Song Spotlight: The Colony Of Slippermen By Genesis

genesis lamb logo

Released in 1974, The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway is  Peter Gabriel’s swansong with Genesis.  Opinions on the album from Genesis fans have been mixed over the years.  I feel that the album is a fantastic example of what a concept album should be.  The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway has stood the test of time as arguably the band’s most progressive musical statement.  The album includes many fantastic songs, including The Colony Of Slippermen. There is so much that can be said about this song.  At just over eight minutes long, each member of the band has the opportunity to excel on this track.  I could write five separate blog posts about each member’s contributions to the song. For the purposes of this post I want to focus briefly on the work of Phil Collins and Peter Gabriel.

phil and peter

Phil Collins’ drumming on the song is phenomenal.   In the early 2000’s when Genesis was discussing a possible reunion tour, one of the ideas floated was the notion to perform The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway.  Phil Collins spoke about how much of a challenge it would be for him to reproduce his own drum tracks.  Phil Collins in mid 1970’s was very different from Phil Collins in the early 2000’s.  When his focus was primarily on drumming he had technique that was astounding.   Throughout the band’s career one of the main strengths of Genesis was their collective musical cohesion.  All of the musicians played for the betterment of the song.  There are moments when individual members were given the opportunity to shine.  But the overall mission was the strength of the collective and not the individual.  That does not mean that each member did not shine in their roles. Phil Collins shines quite brightly throughout The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway.  I have a challenge for anyone reading this.  Listen to The Colony Of Slippermen and focus solely on Phil Collins’ drumming.  I have been a Genesis fan since 1981 and Collins’ playing still has me in awe.   Phil Collins has long been my favorite drummer.  His work behind the drum kit between 1973 and 1980 is out of this world.  Collins was an amazingly accomplished drummer who stood among the elites in the genre.  His strength lay beyond his timekeeping abilities and technique.  Collins at all stages of his career was a musical drummer full of imagination.  He was a technical drummer with a looseness and swing that is lacking from many other drummers.  He also had a knack for effortlessly playing complex drumming patterns. All of these traits are on display throughout The Colony Of Slippermen.

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This song also features Peter Gabriel at the height of his storytelling abilities within Genesis.  Those familiar with The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway know that the story is filled with allegory and many fantastic and fantastical set pieces.  Vocally and lyrically Gabriel is in top form throughout The Colony Of Slippermen.  The interaction between Rael and The Slippermen is brilliant.  When Rael initially  meets the Slippermen, Gabriel’s lyrics paint a clear picture of their highly unusual appearance. Rael’s slow realization that he now resembles a Slipperman  displays Gabriel’s unique storytelling abilities.  Rael utters in disbelief, “Me? Like you? Like that?  With each word the reality of his plight grows stronger and his heart sinks deeper.  What an incredible moment in the midst of the band’s boldest progressive rock statement.  Gabriel has received a great deal of attention for his over the top costumes.  He also deserves credit for the characters that he created vocally within several Genesis songs.  Songs such as The Battle Of Epping Forest, Harold The Barrel, Get ‘Em Out By Friday and The Colony Of Slippermen are prime examples.

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As the 1970’s slowly gave way to the 1980’s the music of Genesis shifted into more mainstream sounds.  In the live arena the band continued to touch on some of the Gabriel era songs.  The Colony Of Slippermen was distilled down to Tony Banks’ thrilling keyboard solo.  I first heard the solo on the band’s live album Three Sides Live as part of the In The Cage instrumental medley.  Over the years the band was quite adept at putting together exciting live instrumental medleys.  I remember how thrilling it was when I first heard The Colony Of Slippermen on The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway.    Hearing the full version of the song was a refreshing surprise. To hear the song in full, in it’s original context was a revelation.

Each member of the band made the music of Genesis successful.  At times it would seem that some members get more credit than is warranted.  Songs like The Colony Of Slippermen excel because of the excellent work collectively of each band member.  I chose to focus on the work of Phil Collins and Peter Gabriel for this blog post.  This song and the entire album would not have worked if the members had not played their parts and played them exceedingly well.

Troy T.

5 thoughts on “Song Spotlight: The Colony Of Slippermen By Genesis

  1. As incredible as Genesis were, I get the feeling that Peter Gabriel outgrew them.
    The fact that his first solo albums sounded nothing like Genesis makes everything all the more strange and remarkable.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Not sure if he outgrew the band, I just think he wanted to go in his own direction and steer his own ship. As far as his solo career, it took him 3 to 4 albums to really find who he wanted to be as a solo artist. Bob Ezrin and Robert Fripp seem to have a heavy hand on the direction of his first two albums. With the third album he found his direction and with the fourth he solidified his sound and style.

      Like

  2. Great post, Troy! The Lamb>/i> is my favorite Genesis album! Jon Kirkman has just released a comprehensive book about the album and the tour. By the way, you should check out Steve Hackett’s new album, At the Edge of Light.

    Liked by 1 person

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