Supper’s Ready (as made famous by Genesis)

“Supper’s Ready” is a song by the band Genesis. A recorded version appeared on their 1972 album Foxtrot, and the band performed the song regularly on stage for several years following this. Live versions appear on the albums Live at the Rainbow recorded in 1973, Seconds Out recorded in 1977, the compilation Genesis Archive 1967-75, and the box set Genesis Live 1973–2007. A reworked version also appears on Steve Hackett’s 2012 album Genesis Revisited II and its accompanying live albums Genesis Revisited: Live at Hammersmith and Genesis Revisited: Live at Royal Albert Hall.

In an interview, Peter Gabriel summed up “Supper’s Ready” as “a personal journey which ends up walking through scenes from Revelation in the Bible….I’ll leave it at that”. He was also quoted in the book I Know What I Like by Armando Gallo as saying that the song was influenced by an experience his wife had of sleeping in a purple room, and the nightmares it gave her.[1] AllMusic has described the song as the band’s “undisputed masterpiece”.[2]

Nearly 23 minutes in length, the song is divided into seven sections. A number of musical and lyrical themes do re-appear throughout. The melody of the verse in section I reappears as a flute melody between sections II and III. The melody of the chorus in section I reappears with new lyrics in the coda to section VI. The song that comprises the majority of section II reappears briefly in instrumental form at the beginning of section VI, and then returns to form the body of section VII, with new lyrics.

One commentator regarded the structure of “Supper’s Ready” as a variation of sonata form—a musicological analysis by Nors Josephson proposes that “section VII may be viewed as a Lisztian, symphonic apotheosis” of the “cyclical fanfares that originated in section II.”[3] On the other hand, the individual components of “Supper’s Ready” are much closer to traditional rock songs than they are to classical pieces, even if they contain elements of both.

The song undergoes multiple changes in time signature, key signature, Leitmotif, instrumentation, and mood.[4]

The song’s writing is credited to the whole band (Banks/Collins/Gabriel/Hackett/Rutherford). In various interviews, Banks mentioned that he composed several of the musical progressions whilst still a university student; Gabriel authored most or all of the lyrical content, as well as the “Willow Farm” section; Collins apparently contributed much to the arrangements and segues from one section to another. In Olivier Lecart’s book Genesis, Mike Rutherford hints that he was responsible for the unique rhythm of “Apocalypse in 9/8”.

I: “Lover’s Leap” (0:00 – 3:47)
This section features a gentle arpeggiated guitar backing (with Hackett, Banks and Rutherford all playing 12-string guitars), soft electric piano (Hohner pianet), bass pedals, cello and flute, and a section with folky three part vocal harmonies (which omit the third note of the chord). The only percussion used is triangle, cymbals, and bells.

Lyrically it tells of a man returning home after a long time to be greeted by his lover, and mentions supernatural imagery (“six saintly shrouded men”), which Gabriel claims relate to a genuine spiritual experience which occurred with himself, his wife Jill and producer John Anthony. According to Gabriel, during a late-night conversation, his wife began speaking with a completely different voice. Gabriel held up a makeshift cross out of a candlestick and another household item, and Jill reacted violently; (in Armando Gallo’s book, ‘I Know What I Like’, Gabriel mentions that his wife had reacted badly to sleeping in a room with purple walls, purple being ‘very high in the colour spectrum’). Jill was eventually calmed down and taken to bed, but neither Peter nor John Anthony slept that night. On another occasion, also late at night, Gabriel looked out of the window of his wife’s parents’ house to see what he perceived to be an entirely different lawn, across which seven shrouded men were walking. Gabriel recounted that these experiences led him to contemplate notions of good, evil, and the supernatural, and eventually inspired the lyrics to “Supper’s Ready”.

Hackett, however, has a different explanation: “I believe there’d been some drug taking going on. I believe she [Jill] was having a bad trip at one point, and that Pete and a friend managed to talk her round and get her out of the horrors or whatever it was. So that’s a part of what the song was about, but in a way there’s a kind of redemption implication that goes with that.”[5]

In the programme given out at Genesis concerts at the time, “Lover’s Leap” was explained as: “In which two lovers are lost in each other’s eyes, and found again transformed in the bodies of another male and female.”[6]

This segment was performed as part of an acoustic medley on the group’s 1998 Calling All Stations tour with Ray Wilson on vocals.

II: “The Guaranteed Eternal Sanctuary Man” (3:48 – 5:43)
Banks composed the chord progression whilst still at University. When performing the song live, Gabriel would don a “crown of thorns” headpiece at this point. The piece segués into the next with a “Lover’s Leap” reprise.

The programme describes this section as follows: “The lovers come across a town dominated by two characters; one a benevolent farmer and the other the head of a highly disciplined scientific religion. The latter likes to be known as “The Guaranteed Eternal Sanctuary Man” and claims to contain a secret new ingredient capable of fighting fire. This is a falsehood, an untruth, a whopper and a taradiddle, or to put it in clearer terms; a lie.”

III: “Ikhnaton and Itsacon and Their Band of Merry Men” (5:44 – 9:42)
This section is much more dynamic than the previous two, with lively drums, an elegiac electric guitar solo, and a lot of interplay between the guitar and organ (including a section with fast organ and guitar arpeggios, Hackett employing the “tapping” style of playing). The lyrics refer to a battle of some sort, presumably involving Ikhnaton.

