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Genesis - Nursery Cryme CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

4.41 | 3109 ratings

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Per Kohler
5 stars Imagine that you attend a major sport event not with the usual 35.000 onlookers but you alone on the grandstand and even the whole arena. It's unclear how the cheering section affected the outcome of the game. The speaker urges the audience to remain calm to hamper a tumult when the away team scores, and to avoid an undulation in order to save the porous stand floor. Does it sound like taken from a scenario in a Stephen King novel? No, this occurred in reality in a soccer game; last round, the rain was coming down in buckets, an unimportant match. A TV reporter tried to track down the spectator in question but he (?) managed to escape. What has all this to do with Nursery Cryme, you might rightly ask? Well, a whole lot actually. Genesis toured in God's year 1970 and experienced the same remarkable event, that is a gig with one single hearer. Any requests, was the one-headed audience adequately asked (why not 'A Place to Call My Own'?). The beer sales didn't break any new records that night. What about a bitter in the bar, mate? The drinks are on me, one could inform oneself about. "We want more" (me, myself and I) echoes when the band has left the stage and are given a curtain-call. Possibly the band members could've asked the persevering listener for his much sought-after autograph. You who always have wondered where and when Gabriel's stage diving started can be enlightened on that it wasn't here. As we don't know the build or life-size of the spectator, it was just as well saved for a later occasion. Ant Phillips, who had been highly influential in the bands edification, declared officially that he had had enough. He put the rucksack with 12-string sets on his back and run away. Without the risk of treading the amassed audience on the toes. The decent fellow in front of the stage was chosen to witness Anthony play live. Many a man had hankered for that position as it soon became a collectible rarity. Who knows, perhaps the lone ticket buyer is telling stories today for his grand children about his odd and historical event.

Phillips didn't leave for this single peculiar reason; there was about a handful. Unfortunate health problems, stage freight when there was a capacity crowd (at least exceeding two ordinary sized individuals). Incessant disputing between adolescent band members; four up-and-coming writers all moulded in a strict educational environment where future decision makers are called forth. No woodwork lesson taught about how to plane a joint tray. Stained in a nuance that pleases everybody. Four writers were one too much. The youngish gentleman among the brethren had a vision for the future Genesis where he was everywhere but here. Ant joined Genesis as teenager, and left at the same tender age. John Mayhew's (R.I.P.) days in Genesis were also numbered. He did perform a couple of guitar-less gigs with Banks-Gabriel-Rutherford before following Ant out through the backdoor. Phillips' defection caused naturally a breaking-up atmosphere where all components were inspected. Mayhew was by no means a low competent drummer (otherwise, why was he chosen in the first place?). Even Phillips himself approve of this reasoning. In other words, if Ant had played on Nursery he could possibly have been accompanied by a somewhat slow progressing Mayhew. But that's far from self-evident. Before anybody could say Jack Robinson, there was a Phil Collins in everybody's mouth. Phillip didn't replace Phillips, but he did nonetheless some guitar overdubs on Both Sides. It would still take some time before anybody could utter Steve Hackett. Even more musical mathematics; had Anthony P. voted for Collins or any of the many other deft percussionists at the audition? Banks/Gabriel, The Garden Wall, were both totally convinced that Phil was the right choice whereas Rutherford glanced more than once at one of the competitors. Buddy Phillips in The Anon could just as well have joined camp one like camp two in this delicate matter. Don't forget that the original guitarist was no 1 ranked composer at the time with likewise right of determination. A private detective could come up with such insinuations as ' - why didn't Collins overdub the few drum parts (of demo character) on The Geese & The Ghost? But that's very far-fetched, unrealistic and of course without substance. Once Rutherford got acquainted with a chosen newcomer he had nothing but praise for his first class rhythm colleague. Why would Phillips act differently? Still of interest; Genesis lover and biographer Armando Gallo claims in his book 'I Know What I Like' that Collins ALSO sang on Geese. That's not true; he ONLY sang. Gallo is so convinced that Collins played drums that he doesn't even bother to study the instrumentation list. Understandable. How many albums have Phil attended where a drummer is needed, where there is no other drummer present, and finally; where he still didn't play on it? This was a side track from Nursery.

Collins, in turn (we're not through yet with the brushy path that led to the classic line-up), had never allowed Hackett to enter the gates of the Genesis social gathering. The temporary replacement after Mr. Phillips departure found no mercy from other three members but was appreciated by the drummer at the same age as the short lived guitarist. Collins experienced two line-ups, or even three, before Nursery Cryme was recorded. Himself, just like Mayhew, alone with the core Banks/Gabriel/Rutherford onstage plus with just mentioned guitarist Mick Barnard. You may dub Barnard an unnoticed veteran in Genesis. Actually he lasted for many months but isn't more well-known than guitarist Bob Close from another prog giant. If you take Ronnie Caryl into consideration and why wouldn't you, then the ramification goes even further. Phil's two year junior guitar chum from Flaming Youth auditioned with Collins and was for a while hanging in a twilight zone. One single gig in Aylesbury, says his list of qualification. One gig with Genesis is one more than most of us have ever done. Ronnie Caryl rejoined Collins on the latter's solo career in the eighties.

