The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway

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The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway
The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway.jpg
Studio album by Genesis
Released 18 November 1974
Recorded August–October 1974
Studio Glaspant Manor, Carmarthenshire, Wales
Length 94:22
Label Charisma, Atco
Producer John Burns and Genesis
Genesis chronology
Selling England by the Pound
The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway
A Trick of the Tail
Singles from The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway
  1. "Counting Out Time"
    Released: 1974
  2. "The Carpet Crawlers"
    Released: April 1975

The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway is the sixth studio album from the English rock band Genesis, released as a double album on 18 November 1974 on Charisma Records. It is their last studio album released with Peter Gabriel as lead singer. It is a concept album about a New York street kid called Rael and his quest for spiritual self-discovery. It was followed by a six-month tour which has been described by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as "a spectacle on par with anything attempted in the world of rock to that point".[1]

It is one of two Genesis albums to be included in the top ten of Rolling Stone's "50 Greatest Prog Rock Albums of All Time", who ranked it at number nine and acclaimed it as "one of rock's more elaborate, beguiling and strangely rewarding concept albums".[2] It has also been deemed one of the 23 "Maddest And Most Memorable Concept Albums" by NME for "taking in themes of split personalities, heaven and hell and truth and fantasy".[3]


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.[4] Recording took place at Glaspant Manor in Carmarthenshire, Wales using equipment from Island Mobile Studios.

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.[5] 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 the Genesis Live album.[6] 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.[4] For this reason, most of the music was written by Tony Banks, Phil Collins, Mike Rutherford and Steve Hackett. One of the influences Gabriel had was the movie El Topo ("The Mole"), a surrealistic western by Chilean director Alejandro Jodorowsky and so insisted on writing the story and all the lyrics himself. This caused some friction as Rutherford had originally suggested an album based on The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint Exupéry.



The album tells the surreal story of a half Puerto Rican juvenile delinquent named Rael, who lives in New York City and is forced to go underground, facing bizarre creatures and nightmarish dangers, to rescue his brother John.[6] Several of the story's occurrences and places were derived from Peter Gabriel's dreams,[7] and the protagonist's name is a play on his surname (Rael=Gabriel).[4] In reference to the live performance of "it.", Phil Collins remarked that the entire concept was about split personality.[5] 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.[7]

Plot summary[edit]

One morning in New York, Rael is holding a can of spray paint, hating everyone around him. He witnesses a lamb lying down on Broadway, and its serenity in the bustling New York morning has a profound effect on him. He is propositioned by a woman, since he is a hustler, but he spurns her. ("The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway") As he walks along the street, he sees a dark cloud come over the street and take the shape of a movie screen, which starts to slowly come towards him, finally absorbing him ("Fly On A Windshield"), seeing an explosion of images of the current day ("Broadway Melody of 1974") before waking up in a small cave underground and falling asleep again ("Cuckoo Cocoon"). He wakes up again to find himself trapped in a cage of stalactites and stalagmites which slowly close in towards him. As he tries but fails to escape, he sees his brother John standing there; he calls to him, but he walks away, upon which the cage suddenly disappears ("In The Cage"). He now finds himself within a factory, in which he sees people being processed on the factory floor as if packages; he sees members of his old gang from New York, and runs, fearing for his life ("The Grand Parade of Lifeless Packaging"). Exiting the factory, he finds himself in a reconstruction of the New York of his younger days; he remembers his history in the gang, as well as a time in which he studied a book on erogenous zones and tried to please his partner, but failed ("Back in NYC", "Counting Out Time"). As Rael's memories end, he finds himself in a long, carpeted corridor full of people trying to crawl to the door at the end ("Carpet Crawlers"); he easily makes it to the door and up a staircase into a chamber with 32 doors; surrounded by people and unable to concentrate, he finds a woman willing to guide him, who leads him out of the chamber and into another cave, in which he is trapped by falling rocks ("The Chamber of 32 Doors", "Lilywhite Lilith", "Anyway"). He encounters Death ("The Supernatural Anesthetist") and finally escapes.