The programme spells “Itsacon” as “Its-a-con”. It describes this section as follows: “Who the lovers see clad in greys and purples, awaiting to be summoned out of the ground. At the G.E.S.M’s command they put forth from the bowels of the earth, to attack all those without an up-to-date “Eternal Life Licence”, which were obtainable at the head office of the G.E.S.M.’s religion.”

IV: “How Dare I Be So Beautiful?” (9:43 – 11:04)
This is a slow and gentle section, the only instrumentation being treated acoustic piano chords, each chord being faded-in on the recording, thus losing the piano’s characteristic attack and sounding more like an organ (it was done on Hammond organ live). The title is a catchphrase used by the band’s early music-business contact, Jonathan King. The lyrics deal with the aftermath of the preceding battle, and referring to the Greek myth of Narcissus, who turned into a flower.

The programme describes this section as follows: “In which our intrepid heroes investigate the aftermath of the battle and discover a solitary figure, obsessed by his own image. They witness an unusual transmutation, and are pulled into their own reflections in the water.”

V: “Willow Farm” (11:05 – 15:36)
Live in concert, Gabriel would appear in his “flower mask” (by Gabriel’s own admission, partly inspired by the BBC children’s programme The Flower Pot Men). This section features vaudeville-style sections, the Mellotron Mark II’s “combined brass” tape set, sped-up vocals, and musique concrète noises of trains and explosions. Lyrically, it has a Python-esque quality, dealing with elements of the absurd in the English psyche, “there’s Winston Churchill, dressed in drag, he used to be a British flag, plastic bag, what a drag!” and numerous elements of word play, boarding schools, agricultural depravity and social conformity. The lyrics also reference Foxtrot’s cover artwork (“the fox on the rocks”) and a song from Nursery Cryme, Genesis’ previous album (“The Musical Box”).

The programme describes “Willow Farm” as follows: “Climbing out of the pool, they are once again in a different existence. They’re right in the middle of a myriad of bright colours, filled with all manner of objects, plants, animals and humans. Life flows freely and everything is mindlessly busy. At random, a whistle blows and every single thing is instantly changed into another.”

“Willow Farm” was originally a stand-alone song, with music and lyrics by Gabriel. At one point, while “Supper’s Ready” was being written and assembled, Banks or Gabriel had the idea of including “Willow Farm” in the middle of it. Banks commented that this jarring, fast-paced piece prevented “Supper’s Ready” from seeming too much like a repeat of their earlier epic “Stagnation”.[7]

After the vocal section of “Willow Farm” ends, there is a reflective interlude, not definitely belonging to either “Willow Farm” or the following “Apocalypse In 9/8”. It starts with bass pedal, electric guitar, organ and Mellotron drones, then proceeds with soft guitar and flute.

VI: “Apocalypse in 9/8 (Co-Starring the Delicious Talents of Gabble Ratchet)” (15:36 – 20:50)
At this point, the drums enter, with the rhythm section striking out a pattern using the unusual metre of 9 beats to the bar (expressed as 3+2+4).[8] The lyrics employ stereotypical apocalyptic imagery, alternating with an organ solo from Banks (played in 4
4 and 7
8 time signatures against the 9
8 rhythm section), then switching to a climactic vocal from Gabriel, and the Mellotron “three violins” tape set. Banks has said that his approach to writing the solo was to parody the style that Keith Emerson had developed with Emerson, Lake & Palmer.[citation needed] In live performances, during the organ solo, Gabriel would don a bizarre “Magog” outfit with geometrical headdress which can be seen on the cover of the band’s Genesis Live (1973) album. This headdress seems to be associated with the mention of Pythagoras-he of the Pythagorean theorem fame (Euclidean geometry). “Gabble Ratchet” is a reference to the Hounds of Hell;[9] they are usually portrayed as geese, which explains the sound effect heard during this section (18:48–18:53 on Foxtrot). They are also known as “Gabriel’s Hounds”. The programme for the 1972/3 tour refers to this section as “co-starring the delicious talents of wild geese”.[10]

The programme describes this section as follows: “At one whistle the lovers become seeds in the soil, where they recognise other seeds to be people from the world in which they had originated. While they wait for Spring, they are returned to their old world to see Apocalypse of St John in full progress. The seven trumpeters cause a sensation, the fox keeps throwing sixes, and Pythagoras (a Greek extra) is deliriously happy as he manages to put exactly the right amount of milk and honey on his corn flakes.”[6]

This segment was performed as a standalone once in 1978 and on the first leg of the 1986 Invisible Touch Tour as part of the “In the Cage”/”…In That Quiet Earth”/”Supper’s Ready” medley.

VII: “As Sure As Eggs Is Eggs (Aching Men’s Feet)” (20:51 – 22:54)
“As Sure As Eggs Is Eggs” is a folklore variation of the logical tautology that “X = X”[11] and in this context is a reference to certainty and faith—being absolutely convinced of the ultimate victory of good over evil and that God and Heaven do indeed exist. “Aching Men’s Feet” is a play on “making ends meet”.[citation needed] “Apocalypse” segues into this part via a slower section that reprises the lyrics from “Lover’s Leap” in combination with the chord progression from “The Guaranteed Eternal Sanctuary Man”, backed by a pressed snare drum roll and tubular bells. During live shows, a flash charge would be fired and Gabriel would discard his Magog costume to reveal himself in shining white apparel that glowed when exposed to black light. During one gig, he attempted flying on a kirby wire, and was nearly strangled.[citation needed] From this point to the end, drums, deep bass pedals and Mellotron brass are present, as are Blakean lyrics which reference The New Jerusalem (The Crystal City of God that is established after the death of the Anti-Christ) and the Second Coming of Christ with reference to the biblical Revelation 19:17: “There’s an angel standing in the sun. He cried with a loud voice, saying to all the birds that fly in the sky, Come! Be gathered together to the great supper of God.”

