The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway 1975 - Genesis Remember...
PETER: Several ideas for the album were presented in order for the band to exercise a democratic vote. I knew mine was the strongest and I knew it would win - or, I knew that I could get it to win. The only other idea that was seriously considered was The Little Prince, which Mike was in favour of - a kids' story. I thought that was too twee. This was 1974; it was pre-punk but I still thought we needed to base the story around a contemporary figure rather than a fantasy creation. We were beginning to get into the era of the big, fat supergroups of the seventies and I thought, 'I don't want to go down with this Titanic'.
Once the story idea had been accepted we had all these heavy arguments about writing the lyrics. My argument was that there aren't many novels that are written by a committee. I said, 'I think this is something that only I'm going to be able to get into, in terms of understanding the characters and the situations'. I wrote indirectly about lots of my emotional experiences in 'The Lamb' and so didn't want other people colouring it. In fact there are parts of it, which are almost indecipherable and very difficult, which I don't think are very successful. The Lamia was a dream. As a boy I used to dream of being in a pool of Ribena and there were these beautiful girls swimming all around me, nibbling at my buttocks. It was in colour and was sensual, all soft, warm colours.
In some ways it was quite a traditional concept album - it was a type of Pilgrim's Progress but with this street character in leather jacket and jeans. Rael would have been called a punk at that time without all the post-'76 connotations. The Ramones hadn't started then, although the New York Dolls had, but they were more glam-punk, 'The Lamb' was looking towards West Side Story as a starting point.
MIKE: It was about a greasy Puerto Rican kid! For once we were writing about subject matter, which was neither airy-fairy, nor romantic. We finally managed to get away from writing about unearthly things, which I think helped the album.
TONY: All the lyrics were written by Peter, apart from one or two tracks, because he'd thought up the story line. He didn't really want anyone else to do it. We also had a lot of work to do, because we had decided by that time that we were going to make a double album. This meant there was a division as Pete went off and wrote the lyrics and everyone else wrote the music. By the time Pete had finished the lyrics, there were about two or three holes where there wasn't a song and we needed to write something. 'Carpet Crawlers' was one and the 'Grand Parade of Lifeless Packaging' was another.
MIKE: I think that 'The Lamb' is one of our best albums - one of our most different, anyway. We started writing and it just came out very easily. After the previous album, it was a big relief. We realized quite quickly that we had three good sides - not just two good sides and another side, but three good sides. So we had to go for a double. Pete started the lyrics and it finally became apparent we hadn't got a chance in hell of getting it finished by the deadline.
PHIL: We were living at Headley Orange this house that Led Zeppelin, Bad Company and the Pretty Things had lived in. It was a bit of a shambles - in fact they'd ripped the shit out of it. We were all living together and writing together and it went very well to start with. Pete had said he wanted to do all the words so Mike and Tony had backed off and we were merrily churning out this music. Every time we sat down and played, something good came out.
PETER: Around the time we started work on 'The Lamb' I had this call from Hollywood from William Friedkin who'd seen the story I'd written on the back of the live album and he thought it indicated a weird, visual mind. He was trying to put together a sci-fi film and he wanted to get a writer who'd never been involved with Hollywood before.
PHIL: Suddenly Peter came up and said, 'Do you mind if we stop for a bit' and we all said, 'No. Of course we don't want to stop'. It was a matter of principle more than anything else. So he said, 'OK, I want to do the film, so I'm leaving'. I remember we were sitting in the garden by the porch saying, 'What are we going to do? We'll carry on. We'll have an instrumental group', which for five minutes was a serious idea because we had a lot of music written.
MIKE: Eventually, I rang Pete one morning and said, 'Well, this is silly. Come back and we'll sort it out'. So he came back and we picked up where we left off. Slowly, as the album progressed, William Friedkin's project became more and more vague. But once that sort of thing happens, the seeds of discontent are sown.
TONY: Pete came back and we finished the album and I really enjoyed it. We used a lot of moods. 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'. We did that with lots of the other tracks. The best jam we had in the rehearsal room ended up being called 'The Waiting Room', which we called 'The Evil Jam'. We switched off all the lights and just made noises. And the first time it really was frightening.
PHIL: 'The Evil Jam' started with Steve inventing noises and Tony messing around on a couple of synthesizers - we were just mucking about with some really nasty sounds. We were all getting very intense; Peter was blowing his oboe reeds into the microphone and playing his flute with the echoplex on when suddenly there was this great clap of thunder and it started raining. We all thought, 'We've got in contact with something heavy here'. It was about five or six in the evening and we were making all these weird noises when the thunderstorm started and it began to pour down and then we all shifted gear and got into a really melodic mood.
At moments like that it really was a five-piece thing. We worked well together on 'The Lamb' - the two albums gave us the room to do it. After we had prepared all our material, we went to another house in Wales to record. We put down the backing tracks in two weeks and a month later we were still waiting for the words. Peter was well behind. Then he started saying, 'I need another piece of music to link these two songs'. We got bored with it in the end and nobody could help him because he was determined to do it on his own.
PETER: I was pretty good at manipulating but I think by 'The Lamb' the resentment towards me was so big that I had very little space and I felt the only way I could work was to go into a corner and function on my own. A lot of the melodies were written after the event - after the backing tracks had been put down.
MIKE: I think a lot of people were put off by the idea of a concept, this idea of it all hanging together. When it came out, it was a commercial failure. People talk about it now as a Genesis classic, but at the time, it died a death.
STEVE: I was an innocent bystander on 'The Lamb'. It happened despite me, not with me. All the things that I'd managed to hold back on 'Selling England By The Pound' seemed to come back in full force here. The nightmarishly long sides - everything linked to everything else. I really felt it was very indulgent and couldn't quite get to grips with it or contribute something great in a guitar sense. I don't think Tony's ever done a finer album. But I did feel the amount of stuff I was managing to put across was painfully small.
MIKE: Pete's personal life was suffering through touring and constant pressure, I think that having written all the lyrics on 'The Lamb', he would not have found it easy to go back to our previous method of songwriting. Perhaps he felt that 'The Lamb' was a good, final statement on which to leave.
STEVE: It looked as though we couldn't dissuade Pete, so I wondered what I was going to do. I started writing some material on my own. I thought at the time, 'this could be the beginning of my solo career whether I like it or not'. I went to the studio and recorded 'The Voyage of the Acolyte'. I didn't know whether I was going to come out with a bunch of outtakes, or whether it was going to be a whole album. But it turned into a complete album. I was just glad to get it done and I was even more pleased when it went silver. I hadn't felt that I was sufficiently well known as an individual. I still wasn't doing very well in the guitar polls at that point. So, I stuck with the band and trod water for a couple of years, if I'm quite honest about it.
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