Rael ends up in a pool with three beautiful snakelike creatures with which he has a somewhat sexual experience, but they die after drinking some of his blood ("The Lamia"). He leaves the room with the pool and finds himself in a colony of distorted, grotesque men who have all had the same experience with the Lamia; he finds that he has become one of them as well ("The Colony of Slippermen: The Arrival"). He finds his brother John among them, who reveals that the only way to become human again is to visit the notorious Doktor Dyper and be castrated ("The Colony of Slippermen: A Visit To The Doktor"); both of them do, keeping their removed penises in containers around their necks. Rael's is taken by a huge raven, which he chases after, but which John refuses to join him in ("The Colony of Slippermen: The Raven"). The bird drops the container down a ravine into a rushing underground river. Afraid to jump in, Rael walks alongside it, remembering his days in New York, until he sees his brother in the river, struggling to stay afloat; Rael chooses to dive in and save him, despite being deserted by him twice now ("The Light Dies Down On Broadway", "Riding The Scree"). He is able to save John, dragging his limp body to the bank of the river, but when he turns him over to look at his face, he sees his own face instead ("In The Rapids"). His consciousness drifts between both bodies, and he sees the surrounding scenery melting away into a haze; both bodies dissolve as well as Rael's spirit becomes one with everything around him ("It").[8]


Brian Eno contributed vocal effects on the album dubbed "Enossifications".

"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'."[9] Gabriel's then-wife Jill noted that her husband wrote the main melody for "The Carpet Crawlers", of which he is especially proud.[10] 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.[4]

Banks and Rutherford wrote the lyrics to "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.[7]

Sleeve design[edit]

The album's cover art, designed by Hipgnosis, depicts Rael in a number of situations from the album in a comic strip that graces the front and back. Rael has walked out of the last strip and is looking back at the others, displaying a concept of self-realisation.


The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway was released on 18 November 1974, reaching number 10 in the UK and number 41 in the US.

Critical reception and legacy[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 5/5 stars[11]
BBC Music (very favourable)[12]
Robert Christgau B−[13]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide 4/5 stars[14]

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".[15]

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".[16]

The album came third 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".[17]

In 2012, the album ranked fifth in Rolling Stone's "Readers' Poll: Your Favorite Prog Rock Albums of All Time".[18]

The album's dense lyrical and musical complexity is the subject of a book[19] 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."

In 2014, readers of Rhythm voted The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway the fourth greatest drumming album in the history of progressive rock.[20]

Members of the band have mixed thoughts about the album. Tony Banks has been critical of it, saying while some of the music is good, the themes were weak and the story confusing. Steve Hackett said that the band returned to things on the album they were trying to avoid, such as the self-indulgent numbers and the songs that connect to other songs. However, he concluded that Peter Gabriel and Tony Banks never made a finer album. Phil Collins has rated the album among the band's best, saying as players the band was at their peak as musicians.


A digitally remastered version of The Lamb was released on CD in 1994 on Virgin in Europe and on Atlantic in the U.S. 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.

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


Hackett in 1974 during a performance of The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway.

Genesis supported The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway with a 102-date tour of North America and Europe, playing the album in its entirety. A hand injury suffered by Hackett delayed its start; the tour began on 20 November 1974 in Chicago, Illinois.[10] The tour ended on 22 May 1975 in Besançon, France. The last two scheduled concerts on 24 and 27 May in Toulouse and Paris, respectively, were in fact cancelled due to poor ticket sales.[5] Early into the tour, Gabriel informed the band of his decision to leave Genesis at its conclusion. Gabriel's decision was made public in August 1975.[4]

The tour became the high point of Gabriel's use of theatrics, masks, and costumes, which he initially used to help his on stage shyness. He dressed as Rael in a leather jacket, T-shirt and jeans. During "The Lamia" Gabriel was surrounded by a spinning cone-like structure decorated with images of snakes. For the last verse, the cone would collapse to reveal Gabriel wearing a body suit that glowed from lights placed under the stage. One of Gabriel's most notorious costumes was the Slipperman, a naked monster covered in lumps with inflatable genitalia that emerged onto the stage by crawling out of a phallus-shaped tube.[7] Gabriel recalled having a difficult time in placing his microphone near his mouth while in the costume.[5] For "it.", an explosion set off twin strobes lights 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 where Gabriel would vanish from the stage in a flash of light and a puff of smoke.[5] At the final concert, roadie Geoff Banks wore nothing but the dummy's leather jacket and acted as Gabriel's double on stage for the intro to "it.".[4] During the show, three screens behind the band projected images to accompany the story.[7] Banks recalled the slides only came close to working perfectly on four or five occasions.[5]

The rest of the band became frustrated with press who focused on Gabriel's theatrics and not on their musicianship,[5] something that made them think they were merely Gabriel's backing band. Collins later said, "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."[4]

No complete performance of The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway has been released; the majority of 24 January 1975 show at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles was released as part of the Genesis Archive 1967–75 box set with some re-recorded vocals and guitar parts by Gabriel and Hackett and a re-mixed studio version of "it.", also with re-recorded vocals. The remastered edition of the album released in 2008 features a visual reconstruction of the concert using the original slides, audience bootleg footage, and photographs.