After completing the lyrics in this section, Gabriel would pick up and raise an active blacklight tube, holding it near himself, upraised with both hands, as though it were a sword. Gabriel would be the only one lit onstage at this point and would actually appear to be glowing from the combination of blacklight, his reflective white costume and fluorescent makeup. Gabriel considered this effect to be a theatrical way of symbolizing the victory of good/light over evil/darkness.

The piece fades out on overdubbing cascading electric guitar parts. On the original recording this section is in the key of A, but because of Gabriel’s inability to properly recreate the vocal performance onstage from either hoarseness or tiredness, the band regularly had to change the key to G.

The program describes this section as follows: “Above all else an egg is an egg. ‘And did those feet …………’ making ends meet. Jerusalem = place of peace.”[6]

This segment was performed as a standalone twice in 1978 and on the first leg of the 1986 Invisible Touch Tour as part of the “In the Cage”/”…In That Quiet Earth”/”Supper’s Ready” medley.

The final song on A Trick of the Tail, entitled “Los Endos”, quotes from this segment near the very end. As the band fades out, Collins can be heard singing “there’s an angel standing in the sun” twice in succession, followed by “free to get back home” as the last notes disappear. These are the only lyrics heard in the song, which is otherwise instrumental; this quote has generally been omitted from live versions (except for Steve Hackett’s Genesis Revisited: Live at the Royal Albert Hall and Genesis Revisited: Live at Hammersmith in 2012).

Live performances of “Supper’s Ready” were preceded by Peter Gabriel telling a story. At the Rainbow Theatre on 20 October 1973 (as released on the Genesis Archive 1967–75 set), Gabriel told a story about “Old Henry” featuring him whistling “Jerusalem” before announcing that “supper was ready”.

On the 1976 tour for A Trick of the Tail, Mike Rutherford told a story to introduce the song. On the following year’s tour for Wind & Wuthering, Phil Collins would tell Peter Gabriel’s “Romeo and Juliet” story from “The Cinema Show” to introduce the song. In these stories, Juliet wore a “I Love Gary Gilmore” T-shirt and instead of saying “time for ‘The Cinema Show'”, Juliet said “I want to go because I’m hungry and ‘Supper’s Ready'”.

During the 1982 tour, Collins told a story before the song. Often this story would tie in to the song itself, but on some occasions he told a Romeo and Juliet story instead. At the 1982 Genesis reunion show, Gabriel told a story about a woman on a subway train (which he had told during the Foxtrot tour, and which had appeared on the Genesis Live album cover), slightly altered to segue into “Supper’s Ready”.

After 1982, only fragments of this song were played live by Genesis. During the first leg of the Invisible Touch tour in 1986, the band played the last two parts (“Apocalypse in 9/8”, “As Sure As Eggs Is Eggs”). During the We Can’t Dance tour in 1992, Collins suggested they play “Supper’s Ready” in its entirety, but was voted down by Rutherford and Banks. Finally, on the Calling All Stations tour in 1998, Genesis performed an acoustic medley containing the first section.

The song was played live during the Foxtrot, Selling England by the Pound, A Trick of the Tail, Wind & Wuthering, …And Then There Were Three… (only played twice), Three Sides Live encore, Invisible Touch, and Calling All Stations tours.

Peter Gabriel – lead vocals, flute, bass drum, tambourine, oboe
Phil Collins – drums, backing vocals, triangle, tubular bells, percussion, whistles
Tony Banks – piano, Hohner Pianet, Hammond organ, Mellotron, treated piano, 12-string acoustic guitar
Steve Hackett – electric guitar, 12-string acoustic guitar, classical guitar, guitar effects
Mike Rutherford – bass, 12-string acoustic guitar, cello, backing vocals, Dewtron “Mister Bassman” bass pedals

The Lamia (as made famous by Genesis)

The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway is the sixth studio album by the English rock band Genesis, released as a double album on 18 November 1974 by Charisma Records. It is their last album recorded with Peter Gabriel as their lead singer before his departure from the group in 1975. A concept album, it centres around a journey of self-discovery of Rael, a Puerto Rican youth living in New York City and the bizarre incidents and characters he meets along the way. During the writing and recording sessions, Gabriel temporarily left the band to work with William Friedkin which, along with his insistence to write all the lyrics, put strains on the rest of the band.

The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway was released to initial mixed critical reception, though it has since received critical acclaim. It peaked at No. 10 on the UK Album Chart and No. 41 on the US Billboard 200. Two singles were released in the UK, “Counting Out Time” and “The Carpet Crawlers” while the title track was released as a single in the US. Genesis supported the album with their 1974–1975 tour across North America and Europe, playing the album in its entirety across 102 dates. The album continued to sell, and reached Gold certification by the Recording Industry Association of America in 1990 for shipment of 500,000 copies.

