The band's final album with Gabriel is a conceptual masterpiece...
Daryl Easlea 2007-04-23
It's no wonder that Peter Gabriel left Genesis after this album. It's the sound of a leader moving sharply in the opposite direction to their band. A showman onstage and a painfully shy man off, he’d been approached by The Exorcist director William Friedkin, impressed with short story Gabriel had written on the back of Genesis Live, with regards to him writing a screenplay. Gabriel took himself away from the rest of the group, who retreated to the country to write the music for what was to become The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway. Although the film idea came to nothing, the resulting album is occasionally confused, yet frequently brilliant.
The first disc contains some of the most visceral, thrilling music the group ever recorded – the dense “In The Cage” condenses the side-long pomp of previous epics into eight exhilarating minutes; “Back In N.Y.C”, later covered by Jeff Buckley, is raw, aggressive rock; “The Chamber Of 32 Doors” contains one of Gabriel’s most soulful vocals; and “The Carpet Crawlers” gave the group a standard which remained in their live set for years. The second disc, some very real highlights aside (“it.” “Lilywhite Lilith”), could have benefited from editing. However, it is never less than interesting and still impossible not to listen to all the way through.
The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway, along with Tales From Topographic Oceans by Yes has come to be dismissed as reductive shorthand for all that is grim about progressive rock. However, concept aside (a sort of modern day Pilgrim's Progress centering on Rael, a Puerto-Rican leather clad street punk), this is dense, brittle music, that looks as much to harder-edge rock than to anything resembling a madrigal. The problem was, the rest of the band would have rather gone down the madrigal route. At the end of the world tour to support the album, Gabriel left the band.