Stephen Hackett entered the congregation with diploma in hand showing if not a rectorship so still a mission to take Genesis to the upper echelons of Britannia's prog elite. Sitting down on a chair with full-beard and dark black frames, playing with solicitor dry tone of prototype Fripp. This is what the world had waited for. Strict rock n' roll and free classicism. Almost a hundred (!) guitarists tested and failed before Hackett joined the ranks. Logically the aim was to find a co-writer on the same wave-length as the others. They don't live next door to your grandma's lady friend. Many played well but couldn't match Phillips composing skills. Steve Howe was already a Yes man; Fripp had his own unit; so where could this unattainable object be found? Mike Oldfield was just like Caryl only 17 at the time but already active at high level. Solo motet 'Exsultate jubilate' was written by composer Amadeus at the age of 17 (plus operas at 14), so age doesn't have to be decisive. A motet is a piece of choral music without Fender jazz bass but with angelic castrato voices. Andy Latimer wasn't yet booked by what was to become Camel. Any undetected whiz kid behind the marvelous walls of the Charterhouse School? If there were unlikely four why not a fifth in an adjoining batch? Maybe too good to be true. Something said that the void was to be filled by Steve Hackett. That was predestined. Everything else is a lie. Hackett was the last link in the chain, and just like pal Collins he choose the smart way to become a permanent member of the band. A well-documented fact in its fragments but no one has noted the unison between the pair. Both of them were of course qualified for the job but that doesn't guarantee success. Collins arrived early (deliberately too early) and could listen and learn from the other drummers at the audition. He pretended to be 'swimming in the pool'. Hackett turned down an audition and invited band members Banks/Gabriel (two out of four are missing) to his parent's house. Had the most talented of the 81 or 82 previously tested guitarists done the same thing there wouldn't have been any Hackett visit. In this manner not only one brother Hackett was able to impress but two. One on guitar, the other on flute. There was no need for an additional flautist in Genesis but John H. took part of the display of his elder brothers composing. Steve could play what he wanted on his own terms, at an audition you're instructed what to do and not to do. That was a bright idea. From now on Gabriel knew where to turn when he needed to borrow from a newly found flute colleague. - 'This is my brother John' Steve pointed out to the visiting couple. A family structure that was to be repeated on the double LP years later. Who said that The Lamb story was abstract and diffuse? Hackett / Collins couldn't have chosen a better moment to join the band. What was going on around 'em was if you name it a phenomenon you're either ignorant or too shy. Gentle Giant, Yes, Pink, ELP, Jethro, Generator. Plus the established acts from previous decade without visible decline in popularity. Add to this half a dozen of groups who compared with mentioned here were rated as second division but everywhere else would've belonged to the top ranked. Plus just as many talented acts that for one reason or the other have fallen into oblivion today. This is not a progressive wave, it's a progressive torrent. If the creator above us didn't have a finger in it that means he's completely unmusical and probably doesn't care if 'Visions of Angels' was played on Radio Luxemburg or not.

With Hackett's entry were the guitar lines resurrected in its true intention. If Banks performed guitar parts on electric piano on stage (you can study this on any informative Wikipedia site), then the question remains; who did the keyboard parts? It's almost impossible to manage multi-layered keyboards and an additional work task simultaneously. Like the exquisite interplay between organ / piano on studio version 'Looking For Someone'; plus Ant's lead. The electric doesn't dominate Trespass in any sense but then remains the many 12-string parts? So the new guitarist didn't only bring the guitar, he brought the keyboards as well. Rutherford's role playing during the four piece concerts isn't as obvious as Banks'. The instrumentation list on Trespass gives hint about his abilities but doesn't unveil if he matches Greg Lake when it comes to it. Logically Mike did at least what can be noticed during the recurring quintet era. The unaccompanied bass-pedal solo on Live had its origin in the exacting four-piece period. The intro and first part of 'The Musical Box' doesn't need anything but 12 string and electric guitar though. The year is -71 but the choice of century is more unclear. Jon Anderson once talked over the subject about bringing music into the seventies; what he logically meant was 1870s. If it creeps to close to you just put the clock another century backwards. No disturbing industrial revolution, no lorry traffic with exhaust pipes belching out burnt gas. No time clocks that directs your existence. Only the eternal still peace on the cover of Cryme. The mood of 'The Musical Box' will enhance your chances to attain your goal. A friend of mine once asked me why Genesis didn't go the whole way to become a fully classical unit? There is no reason to become something they already are. A futuristic, highly eccentric sounding unit from times long past. It just happened to occur in our so called chronology. Great art doesn't count seconds and minutes. To some extent my idea bringer was fully correct. He regarded Moody Blues as pop / classical but Genesis classical / pop, so the distance is closer. Partake of the straight and undiluted beauty of Mozart's 'Concerto for Flute and Harp KV 299 (second movement)' and just muse over what could've been. The 12-string sound on title 1 is as evocative as one can desire. Much cleaner and clearer than further into the seventies. What the 12-string is trying to evoke in the 20th century is what the concert harp did during earlier time. At least in the tonal language of Genesis. The arpeggio chord on the harp has no less multitudinous effect on the 12-string. No other musical entity has used the 12 as current band, simply because it doesn't serve the same underlying purpose. It's just another instrument with another sound; in the case of Genesis it's as indispensable as the trowel for the construction of the church tower. The reverberation reaches the steeple directly under the navy blue sky.