In May 1974, the Genesis line-up of frontman and singer Peter Gabriel, keyboardist Tony Banks, bassist Mike Rutherford, drummer Phil Collins, and guitarist Steve Hackett finished their 1973–1974 tour of Europe and North America to support their fifth studio album, Selling England by the Pound (1973). The album was a critical and commercial success for the group, which earned them their highest charting release in the United Kingdom and the United States. In the following month, they booked three months at Headley Grange, a large former poorhouse in Headley, East Hampshire to write and rehearse new material for their next studio album.[1][2] Upon their arrival, the building was in a state left by the previous band with excrement on the floor and rat infestations.[3] By this time, the personal lives of some members started to affect the mood in the band which started to cause complications. Hackett explained: “Everybody had their own agenda. Some of us were married, some of us had children, some of us were getting divorced. And we were still trying to get it together in the country”.[3] Banks later deemed this period of time as his least favourite of all his time in Genesis.[4]

Before discussions were held regarding the album’s contents, the band decided to record a double album as the extended format gave them the opportunity to improvise and put down more of their musical ideas.[5] Banks thought Genesis had gained a strong enough following by this point to put out two album’s worth of material that their fans would be willing to listen to.[6] They had wanted to produce a concept album that told a story for some time,[7] and Rutherford pitched an idea based on the fantasy novel The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, but Gabriel disagreed as he thought it was “too twee” and believed “prancing around in fairyland was rapidly becoming obsolete”.[8]

Gabriel presented the group with a more complicated and surreal story about Rael, a Puerto Rican youth in New York City and his spiritual journey of self-discovery and identity as he encounters several bizarre incidents and characters along the way.[9] The story was more detailed and obscure in its original form, so Gabriel refined it and made Rael the central character.[10] He chose the name Rael as he wished for one that has “no traceable ethnic origins”, but later realised The Who had previously used the name on The Who Sell Out (1967) which annoyed him at first but stuck to it.[11] He later revealed the various influences for the concept, including the novel/musical West Side Story, “a kind of punk” twist to the Christian allegory Pilgrim’s Progress (1678), the works of Swiss psychologist Carl Jung, and the surreal Western film El Topo (1971) by Alejandro Jodorowsky.[12] In contrast to Selling England by the Pound, which contained strong English themes, Gabriel made a conscious effort to avoid repetition by portraying American imagery,[7] with references to Caryl Chessman, Lenny Bruce, Groucho Marx, Marshall McLuhan, Howard Hughes, Evel Knievel and the Ku Klux Klan.[13] He also expressed some concern with the album’s title, but noted the lamb itself is purely symbolic and a catalyst for the peculiar events that occur.[14]

During the writing sessions at Headley Grange, Gabriel found himself estranged from the rest of the band which caused some friction. As he had devised the concept Gabriel insisted that he write the lyrics, leaving the majority of the music in charge with his band mates.[15] This was a departure from the band’s usual method of song writing as lyrical contributions on previous albums had always involved the other members.[16] The situation had Gabriel often secluded in one room writing the lyrics and the remaining four rehearsing in another.[17] In one instance Gabriel was unable to meet a scheduled deadline to have the lyrics finished, leaving Rutherford and Banks to write words for “The Light Dies Down on Broadway”. At other times, Banks and Hackett suggested lyrics they thought would fit their songs better, “The Lamia” and “Here Comes the Supernatural Anaesthetist” respectively, which Gabriel rebuffed.[18] Further disagreements arose during the writing period when Gabriel accepted an invitation from film producer William Friedkin to write a screenplay after Friedkin took a liking to Gabriel’s surreal story written on the sleeve of Genesis Live (1973).[19] Collins then pitched the idea of having the new studio album be purely instrumental, thinking it would favour the other members as Gabriel had made some of their earlier songs too lyrically-dense, but the idea was rejected by the rest of the group.[20] However, Gabriel’s offer with Friedkin soon came to nothing and he resumed working on the album.[21] Matters were complicated further when Gabriel spent additional time away in London when his first wife Jill underwent a risky and difficult birth of their first child in July 1974,[18] leaving Gabriel often travelling back and forth. Rutherford later admitted that he and Banks were “horribly unsupportive” of Gabriel during this time,[22] and Gabriel saw this as the beginning of his eventual departure from Genesis.[23]

After their allocated time at Headley Grange came to an end, Genesis relocated to Glaspant Manor in Carmarthenshire, Wales[24] to record using mobile recording equipment from London’s Island Studios.[25] The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway is the band’s last recording with John Burns as their co-producer, who had assumed the role since Foxtrot (1972). The band is credited as co-producers, and engineering duties were carried out by David Hutchins.[25] The recording equipment used included two 3M 24-track recorders, a Helios Electronics 30-input mixing console, Altec monitors, and two A62 Studers for mastering.[26] Burns and Gabriel experimented with different vocal effects, including recording inside a bathroom and a cowshed located two miles away from their location.[26] Rutherford thought the album’s sound was an improvement compared to past Genesis albums as it was not recorded in a professional studio, which benefited the sound of Collins’ drums.[27] Collins compared the sound of the album to that of Neil Young’s recordings made in his barn, “not studio, not soundproof, but a woody quality”.[28]

