The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway is a Concept Album released by Genesis in 1974. It is their last album with Peter Gabriel.The story follows a young half-Puerto Rican street kid from New York City named Rael as he embarks on a fantastical journey to find his brother John. Or something like that.... Seriously, there's an entire book that contains various interpretations of the story.
Rael's "guide to erogenous zones" in Counting Out Time, in-universe.
Artistic License - Geography: Rael comes "out of the subway" at Broadway which is evidently "just like Twenty-Second Street". The New York subway system does not work that way. Averted when performed live, as Phil Collins sometimes sings "just like Forty-Second Street" instead.
Darker and Edgier: The musical, lyrical and conceptual tone of the work was deliberately meant to be this trope, as compared to the very pastoral, English, whimsical (if often very ironic) sounds and styles they were known for prior to the work. They always had dabbled in dark (or dark-humored) themes and harder-rocking sounds, but The Lamb was a full change of pace from, say, "I Know What I Like (In Your Wardrobe)".
Dark Reprise: "The Light Dies Down on Broadway" is sort of a twisted reprise of the theme from the first song, mixed with part of The Lamia's melody.
Fake American: A half-Puerto Rican street kid from New York City would be unlikely to refer to money as "notes and coins". But he does anyway in "The Grand Parade of Lifeless Packaging". And in the next song ("Back in N.Y.C.") he says "progressive hypocrites" instead of "liberal hypocrites" — "progressive" wouldn't become a common term in America for another fifteen or twenty years.
At least he got trucks and gas stations right. Any reference to "lorries" or "filling stations" would have raised a red flag.
Gainax Ending: "It" doesn't seem to be about anything clearly related to the story, but the end of the story in the liner notes is pure crazy. Rael saves his brother John's life only to discover that he and John are actually the same person, they have an out-of-both-bodies experience, they are "outlined in yellow," and they and the scenery melt into purple haze. Figure that one out.
Ravens and Crows: A raven plays a pivotal role in the story when it flies off with the yellow tube containing Rael's genitals.
Rearrange the Song: "The Carpet Crawlers" was rerecorded for Turn It On Again: The Hits as "The Carpet Crawlers 1999" in... well... 1999. Notable for being the last time to date all five members who worked on this album — Gabriel, Hackett, Rutherford, Banks, and Collins — have performed together. Due to Collins' retirement from music, it is likely to remain that way.
Sequel First: Due to a late injury to Steve Hackett during rehearsals and the necessary switching of venue dates that followed, the American leg of the The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway tour was scheduled to happen before the album itself had even been released in the US. The band ended up playing the entirety of the album to audiences who hadn't heard it yet and certainly weren't expecting anything like that.
Shirtless Scene: Peter Gabriel during the The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway tour.
Shout-Out: Plenty of the songs' lyrics shout out or paraphrase popular standards or rock oldies of the '50's and '60's ("On Broadway", "Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head", "Needles And Pins", etc.). "The Colony Of Slippermen" 's first line is also, "I wandered lonely as a cloud".
For starters, Peter Gabriel insisted on writing all of the lyrics himself, feeling that a consistent story would be necessary. At the time, his marriage was in trouble and his newborn daughter was in an incubator. This led to most of the music being written in his absence by the Banks/Rutherford/Collins trio.
The location of the recording, Mick Jagger's Stargroves mansion, which was often a favorite recording location for Led Zeppelin, turned out be be rundown, infested by rats and was believed by band members to be haunted. The group had very little sleep, and what was supposed to be a way of solidifying group unity actually led to stress and strain for the band.
Arguments over included songs and lyrics. The other members of the band would occasionally rewrite Gabriel's lyrics to better fit their music, and Gabriel wrote several songs on his own (to bridge already-written sections) without the rest of the band's input (one of them, "The Carpet Crawlers", would be a live staple for the post-Gabriel band). Gabriel also ran into writer's block with "The Light Lies Down On Broadway", leaving Banks and Rutherford to write both music and lyrics.
In the middle of the album sessions, Gabriel received an offer to work with William Friedkin on a movie screenplay, and couldn't see why the rest of the band thought leaving in the middle of an album session might be a bad thing. Genesis' manager Tony Smith had to call Friedkin and get him to back off, which led to discontent on Gabriel's part. Gabriel made it clear he was leaving the band, although he stayed to do the live tour.
Due to stress from being creatively sidelined on the album and his own failing marriage, Steve Hackett snapped a wineglass in his hand during rehearsals, injuring tendons in his thumb and delaying the start of the tour. After some juggling of venue dates, this meant the first wing performed was the American wing, where the album hadn't been released yet. Ticket sales went "meh." Hackett would record his first solo album shortly after the tour, and leave the band within two years.
The live show was troubled by faulty equipment (including the slides meant to visually display the story). The band performed the entire double album, and only performed older, more recognized material in encores. Gabriel eschewed his trademark costumes for most of the show, and when he donned them for the second half, the overly elaborate designs prevented him from getting a microphone near his mouth, rendering the lyrics incomprehensible.
In the end, the album tanked on the charts, was savaged by critics and fans alike, and the band lost their ass on the tour, nearly breaking up in the process. For obvious reasons, almost all the members of the band treated it as an Old Shame for many years, only beginning to warm up to it much later when they could put the stress of creating it behind them.