Both Phillips and Barnard's fingerprints are visible on the opening track. Phillips' mind and matter regarding the basic track and the second to some extent in the sharpening. A third, Hackett, developed it even further. The penetrating solo is somehow repetitive between 4: 32 - 4: 38. It leaves a minor question mark behind. Let's state that this particular section is one reason why Nursery is lower ranked, or rather more uneven, than Foxtrot. It's unimaginative no matter from which angle you regard it. Yes and Howe managed to repeat a similar thing on 'To Be Over' ca. 1: 34 - 1: 50 three years later (we have no indication on that Mick Barnard ever played in cousin band). Both tracks are top class despite these dubious seconds. A limited slice of human error may be tolerated, and even charming. The return of the meek and melodious 4:48 immediately after the solo knows no quality limitations though. If you listen to 'Musical Box' for the very first time and for some reason wasn't hooked yet you'll definitely be by now. The gale has lulled and stillness surrounds you. - "Old King Cool was a very old soul yes a very old soul was he"? A contemplative passage worthy of any musical degree. The fortissimo, head first loud and strong, is hiding behind the corner ready to attack when the tender turns tough. The very first track to feature Hackett is actually one of his most hard hitting. It takes off where 'The Knife' ended on Trespass, but in a more unabashed phrenetic manner. 'Twentieth Century Schizoid Man' is a corner-stone for old and new in the recently assembled team. Collins the co-vocalist appears before the drummer and his voice leaves an indelible trace on the 10 min song. Just like Hackett Collins is given a warm welcome in form of generous space / mix on Cryme. Everybody is enjoying a stabilized line-up after a long and messy time of uncertainty. No other Gabriel album gives Phillip similar outcome in the vocal compartment. The drum stool is occupied by Buddy Rich, Michael Giles and John Bonham and that sounds like everything is within reach. Ringo Star is also present for the extensive magical misterioso tour through Italy. Collins has both will and ability to impersonate multifarious drum characters. Rutherford is, like on 'Moonlit Knight', handling a rhythm / bass pedals on your telly screen. An element that seems just as fitting for the bassist. Rhythm isn't always the same as anonymous second guitar. It takes more skill than so. He does have some experience from The Anon times.

The total Victorian drama of 'The Musical Box' would never be accomplished without a theatrically skilled frontman. Costume and properties, charisma and vocal resources. The spell-binding story telling. Straight out of the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. Gabriel's coiffure (pre-Rael period) is a chapter in itself. Shaved fringe and part of the head. It wouldn't fit anybody outside this particular group ( Ozzy, Rod the Mod, Tom 'Tiger' Jones !?!?), and probably not even if they had chosen another vocalist. Possibly a brother Shulman for their idealistic way of issuing their music but still not achieving Gabriel's natural aura. No, Aristotle points his index upwards and proclaims mentioned quality to current Genesis line-up. Gabriel turned the audience into an idolatrous host and what they saw as the bands gift became a matter of what the singer did or didn't do. The foursome weren't really a backing band, but had they evolved a decade earlier some crazed record company executive had done his utmost to turn them into a Gabriel & the Four Disciples. Then prompted on an un-plugged cloister tour. Plus 90% of the collection. Banks' keyboard set on 'Musical Box' (and album) is at least partly due to what was available. The electric piano was influential on 'Stagnation' (Trespass), and as the more dominant and much higher ranked acoustic piano unfortunately couldn't be brought on stage logically the electric found a place alongside organ/mellotron. The electric became even more important when the guitar disappeared. 'The Fuzz Box' suddenly filtered 'The Musical Box' from the el. piano out through the speakers. A specially invited audience from the times of 'King Henry's Madrigal' can't see the logic with the fuzz but will relish in the entry of the old man. Before their return to the superior Tudor dominion. Compared with Emerson, Wakeman or other wizards, Banks' number of instruments is somehow limited. No harpsichords / cembalos, synthesizer / clavinet or church organ / harmonium. Bearing the primitive standard of the initial synths in mind it's not much to bewail. The same story with the guitar strings. The lack of nylon passages from Hackett gives the album a much harder edge than most of the other recordings he's been involved in. Queen prided themselves upon 'No synthesizers used' on seventies albums. A Night at the Opera was released less than 10 years before Hot Space. It differs more than 10 years musically / sound wise. Nursery Cryme is ranked higher than Abacab; far from only on account of the lack of the high-tech sound waves, but partly therefore. While we're in Queen territory pay some extra attention to the massive vocal delivery in 'Bohemian Rhapsody'. Mike Stone from the recording team on Nursery has a strong influence in the construction of the multilayer of voice overdubs. Stone passed during the early noughties.

