"Lamb Memories" (Part One) - A recollection of a fan's first impressions of Genesis' "The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway" album. Article by Andy Wilkinson.This was the big night: the days of catching a local bus to watch Genesis play a college or club in front of 250 people were now long past us. We had followed the band through hell and high water but the trials and tribulations of 1971/72 (when the sound was often beset with annoying levels of hum and feedback), paled after an always stunning performance, full of magic; drama and sheer musical delight.
The band were making steady progress, albeit frustratingly slowly and unspectacularly in the early days. Word was out: this was the band to see "live" and they never failed to please the ever growing numbers who flocked to pay homage to an ideal of unlimited potential. Yes, it was a struggle but things were on the up and up and brighter horizons were assuredly on the way. The release of "Foxtrot" further cemented and enhanced their appeal; they had entered the realms of "Rock Theatre" as PG brought us into his weird and wonderful world in a serenade of strange and uncomfortable guises.
The transition from college gig to a full scale tour took them into larger theatres that were a perfect setting for the new Genesis wide-screen presentation of their feature length tragedies and musical narratives. "Selling England By The Pound" broke new ground with equally as many twists and turns; the band were now recognised as musically accomplished; original and going places.
The press took notice: "The Pound Recovers" heralded one of the major rock weeklies; and this remember, was Britain during a time of economic strife and gloom. Next, another full scale tour that included five record breaking nights at London's Drury Lane Theatre and sell-out crowds all over the UK. North America also beckoned and the boys were off to take their unique brand of music and theatre across the waters. At long last; success was breeding more success for the group.
But what next? My friend's brother, who worked at EMI's record pressing plan in Hayes, Middlesex, purloined an early copy of their new release before it went on sale to the general public. Minus sleeve and only having sides one and two; we eagerly placed the disc on the turntable in his bedroom. The next forty five minutes brought a period of such high intensity listening; it severely assaulted the senses at all levels. I was dumb struck; my friend was mortified; "It's bloody different!" was all he could say. Gone were the familiar twelve string strains that painted eloquent pictures of a pastoral English bygone age (almost a Genesis trademark) and we were left with a monster of a work that excited, baffled, challenged, and even threatened with its uncompromising new direction, and a subject matter so totally removed from what had gone before. And we had only heard half the album!
The big question was; would we buy this new Genesis venture? If two committed followers were having problems with this; what of the music press? I recall decidedly mixed reviews that ranged from the ecstatic to total write-offs of a preposterous and utterly pretentious meandering. It certainly sparked a reaction from all quarters! Over the coming weeks I played the entire album over and over again - I warmed to it and eventually it took me over, hook line and sinker. If Peter wanted to take me to the urban dereliction of NYC and the experiences of a Puerto Rican street kid, who was I to complain? Having gotten out of the culture shock of Genesis not playing music based on English Victorian images, Greek mythology and socio-comic figures, it became a refreshing challenge. Yes, it was a hell of a shock to many, but the music was as powerful and evocative as ever.
Thanks for that, Andy. Next time round we have Andy's recollections of the tour which followed the release of the album.