Rock Operas, Episode II – The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway

After two side posts, here I am again with yet another rock opera. As promised, this time I bring you early Genesis (12 years before their hit Invisible Touch and 6 before Turn it on again) and their magnum-opus, their “big lump story of music”, in Peter Gabriel’s words.

The album tells the surreal story of a half Puerto Rican juvenile delinquent named Rael living in New York City, who is swept underground to face bizarre creatures and nightmarish dangers in order to rescue his brother John.

Their live shows were largely theatrical (check next picture), with Gabriel changing customs (check the last picture – a slipperman) a lot and with a lot of scenario-related props. However, they differed from their contemporaneous bands in that they still focused on presenting very well structured music, rather than only on the show, as Circus’ Ron Ross said:

“Where groups from the Who to ELP [Emerson, Lake and Palmer] impress their fans
visually with walls of amplified thunder-machinery, Genesis’ [sic] set is virtually bare of
electric equipment. Steve Hackett and Mike Rutherford’s amps are so well hidden that
their music often appears to emanate from the air itself. No mountains of synthesiser
technology surround Tony Banks. Aside from the panoramic three-part slide screen
and an odd little rock formation at the center of the stage, the most striking “prop” is
Phil Collins’ beautifully complete and well-ordered drum kit. It is almost a sculpture in
itself, but, of course, its function is strictly musical.”

The show would start with Peter Gabriel, dressed like a common pub-rocker, saying these words:

Good evening. We’ve written a big lump of story and music and we’d like to play the whole thing for you tonight. It tells of how a large black cloud descends into Time
Square and straddles out across 42nd Street, turns into a wall and sucks in Manhattan Island. Our hero, named Rael, crawls out of the subways of New York and is sucked
into the wall, to regain consciousness underground. This is the story of Rael.

Then, Tony Banks’ keyboard would sound, just like this:

For me, the best song of the whole 90 minutes is In The Cage, which deals with fear. At this point Rael has awakened trapped in a cave in a state of great fear and sensory agitation.

Probably one of the better know songs from this album is Carpet Crawlers:

Peter Gabriel as a Slipperman

I’m sorry for not explaining better the whole meaning of this, but, in opposition to the first episode the story is not as straightforward, having many dreams and creatures, and hidden meanings… There’s even books written about this, such as the very good  Genesis and The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway by Kevin Holm-Udson, from which I took some of the info here posted.

I really hope you liked this small sample of the great music created by Genesis, as I completely love their 70’s work..

Stay tuned for the next episode, Jesus Christ Superstar!

A treat to many of our viewers: Não percam o próximo episódio, porque nós, também não!

EDIT: If you want to read the whole story, here it is.

The Power of Music


Probably the greatest art mankind ever created. It has such an influence on people, on their moods, their actions, their feelings. Most of the songs we posted here mean something to us (especially Gonçalo’s childhood stories :P), and each of us experiences different sensations, extracts different meanings, by listening to a song.

But music is also very powerful in what comes to activism. Star musicians have a great influence on their fans, and they use it to raise awareness to problems such as the human rights, or aids, or other charitable causes. That is what may be called musical activism.

The man of whom I’m going to speak about is a major exponent in musical activism, Peter Gabriel, being associated with the Amnesty International since 1986. He, together with Virgin’s owner Richard Branson, proposed to Nelson Mandela the creation of a group of world leaders, a council with the purpose of “working objectively and without any vested personal interest to solve difficult global conflicts” [in Wikipedia]. Mandela created the Global Elders, with personalities like Desmond Tutu, Graça Machel, Jimmy Carter and Kofi Annan.

In 1986, he participated in an Amnesty International tour, where he played to thousands of people. He finished that concert with his song Biko, which was written as a tribute to Steven Biko, an anti-apartheid activist who was brutally killed in 1977 by the South-african police on room 619. This version of the song is very emotional (it gives me goosebumps) with the entire stadium singing the lines: Biko, oh Biko!

In 2011, Peter released an album of stripped-down covers with an orchestra, called “Scratch my back”, with the intention of releasing an album where the covered artists would cover songs by himself, named “I’ll Scratch Yours”. In this album, he recorded “The Boy in the Bubble”, a song by Paul Simon, which in turn covered Biko. The result is a very nice interpretation, as Simon totally revamped the song, almost turning it into one of his own.

Unsophisticated post

After a series of quite sophisticated posts in which the authors share with you their knowledge, I decided to make a short – to be precise, it was not a quite decision, it was more a constraint, as I do not know the artist (this is the only song I know), and 5 minutes ago I did not even know that the song was a cover (turns out that the original belongs to Peter Gabriel!).

Anyway, here’s a song with great feeling that I hope you like 😉

PS – I must thank Emule for getting to know this song. Emule is the best place to get songs with an incorrect author (I had this song as belonging to Ben Harper).