The backing tracks for the entire album were put down in roughly two weeks,[18] though Gabriel was still working on the lyrics a month later, and, in one instance, asked the band to produce additional music to fit his words that had no designated section for them. This was the case for “The Carpet Crawlers” and “The Grand Parade of Lifeless Packaging”.[26] Thinking the extra material was to be instrumental, the band found that Gabriel had sung over their new parts,[29] something that he also had done on tracks on Foxtrot (1972) and Selling England by the Pound (1973). Gabriel recorded his vocals at Island Studios, where the album was mixed over a series of shifts as the band struggled to complete the album in time of its November 1974 release date.[29] Collins recalled: “I’d be mixing and dubbing all night and then Tony and Mike would come in and remix what I’d done because I’d lost all sense of normality by that point”.[26]

The album tells the story of protagonist Rael, a half Puerto Rican youth living in New York City who experiences several bizarre situations and characters.[19] Gabriel chose to develop a character that is the least likely person to “fall into all this pansy claptrap”, and aimed for a story that contrasted between fantasy and character.[14] He explained that as the story progresses, Rael finds that he is not as “butch” as he hoped and his experiences eventually brings out a more romantic side to his personality. The ending to the story is not directly clear as Gabriel deliberately left the ending of the story ambiguous. When asked about it, Gabriel does not declare that Rael dies, though he compared the ending to the buildup of suspense and drama in a film as “you never see what’s so terrifying because they leave it up in the air without … labelling it”.[14] Several of the story’s occurrences and settings derived from Gabriel’s dreams.[30] Collins remarked the entire concept was about split personality.[31] The individual songs also make satirical allusions to mythology, the sexual revolution, advertising, and consumerism.[30]

One morning in New York City, Rael is holding a can of spray paint, hating everyone around him. He witnesses a lamb lying down on Broadway which has a profound effect on him. (“The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway”) As he walks along the street, he sees a dark cloud take the shape of a movie screen and slowly move towards him, finally absorbing him (“Fly on a Windshield”), seeing an explosion of images of the current day (“Broadway Melody of 1974”, the song’s title being a reference to MGM musical films of the same name, such as the 1936, 1938 and 1940 films) before he wakes up in a cave and falls asleep once again (“Cuckoo Cocoon”). Rael wakes up and finds himself trapped in a cage of stalactites and stalagmites which slowly close in towards him. As he tries to escape, he sees his brother John and calls for him, but John walks away and the cage suddenly disappears (“In the Cage”).

Rael now finds himself on the floor of a factory and is given a tour of the area by a woman, where he watches people being processed like packages. He spots old members of his New York City gang and John with the number “9” stamped on his forehead. Fearing for his life, Rael escapes into a corridor (“The Grand Parade of Lifeless Packaging”)[32] and has an extended flashback of returning from a gang raid in New York City, (“Back in N.Y.C.”)[33] a dream where his hairy heart is removed and shaved with a razor, (“Hairless Heart”) and his first sexual encounter (“Counting Out Time”).[34] Rael’s flashback ends, and he finds himself in a long, red carpeted corridor of people crawling towards its exit via a spiral staircase (“Carpet Crawlers”). At the top, he enters a chamber with 32 doors, surrounded by people and unable to concentrate. He finds a woman who leads him out of the chamber and into another cave, where he becomes trapped by falling rocks (“The Chamber of 32 Doors”, “Lilywhite Lilith”, “Anyway”). Rael encounters Death (“Here Comes the Supernatural Anaesthetist”) and escapes the cave.

Rael ends up in a pool with three Lamia, beautiful snake-like creatures, and has sex with them, but they die after drinking some of his blood (“The Lamia”). He leaves and finds himself in a group of Slippermen, distorted, grotesque men who have all had the same experience with the Lamias, and finds that he has become one of them (“The Arrival”). Rael finds John among the Slippermen, who reveals that the only way to become human again is to visit Doktor Dyper and be castrated (“A Visit to the Doktor”). Both are castrated and keep their removed penises in containers around their necks. Rael’s container is taken by a raven and he chases after it, leaving John behind (“The Raven”). The raven drops the container in a ravine and into a rushing underground river.

As Rael walks alongside it, he sees “a window in the bank above his head” which “reveals his home amidst the streets” (“The Light Dies Down on Broadway”). But “as the skylight beckons him to leave” -use the window to leave the odd place where he got stranded and return to his home New York-, he at the same time sees John in the river “far below”, struggling to stay afloat. Rael has to make a decision between either going to rescue his brother or take his perhaps only chance to return to his former life in New York (“The gate is fading now, but open wide, but John is drowning, I must decide, between the freedom, I had in the rat-race, or to stay forever, in this forsaken place”). Despite being deserted twice by John, Rael dives in to save him (“The Light Dies Down on Broadway”, “Riding the Scree”). The gateway to New York vanishes. Rael rescues John and drags his body to the bank of the river and turns him over to look at his face, only to see his own face instead (“In the Rapids”). His consciousness then drifts between both bodies, and he sees the surrounding scenery melting away into a haze. Both bodies dissolve, and Rael’s spirit becomes one with everything around him (“it.”).[35]

Much of the album’s music developed through band improvisations and jams which Banks found particularly enjoyable as they often jammed after setting a single idea. Examples of this was what he described as a “Chinese jam” which ended up on “The Colony of Slippermen”, one named “Victory at Sea” which was worked into “Silent Sorrow in Empty Boats”, and another known as “Evil Jam” which became “The Waiting Room”.[15][4] Though it is to a story concept, Gabriel described its format as one that is split into “self-contained song units”.[11] He thought the album contained some of the group’s best material and songs that he was most proud of during his time in Genesis.[36]

