The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway (often shortened to The Lamb) is a double concept album recorded and released in 1974 by the British progressive rock bandGenesis. It was their sixth studio album and the last to include frontman Peter Gabriel.


 [hide*1 Premise


The album tells the surreal story of a half Puerto Rican juvenile delinquent named Rael living in New York City, who is swept underground to face bizarre creatures and nightmarish dangers in order to rescue his brother John.[1] Several of the story's occurrences and places were derived from Peter Gabriel's dreams,[2] and the protagonist's name is a play on his surname (Rael=Gabriel).[3] In reference to the live performance of "it" (where Gabriel appears onstage with an identically dressed mannequin), Phil Collins remarked that the entire concept was about split personality.[4] In this context, Rael would believe he is looking for John but is actually looking for a missing part of himself. The individual songs also make satirical allusions to mythology, the sexual revolution, advertising, and consumerism.[2] The title track, "The Carpet Crawlers", and "In the Cage" were live favourites for the band. Both "In the Cage" and "The Carpet Crawlers" were included in 2007's Turn it On Again: The Tour, with "The Carpet Crawlers" performed as the closing number.


Following their Selling England by the Pound tour, the band went on retreat to Headley Grange to write and develop their next album. Used previously by Bad Company and Led Zeppelin, this was where the band hoped living together away from other distractions would help inspire creativity and develop unity between the members. The house, however, was in poor condition and infested by rats. Several band members had difficulty sleeping, believing the house was haunted.[3]

Peter Gabriel was absent from the album's writing and rehearsal sessions due to personal problems – his first wife was having difficulties with her first pregnancy.[4] For this reason, most of the music was written byTony BanksPhil Collins, and Mike Rutherford, with some contribution from Steve Hackett. Gabriel, for his part, insisted on writing the story and all the lyrics himself, which caused friction, in particular because Rutherford had originally suggested another project for the band, an album based on Antoine de Saint Exupéry's The Little Prince. Banks and Rutherford composed lyrics for "The Light Dies Down on Broadway", as Gabriel could not come up with a linking piece between "Ravine" and "Riding the Scree". In addition, when Gabriel put lyrics to a piece of music written by one of the other band members (such as Banks' "The Lamia" and Hackett's "Here Comes the Supernatural Anaesthetist") the composer would often insist on adjusting the lyrics to better fit the music, an action Gabriel did not take kindly to.[2]

"Fly on a Windshield" originally came about through a band improvisation, sparked by an idea from Mike Rutherford. Keyboardist Tony Banks said, "We used a lot of moods (on the album), at times things were little more than improvisations on an idea. For instance, Mike would say, 'Pharaohs going down the Nile', and he would just play two chords and instantly the rest of us would conjure up that particular mood. That one ended up on the album as 'Fly On A Windshield'."[5] Gabriel's then-wife Jill noted that he wrote the main melody for "The Carpet Crawlers", of which he is especially proud.[6] Tracks like "Anyway" and "Lilywhite Lilith" were developed from earlier unused 1969 compositions ("Frustration" and "The Light" respectively) which were likely to have been group efforts.[3]

During pre-production, Gabriel was contacted by filmmaker William Friedkin (at the time enjoying success with The Exorcist), about a possible film project after Friedkin read Gabriel's short story on the sleeve of theGenesis Live album.[1] Despite his bandmates' disapproval, Gabriel left them to work on some early script drafts. However, the project came to nothing (Friedkin instead working with Tangerine Dream to score his next film, Sorcerer), and Gabriel returned to the band.[3] One of the influences Peter Gabriel had was the movie El Topo ("The Mole") by Chilean director Alejandro Jodorowsky. This film, which depicts a spiritual journey, maintains a cult following.

Live performance[edit]Edit

The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway reached number 10 in the UK, while nearly cracking the U.S. Top 40, reaching number 41 and eventually going Gold, although it met with mixed reviews. Upon its release, Genesis went on a world concert tour, performing the album in its entirety 102 times. The tour was slated to begin on 29 October 1974, but due to an injury to Steve Hackett's hand, the tour was postponed until 12 November.[6] Opening night for the tour commenced at the Auditorium Theatre in ChicagoIllinois on 20 November 1974. The final show on was 22 May 1975 at the Palais des Sports in BesançonFrance. (The final show of the tour had been scheduled for 27 May 1975 at the Palais des Sports in Paris, but was cancelled due to poor ticket sales, as was the penultimate date of 24 May 1975 at the Parc des Expositions inToulouse.)[4] Early into the tour, Gabriel decided he would leave Genesis, and made the decision clear to his band mates, although he finished the tour amicably with the band and did not announce his severance in public until August 1975.[3]

