The Genesis Story - Part Eight : The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway. By Peter Morton. Memorabilia: TWR Archive/Mino Profumo.
After the highly successful Selling England By The Pound tour which finished in America at the beginning of May 1974, the band returned to England in need of a break from writing and playing music together. Mike Rutherford went off to do some work with Anthony Phillips which later emerged as Ant’s first solo album: The Geese & The Ghost. Phil Collins also got involved with projects outside of the band and Peter Gabriel had serious thoughts about leaving the music industry altogether and to become involved with film script writing instead.
However, by mid summer, they were all back together again to start work on the next Genesis project which was to be a concept album called: The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway, an idea favoured by all of the band members. To write and rehearse for the album, the band rented Hedley Grange which had been used by the likes of Led Zeppelin. Phil Collins recently recalled those days quite clearly and remembered the house as being extremely dirty, full of rats and hardly a fit place to live and write music in.
Peter Gabriel was by now becoming quite distant from the rest of the band. His wife, Jill was pregnant with their first child, a pregnancy which was to be fraught with difficulties and with the film idea still serious in his mind he was literally given the choice by the band that if he wanted to stay in Genesis he would have to give up the film idea and commit himself fully to the band. In the end, he chose the latter, but it was obvious to the rest of the band that he was uneasy and may leave at any time.
During this period of uncertainty, Peter went off to write the story and lyrics to The Lamb… while the rest of the band remained at Hedley Grange and wrote the music. However, tings were not as hard and fast as that and Gabriel did also contribute music to several of the songs that ended up on the album.
A tour was booked to begin in England in October 1974, running into America towards the end of the year and into the first months of 1975 and on into Europe during the spring of 1975. But as the first dates of the tour approached, the album was still not ready. Even though all of the music had been written, Peter had still not finished the lyrics. In the end Tony and Mike helped him write a couple of tracks so that the deadline could be met.
The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway was finally released in November 1974 on Charisma in England and all other territories except the USA where it was released by the Atlantic Records subsidiary, Atco. It was produced by John Burns, recorded at Glospant in Wales and mixed at Island Studios in London during August - October. It reached number ten in the LP charts during December 1974.
The tour finally got under way in America half way through November with all four sides of the album being played at every show on the mammoth 102 date tour even though the album had not been released in the US when the tour began.
By the time the band reached Cleveland in December, Peter finally made the decision that he was going to leave the band. Initially only Tony Smith was told but several days later, the rest of the band were informed too. The reasons for leaving the band were many and will be explained in more detail in the next chapter of the Genesis Story.
Tony Smith for one, was shattered at the news as he saw as many others now saw, the strong potential that the band had to become one of the finest rock bands in the world. The band members on countless occasions, tried to make Peter stay in the band but his mind was made up. He felt that now was the right time to leave. With the band booked to play gigs until the end of May 1975, the worry was at first will he continue with the tour or just say OK that’s enough and leave? With the majority of gigs still to be performed, he agreed to stay on until the end of the tour.
Peter’s bizarre costumes continued throughout the Lamb…tour. Perhaps the strangest of all being the Slipperman in which he dressed as a half-human creature. He appeared on stage out of a large bubble. Rather uncomfortable to wear and most certainly a problem when trying to sing with the costume on! The microphone and its wires often getting entangled in the outfit. Even so, fans loved the show as well as all the theatrics and it went down well with the majority of critics.
The entire album was performed at all the shows with either one or two older songs added as encores. These were usually The Musical Box and either Watcher Of The Skies or The Knife, the latter depending on whether or not time permitted. At each of the shows Peter came onstage at the beginning on his own to give an introduction to “The Story of Rael”.
If you thought that the story in the centre of the album sleeve is rather heavy going, the stories that Peter told the audiences between each side of the album when performed onstage made even more interesting listening and I have transcribed one of these here…
“That particular series of events took our hero through a reconstruction of the streets of New York and into his first romantic adventure. After many months of study of all the sexual technique by numbers school of philosophy, our masterful hero has mastered all of his sexual movement from the initial arousal to completion in the magnificent time of 38 seconds flat. he achieved this magnificent accomplishment with the tick of his second hand watch and he hummed the numbers one to seventy eight in his head. Unfortunately the first testing was a dismal failure and our hero was left cuddling his own very prickly porcupine. From the Porcupine and the prickles of the porcupine he moved to the soft woollen carpet in the large corridor where hundreds of little people were obsessively moving towards a large wooden door. Through the door there was a large table with a large feast of strawberries and such like and a spiral staircase leading all the way up to a circular chamber of 32 doors. Only one of these doors is capable of taking our hero and all of the other carpet crawlers out…”
One track from The Lamb… changed its format several times while the band were on tour culminating at some later shows with Gabriel doing some of his famous Gabrielese voices towards the end. This track of course, being Evil Jam, better known to us as The Waiting Room.
John Burns, the Genesis sound engineer recorded their performance at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles on 24th January 1975. Several versions of this show have since surfaced as vinyl bootlegs under such titles as: As Through Emerald City, Revelation Without A Cause to name but two. Recently an excellent compact disc bootleg of Genesis has appeared under the title of “Genesis Live At Wembley Arena 1975” but probably this actually originates from the Shrine show too, any ideas??
Another interesting piece of information about the Shrine gig is that it was filmed by a US TV station for use on German TV. About ten minutes worth of the show including In The Cage and Musical Box and ten minutes of the band backstage still exists today.
From February to May 1975, Genesis toured Europe and were met with ecstatic audiences everywhere. Radio One recorded one of the two Wembley shows and broadcast it on July 12th 1975. The tracks were: Watcher Of The Skies/Cuckoo Cocoon/Back In NYC/Hairless Heart/Counting Out Time/Carpet Crawlers/lilywhite Lilith/The Waiting Room/Anyway/Silent Sorrow In Empty Boats/Arrival-Colony Of Slippermen-Ravine/The Light Dies Down On Broadway/Riding The Scree.
One wonders if a film actually exists of The Lamb… performed live. At the time of writing this article there is positive proof that part of the shows from Sherbrooke University and Chicago in the USA plus Kiel and Hamburg were filmed privately from the audience on 8mm format. There are also rumours of a full Lamb… show from the US and that one of the two nights at Birmingham were filmed professionally.
Two singles were also lifted from the album, neither of which achieved any notable chart success. These were:
Counting Out Time/Riding The Scree. Charisma Records CB228 and The Carpet Crawlers/Evil Jam (The Waiting Room Live) Charisma Records CB251.
Peter performed his last show with the band at St Etienne on 20th May 1975* leaving the group shortly afterwards. The end of an era but not the end of Genesis as we shall find out in the next part of the Genesis Story.
Editor’s Note: Peter’s last gig with the band actually took place at the Palais des Sports in Besancon on 27th May 1975.