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Genesis - Selling England by the Pound CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

4.64 | 4261 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
5 stars A timely 1973 concept album charting the fall of the once-mighty British Empire, making use of a variety of powerful metaphors. That GENESIS were able to communicate this with subtlety and style spoke volumes for their growing confidence. This is how a concept album should work: without the over-laboured excess of 'The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway' or the poorly-expressed convolutions of DREAM THEATER'S 'Scenes from a Memory.' Sheer magnificence of concept.

This album is not perfect, however. I find myself irritated beyond measure by 'The Battle of Epping Forest'. Yes, let the Charterhouse boys pontificate about the decay of the upper classes. But I can tell you that almost every sentiment they present about the working classes rings false. Hyperbole, yes, I know. But not eleven minutes of it. I've been beaten by a chain, and it's not all alliteration, let me tell you.

That said, there are moments of true beauty. The daring they show in starting with GABRIEL'S unaccompanied vocal lets us know something great is to follow. 'Dancing With The Moonlit Knight' is a magnificent song, overshadowed only by 'Firth of Fifth' and its oft-mentioned instrumental section. No virtuosity here: GENESIS did what I wish more bands would do - let the songwriting speak for itself, without instrumental over-embellishment. 'After the Ordeal' is a cruelly underrated instrumental piece, providing a breathing space necessary, well, after the ordeal of the previous track. And what an achingly melancholic ending GENESIS have contrived: 'Aisle of Plenty' brings the record to a perfect conclusion.

A couple more things to think about. Production here is so much better than 1972's superior 'Foxtrot'. And, speaking of that album, there's nothing as superb as 'Supper's Ready' here. This was not GENESIS at their best musically. Both 'Foxtrot' and 'A Trick of the Tail' contain better music, in my view. But they never approached this level of insight again.

An important milestone in the history of music.

russellk | 5/5 |


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