Some people complain about the production of Nursery. Some complain a lot; both when the album once was released and still today. ? "Most of the songs were only recorded on 8-track", says one penetrating analysis. - " The godawful production?" expectorates another. Wasn't the audio engineer brought back for further collaboration later on? Rock journalists, to some extent, are nothing but failed rock musicians. They have to assert themselves and take revenge on someone or something. For sure it's allowed to have opinions; one recording is never exactly like the other. The studio facilities, producer(s), mixing etc. This is 1970 plus a year or more (okay 1870..). Deduct some time and move backwards before -70 and see what happens. Is it a four channel? Just go a little bit further and find yourself in a mono world. The vocals from one direction and the tied up music from the other. Now we can start talking production, or rather the lack of such. To complain about the outcome of Nursery isn't only remarkable it's also ridiculous. The murky production, if it is murky, is rightly placed behind a bank of mist. ? "The production isn't great; even though the remaster cleans it up a bit". Just like the painting 'The Resurrection' of Piero della Francesca. Just head for the museum and ask if it's possible to clean up with disinfectant to make it sparkle. ? "The track structure, musical aptitude and songwriting would all be perfected in years to come" utters one philosopher on your internet. Good day axe-handle! 'The Fountain of Salmacis' needs a 60 degrees dry-cleaning before it becomes the strongest prog composition ever. Don't forget to add washing- and bleaching powder! But okay, for the good of the cause, if you have a functional record player why not invest in a half-speed remastered and reissued 180 gr. virgin vinyl with anti-static sleeve? Your old copy is probably around 125 gr. If you're aware of the source material you'll certainly find one or two improvements. Like the treble / midrange, chord sustain. It's disputed whether the weight in itself has any influence on the sound but let's state that the sturdy piece remains flat and won't get warped. The use of virgin vinyl seems like a faultless move but it may be sensible to include some recycled vinyl too in the manufacturing process. If it's of good quality it improves sound in the same way as the lesser good recycled vinyl has a negative effect.

'For Absent Friends' has the same position on Nursery as 'White Car' on Drama. Not a filler or an interlude; it's a section of the album defined as music. Albeit in the shorter format. A well-known fact that the lead vocalist is Collins and not Gabriel, but unlike Selling England and 'More Fool Me' there's no information on the album. As a consequence many listeners were and still are today unaware of the fact. The difference between the voices of Gabriel / Collins is not as tangible as Gilmour / Wright or Howe / Anderson. Caravan's excellent Back To Front could be a hard nut to crack with its many vocalists (still it's indicated in the track list). 'For Absent Friends' is an integral part of the album's flow, compared with 'More Fool Me' which feels more like a deliberate attempt to include a contrast. The line-up is the same for both songs; lonesome guitar / vocals, but there's considerable difference in mood and performance. While 'M. F. M'. feels relaxed and casual then 'F. A. F'. belongs to the stricter school. Collins vocal timbre is, of the two occasions he got during the Gabriel era, of differentiated nature. I hold the first Cryme try higher than Pound. It's perfectly possible to rearrange or if you prefer transcribe the less than two minutes song into an uplifted church organ hymn. The melody is endowed with all qualities which the widowed pair need to contribute to the ongoing collection. Lyrically it's a stroke of luck in its scene of ordinary elixir of life. As chief lyricist isn't present here you have to search for a similar 'Lead a Normal Life' scenario from another time. In between there was a 'Blood On the Rooftops' which in spite of its title's felonious tinges proved to be as plain as the one in question. Gabriel would never have written such an unpretentious ditty in those days. That's quite understandable; in his role as frontman he's supposed to entertain and the lyrics are an inseparable part of the show. Just imagine that a fire-eater at a circus where you paid entrance suddenly started to blow out match fire. This artist would soon be jobless.

