band to record their second album.

In October 1974 Trespass was released and became an instant success in Belgium (number 1 position in the album chart). Anthony Phillips’ health and stage fright made him leave the band. Because of doubts surrounding their drummer, the band went to look for replacements. In January 1971 the band was completed with drummer Phil Collins and guitar player Steve Hackett. This line-up would record the next four studio albums, which would contain the best work Genesis would ever make.

Genesis - Nursery Cryme & Foxtrot (spotify.com)

Genesis – Nursery Cryme & Foxtrot

In August 1971 recordings for album number three, Nursery Cryme, commenced; it contains the superb The Musical Box. The album was released in November 1971, which was slightly better received in England, and mainland Europe embracing it (again). During the following tour the shows in various European countries were highly successful.

Genesis - Peter Gabriel with fox's head (pinterest.com)

In August and September 1972 the successor was recorded, Foxtrot, which was released in October 1972. With the 23 minutes Supper’s Ready the album contained another classic Genesis song. The album was well received, even in their home country England.

The subsequent tour through Europe and America lasted almost a year. During the tour singer Peter Gabriel started experimenting with costumes on stage, without consulting the other, bewildered, band members. Midway through the show he appeared in a red dress (his wife’s) with a fox’s head. It immediately generated lots of press coverage and enabled them to double their fee. Gabriel would wear costumes more and more, as it presented him a way of coping with his shyness.

Next to attention and money, it also gave way to some envy. Gabriel received a lot of personal attention, almost downplaying the rest of the band to the role of a backing band to ‘star’ Gabriel.

Genesis - Live & Selling England By The Pound (spotify.com)

Genesis – Live & Selling England By The Pound

To fill the gap between albums and to tap into the new found popularity Genesis Live was released in July 1973. In August new album Selling England By The Pound was recorded and released two months later. It contains two classics in the band’s body of work, Firth Of Fifth and the (modest) hit I Know What I Like (In Your Wardrobe). The following tour was successful and ended in May 1974.

And, as was usual at the time, time had come to work on yet another album. It was going to be a double album.

The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway

Genesis - The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway (spotify.com)

Genesis – The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway

Starting in June 1974, Headley Grange was rented for a period of three months. Other bands like Led Zeppelin and Bad Company recorded albums there too, partly because of the great acoustics. When Genesis arrived it was filthy and infested with rats (and their trash). Steve Hackett: “If anything was a haunted house, that was. You’d hear extraordinary noises at night – it was almost impossible to sleep”. Peter Gabriel: “We were working at Headley Grange which I felt was partly haunted by Jimmy Page’s black magic experiments…”.

The recording process differed from the way the band usually worked. Before any writing of music and/or lyrics was even contemplated, the decision had been made that the next album was going to be a double album. The proposal to use the novel The Little Prince as inspiration was discarded by Peter Gabriel. He proposed a complex story about Rael, a Puerto Rican boy who goes on a spiritual journey. During his travels he encounters bizarre experiences and characters. Gabriel insisted on writing all the lyrics, which led to him working apart from the band who concentrated on the music.

The seclusion didn’t exactly help maintaining a band feel. On top of that, Gabriel said goodbye to the band to work on a movie project, but returned when the project fell apart. The move proved that Gabriel was growingly receptive for other possibilities, separate from the band. When Gabriel consequentially had to spend much time at home, because his wife was going through a dangerous and possibly life threatening pregnancy and delivery in July 1974, upon which his new born daughter had major complications as well, the band was insensitive to Gabriel’s ordeal. Rutherford later remarked that he and Banks responded “horribly unsupportive” to Gabriel: “We were not good at change. We were very unsympathetic towards him. That was a big part of the problem, really”.

In 2014, 40 years after the album’s release, Tony Banks was still bitter about the undertaking: “It’s okay, but it’s not the greatest piece we’ve ever done”, with Gabriel responding “[Tony] just didn’t like me getting away with too much, or getting into a controlling position. He wanted to keep check on my power.”. Gabriel also said “If you really want to define a world, you have to let one person paint it. There weren’t many novels created by committee”.

Genesis - The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway - Glaspant Manor and Island Studios Mobile Recording Unit (thegenesisarchive.co.uk)

Glaspant Manor and Island Studios Mobile Recording Unit

When the three month lease expired the band hadn’t even recorded a single note. Work relocated to Wales: Glaspant Manor, where, using the mobile recording unit equipment of London’s Island Studios, all music recordings were done. Within a period of approxiamtely two weeks all music had been put to tape, with the band playing live in the studio.

