Catalogue No: 9780754661474
In 1974 the British progressive rock group Genesis released their double concept album The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway. The story was described by Genesis's then front-man Peter Gabriel as a 'moral fable' about Rael, a half-Puerto-Rican New York City street tough who is engulfed by a solid cloud into a series of strange adventures in a metaphysical realm. The album is a surreal allegory drawing its material from religious, literary and psychological themes.
More than thirty years after its release, The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway still enthralls listeners, earning the distinction of being Genesis's most consistently selling back-catalogue release.
Kevin Holm-Hudson analyses The Lamb within the context of Genesis's recorded output, within the progressive rock genre as a whole, and within the context of social and political changes of the mid 1970s. The Lamb marked a conscious shift in their story setting to America, and for the first time the songs were oriented to the present rather than the past or future. Significantly, while 1974 marked the peak of music industry growth and consolidation through corporate mergers, it was also the year in which America was confronted with its limits: through the first of the OPEC energy crises, the resignation of Richard Nixon, the withdrawal from Vietnam, and the effects of runaway inflation. Genesis's native Britain was also to feel the effects of the energy crisis, intensified by a period of economic slowdown that ultimately led to the rise of Thatcherism. The Lamb is set in New York City during this time of uncertainty. Within a few years the economic constraints would affect the industry as a whole and as a result progressive rock would suffer a precipitous drop in industry support. The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway thus makes a particularly rich subject for detailed study, providing compelling intersections between the musical, textual and socioeconomic aspects of an album.
Dr Kevin Holm-Hudson, Associate Professor of Theory, School of Music, University of Kentucky, USA.
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