Banks recalled writing “The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway” with Gabriel which turned out to be the last track they developed which was “a pretty good song to end on”.[37] At its conclusion, the song borrows music and lyrics from the 1963 single “On Broadway” by The Drifters.[38] “Fly on a Windshield” originally came about through a band improvisation, sparked by an idea from Rutherford who suggested the idea of “Pharaohs going down the Nile” and proceed to play two chords. Banks added: “Instantly the rest of us would conjure up that particular mood.”[39] Banks was particularly fond of the part when the drums and guitar come in, calling it one of the band’s best ever moments.[12] Hackett chose to play “Egyptian phrases” and noted the group used a similar modulation to that of the end section of Bolero by Maurice Ravel.[15] “Back in N.Y.C.” presents Genesis adopt a more aggressive sound than past compositions and includes Gabriel singing an expletive in the line “I’m not full of shit”.[33] A personal highlight for Collins is “Silent Sorrow in Empty Boats”[40] and “The Waiting Room” which developed as a “basic good to bad soundscaping” jam while it was raining, before they stopped and a rainbow formed outside. Collins said that, “Steve [Hackett] played these dark chords, then Peter [Gabriel] blows into his oboe reeds, then there was a loud clap of thunder and we really thought we were entering another world or something. It was moments like that when we were still very much a unified five-piece”.[12]

“The Carpet Crawlers” developed at a time when Gabriel had written some lyrics but there was not any music written for them. The band put together a chord sequence[41] “in D, E minor and F-sharp minor with a roll from the drums flowing through it”.[12] Gabriel spent “hours and hours” on an out of tune piano in the house of his then-wife Jill’s parents in Kensington to develop it.[42] Jill later spoke of Gabriel’s particular fondness of the track.[43] “Anyway” and “Lilywhite Lilith” developed from two early unreleased songs, “Frustration” and “The Light” respectively.[21] Hackett’s guitar solo on “Counting Out Time” features him playing an EMS Synthi Hi-Fli guitar synthesizer.[44] During the mixing sessions at Island Studios, Brian Eno was working on his album Taking Tiger Mountain (By Strategy) (1974) in the adjacent studio. Gabriel asked Eno to add synthesized effects on his vocals on several tracks including “The Grand Parade of Lifeless Packaging”,[45] which he dubbed on the album’s credits as “Enossification”.[25] As a repayment, Eno asked Collins to play drums on his track “Mother Whale Eyeless”.[46]

Hipgnosis designed the album’s artwork. In a departure from their previous albums that featured more colourful designs, the front cover of The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway makes use of black and white and no colour. The band’s logo, originally designed by Paul Whitehead and used on Nursery Cryme (1971) and Foxtrot (1972), was replaced by a new one in an Art Deco style by George Hardie. The left picture on the front depicts Rael in the area where “In the Rapids” and “Riding the Scree” are set.[26]

The band considered releasing the album as two single albums released six months apart.[26] Gabriel later thought this idea would have been more suitable, as a double album contained too much new material, and the extra time would have given him more time to work on the lyrics.[26] Nevertheless, The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway was released as a double album on 18 November 1974,[47] days before the start of its supporting tour. It became the band’s highest charting album since their formation, peaking at No. 10 on the UK Albums Chart[48] in December 1974 during its six-week stay on the chart,[49] and No. 41 on the US Billboard 200[50] in 1975.[47] Elsewhere, the album reached No. 15 in Canada[51] and No. 34 in New Zealand.[52] Two singles were released; “Counting Out Time” with “Riding the Scree” as its B-side, was released on 1 November 1974.[26] The second, “The Carpet Crawlers” with a live performance of “The Waiting Room (Evil Jam)” from the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, followed in April 1975. The album continued to sell, and reached Gold certification by the British Phonographic Industry on 1 February 1975,[53] and Gold by the Recording Industry Association of America for sales in excess of 500,000 copies on 20 April 1990.[54]

Members of the group expressed some concern about the album’s critical reception[according to whom?], and expected to receive some negative responses over its concept[according to whom?] and extended format. Banks hoped the album would end people’s comparisons of Genesis to Yes and Emerson, Lake & Palmer, two other popular progressive rock bands of the time[according to whom?]. Gabriel knew the album’s concept was ideal for critics “to get their teeth into”.[58]

In an interview published in Melody Maker in October 1974, shortly before the album’s release, Gabriel played several tracks from the album to reporter Chris Welch, including “In the Cage”, “Hairless Heart”, “The Carpet Crawlers”, and “Counting Out Time”. Welch wrote, “It sounded superb. Beautiful songs, fascinating lyrics, and sensitive, subtle playing, mixed with humour and harmonies. What more could a Genesis fan desire?” He singled out Collins’ playing as “outstanding”.[11] Welch’s review for Melody Maker published a month later included his belief of such long, concept albums: “A few golden miraculous notes and some choice pithy words are worth all the clutter and verbiage” and called the album a “white elephant”.[58] For NME, Barbara Charone wrote highly of the album. She summarised the album as a combination of the “musical proficiency” on Selling England by the Pound (1973) with the “grandiose illusions” on Foxtrot (1972) and “a culmination of past elements injected with present abilities and future directions”. Charone thought the album had more high points than any previous Genesis album apart from some “few awkward instrumental moments on side three”. Each member received praise for their performances, including Hackett coming across as a more dominant member of the group with his “frenetic, choppy style”, Collins’ backup harmony vocals and Rutherford’s “thick, foreboding bass chords and gentle acoustics”.[59] Colin Irwin wrote a negative review of the “Counting Out Time” single, with its “weary, tepid approach” and a “woeful, dreary three and a half minutes”.[60]

