Magic that a name would stain…

Posted: January 28, 2013 in Uncategorized
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One of the best prog-rock albums, indeed a defining prog-rock album, is “The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway” by Genesis.  The last Peter Gabriel album with the band, it combines the burgeoning songwriting ability of PG with the developing musical talents of the rest of the band.  Unfortunately, it was also the sign that they were at a crossroads, as Peter wanted to go in a different direction with his writing, and the thing that made the band so good, the collaborative nature of the music, fell by the wayside.

I’m going to delve into one song in particular today, “The Lamia”.

I want to make a point about the guitar solo at the end of the song, but in order to do that I have to do some background first.  The album is a narrative, and at this point in the story the protagonist (Rael) comes upon a cave where the Lamia reside.

The Lamia is from ancient Greek mythology, but I think that Peter took his inspiration from Keats’ poem of the same name, written in 1820.  The Lamia (in this case) are beautiful women with the bodies of snakes who seduce young men, make love to them, they devour each other and die (at least the Lamia do), and both the Lamia and the *victim* are regenerated.  Pretty nice gig.

The song is: 1) Rael entering the cave, 2) encountering the Lamia, 3) the lovemaking, 4) the sorrow, and 5) the regeneration.

And now we get to one of my favorite guitar solos.  Steve Hackett, at the end of the song, plays a relatively simple 5-part solo that tells the story of the song musically.  The first part establishes the solo, the second has the wonder of meeting the Lamia, the third has the soaring orgasm, the fourth has the sadness of the death as he goes into a minor key, then the rest plays out.  Absolutely exquisite.


Here’s the entire song, which is worth a listen.  I love the use of the bass pedal at about 1:28 and 4:10


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