Those were the days when Gabriel / band complemented each other with sometimes flamboyant and sometimes minor down-to-earth pieces. Out of 10 cases five or six are on the lead vocalist's writing desk and the remainder to be worked out by the quartet. Waters didn't appreciate when the others interfered in what he saw as his private sphere. Gabriel did appreciate exactly the same principle as the Floyd bass man. Share it fairly but don't take a slice of my pie. Rick Wright's voice is desolate on The Wall. There's no picturesque double-decker that ambles down the street on The Lamb. But would Shakespeare himself have let Vicar Geoff Mann contribute to the conclusive verses of comedy 'Twelfth Night'? Rutherford is the instigator of the 'More Fool Me' and also penultimate track 'In the Rapids' on Broadway. So why is this remarkable? If you weren't informed about Hackett / Collins why would you deny Rutherford's involvement here too? Until I learnt the correct I took for granted that it belonged to him. There's at least one internet source that names the bass player / drummer alone, but probably founded on the same mix up of the relation as I did myself. There's no excuse to make light of the subject on account of their disregarded and minimized position on respective -71 and -73 albums. Like someone said; it's impossible to say how much Hackett influenced the others or how much he was influenced by them. 'F. A. F'. is by no means a Hackett prototype; there's not really anything like it from him during his time in the band. Rutherford, the writing partner of Phillips, regarded Hackett more like a competent / original guitar player than composer. On the other hand; did anybody have the ability to take on the standard of the Trespass guitarist's writing?

'The Return of the Giant Hogweed' isn't high church it's power plant. Jimmy Page's ghost is present in Hackett's electric outlets here and on Nursery in general. Before he fully adapted to required Genesis sound. Steve admits that his playing was once more forcible in the school of the Zeppelin string bender. The Who is prevalent as a source of inspiration for certain band members. A more abstruse fact for the undersigned here to grasp. It might be a generation gap. Didn't The Who members break their instruments to pieces after a gig? There's a tune called 'Hackett to Pieces' but in a more symbolic depicting manner so stay calm. The occasions when Tony Banks used to jump up and down on his Mellotron Mark II in a fit of rage are easy to count up. Just as often as Glenn Gould played 'Roll over Beethoven' accompanied by a Chuck Berry in pure style. Hackett's tapping playing (in the manner of a keyboard) was later used by Edward Van Halen. Another continent both literally and figuratively? Oh no, Eddie was a member of Genesis in 1972. He never played on Foxtrot but the very same band name was utilized before his unit learned about the tea drinking Britons on the other side of the Atlantic. They became Van Halen in the mid seventies. The meaning of the term 'Edwardian rock' is easier to figure out when you know the full story. Van Der Graaf Generator had a Van full of instruments / equipment that was stolen in early -69. This has little to do with Van Halen. Yngwie is another player who used the tapping technique. This guy has an elder sister who happened to have albums like Selling England By the Pound in her record collection when he grew up. For one reason or another, there were titles like ' Icarus Dream Fanfare' and 'Sarabande' from this direction. IV was by the way released the same month as Cryme. Track one could compete with Track four in clever structure and build; let's appoint 'The Musical Box' to the 'Stairway To Heaven' for the faculty intellectual. The abrupt changes to and from el. / acoustic-, the soft spoken and the bombastic -, link the two leading bands in respective genre. A cargo of sealed music export to foreign coast isn't contemptible for the balance of trade, as The Beatles proved during an earlier decade. Let's pretend that Nursery had sold as well as IV then Maggie Thatcher the milk snatcher hadn't been compelled to cut down on the milk rations of Cynthia and Henry in their school meals. In terms of commercial boom the boarding school boys were still overshadowed by the hammer of the gods. Despite the diametrical different circumstances; the merger arrived when Collins' drum pedal work was to adorn solo album Pictures at Eleven. But that's another story.

Track three on Nursery and second lyric from Gabriel, and not less prominent than the initial. Rush gave us an alternative piece of forestry on 'The Trees' where the maples and oaks turn on each other. The hogweed had even bigger plans than so; it challenged humanity. It's believed that plants in common with living creatures are able to communicate with each other. Why shouldn't they? (Blue) whale talk ranges over hundreds of miles or even across an ocean in their submerged conversations. So beware of your own and your neighbor's sun flower plantation. They might be about to conspire against their bullies who insolently placed them in the backyard shadow and let the cherry tree blossom in sunlight. If not the flower union do something they have to take measures themselves. The lyric of 'Hogweed' is just as sharp and pungent as the shared keyboard / guitar intro. The hogweed started its ravages in the Royal garden at Kew where it was brought from Russia (I was here at Kew myself in Oct. - 66 sitting in pram and fully prepared for an onslaught from the vegetable kingdom). My second visit in -07 went smoother knowing very well that the human guards had defeated the fomenters of rebellion. They are as civilized as chrysanthemum. 'The Return of the Giant Hogweed' isn't just another fictional story; it was taken here just like described in the lyric. It does have a streak of lust for power as it spreads at the expense of other more timid plant families.

