The Lamb Rock Opera (Vintage Masters Premium Series VM-008A/B)
Shrine Auditorium, Los Angeles, CA – January 24th, 1975
Disc 1 (63:57): Introduction Rael Story I, The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway, Fly On a Windshield, Broadway Melody Of 1974, Cuckoo Cocoon, In The Cage, The Grand Parade Of Lifeless Packaging, Introduction Rael Story II, Back In N.Y.C., Hairless Heart, Counting Out Time, The Carpet Crawlers, The Chamber Of 32 Doors, Introduction Rael Story III, Lilywhite Lilith, The Waiting Room, Anyway
Disc 2 (62:30): Introduction Rael Story IV, Here Comes The Supernatural Anesthetist, The Lamia, Silent Sorrow In Empty Boats, The Colony Of Slippermen : The Arrival, Ravine, The Light Dies Down On Broadway, Riding The Scree, In The Rapids, It, Watcher Of The Skies, The Musical Box
Genesis’ The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway performance at the Shrine Auditorium is the most heavily documented. Recorded and broadcast over the KBFH network, it has existed on bootleg dating from its initial vinyl release in 1975. As Though Emerald City (The Amazing Kornyfone TAKRL 1945) was limited to one hundred numbered copies on multi-colored vinyl. The first pressing used the plain white “World Record” label and the reissue (T19413/183) utilized the “Spunk” label. Revelation Without A Cause (Wizard – WRMB 313) is another vinyl issue from the late seventies.
On CD this was pressed on Twilight Alehouse (Flashback World Productions 10.80.0109) where parts of the tape were released along with the old single “Happy The Man” and “Twilight Alehouse.” Since King Biscuit didn’t broadcast the entire show none of these titles is complete. Moreover the show is incomplete and presented out of order. The first encore “Watcher Of The Skies” opens the disc and the Lamb portion runs from “In The Cage” to “It.” The second encore “The Musical Box” and the Lamb track “Lilywhite Lilith” are the final two songs.
A more complete version of this show was released officially on Genesis Archives Vol. 1: 1967-1975 in 1998. Fans complained about this since Peter Gabriel dubbed his vocals and Steve Hackett mixed in new guitar parts. The two encores are also omitted from the official release since, as Genesis’ management explained, the tape ran out during “It.” Why they didn’t just use the radio broadcast commonly available on the unofficial titles is a mystery.
The Lamb Rock Opera is another Vintage Masters Premium silver release of a show posted on Wolfgang’s Vault. The sound quality is a nice and clear and well balanced. The only flaws in the mix occur because of Peter Gabriel’s costumes interfering with his delivery of the vocally demanding material. The tour for Genesis’ 2LP rock opera was the final with Peter Gabriel, who announced his departure to the band before the tour even began. It started with two trips around North America, moving on to Europe, then to England and finally ending on the continent in France.
The first North American tour began on November 20th, 1974 in Chicago and ended at Century Theater in Buffalo, New York. After a three week break the tour picked up again on January 9th, 1975 in West Palm Beach, Florida and ended up at the Arie Crown Theater McCormick Place in Chicago on February 4th. This show in Los Angeles is right in the middle and is a problematic but overall a very good show. The tape cuts in during Gabriel’s introduction of the story of Rael.
The band sound nervous but hit a good stride with “In The Cage”, one of their favorite stage numbers that stayed in the set-list for the next twenty years (give or take a tour or two).
“At this particular point in the story our hero Rael is moving underground in an almost perfect reconstruction of the streets of New York City. And with his childhood memories he begins to think about his first romantic adventures….” before speaking about the erogenous zones before “Back In N.Y.C.” Many have pointed out the performance of “Back In N.Y.C.” as being quite poor, but Gabriel spits out the lyrics with particular venom.
“Hairless Heart” is one of the big Steve Hackett numbers, one he plays even now on his solo tours, but this version sounds slightly tentative and is obvious why Hackett chose to re-record his part for the official release. “Carpet Crawlers” is an all-time classic rendition with Tony Banks delivering a particularly poignant version of the latter. In the third Rael story Gabriel picks up the narrative, speaking about the hero being lead by Lilywhite Lilith into a cave and Rael seeing the bright light filling the room. In general, travelogue instrumentals are difficult to pull off given the high probability of being too obscure.
But “The Waiting Room” works very well in this place between the straight recitative of “Lilywhite Lilith” and the introspective “Anyway.” “Mr. Phil Collins on my radiant left” he says afterwards. Gabriel’s final Rael story is as obscure as the narrative of the piece, speaking about “windscreen wipers.”
“Here Comes The Supernatural Anesthetist” is the beginning of the finale and features Gabriel sharing vocals with Collins augmented by Hackett’s delicate melodies. Two firecrackers go off near the beginning of “The Lamia”, which is an eight minute long piece which reiterates musical themes from earlier in the work in a hazy, dreamy fantasia. “The Colony Of Slippermen: The Arrival” elicits two cheers from the audience.
The first is when Gabriel arrives onstage wearing the costume, and the second is when the genitalia become deflated. The vocals during this piece are louder than the others, probably because he had to hold the mike close to his mouth in the enormous costume. “The Light Dies Down On Broadway” is a reprise of the title song but in a slower, sadder key until the work ends with the up-tempo closer “It.”
This isn’t the best version since Collins drops his sticks in the middle of the piece. Genesis rewards the Los Angeles audience with two encores, “Watcher Of The Skies” and “The Musical Box.”
Some have called the latter one of the best versions of the classic and it is certainly very good. Bits of “The Colony Of Slipperman” and “The Musical Box” surfaced a couple years ago on a German television show which confirms this concert was also professionally filmed.
Since the band are re-releasing their entire catalog with a DVD accompanying each LP perhaps that too will see official release next spring when that box is due to arrive.
The Lamb Rock Opera is packaged in a double slimline jewel case with simple, yet effective artwork based upon the LP’s cover art. Since the sound quality is uniformly excellent, this is a good way to own a silver pressed version of this classic concert. Wolfgang’s Vault has several other Genesis concerts in the archive, which have yet to be released in a complete form, and one hopes that the future will be productive for Genesis in this regard.If you liked this review, buy me a cup of joe. (Suggested: $3 a shot or $7.5 for a double)