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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