The instrumental section between 4:13 - 4:54 is maximized collective execution of the current, fresh line-up. It's as close to half-brother Gentle Giant as it'll ever be. Everybody is working shoulder to shoulder with excitement and pioneer spirit. Willing and impressed by each others abilities. It's a musical grid with a wiring-diagram that will be replaced by other keen moments but this is not to be repeated. One of the strongest moments of polyphony in the story of the band (another is 'Looking For Someone'). Not least is the flute doing a splendid job. Don't forget that this is a period of "embryonic compositions" according to some knowledge. Everything Mozart did before the age of 36 was likewise immature. The solo piano on 'Hogweed' puts a stop to a fabulous part and continuous on its own. Colorful in the bud but repetitive (the second remark on the record), repeated 28 times in a row. Nursery doesn't own the consistency of Foxtrot and it would be unrealistic to ask for it. The creation of N. C. evolved during an extended time span with a number of earlier mentioned line-ups. Therefore it's almost inevitable that there are some minor ups and downs. One instrumental section succeeds the other. As Nursery is the shortest issue 'only' 39 min. (still above average for vinyl), it's possible that 'Hogweed' deliberately was stretched out a bit to fill out the album. An alternative is to enter the final vocal bit at 5: 35 and then, let's say, let the mello break free. The band showing, followed by the piano / guitar plus the mellotron outro become one too much. It doesn't become more progressive the more one extend, prolong or add sections but the more planned, thought-out and well-balanced in proportion to each other. First course, main course, afters. Not dessert after afters. Just pretend that producer John Anthony came up with the bright idea to remove portions of the concluding part to 'Harold the Barrel'. Then everybody who regards 'Harold' as filler material would all of a sudden find it highly progressive. Without really understand what they're talking about. This is a storm in a teacup or rather in a thimble if one regards the album as a whole. 'Hogweed' was a rightful mainstay in the live repertoire for a long time, whereas much of the sublime Trespass material went out of the door as the seventies progressed. Both Trespass / Nursery are more equable than Selling England / The Lamb, so it might just as well depend on their associations with a certain time era than pure quality. Had the latter couple been recorded simultaneously with the croquet blows on the cover of Cryme neither of them had been ranked higher in any camp. Rather deemed as in "a stage of development".

Side B opens in the more conventional time format five minutes with 'Seven Stones'. A strong pastoral feeling cut in the same mould as 'White Mountain' and 'Dusk'. A production taken directly from Dame Nature without an ounce of pesticide on the billowing corn field. Banks is mainly in charge both regarding song structure and text. The lyric is stronger than 'Watcher of the Skies' and 'Firth of Fifth'; actually there are no substandard at all on present recording. Maybe the meaning of the digit seven is a British thing. I remember that the father in a host family in Eastbourne was possessed by the same number. There were seven in everything belonging to his history he claimed. I never got the opportunity to study his record collection. The knowledge about Seven Stones Reef is perhaps limited for the non-Britisher. Let's presume that it's a part of the story, just like the biblical connection. In common with previous song 'Hogweed' there's actuality interspersed with poetry. If you happen to approach England in your private yacht from south-western direction look out for the treacherous Seven Stones Reef before you disembark on Land's End (not the prog outfit but part of the country). Otherwise you may become a sailor in peril on the sea. Many are they who have succumbed to this deadly obstacle through the centuries. More progressive undertones; a Wakeman fan is by nature historically interested in King Arthur. Just like Atlantis or Xanadu (Canadians once more), there was once a Lyonesse above the sea level in the area of the reef. The single survivor Trevelyan who escaped the innumerable tons of water was the raconteur to believe or not to believe. Maybe he was just spinning a yarn. Merlin the Magician is perhaps more reliable than Trevelyan in an alternative ending. It was he who flooded the land in an attempt to drown King Arthur's fugitive soldiers. It's unclear if King Canute came to their rescue or not. Halted the water and regulated the new level. Someone said he's Jesus Christ and we will care. Why did the Lamb story triumph over The Little Prince do you think? Simply because there was already enough, was it considered, of "Circles and rings, Dragons and kings".

The mellotron is adjusted to another sound than on 'Hogweed". It's a matter of taste what one prefers but it's hard to imagine a more well-suited and incorporated field of application for the mellotron than on 'Seven Stones'. Could be the finest use ever of this particular instrument. Naturally put in relation with the class of the composition. 'In the Court of the Crimson King' wasn't a misplaced try either. Anybody can technically seen play a mellotron, it's the keyboard equivalence to the strumstick 3-string guitar. But the more challenging to come up with something original. It's hard to be as simple as Bach, as someone said. The instrumental mid section feels both folky and classical in its thickly wooded greenery. Open airy approach as in folk, complex and irregular as in classical. Of particular interest is the flute and its seeming indolent sound. Just like the mello the flute doesn't enjoy being over-treated. It's more at home in the barn with ample hayloft than in the 48-channel studio. Nursery didn't produce any singles of note, not even a posthumous vocal-friendly remix of 'White Mountain' backed by 'Harold'. We have 'White Satin' and 'Whiter Shade of Pale', this is not an ounce less worthy. Charisma obviously wasn't on the alert here. 'Seven Stones' became the B-side of 'Happy the Man'. It's not even the most self-evident choice. The single didn't really belong to Nursery but came in between this and next album Foxtrot. The A-side contains the most simplistic lyric the band has ever produced (with 'Who Dunnit?') and has a flavor of throwaway item. Logically it wasn't included on any regular album. When Foxtrot appeared later that year, companion John Anthony was merely a memory.

