“Sooner or later, every progressive-rock band has to do its double-LP concept/opera/extraganza, and for Gabriel’s Genesis, it was The Lamb.” JP It would be the group’s most ambitious project and Gabriel’s swan song with the band.
“The plotline, a surreal odyssey, tracks” JP “a half-Puerto Rican juvenile delinquent named Rael living in New York City,” WK “through a phantasmagoria of urban squalor and subterranean ghoulies” JP “in this musical drama.” BE Rael “is swept underground to face bizarre creatures and nightmarish dangers in order to rescue his brother John. Several of the story’s occurrences and places were derived from Peter Gabriel’s dreams, and the protagonist’s name is a play on his surname. In an interview Phil Collins remarked, "It’s about a ‘split personality.’ In this context, Rael would believe he is looking for John but is actually looking for a missing part of himself.” WK
“The individual songs also make satirical allusions to everything from mythology to the sexual revolution to advertising and consumerism. The title track” WK which “ranks with Genesis’ most majestic moments,” JP “as well as The Carpet Crawlers and In the Cage, are live favourites for the band.” WK
“Gabriel, for his part, insisted on writing the story and all the lyrics himself, which caused friction, in particular because Rutherford had originally suggested another project for the band – an album based on Antoine de Saint Exupéry’s The Little Prince. In the event, Banks and Rutherford did write the words for The Light Dies Down on Broadway, as Gabriel could not come up with a linking piece between Ravine and Riding the Scree. In addition, when Gabriel put lyrics to a piece of music written by one of the other band members (such as Banks’ The Lamia and Hackett’s Here Comes the Supernatural Anaesthetist) the composer would often insist on adjusting the lyrics slightly to better fit the music, an action Gabriel did not take kindly to.” WK
While Gabriel wrote the lyrics, “most of the music was written by band members Tony Banks, Phil Collins, and Mike Rutherford, with some contribution from Steve Hackett.” WK Gabriel’s absence was “due to personal problems – his first wife was having difficulties with her first pregnancy.” WK
However, “Gabriel did contribute more to the writing of the music than is sometimes assumed. His then-wife Jill pointed out in Spencer Bright’s Peter Gabriel: An Authorized Biography that he wrote the main melody for ‘The Carpet Crawlers’, of which he is especially proud. Tracks like Anyway and Lilywhite Lilith and Colony of Slippermen were developed from earlier unused 1969 compositions by the band (‘Frustration’ and ‘The Light’ respectively) which were likely to have been group efforts, which Gabriel had played some part in creating.” WK
“There are some nicely creepy set pieces,” JP but “the piece’s length,” BE which has “filler [that] stretches on and on,” JP “makes it something of an acquired taste.” BE Still, “most serious fans regard this as the best record the group ever cut.” BE