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Genesis - Selling England By The Pound CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

4.64 | 4109 ratings

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5 stars As I bravely set out to review Genesis' catalogue, I had to decide where to start. Probably best to go from the top and also the most uncontroversial. As such, here is "Selling England By The Pound", arguably best Genesis album and best title ever written.

Word of God says that this album was written at a time when there was a fear among the still small, dedicated base of the group over whether or not they would sell out to the dirty Americans and their new-world ways. As such, here is the album equivalent of a communitarian revival.

This is of course a caricature. This album has indeed a very English folk charm, but it is at this point a distillation of Gabriel's songwriting wonder, combined with the musicianship of Tony, Steve, Mike and Phil. For this album doesn't have the resonance of say, Dark Side, whose sparse lyrics were bordering on tautology at times.

No, this is isn't a broadly appealing piece - as noted by many reviews of the time. What it is is a brilliantly woven series of tableaux. Beginning with the opening track which transitions from a charming folk ballad to an explosive electric number so seamlessly it's almost offensive. It then peaks, sustains and gently glides back to earth - a complexity of texture that will seem familiar over the next 54 minutes.

Following with the almost successful single I Know What I Like, a delicious digestible piece that was quite rare at the time for Gabriel's Angels. Firth of Fifth needs no introductions - it is a wonderful Banksian work brought to impossible heights by Hackett. More Fool Me is meh, but then again it was written by Phil and Mike on the porch, so I wont be too hard. Battle of Epping Forest is a bit harder to swallow. While the lyrics are not bad, it's not greatly executed, very wordy without having the musical chops to sustain itself. But Tony thinks so too, so I don't feel alone.

Returning on the mode of the first piece, After The Ordeal. While shorter, it is also pleasant. The true second standout moment of the album is The Cinema Show. A truly magnificent work, from its gentle start to its finish on the leitmotiv of Dancing With The Moonlit Knight. Essentially instrumental, it serves a great ending ot the album (Aisle Of Plenty is more of an epilogue).

Phil's drumming brings the whole enterprise to a nice chug, while Hackett in bursts and Banks pretty much whenever manage to show tremendous skill. One reproach you could make it is quite a pretentious number. But I guess, to me, the pretentiousness of The Lamb crushes everything else. All and all, it is a really great album, and definitely one to hang over the chimney. A+

If you'd enjoy it more if it was on a slower boil, try Foxtrot. If you'd like it more if it had more material and was less idiosyncratic, try A Trick Of The Tail.

Westonbirt | 5/5 |


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