In some ways, Genesis working on their new album at Led Zeppelin’s old stamping ground, Hedley Grange in rural Hampshire was probably fitting they would collaborate together on their very final studio album featuring Peter Gabriel. Both Phil and Steve reflected in hindsight how it was a strange and weird time in their lives. Phil’s parting recollection of this album and the final tour concert, 22 May 1975, in his autobiography, “Not Dead Yet,” sums it up best with this quote: “It’s our last gig with Peter. It’s the last time we’ll see him crawling through a big cock.” Prog definitely has it’s defining moments for sure.
And what an album and tour it was. Ever thematic, Genesis reached deep and pulled out one of the giant Prog concept albums of all time with, The Lamb Lies down On Broadway. Their sixth studio album was released on 18 November 1974 to mixed reviews and chart-wise rose to number 10 in the UK and number 41 in the USA. What quickly followed was a 102-date concert tour booked across North America and Europe where they performed the double LP in its entirety to fans who many who had not yet even heard their new album. It would be unkind to say shades of Rick Wakeman’s The Myths and Legends of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table on ice, but the tour saw Gabriel going all out gangbusters with his use of theatrics and costumes to make the story of Rael come to life on stage. That is of course when the equipment and props worked properly. Three backdrop screens and 1,450 slides with laser lighting displays helped, but it wasn’t initially a commercial success by any means. The band saw half filled event centres when they played, and to add insult to injury the last concert of the tour in Toulouse, France was cancelled due to lack of interest from the fans. It’s no wonder the album and the tour sticks firmly in people’s minds for all sorts of reasons. Mike would later reflect in his own autobiography, The Living Years, “I never found playing The Lamb Lies down on Broadway particularly satisfying.”
But what about the album itself? Just when you thought the four-sided concept LP had been laid to rest with “Tales From Topographic Oceans,” Genesis delivers their own epic tale of a young man’s journey or rite of passage through the harsh streets of a large city that Roger Waters would emulate soon enough with his own genius outing of some of his inner demons on “The Wall.” Not so much musically apocryphal in its intention Genesis none-the-less almost created the soundtrack to Joseph Campbell’s, “The Hero With A Thousand Faces” or as Gabriel called it, “… a ‘Pilgrim’s Progress’ on the streets of New York.” Certainly this one album saw well over a thousand faces involved in not only the making of, but also the subsequent shows they took on the road, and as author (among other things) Jon Kirkman has beautifully crafted and bound into one delicious volume in his new book, “… And The Lamb, lies Down, On Broadway” Jon has carefully covered all facets of the band’s history during this period. Not only has he managed to acquire rare photos and interviews with some of the key people involved around this album including band members, management, art direction, even the record company, devoting chapters for each one, he’s also included fan paraphernalia from private collections and newspaper and magazine clippings, not to mention some of those fan’s recollections. I mean, you can come at this album from every direction and find something new as well as interesting in this coffee table book.
There are even photo pages devoted solely to the actual artwork on a number of the LP’s and singles Genesis released in various countries. I honestly don’t want to give too much away with what is inside this brilliant publication as I hope you will be surprised and delighted with each page turn as I myself experienced through Jon’s book with some if not all of the “Genesis revelations” you come across in here. Jon goes more into details in my interview with him below. I will say there was a special moment for me where a chapter is devoted to an Anthony Phillips interview as this was at the same time where Mike worked in partnership with that other important and sublime album, “The Geese and the Ghost.” We definitely were not spoilt of choice back in 1974.
The years have been good to the album. A reader’s poll in Rolling Stone ranked their “favourite Progressive Rock albums of all time” and placed the album fifth in the list. Steve Hackett has on numerous occasions played tracks from it such as “The Lamia” on his very popularly received Genesis Revisted tours.
I caught up with Jon last week as his new book, … And The Lamb, lies Down, On Broadway goes on sale (see the link at the bottom of the page) for a discussion about its release.
Aside from its 43rd year anniversary, what were some of the reasons you decided to write “…And The Lamb, Lies Down, On Broadway”?
JK: Having previously written and published a book on Yes I decided I needed another project to do and whilst I did not want to do a Genesis book covering all the band’s history, I was drawn to a couple of the albums. I loved The Lamb Lie Down On Broadway album but never saw the tour and I was shown some photographs from the tour and thought it would make a nice project.
Much has been written and said, and continues to do so about all the Genesis albums – what do you think the intended avid fan will find of interest here?
JK: There is so much memorabilia out there and whilst some fans are as you say avid collectors there are many who are interested but not as avid enough to collect all the material out there and believe me there is so much out there it even surprised me. As an example some of the record labels and picture sleeves of the singles released from the album are very different and there is even a misspelled label from New Zealand which many fans see as hugely collectible. So there was the visual element which I think that many fans will want to see plus many live photographs which have not been previously seen, and then there is the interviews from Steve Hackett and Tony Banks and those who worked on the album like Aubrey Powell from Hipgnosis who designed the sleeve for the album. We have also included fan photographs and memories from the tour.
How long did it take you to complete work on this project?
