Genesis’ Tony Banks can’t stand Lamb Lies Down on Broadway: ‘The two albums that came before work better’

Genesis’ The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway, released 40 years ago last November, has been hailed as a breakthrough song cycle, and the launching pad for frontman Peter Gabriel’s Hall of Fame solo career. So, why isn’t Genesis’ Tony Banks a fan?

“I have to say,” Banks admits in a new talk with Prog, “that my least favorite part of being in Genesis was that time of doing The Lamb.”

Credited as a co-writer on each of the double album’s 23 tracks, Tony Banks says the sessions underscored a growing schism between Genesis and Gabriel, who was busy elsewhere. Worse, when he finally returned to fashion the narrative, Banks didn’t much care for what his erstwhile leader came up with.

“It was difficult all round really, because while we were actually writing it Peter got offered to do this film script for William Friedkin and he was sort of off,” Banks says. “In a sense, we thought ‘OK, we’ll just carry on and do it without him.’ All the music that had been written at that point didn’t involve him very much, but obviously he came back and pretty much wrote the story. It was a kind of departure for us. Although I think a lot of the lyrics are great, I’m not so crazy about the story.”

A difficult tour, both in conception and interpersonally followed and, by the time it was over, Gabriel had left Tony Banks, Phil Collins, Mike Rutherford and Steve Hackett to their own devices. Elaborate set pieces failed, as did relationships. “It never worked perfectly. It would’ve been great if it had, but it never did. So it was very frustrating every night,” Banks says. “And in the middle of the tour, Peter sort of left.”

Ultimately, 1973’s predecessor project Selling England by the Pound was the better seller, reaching No. 3 in the UK — as did Genesis’ first Gabriel-less release, 1976’s subsequent Trick of the Tail. The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway, on the other hand, only got to No. 10. The earlier Foxtrot, from 1972, has also risen in critical estimation over the years.

Tony Banks, for his part, tends to return to those earlier projects. “I’m very proud of a lot of the music on there,” Banks says of The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway, “but I think the two albums that came before [Foxtrot and then Selling England By The Pound] work better as a totality.”

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  • Atlanta_Architect

    Agree.

  • DESSERTMILITIA1966

    Tony has always had a love/hate relationship with “The Lamb”, but what the article doesn’t state, is that over time, “The Lamb” is the most consistent selling album in their catalogue.
    To this day, it is one of the coolest, strangest, most enigmatic albums ever made. No one can listen to it without it it evoking strong emotions. It’s their “Metal Machine Music” from an Era when Prog bands just didnt make albums like these.
    I still love Tony though, and Genesis was/is as revered as the Beatles, the Who and the Kinks as far as I am concerned. They brought that much depth to the table.

  • Pop Kulcher

    Agreed. Aside from the debut, it’s the Gabriel-era album I listen to least. (Though I still like both of those as well.) Selling was a masterpiece, and Trespass/Cryme/Foxtrot were all great (I think Trespass is criminally underrated). While Lamb has some phenomenal tracks (the title track, Carpet Crawlers, In The Cage, Anyway, Lilywhite Lilith), the story/narrative is ultimately something of a failure, and there are some parts that really drag (Chamber of 32 Doors, anyone?).

    • Alden21

      I love chamber of 32 doors… to each his own I guess.

    • Strathclyde Bogock

      Chamber used to be my favourite Genesis track!

  • carl peart

    Checking the other comments here, it does sound as if no one( but my friends and i ) listened to the album the way it was meant to be experienced:read the story first,pass the bong around, read the lyrics while listening to the album!!Still my fave musical journey of all time–and i’ve been on quite a few!

  • Al_de_Baran

    Tony Banks doesn’t rate The Lamb highly merely out of perversity, I suspect, because most of the fans do. Banks also associates the period of that album with great unpleasantness, stress, and upheaval–fair enough. I also suspect he took Gabriel’s departure very personally, as the outcome of an internal power struggle that Gabriel alludes to frequently.

    But here’s the deal, Tony: Nothing you or the band did, before or after, individually or collectively, even approximates the brilliant achievement that was The Lamb. I get it–no one likes to think that he did his best work during his early years–but so far as I am concerned, facts are facts, and The Lamb is rightly considered to be the culminating achievement of that particular lineup.