Since its release, the album has been met with critical acclaim. In 1978, Nick Kent wrote for NME that it “had a compelling appeal that often transcended the hoary weightiness of the mammoth concept that held the equally mammoth four sides of vinyl together”.[61] In a special edition of Q and Mojo magazines titled Pink Floyd & The Story of Prog Rock, the album ranked at No. 14 in its 40 Cosmic Rock Albums list.[62] The album came third in a list of the ten best concept albums by Uncut magazine, where it was described as an “impressionistic, intense album” and “pure theatre (in a good way) and still Gabriel’s best work”.[63] AllMusic reviewer Stephen Thomas Erlewine gave a retrospective rating of five stars out of five. He notes that despite Gabriel’s “lengthy libretto” on the sleeve “the story never makes sense”, though its music is “forceful, imaginative piece of work that showcases the original Genesis lineup at a peak … it’s a considerable, lasting achievement and it’s little wonder that Peter Gabriel had to leave … they had gone as far as they could go together”.[47]

A Rolling Stone readers’ poll to rank their favourite progressive rock albums of all time placed the album fifth in the list.[64] In 2014, readers of Rhythm voted The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway the fourth greatest drumming album in the history of progressive rock.[65] In 2015, NME included the album in its “23 Maddest and Most Memorable Concept Albums” list for “taking in themes of split personalities, heaven and hell and truth and fantasy”.[66] The album was one of two from Genesis included in the top ten of the Rolling Stone list of the 50 Greatest Prog Rock Albums of All Time. They described it as “one of rock’s more elaborate, beguiling and strangely rewarding concept albums”.[67]

Banks later thought the album’s concept is the weakest thing about it, though the lyrics to some of the individual songs are “wonderful”.[68] Mike Rutherford said that, while the album is a fan favorite, it was a grueling album to work on and had a lot of highs, but also a lot of lows. Steve Hackett remarked how his guitar was underutilized compared to past albums, but thought the album had a lot of beautiful moments and has grown on him over time. On Genesis: Together and Apart, Peter Gabriel stated the album, along with “Supper’s Ready”, were his two high points with the band. Also on the documentary, Phil Collins said that the band created their best music on the album. He also cites it as his favourite Genesis album.[69]

Genesis supported the album with a 102-date concert tour across North America and Europe,[70] playing the album in its entirety with one or two older songs as encores.[71] Such a format was not supported by the entire band considering most of the audience were not yet familiar with the large amount of new material. It was to begin on 29 October 1974 with an 11-date tour of the UK that sold out within four hours of going on sale, but they were rescheduled for 1975 after Hackett needed time to recover after severing a tendon in his left hand.[72] The tour began on 20 November in Chicago,[43] and ended on 22 May 1975 in Besançon, France.[70] The last two scheduled concerts on 24 and 27 May in Toulouse and Paris, respectively, were cancelled due to low ticket sales.[31] Gabriel marked the occasion of his final show with the group by playing the “Last Post” on his oboe.[73] Hackett estimated the band’s debts at £220,000 at the tour’s end.[74]

Rutherford, Gabriel, and Collins performing in 1974 during The Lamb… tour. Gabriel is wearing the Slipperman costume.
The tour featured at the time some of the biggest instruments used by the band, including Rutherford’s double-neck Rickenbacker and the largest drum kit ever used by Collins. The tour’s stage show involved three backdrop screens that displayed 1,450 slides, designed by Geoffrey Shaw, from eight projectors[75] and a laser lighting display.[76] Banks recalled the slides only came close to working perfectly on four or five occasions.[31] The tour was the high point of Gabriel’s use of theatrics and costumes. He changed his appearance with a short haircut and styled facial hair[11] and dressed as Rael in a leather jacket, T-shirt and jeans. During “The Lamia”, he surrounded himself with a spinning cone-like structure decorated with images of snakes. In the last verse, the cone would collapse to reveal Gabriel wearing a body suit that glowed from lights placed under the stage. “The Colony of Slippermen” featured Gabriel as one of the Slippermen, covered in lumps with inflatable genitalia that emerged onto the stage by crawling out of a penis-shaped tube.[30] Gabriel recalled the difficulty in placing his microphone near his mouth while in the costume.[31] Collins admitted at times the tour was ostentatious and “inspiration for Spinal Tap.” For “it.”, an explosion set off twin strobe lights that reveal Gabriel and a dummy figure dressed identically on each side of the stage, leaving the audience clueless as to which was real. The performance ended with Gabriel vanishing from the stage in a flash of light and a puff of smoke.[31] During the final concert of the tour, roadie Geoff Banks acted as the dummy on stage, wearing nothing but a leather jacket.[21]

In one concert review, the theatrics for “The Musical Box”, the show’s encore and once the band’s stage highlight, was seen as “crude and elementary” compared to the “sublime grandeur” of The Lamb… set.[77] Music critics often focused their reviews on Gabriel’s theatrics and took the band’s musical performance as secondary which irritated the rest of the band.[78] Collins later said, “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.”[21] The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame called the tour “a spectacle on par with anything attempted in the world of rock to that point”.[79]