Genesis considered reuniting for a The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway tour. The five members met in November 2004 to discuss the idea, but Gabriel bowed out due to his solo commitments. In 2007, Banks, Collins, and Rutherford completed the 2007 Turn It on Again: The Tour, playing "In the Cage" and "The Carpet Crawlers".

Track listing[edit]

All tracks written by Tony Banks, Phil Collins, Peter Gabriel, Steve Hackett and Mike Rutherford. All tracks produced by John Burns and Genesis.

Side one
No. Title Length
1. "The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway"   4:52
2. "Fly on a Windshield"   2:47
3. "Broadway Melody of 1974"   1:58[21]
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"   2:25
3. "Counting Out Time"   3:45
4. "The Carpet Crawlers[22]"   5:16
5. "The Chamber of 32 Doors"   5:40
Side three
No. Title Length
1. "Lilywhite Lilith"   2:40
2. "The Waiting Room"   5:28
3. "Anyway"   3:18
4. "Here Comes the Supernatural Anaesthetist[23]"   2:50
5. "The Lamia"   6:57
6. "Silent Sorrow in Empty Boats"   3:06
Side four
No. Title Length
1. "The Colony of Slippermen"
  • a. "The Arrival"
  • b. "A Visit to the Doktor"
  • c. "The 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
  • Brian Eno – enossification (vocal treatments) on "In the Cage" and "The Grand Parade of Lifeless Packaging"[24]


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


  1. ^ "Genesis Biography". Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Retrieved 25 October 2015. 
  2. ^ "50 Greatest Prog Rock Albums of All Time". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 25 October 2015. 
  3. ^ "23 Of The Maddest And Most Memorable Concept Albums". NME. Retrieved 25 October 2015. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g Collins, Phil; Tony Banks, Mike Rutherford, Peter Gabriel, Steve Hackett (2007). Genesis: Chapter and Verse. New York City: St. Martin's Griffin. ISBN 0-312-37956-0. Retrieved 6 August 2013. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f g Genesis (1991). Genesis: A History (VHS). PolyGram Video. 
  6. ^ a b Daryl Easlea (23 April 2007). "Classic Pop/Rock Review – Genesis, The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway". BBC. Retrieved 31 December 2008. 
  7. ^ a b c d e Platts, Robin (2001). Genesis: Inside & Out (1967–2000). Collector's Guide Publishing. ISBN 1-896522-71-8. Retrieved 6 August 2013. 
  8. ^
  9. ^ Fielder, Hugh (1984). The Book of Genesis. New York City: St. Martin's Press. ISBN 0-312-08880-9. 
  10. ^ a b Bright, Spencer (1999). Peter Gabriel: An Authorized Biography. Sidgwick & Jackson. ISBN 0-283-06187-1. Retrieved 6 August 2013. 
  11. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas (2011 [last update]). "The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway – Genesis | AllMusic". Retrieved 25 July 2011.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  12. ^ Easlea, Daryl (23 April 2007). "BBC – Music – Review of Genesis – The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway". BBC. Retrieved 7 June 2012. 
  13. ^ Christgau, Robert (2011). "Robert Christgau: Album: Genesis: The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway". Retrieved 25 July 2011. 
  14. ^ Nathan Brackett; Christian David Hoard (2004). The new Rolling Stone album guide. New York: Simon & Schuster. p. 327. ISBN 978-0-7432-0169-8. 
  15. ^ Nick Kent: "Gabriel: The Image Gets a Tweak". NME. 10 June 1978
  16. ^ Q Classic: Pink Floyd & The Story of Prog Rock, 2005.
  17. ^ Uncut magazine. May 2007. Issue 120.
  18. ^ Greene, Andy. "Readers' Poll: Your Favorite Prog Rock Albums of All Time". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 30 July 2012. 
  19. ^ Genesis and the Lamb Lies Down on Broadway, Kevin Holm-Hudson. Ashgate, 2008. ISBN 978-0-7546-6139-9.
  20. ^ "Peart named most influential prog drummer". TeamRock. 3 October 2014. Retrieved 21 August 2015. 
  21. ^ The 1994 CD remaster of the album tracked "Fly on a Windshield" at 4:23 and "Broadway Melody of 1974" at 0:33. The songs merge together seamlessly and, in fact, the "Broadway" song actually starts at 2:45 of "Fly on a Windshield", an error by the manufacturer. Several other editions of the album repeat the error. The printed lyrics, however, give the division between tracks correctly.
  22. ^ Titled as "The Carpel Crawl" on the UK edition and "The Carpet Crawlers" on the US edition.
  23. ^ Credited as just "The Supernatural Anaesthetist" on the US edition.
  24. ^ Stone, Greg. "Tony Banks Interview April 1978". YouTube. 

External links[edit]