The Lamia

Song Review by

"The Lamia" was written and recorded for the 1974 concept album The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway. After Death's departure, Rael smells a strong perfume. Exploring his natural prison, he finds a small crack from which the scent entered. He manages to move some rocks and free himself. Following the odor, he enters a room lit by candlelight in the middle of which is a pool. Three small half-snake/half-woman creatures welcome him. He enters the pool and, swallowing some of the water, his life energy starts to escape his body. The lamias drink his energy, caressing him all the while. But when they get down to his blood, they quickly die and Rael, out of passion, eats their lifeless bodies before leaving the room from where he entered. As he looks back, he sees the stage is back to its initial appearance, awaiting a new visitor. A song blending fantastic themes (the sirens), ritualistic initiation, and erotic cannibalism, "The Lamia" is a delicate ballad not unlike "The Carpet Crawlers," although here the song is more developed and theatrical and the instrumental conclusion contains a poignant guitar theme and a rare flute intervention; it could be viewed as a scaled-down "Fountain of Salmacis" (same symphonic-like treatment and fantastic water-related love affair). Live, the song's power was enhanced by the first of two magnificent costumes: a tube of fabric turning around a Peter Gabriel caught within the lamias dance. This was one of the most poetic moments of the show. After the Lamb tour, the song was never performed again.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway 1974 Atlantic / Rhino 6:57
Archive, Vol. 1: 1967-1975 1998 Atlantic 7:12
The Demo Mix Down on Broadway 1998 Highland Records