JK: The original idea for the book was in 2014 and it was hoped to have the book out for the 40th anniversary of the tour but there were major problems with the previous publisher who took four years to just put twenty pages together. In the end in March this year after messing me about he bailed so I took the project on myself. However, I had to start from scratch because all the things that were in place and organised by the previous publisher could not be used so I had to organise photographs, images, interviews, etc from the start. It was very tiring and intense but ultimately very fulfilling. In total it took six months to do the book which if I had done it myself back in 2014 the book would have been out in time for the 40th anniversary of the tour. It is available now though and I am very pleased with it, and Steve Hackett has seen it and loves it so that is a relief.
What was your process going into conducting your research for this book?
JK: Being a fan, I knew a lot about the album and the band, so the research was more about those I interviewed and what their role in the album was. I did a lot of research on Aubrey Powell and Dale Newman and of course Colin Richardson, and then I had to research many clippings and quotes from the band about the album and tour, but the research was done as I went along really in the initial book, and then some more when I took it on.
Your book is filled with historical and period clippings around this album. How difficult was it sourcing all these old photos and clippings from newspapers and magazines, not to mention interview quotes from band members and others associated?
JK: Actually the band in general is very well served by a number of fan sites such as The Waiting Room and The Genesis Archive, and both have been incredibly helpful as have many of the fans who provided me with memorabilia. The band is very well served by the fan base who are meticulous in what they preserve and collect.
Did you approach the many fan sites online to source material that might prove beneficial for your book?
JK: Once the word was out many approached me, but the main two I worked with were The Waiting Room and The Genesis Archive as mentioned, plus of course individual fans, many of whom have huge collections
I love it that you were able to interview Aubrey “Po” Powel for this book specifically around Hipgnosis’s design of the album sleeve. I mean the revelation that the interview was carried out at a train station while Po was waiting for a train to get to London to work on a Monty Python film is amazing in itself. Very English and what an interview! In what must have been trying circumstances you got a great conversation down on tape. I get the impression from that a number of these key people you interviewed for this were really happy to talk to you about The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway.
JK: Everyone was very happy to talk about The Lamb even Tony Banks and Steve Hackett. It was a difficult time for the band, but time has passed, and people look back on that period more fondly now. I even interviewed Anthony Phillips the original guitarist in Genesis because he and Mike were recording an album that was parallel to the recording of The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway. The album would have been the first album from any member of Genesis outside the band, but once Peter left the situation changed and it was a case of as Ant said, “All hands to the pump,” so eventually it just came out as an Anthony Phillips solo album in 1977 called The Geese and The Ghost, but it’s interesting what went on during that period and perhaps something many did not know about. Aubrey Powell was very keen to talk and despite the strange location the interview went well and the fact that he was so busy at the time confirmed to me that he was keen to talk
You obviously approached a good number of people for material for your book, and I just marvel at the depth of detail that you’ve managed to draw into and display on various pages within. How challenging (or rewarding) was that getting to the right owners of these photos and other pieces of material?
JK: Getting the memorabilia and other pieces of paper relating to the album was important. Collectors are great because they are very keen to have everything, but things like David Lawrence’s hand-written cue sheets for the tour and then we have various receipts for the tour and many tickets from collectors. I wanted there to be a sense of how much the tour impacted on the fans and get as many unseen live photographs into the book. Most pictures in the papers at the time were pictures of Peter in The Slipperman outfit which is great, but Peter dressed as The Slipperman in Los Angeles is pretty much Peter dressed as The Slipperman anywhere else on the tour.
In terms of it being challenging…. actually it wasn’t, because out there in the wide world there is a lot of material. I just needed to gain access and permission to use it.
In closing The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway was not the most successful Genesis album nor was it the most popular with the across-the-board fan base, and it still confuses many people. It is however very important as it was the final album Peter Gabriel made with the band and the band only performed the album in its entirety just over a hundred times. Tribute bands have performed it more than Genesis themselves. It remains the band’s most talked about album even forty plus years after its release, not to mention the end of the tour and putting this book together has been extremely rewarding.
What would you say was the most surprising thing you found out while preparing and writing your book and what would you say was the highlight of this whole writing experience?
JK: The most surprising thing was the amount of memorabilia out there and also just how much of it the collectors have. As an example, there was a receipt from one of the gigs for advance sales on tickets for the show and looking at it the amount of money was ridiculously low, but then you have to bear in mind that you could buy a lot more for your money back in 1975 and also ticket prices were as low as £1.25. That in itself was interesting and considering the cost of tickets for concerts now, amazing!
How do you rate ‘The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway’ with the likes of other Prog concept albums such as ‘Tales From Topographic Oceans,’ ‘The Wall,’ ‘Thick As A Brick,’ ‘Journey to The Centre Of the Earth,’ etc?
JK: To be honest they are all great works but all different, and Ian Anderson does see Thick As A Brick as a slightly tongue in cheek concept. To be honest the first concept album was Sergeant Pepper and people have been making them ever since . In my opinion there are times in the narrative of The Lamb where I kind of lose my way but then I think many others do and I think at the time, maybe some of Genesis did too. However, it is a very good example of a narrative done to music. That we don’t understand parts of it is not a problem. There are still people who do not understand The Ring and that is a highly regarded classical piece.