The tour became the high point of Peter Gabriel's interest in theatrical presentation, masks and costumes, which had initially been introduced into the stage act to help his shyness and to give the band a distinctive stage feature. In addition to Gabriel's theatrics, three screens above the band showed slides to accompany the story.[2]

For the first half of the show, Gabriel dressed as Rael in a leather jacket, T-shirt and jeans, while relying on lighting and dramatic expression without the use of props or costumes. In the second half, the costumes and other visuals became much more elaborate. During "The Lamia", for instance, Gabriel was surrounded by a spinning cone-like structure decorated with images of snakes. For the last verse of the song, the cone would collapse to reveal Gabriel wearing a body suit that glowed under the stage's dark lights. However, the most notorious of Gabriel's costumes was the Slipperman, a naked monster with inflatable genitalia and covered in lumps, who emerged onto the stage by crawling out of a phallus-shaped tube.[2] At the intro to the final song, "it", a huge explosion set off twin strobes, and the audience was faced with both Gabriel and a dummy dressed identically, clueless as to which was real. "it" also featured an alternate ending with Gabriel vanishing from the stage in a flash of light and a puff of smoke.[4]

Although these visuals were meant to enhance the experience, the band became frustrated with the press focusing only on the theatrical side of the show and not the musicianship.[4] Another problem was that many fans reacted as if Gabriel was the star and the rest of the group merely his backing band. Collins later commented that backstage after a Lamb concert, "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."[3]

The show featured some of Genesis' most famous instruments, including Mike Rutherford's double neck electric guitar that consisted of a MicroFret six-string bass and a Rickenbacker 12-string guitar, and Phil Collins' largest drum kit featuring four timbales, a red seven-piece Ludwig kit (and later, a natural finish Premier kit in same configuration,) a Fibes Crystallite snare, a set of five red temple blocks, a vibraphone, a set of orchestral bells, tubular bells, and a set of tuned tambourines (used on "In the Cage.")

The tour was fraught with other difficulties. According to Banks, the slides which accompanied the music never worked well and only came close to working perfectly on four or five occasions.[4] Gabriel often had difficulty getting a microphone near enough to his mouth to be heard in some of his costumes, especially the Slipperman.[4] During a performance of "it" in Oslo, a stage manager's error resulted in an explosion so intense that it caused the band to stop playing, fearing for their safety.[2]

At the final Lamb concert in Besançon, roadie Geoff Banks, just for a joke and without telling the band beforehand, put on the dummy's leather jacket and — wearing nothing else — replaced the Gabriel dummy on stage for the intro to "it".[3]

No complete performance of The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway was recorded, although several pieces were filmed, including some bootleg footage taken by audience members. The 5.1 DVD edition of The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway, released in November 2008, features a visual "reconstruction" of the concert, utilising all of the band's original slides from the show, some bootleg footage, and photographs. There is also a nearly-complete audio recording of the performance from 24 January 1975 at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles that is available on the box set, Genesis Archive 1967–75, although it has some re-recorded vocals and guitar parts by Gabriel and Hackett. In addition, the band used a re-mixed studio version of "it", also with re-recorded vocals by Gabriel, instead of the live version of the song. Contrary to Tony Banks' assertion in the accompanying booklet to the Genesis Archive, the tape did not run out; the live version of "it" exists on the King Biscuit Flower Hour broadcast of the Shrine concert.[7]

Genesis considered reuniting for a brief reunion tour of The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway in 2004. All five former band members met in November to discuss a possible tour, but ultimately Gabriel bowed out due to his solo commitments. In 2007, Banks, Collins, and Rutherford went ahead with the Genesis reunion tour without Gabriel and Hackett, playing two Lamb songs during the show, the standard live numbers "In the Cage" and "Carpet Crawlers." In March 2011, Collins announced his retirement from the music industry, ending any chances for future Genesis reunions.[8][9]

Critical reception[edit]Edit

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic [10]
BBC Music (very favourable)[11]
Robert Christgau B−[12]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide [13]

Writing in the NME in 1978, Nick Kent claimed the album "had a compelling appeal that often transcended the hoary weightiness of the mammoth concept that held the equally mammoth four sides of vinyl together."[14]

In the Q & Mojo Classic Special Edition Pink Floyd & The Story of Prog Rock, the album came No.14 in its list of "40 Cosmic Rock Albums".[15]

The album came 9th in Uncut's "10 best concept albums", where it was described as an "impressionistic, intense album" and "pure theatre (in a good way) and still Gabriel's best work".[16]

In 2012, the album ranked fifth in Rolling Stone's "Readers' Poll: Your Favorite Prog Rock Albums of All Time".[17]

The album's dense lyrical and musical complexity is the subject of a book [18] authored by Kevin Holm-Hudson, a professor of music theory. Holm-Hudson writes, "...The Lamb emerges as one of the richest creative works of the 1970s."