'Harold the Barrel' isn't less valid than anything else the band has achieved. It could easily have found place on side D of The Lamb (with adapted lyric content) or B-side Selling England. Not only found room but also enhanced. It owns a snappy and nimble character that is unique for Gabriel's writing during his all together too short tenure in Genesis. 'Willow Farm' is another dazzling example. A non-instrumentalist thinks in general in terms of melody / song-basics and that's the reason why these songs exist. In the same manner as the foursome contribute with alternative lyric themes Gabriel isn't less effective when it comes to the musical side. As someone uttered; 'Harold the Barrel'? (and 'Musical Box') are unique elements in British music history. Still there's nobody who has pointed out how it was recorded and the importance of it. The live in the studio feel is just as obvious as on other parts but the recording differs. The piano is in one speaker and the guitar in the other. In your two speakers at home you have consequently one to the left and one to the right. Only the final piano chords are performed in stereo. It creates an effect that is too simple to comprehend. The idea with anti-stereo is to give an alternative sound pix and to accentuate the mentioned final of the song. Suddenly the 'horrible' mono recording and primitive production has gone the other way and given strength to the song. Why do something less good when you have the possibility to just let loose? Why is it less good to split up the sound picture in separate compartments? Luckily the production on the record is as pristine as it is. It wouldn't work to treat every song in this manner but as an occasional feature it's nothing but strengthening. Collins has by now more than halfway into the album become a household name on drumkit / vox. His vocal on 'Harold' isn't as obvious as on first or second title as it's compressed with Gabriel's. Collins is singing on Nursery in a lot of disguises, and this is one of them. Some people didn't even notice Gabriel's exit due to the resemblance with Phil's voice, so how can they possibly be aware of the drummer's vocal entry here?

Lyrically it's no. 3 and final for songster Gabriel. That means less than 50 % and that's a paltry allocation for the frontman. Not really appealing to return to after the story of adventure The Lamb. In Hackett's description; - 'to return to the pulpet desk after being out working'. It's a tragic-comic story about the father-of-three Harold. If you study all three lyric contributions from Gabriel do you find a main thread through these titles? Harold met his quietus, and so did the children by the musical box thrown at them. Banks used the word sameness when it came to the writing of Gabriel. That's a relative description and not absolute. It's not only the words / stories themselves but also insight, expression, ardour and passion. It's easier for a vocalist to engage in his own train of thoughts than in somebody else's dreams. So, instead of being diminished to a four-piece group why not let the prime writer answer for all the lyrics? Banks' knowledge about his close partner is advanced enough to realize that a compromise will sooner or later lead to a split. Gabriel is far too qualified to play with in this area. Just like Banks is in his own. Bryan Ferry solved the dilemma by combining solo / Roxy. It worked perfectly well in this case. Another colleague of Banks, if only temporary, Derek W Dick, had the privilege in Marillion that Gabriel missed in his group. Namely to be at the head of all lyrics himself. Still when album Seasons End was released at the tail-end of the eighties there was no sign of any Fish. Possibly he went out for a refreshing ramble along the mighty Firth of Forth.

N. C. was an unexpected hit in Italy reaching no. 4. Was it unexpected? Not if you consider the very different artistic climate on these latitudes. Arlecchino appeared in Italy before Harlequin in England. Like a script for a Harlequin's tear. The characteristic checked costume, all belonging adornments. The lithe body movements just cut out for inclusion on the symph album. If you mention Drury Lane, any Genesis fan versed in the seventies scene will prick up his / her ears. The culmination of the Selling England tour in finest possible surroundings. In the year of 1800 at the same Theatre Royal made the successful Harlequin his entry. The audience was just waiting for Genesis return. In the 1860s / 70s were the pair Harlequin / clown in vogue. The song 'Harlequin' by Rutherford shows that he stood the test even without a defected Phillips. The song offers a pleasing vocal mixture from the writer himself plus the obvious Gabriel / Collins. You won't notice Mike's voice like on solo album Acting Very Strange though, neither here or on any other Genesis recording. He's a less prominent singer than Steve Howe or Richard Wright, so there might be a reason. The composition though is on the same phenomenal standard as the rest of the album. Just like on Rutherford's own 'Ripples' there's no instrumental intro but instant vocals. Collins is surprisingly high in the mix, if one considers how much else he does on the record. Even more so if one considers how low Gabriel is in the mix of the total lyric distribution. The backlash came forcefully on Foxtrot where there's one lead vocalist and one drummer. On 'Entangled' five years later Collins rules the roost alone and did the three-part voices himself. Still one lead vocalist and one drummer but in this case the same person. 'Harlequin' didn't gain much exposure live neither did 'Harold the Barrel'. It could've been differently.