During their stop in Cleveland in November 1974, Gabriel told the band he would leave at its conclusion.[71] A statement he wrote to the English press titled “Out, Angels Out” was published in August 1975[80]. In it he explained his disillusion with the music industry and wanted to spend extended time with his family.[81] Banks later stated, “Pete was also getting too big for the group. He was being portrayed as if he was ‘the man’ and it really wasn’t like that. It was a very difficult thing to accommodate. So it was actually a bit of a relief.”[71]

Peter Gabriel – lead vocals, flute, varied instruments, “experiments with foreign sounds”
Steve Hackett – acoustic and electric guitars
Mike Rutherford – bass guitar, 12-string guitar
Tony Banks – Hammond T-102 organ, RMI 368x Electra Piano and Harpsichord, Mellotron M-400, ARP Pro Soloist synthesizer, Elka Rhapsody string synthesizer, piano
Phil Collins – drums, percussion, vibraphone, backing vocals, second lead vocal on “The Colony of Slippermen”

The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway (as made famous by Genesis)

“The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway” is the first song from Genesis’s 1974 album of the same name. The song was released as a single in the U.S.. Although it did not chart, it was frequently played on American FM radio stations.

Like other songs on the album, the music and lyrics in “The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway” are partially derived from 1960s soul songs. The end of the song features the words “They say the neon lights are bright on Broadway. They say there’s always magic in the air” from The Drifters’ song “On Broadway”. The studio recording features a variation on the former lyric (“They say the lights are always bright on Broadway”), but subsequent live recordings feature the original.

The bass-playing on the song by Mike Rutherford has been described as having “connotations of aggressive energy” that fits in well with the concept album’s angry and defiant character Rael.[1]

Peter Gabriel – lead vocals
Phil Collins – drums, bell-tree, glockenspiel, triangle, wind chimes, tambourine, timbales, backing vocals
Tony Banks – piano, RMI Electra Piano
Mike Rutherford – fuzz bass
Steve Hackett – electric guitars

Dancing With The Moonlit Knight (as made famous by Genesis)

“Dancing with the Moonlit Knight” is a song by the progressive rock band Genesis. It was released on their 1973 album Selling England by the Pound. The song was originally going to be titled “Disney”.[1]

The album takes its name from a lyric in the song.

Chris Jones of BBC Music wrote that the song “gives the perfect snapshot of what Genesis were about at this point”.[2]

The song was developed from several brief piano pieces composed by frontman Peter Gabriel, which were later combined with some of Steve Hackett’s guitar figures to make up the song.[3]

Gabriel contributed English-themed lyrics to “Dancing with the Moonlit Knight”, because the music press thought that Genesis were putting too much effort into appealing to the American audiences. He also included some references to Green Shield Stamps in the lyrics.[4] Rolling Stone wrote that the song was an “epic commentary on contemporary England”.[5]

The song’s ending, which contains a number of 12-string guitar figures, was originally supposed to segue into “The Cinema Show” (another song on the album) to make a song of around 20 minutes in length. This idea was scrapped, because it was too similar in length to the 23-minute song “Supper’s Ready” from Foxtrot, the band’s previous record.[4]

In an interview, Hackett said of the song:

That tune started off with the influence of a Scottish song, then it moved into something that I think of in a more elegiac way — something nostalgic and wistful, and common to a lot of Genesis tunes. Then it bursts forth, it fights off its shackles, really takes off like a rocket, into another section, which seems to borrow from something that sounds more Russian in a way. It’s European, but then at times, it turns into the jazz that I liked originally — but big band, with the accents.[6]

When performed live, “Dancing with the Moonlit Knight” had Gabriel dressed in a Union Jack dress, helmet and lance. The song was performed in 1973 and the year after, but was dropped from the band’s setlist once The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway was released, and only rarely did it show up afterwards.[7]

The Musical Box (as made famous by Genesis)

“The Musical Box” is a song by English progressive rock band Genesis, which was originally released on their third studio album Nursery Cryme in 1971.[1] The song is written in the key of F# major.

Though credited solely to Banks/Collins/Gabriel/Hackett/Rutherford, “The Musical Box” began as an instrumental piece written by Anthony Phillips[2] called “F#” (later released as “Manipulation” on the Box Set remaster). The lyrics are based on a Victorian fairy story written by Gabriel, about two children in a country house. The girl, Cynthia, kills the boy, Henry, by cleaving his head off with a croquet mallet. She later discovers Henry’s musical box. When she opens it, “Old King Cole” plays, and Henry returns as a spirit, but starts aging very quickly. This causes him to experience a lifetime’s sexual desire in a few moments, and he tries to persuade Cynthia to have sexual intercourse with him. However, the noise causes his nurse to arrive, and she throws the musical box at him, destroying them both. The album cover shows Cynthia holding a croquet mallet, with a few heads lying on the ground.[3]

Collins unusually uses mallets on his drums during the flute solo and Gabriel also plays oboe during the ‘Old King Cole’ section. Hackett, Banks and Rutherford all play 12-string acoustic guitars. Mick Barnard added guitar parts towards the end of the song during his brief tenure with the band when they would rehearse it that the band liked. Hackett kept both the guitar parts from Phillips and Barnard, while adding his own pieces to the song as well.

In live performances, Peter Gabriel would wear an “old man” mask for the final verse and unzip the chest part of his black jumpsuit. Dramatic lighting would be used each time he shouted “NOW!”. “The Musical Box” was featured in their live repertoire right up to Phil Collins’ departure after the We Can’t Dance tour in 1992, albeit with only the closing section being included as part of a medley.