Track listing[edit]Edit

  • All songs written by Tony Banks, Phil Collins, Peter Gabriel, Steve Hackett and Mike Rutherford.
  • Atco altered two song titles for the U.S. release: "The Carpet Crawl" to "The Carpet Crawlers" and "Here Comes The Supernatural Anaesthetist" to "The Supernatural Anaesthetist"

Disc 1[edit]Edit

Side One
No. Title Length
1. "The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway"   4:55
2. "Fly on a Windshield"   2:47
3. "Broadway Melody of 1974"   2:11[19]
4. "Cuckoo Cocoon"   2:14
5. "In the Cage"   8:15
6. "The Grand Parade of Lifeless Packaging"   2:45
Side Two
No. Title Length
1. "Back in N.Y.C."   5:49
2. "Hairless Heart"   2:13
3. "Counting Out Time"   3:45
4. "The Carpet Crawlers"   5:16
5. "The Chamber of 32 Doors"   5:44

Disc 2[edit]Edit

Side One
No. Title Length
1. "Lilywhite Lilith"   2:40
2. "The Waiting Room"   5:28
3. "Anyway"   3:18
4. "Here Comes the Supernatural Anaesthetist"   2:50
5. "The Lamia"   6:57
6. "Silent Sorrow in Empty Boats"   3:06
Side Two
No. Title Length
1. "The Colony of Slippermen"

  • a)  "The Arrival"
  • b)  "A Visit to the Doktor"
  • c)  "Raven"  
2. "Ravine"   2:05
3. "The Light Dies Down on Broadway"   3:32
4. "Riding the Scree"   3:56
5. "In the Rapids"   2:24
6. "It"   4:58



Additional personnel[edit]Edit


A digitally remastered version of The Lamb was released on CD in 1994 on Virgin in Europe and on Atlantic in the US and Canada. The remastered CD's booklet features the lyrics and story that came with the original vinyl, though some of the inner sleeve artwork was not reproduced.

A re-recorded version of the song "The Carpet Crawlers," titled "The Carpet Crawlers 1999", was released on the compilation album Turn It on Again: The Hits, with both Peter Gabriel and Phil Collins contributing lead vocals.

SACD/DVD double disc set (including new 5.1 and Stereo mixes) was released in November 2008.


Year Chart Position
1974 UK Albums Chart 10
Billboard Pop Albums 41


Organisation Level Date
BPI – UK Gold 1 February 1975
CRIA – Canada Gold 1 May 1978
RIAA – U.S. Gold 20 April 1990


  • In 1993, the gothic band Human Drama recorded a version of "The Carpet Crawlers" for the album Pinups.
  • In 1994, Kevin Gilbert and his band Giraffe performed an abbreviated version of the album (12 songs) at Progfest '94, celebrating its 20th anniversary. Gilbert also provided a version of "Back in N.Y.C." for the Genesis tribute album Supper's Ready (Magna Carta, 1995).
  • In 1998 Jeff Buckley's posthumous album Sketches for My Sweetheart the Drunk was released, featuring a cover version of the song "Back in N.Y.C.".
  • Tony Levin (who has been Gabriel's working bassist through his whole solo career) regularly plays "Back in NYC" with his solo band, a recording of which appears on the live album Double Espresso.
  • In 2000, The Flower Kings covered the title track of the album on their first live album Alive on Planet Earth.
  • In 2001, the entire album was performed by a Genesis tribute band called ReGenesis at G2, the second international Genesis fan convention, in Guildford, UK. This included a completely new multimedia show. The band then toured their Lamb show all over the UK and Europe.
  • In 2003, Paul Gilbert covered the title track on his album Gilbert Hotel, using acoustic guitar as lead instrument.
  • In 2004, 2005, 2011, and 2012 the entire Lamb was performed by the Quebec Genesis tribute band called The Musical Box during their worldwide tour, celebrating its 30th anniversary.
  • In 2008, the band Rewiring Genesis (Nick D'Virgilio and Mark Hornsby) released A Tribute to the Lamb Lies Down on Broadway featuring newly interpreted versions of the songs and performances from Nashville studio musicians.
  • In 2008, Leon Alvarado released Plays Genesis and Other Original Stuff which included new interpretations of "Hairless Heart" and "Fly On A Windshield".
  • On 1 August 2009, Nick D'Virgilio performed the album in its entirety live in Whittier, CA. It included "a 15 piece band with a giant horn section"[citation needed].
  • In 2009, Francis Dunnery covered "Back In N.Y.C.", re-titling it without the abbreviations as "Back In New York City", on his album There's a Whole New World Out There.
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