2014

2014
by Jakub Wroblewski

Blog Archive

Friday, August 20, 2010

Best Rock Album Ever

GENESIS "The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway"
In my honest opinion the best rock album ever.



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][2] Several of the story's occurrences and places were derived from Peter Gabriel's dreams, and the protagonist's name is a play on his surname. In an interview Phil Collins remarked, "It's about a 'split personality'[citation needed]. 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 everything from mythology to the sexual revolution to advertising and consumerism. The title track, as well as "The Carpet Crawlers" and "In the Cage", are 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" played as the closing number.

Background
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.[3] For this reason, most of the music was written by band members Tony Banks, Phil Collins, and Mike Rutherford, with some contribution from Steve Hackett and, at first, virtually none from Gabriel. 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. In the event, Banks and Rutherford did write the words 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 slightly to better fit the music, an action Gabriel did not take kindly to.

Gabriel did, however, contribute more to the process of composition than is sometimes assumed. His then-wife Jill pointed out in Spencer Bright's Peter Gabriel: An Authorized Biography that he wrote the main melody for "The Carpet Crawlers", of which he is especially proud.[4] Tracks like "Anyway" and "Lilywhite Lilith" and "Colony of Slippermen" were developed from earlier unused 1969 compositions by the band ("Frustration" and "The Light" respectively) which were likely to have been group efforts, which Gabriel had played some part in creating.

During the album's 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[5] on the sleeve of the Genesis Live album.[2] 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.

Live performance
The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway met with mixed reviews, and reached number 10 in the UK, while nearly cracking the U.S. Top 40, reaching number 41 and eventually going Gold. The band went on a world tour upon its release, performing the album in its entirety 102 times. The Lamb Tour was slated to begin on October 29, 1974, but due to an injury to Steve Hackett's hand, the tour was postponed until November 12.[4] Opening night for the tour commenced at the Auditorium Theatre in Chicago, Illinois on November 20, 1974. The final show on The Lamb tour was May 27, 1975, at the Palais des Sports in Paris, France. Early into the tour, Gabriel decided he would leave Genesis, although he would finish the tour amicably with the band and not go public until August 1975.

The tour saw the summation of Peter Gabriel's interest in theatrical presentation, masks and costumes, which had initially been something to hide his shy persona behind and to give the band a distinctiveness. In addition to Gabriel's theatrics, three screens above the band showed slides to accompany the story.

Gabriel showed restraint for the first half of the show, dressed as Rael in leather jacket, T-shirt and jeans, while relying on effective lighting and dramatic expression without the use of props or costumes. During the second half, however, 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 black 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. 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 poof of smoke.

Although these visuals were, as in past concerts, meant to enhance the experience, the rest of the band became frustrated with the press focusing only on the theatrical side of the show and not the musicianship. Another problem for the band was that many fans reacted as if Gabriel was the star and the rest of the group merely his backing band. Collins stated in Hugh Fielder's 1984 book, The Book Of Genesis, 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."

The show would feature some of the band's most famous instruments, including Mike Rutherford's double neck that consisted of a MicroFret six string bass and a Rickenbacker 12 string guitar, and Phil Collins' largest drum kit with Genesis 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 (which can be heard on "In the Cage.")

Aside from the band's frustration at the amount of attention given to Gabriel, the tour was fraught with other difficulties. According to Tony Banks, the slides which accompanied the music never worked well and only came close to working perfectly on four or five occasions. Gabriel often had difficulty getting a microphone near enough to his mouth to be heard in some of his costumes, especially the Slipperman. And, during a performance of "It" in one concert 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. Still, the concerts were not without some enjoyable surprises: 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." (citation needed)

Genesis never had any of their Lamb concerts filmed in their entirety, although several pieces from the show were filmed, including some bootleg footage taken by audience members. The 5.1 DVD edition of The Lamb, 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 their Lamb performance from 24 January 1975 at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles that is available on their box set, Genesis Archive 1967-75, although it has some re-recorded vocals and guitar parts by Gabriel and Hackett, as both men were dissatisfied with their performances on the original concert recording (as well as technical flaws; e.g. Gabriel's vocals at one point being inevitably muffled by the Slipperman costume). Also, the tape ran out during the performance of "It," so a remastered version of the studio original with a new lead vocal by Gabriel is substituted.