Is it your favourite Genesis album?
JK: I love the Lamb Lies Down On Broadway. but it is not my favourite Genesis album. From the Peter Gabriel era it would be Selling England By The Pound, and from the Phil era it would be Wind and Wuthering. I must also say I really like the Ray Wilson era album, Calling All Stations. To be honest in my humble opinion Genesis never made a bad album.
Are you happy with your book and how it has turned out? I mean, just on the Carpet Crawlers track alone you devote six whole pages to quite a few variations of LP and singles artwork labels, not to mention various promo sheets. How much is too much and was it enough in the end? What was it like for you coming across all this Anorak hoard of treasure?
JK: That is a tough question. I mean, is it too much? The problem you have is that this book is aimed at the long-time, avid Genesis fan, and if you do not include everything you can get then there will be someone saying you missed this out or that out, so I am very aware that you have to tailor your book to the audience for which it was meant. You are right though, it will be treasure certainly to some fans who own it, and God Bless them, they allowed me to use their treasure in the book. As I have said earlier, the amount of stuff out there is incredible and also what the fans consider to be important really is important. It is very like documenting history, and I feel for any band from the Beatles down, that this is important and Genesis are certainly worthy of this degree of interest.
I saw on your Facebook page that your pre-orders have gone well. It being a limited edition, how many of the 500 copies are still available?
JK: Around half the hardback have been sold and half the softback sold also. So only around 70 soft back and less than 150 hardback now available for order, and that is before we start the big sell with the promo video.
Do you have any other Prog books in the pipeline?
JK: I am considering another Genesis book focused on another album, and also a Jethro Tull book, and I have another book out soon which will be a first in a series of books called “Tales From The Prog Vaults” which gathers together many of the interviews I have conducted over the years and that includes interviews with members of Yes, Genesis, King Crimson, Supertramp, Gong, Marillion, Curved Air, Van Der Graaf Generator, Gentle Giant, Jethro Tull and some newer bands like IO Earth, Mostly Autumn and Alan Reed and Nad Sylvan, and many more. There will also be other books on other more mainstream rock artists.
Thanks, Jon. All best with your amazing book on one of Genesis’s outstanding albums.
To find out more or order your copy of the Softback Edition (Black cover) or the Hardback Signed Edition (White cover) click on this link to Jon’s own website.
For more information you can contact Jon on his Facebook page
JON KIRKMAN’s BIO
Jon Kirkman is well known in rock music circles, having started his life as a roadie and worked his way up to tour manager for his friend’s band in the seventies. Although the band started off playing the local venues in Merseyside, they were soon signed to RCA Records in 1975 and were hugely successful in Europe and Japan where they attained Gold status with their albums and played the legendary Budokan venue in 1977; the band at this time were all barely 18 years of age and Jon himself was only 19. Following this Jon went on to work in many Rock venues in Liverpool both as a promoter and also as a DJ.
From here the obvious next step for Jon was to move into the media and he went on to establish a radio career that has lasted for more than thirty years, working for both local and regional commercial radio stations in the UK and occasionally appearing on local television. In that time Jon extended his talents to include writing sleeve notes and to this end, Jon is featured on the Major music resource “The All Music Guide”.
Jon has also appeared on many commercially released videos including work with Yes, Rick Wakeman, Chris Squire, Patrick Moraz, Van Der Graaf Generator, The Space Movie, Jack Bruce and Tony Palmer’s legendary and ground breaking film “All My Loving”.
Jon Also provided the commentary on videos by Deep Purple, Rainbow and Frank Zappa.
In keeping with Jon’s love of radio, Jon launched his online radio station Classic Rock radio in 2011.
More recently Jon has been involved with a number of UK based record labels as an archivist and researcher.
With regards the bands appearing at the Cruise To The Edge Event, Jon has worked with the members of Yes on a number of projects including the official interview CD for the Jon Anderson boxed set “The Lost Tapes of Opio”, the Chris Squire solo album Fish Out Of Water, where he was seen interviewing Chris for the DVD and he also worked with Patrick Moraz on the release of the Future Memories DVD interviewing Patrick at length about the Future Memories project and also Patrick’s career including his time with Yes. Jon has also worked with Bill Bruford extensively, appearing in four Bill Bruford DVDs discussing Bill’s career. Finally Jon has appeared on a number of DVDs with Rick Wakeman including the Rick Wakeman Video Vault boxed set.
Jon is well known as the Host and Presenter for Cruise To The Edge Rock Festival. He has also hosted The Moody Blues Cruise.
As an “Executive Producer” Jon put together the Archive releases Yes Union CD/DVD and also the Deluxe Edition of the ABWH album and the ABWH Live In Birmingham release.
Jon also interviewed 16 of the 18 members of Yes for his books, “Time and a Word: The Yes Interviews” and retitled to “Yes / Dialogue.”