But Gabriel was still writing. He requested extra music for some of his lyrics (inspiring great new songs like The Carpet Crawlers and The Grand Parade Of Lifeless Packaging). Once again seperate from his band members, Gabriel recorded his vocals at Island Studios in London. Upon Gabriel’s request Brian Eno added some effects to his vocals on two songs.

Later than originally planned, with the band completely exhausted by the preceding process, The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway was released on November 18th, 1974.

Genesis - The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway - Cover photography (recoveryourlife.com)

Genesis – The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway – Cover photography

Cover

The album, the music and the way it all came about weren’t the only things that changed, the cover of the new album was new as well. Earlier albums were accompanied by painted fantasy scenes, this time the band opted to use designer team Hipgnosis. It resulted in a black and white cover, a new logo and a tighter image. The photographs on the front and back side of the cover represent interpretations of the tale Peter Gabriel wanted to convey. Because the album was a double album, the cover was a gatefold sleeve. The inside contained the complete story of Rael, accompanied by black and white photographs meant to enhance the story.

Genesis - The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway - Gatefold inside sleeve (progzilla.com)

Genesis – The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway – Gatefold inside sleeve

Story

And then on to the story… I really understand very little to nothing. Peter Gabriel in 2012: “I’m not sure if the story made much sense to most people, but it did mean something to me, in essence, it was about an awakening. He [Rael] was on a journey to find himself, in a seductive, magical place”. For all those interested, I have included the complete story of Rael, as printed on the gatefold inside sleeve.

Songs

All songs written by Tony Banks, Phil Collins, Peter Gabriel, Steve Hackett and Mike Rutherford.

Side Song
A   The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway

Genesis - The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway - Innersleeve 1 (hipgnosiscovers.com)

    Fly On A Windshield
    Broadway Melody Of 1974
    Cuckoo Cocoon
    In The Cage
    The Grand Parade Of Lifeless Packaging
B   Back In N.Y.C.

Genesis - The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway - Innersleeve 2 (hipgnosiscovers.com)

    Hairless Heart
    Counting Out Time
    Carpet Crawl
    The Chamber Of 32 Doors
C   Lilywhite Lilith

Genesis - The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway - Innersleeve 3 (hipgnosiscovers.com)

    The Waiting Room
    Anyway
    Here Comes The Supernatural Anaesthetist
    The Lamia
    Silent Sorrow In Empty Boats
D   The Colony Of Slippermen

  • The Arrival
  • A Visit To The Doktor
  • The Raven

Genesis - The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway - Innersleeve 4 (hipgnosiscovers.com)

    Ravine
    The Light Dies Down On Broadway
    Riding The Scree
    In The Rapids
    it

The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway contains a little piece of On Broadway (written by Cynthia Weil, Barry Mann, Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller).

Musicians

  • Tony Banks – keyboards
  • Phil Collins – drums, percussion, background vocals, vocals on The Colony Of Slippermen and Counting Out Time
  • Peter Gabriel – vocals, flute
  • Steve Hackett – guitar
  • Mike Rutherford – bass, guitar

With help from Brian Eno – Enossification (vocal editing) on In The Cage and The Grand Parade Of Lifeless Packaging.

Genesis - The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway - Singles (genius.com)

Genesis – The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway – Singles

Singles

Two singles were culled from the album:

  • Counting Out Time
    (released in November 1974)
  • The Carper Crawlers
    (released in April 1975)

In the United States the album’s title song, The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway, was also released as a single (without cover).

N.B.:
It is somewhat unclear how The Carpet Crawlers is called. The song is known, and even released (!), using four different titles: Carpet Crawl, The Carpet Crawl, Carpet Crawlers and The Carpet Crawlers.

Genesis - The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway - Dutch ad (thegenesisarchive.co.uk)

Genesis – The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway – Dutch ad

Review

And what do I think about it all? As stated above, I know a lot of sentiment is connected to this album, but the first disc in particular really doesn’t contain any weak moment at all. The highlight has to be The Carpet Crawlers, a song that can still reduce me to tears.

Disc 2 is (considerably) less, yet still contains some highlights, like Lilywhite Lilith, The Lamia and it.

Even though I really don’t like symphonic rock, a genre that seems to be cherished by reactionary, pedantic old white men and hipsters, this album by Genesis is a true masterpiece, due to its audacity, vision, performance, warmth, humanity and finesse. Does this album never succumb to symphonic rock’s pitfalls? Hardly, well maybe the ‘over the top’ story on Rael.

The musicianship on the album is of an unprecedented level. It’s the album that makes Phil Collins shine, his drumming is superb, all the way through. Peter Gabriel’s singing is spine tingling. But, to be fair, every member gives it their all, resulting in Genesis’ best album ever.

Ok then, how do I rate this album?

The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway, disc 1/side A and B
The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway, disc 2/side C and D
Genesis - The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway - Tour 1 (jeffreyshawcompendium.com)

Genesis – The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway – Tour

Tour

Around the time The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway was finally finished, the band didn’t really have enough time to prepare for the upcoming, already booked and sold, tour, which consisted of over 100 concerts.

The band was saved by an accident, as Steve Hackett caught glass in his hand, nearly severing his thumb. The start of the tour had to be postponed until the wounds had healed.

Just like the album and its cover, the tour would also be something different entirely. The band would play the entire new album from start to finish and do one or two classics as an encore. The tour finally started on November 20th, 1974 in the United States, a mere two days after the album’s release (in Europe). Many audience members weren’t familiar with the new music yet and were treated to a nearly two hour show with completely unknown music.

Genesis - The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway - Tour 2 (jeffreyshawcompendium.com)

Genesis – The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway – Tour

The band went on tour with the largest instrumentarium they had ever used before and a huge stage that contained three huge screens onto which some 1450 different slides were projected throughout the show, matching the development of the story. A fantastic unique feature that gained the band a lot of praise.

Gabriel changed a lot and appeared in one of his most infamous costumes, the Slipperman. The lighting was spot on, subtle and impressive.

Genesis - The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway - Tour 3 (jeffreyshawcompendium.com)

Genesis – The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway – Tour

A big disadvantage of course was that the show was tightly directed, leaving little room for improvisation. Many reviews focused on the visual side of the concerts and all attention was aimed at Gabriel. Phil Collins later remarked: “People would steam straight past Tony, Mike, Steve and I, go straight up to Peter and say, ‘You’re fantastic, we really enjoyed the show’. It was becoming a one-man show to the audience”. It irritated the rest of the band, but Gabriel felt increasingly uncomfortable with it, as he didn’t want any of it.

All in all, the tour was a huge success, both musically and visually. A groundbreaking tour, that once again put Genesis on the map as an exciting live-act.

Genesis - The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway - Tour 4 (jeffreyshawcompendium.com)

Genesis – The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway – Tour

 

Genesis - Peter Gabriel leaves (apoplife.nl)

Peter Gabriel vertrekt

Peter Gabriel leaves

Only five shows into the tour, Peter Gabriel told the band he was leaving after the tour. Three months after the last show of The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway Tour it was announced that Peter Gabriel had left Genesis. On September 6th, 1975, a personal letter by Peter Gabriel was published in the English magazine Melody Maker.

I had a dream, eye’s dream. Then I had another dream with the body and soul of a rock star. When it didn’t feel good I packed it in. Looking back for the musical and non-musical reasons, this is what I came up with:

OUT, ANGELS OUT – an investigation.

The vehicle we had built as a co-op to serve our songwriting became our master and had cooped us up inside the success we had wanted. It affected the attitudes and the spirit of the whole band. the music had not dried up and I still respect the other musicians, but our roles had set in hard. To get an idea through “Genesis the Big” meant shifting a lot more concrete than before. For any band, transferring the heart from idealistic enthusiasm to professionalism is a difficult operation.

I believe the use of sound and visual images can be developed to do much more than we have done. But on a large scale t needs one clear and coherent direction, which our pseudo-democratic committee system could not provide.

As an artist, I need to absorb a wide variety of experiences. It is difficult to respond to intuition and impulse within the long-term planning that the band needed. I felt I should look at/learn about/develop myself, my creative bits and pieces and pick up on a lot of work going on outside music. Even the hidden delights of vegetable growing and community living are beginning to reveal their secrets. I could not expect the band to tie in their schedules with my bondage to cabbages. The increase in money and power, if I had stayed, would have anchored me to the spotlights. It was important to me to give space to my family, which I wanted to hold together, and to liberate the daddy in me.

Although I have seen and learnt a great deal in the last seven years, I found I had begun to look at things as the famous Gabriel, despite hiding my occupation whenever possible, hitching lifts, etc. I had begun to think in business terms; very useful for an often bitten once shy musician, but treating records and audiences as money was taking me away from them. When performing, there were less shivers up and down the spine.

I believe the world has soon to go through a difficult period of changes.

I’m excited by some of the areas coming through to the surface which seem to have been hidden away in people’s minds. I want to explore and be prepared to be open and flexible enough to respond, not tied in to the old hierarchy.

Much of my psyche’s ambitions as “Gabriel archetypal rock star” have been fulfilled – a lot of the ego-gratification and the need to attract young ladies, perhaps the result of frequent rejection as “Gabriel acne-struck public school boy”. However, I can still get off playing the star game once in a while.

My future within music, if it exists, will be in as many situations as possible. It’s good to see a growing number of artists breaking down the pigeonholes.

This is the difference between the profitable, compartmentalized, battery chicken and the free-range. Why did the chicken cross the road anyway?

There is no animosity between myself and the band or management. The decision had been made some time ago and we have talked about our new direction. The reason why my leaving was not announced earlier was because I had been asked to delay until they had found a replacement to plug up the hole. It is not impossible that some of them might work with me on other projects.

The following guesswork has little in common with truth:

Gabriel left Genesis

  1. To work in theatre.
  2. To make more money as a solo artist.
  3. To do a “Bowie”.
  4. To do a “Ferry”.
  5. To do a “Furry Boa round my neck and hang myself with it”.
  6. To go see an institution.
  7. To go senile in the sticks.

I do not express myself adequately in interviews and I felt I owed it to the people who have put a lot of love and energy supporting the band to give an accurate picture of my reasons. So I ask that you print all or none of this.

The band reacted:

They are now looking for a new singer. They have a few ideas but nobody has been fixed. The group are all currently writing material and rehearsing for their new album, and they will go into the studios shortly to record. The album will be released at Christmas and Genesis will go on the road in the New Year.

Tony Banks later remarked “Pete was also getting too big for the group. He was being portrayed as if he was ‘the man’ and it really wasn’t like that. It was a very difficult thing to accommodate. So it was actually a bit of a relief”. In the 1991 documentary Genesis: A History Gabriel explains: “There was all this big time stuff happening with long tours being planned way in the future, and I just felt I was getting to be part of a machine. I felt I was becoming a sort of stereotype, sort of ‘rock star,’ or falling into wanting that ego gratification. I didn’t like myself, I didn’t like the situation, and I didn’t feel free” and adds “For me there was no question about priorities, that I think pissed off the band too. I was the first to have a baby, and they didn’t have any understanding how it changes the way you feel”. Tony Banks: “He grew up perhaps quicker than the rest of us, really, at that time, and he wanted a bit more time than we felt we could give. So he felt he had to leave”.

Genesis - Na The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway (spotify.com)

Genesis – Na The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway

After The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway

What next? Could the band survive without its font man? The press seriously entertained the thought that Genesis was done. After a long period of wondering, thinking and many auditions, Phil Collins reluctantly took Gabriel’s advice (“You could make it as a singer if you wanted”) to heart and took on the role as singer.

It turned out to be a blessing in disguise for the band’s popularity. After a couple of albums in the same vein (which were much lesser quality wise), the band moved into the direction of ‘regular’ pop music. It would never become as interesting as The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway ever again.

When I was 16 years old, I bought the 1977 double live album Seconds Out and I do like the 1983 album Genesis. Sometime later I bought the 1993 Volume 2: The Longs of the live albums The Way We Walk.

Peter Gabriel - Plays Live (discogs.com)

It didn’t take Peter Gabriel very long to start a solo career. That career was much more interesting than the one of his former band mates. When Plays Live was released in 1983 I was very, very impressed. It was one of the first albums I bought that my father would buy after advising him to do so. I still listen to the great performances of beautiful songs like Family Snapshot, I Go Swimming, San Jacinto, Shock The Monkey and the goose bump inducing Biko.

His career exploded when he released So in 1986 and he, with the help from a ingenious video clip, scored a worldwide hit with the song Sledgehammer. He remained successful for quite some time and still managed to release some interesting records, including my personal Gabriel favorite Up, released in 2002.

Maybe, more on Gabriel at a later time.

Genesis - Archive 1967-75 (genesis-news.com)

Genesis – Archive 1967-75

Genesis Archive 1967-75

On June 22nd, 1998, the album Genesis Archive 1967-75 was released. Discs 1 and 2 contained recordings of the concert on January 24th, 1975, in Los Angeles when The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway Tour was in full swing. Beautiful recordings that show just how ridiculously good the band really was at that time.

In closing

What do you think of The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway? Let me know!

Video/Spotify
This story contains an accompanying video. Click on the following link to see it: Video: In 1974 Genesis releases the masterful The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway. The A Pop Life playlist on Spotify has been updated as well.

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