Why didn't the -71 album chart in the U.K. or many other parts of Europe? When a product like Nursery Cryme gains as little attention as it did there's reason to halt and take stock of the situation. The Italians were receptive of Cryme but the colder parts of Europe weren't. The gruesome competition from the many other top acts? Limited marketing? No, the situation was similar down south and here it was as mentioned a huge hit. The artistic vision of Genesis was simply too atonal on the northern sphere at the time. It's like using Piero della Francesca's 'The Resurrection' in an advertising campaign for car tires instead of a scantily clad Malaysian university girl. The central perspective from Francesca is delightful but so are the soft body parts of the other mentioned. Great art shall grove slowly on you and not hit you in the abdomen. There's a strong spiritual connection between the 1465 painting and the one in front of you on your adorable gatefold sleeve. The Italians knew this instinctively. The Charisma label mates Van Der Graaf Generator experienced the same development as Genesis. Megastars in Italy but almost invisible elsewhere. Within less than a month in -70, both bands went from five-piece to quartet format. Nic Potter and Ant Phillips jumped ship but in the Generator case the replacement came in form of bass-pedal playing by keyboardist Hugh Banton. Phillips found a successor in Hackett, whereas Potter had to wait till the second half of the seventies before a new face entered. He looked exactly like Nic Potter, simply because it was Nic Potter who returned. Nordic band Kaipa also experienced an upheaval in the bass compartment during the same era. Bassist Mats Lindberg succeeded bassist Mats Lindberg. In this case they didn't resemble each other. They were not one, they were two.

Last, but definitely not least, comes another section that emanates from previous Trespass line-up. In theory, Ant could've been given writing credit even here. Just imagine that the same thing had occurred on Trick or Three albums. Writing contributions from a defected member in form of Gabriel or Hackett. Would you ever see this happen on a Genesis album? Just as likely as if there had been a guest violinist / cellist. Or a cover version of a Leiber / Stoller. The strict order of this band procedure doesn't allow such excesses. A curious person could rightly ask for Phillips' royalty check, after all there's economy involved (what about 'The Knife' on Live?) Anyhow, for the outside listener the main thing is your own listening experience besides Ant's wallet. If you complain here what do you possibly have left? Even among all high quality tracks here it still stands out. There's a feeling of isolation, it doesn't really belong anywhere; like descended from another dimension. The timelessness is more obvious than ever before. Everything on 'Salmacis' is direct and unmistakable. If there's any piece of music written in any century by any composer, of let's say the same running time, then why would 'Salmacis' get behindhand? All the so called classical pieces were composed by one single writer no matter how talented he was. The united immense power by five players who manage to co-ordinate their strength with maximized inspiration, creativity and talent ought to have a chance to reach an inch further. Is it possible for five or six authors to write a common novel? Under perfect circumstances yes but most likely no. 'Fountain of Salmacis' is perfect circumstance yes. There are no separate sections just an immense flow, or rather the countless sections on 'Salmacis' turn into one immense flow. It's only possible for a team of idea makers to achieve this once, and it occurs right here. It's the finest moment ever in the genre, and therefore one of the strongest in history. If you had been contemporary with Schubert (who past at an even younger age than Mozart and ranked just slightly below), some sprightly music journalist would have called him 'one of the best of during this decade'. Hackett's guitar playing is superhuman throughout. Just as much heart as brain, it's impossible to conceive or plan a similar feat. Just like pianist Glenn Gould, again, expressed that every take of a piece must be performed like it never has before. All senses must therefore be on the alert.

The diversity of sounds from the guitar strikes you all the time. They are not created from the soundboard but from the player. The earlier mentioned harp-effect on 12-string is now transferred to electric as Steve says himself ? 'a very subtle playing'. The end solo is the culmination of the journey. Daryl Stuermer plays the same solo on Three Sides Live in a very technically skilled version. But it's quite some distance from the original script. 'Salmacis' is the track where both newcomers more than on any track distinguish themselves, where you feel the alteration from previous line-up. It's unfair though to tell Anthony P. that the classic formation appeared after he had left. With due respect for John M. but his replacement Phillip C. is in his element. It wouldn't be of interest if not the other half of the rhythm section had followed his pattern. Rutherford's bass playing isn't only a result of rapidly improved technique but also his writing ability of bass lines. The bass is often considered to be arranged rather than written because it's not a melody instrument. Like a Paul McCartney Mike went from rhythm guitar to the 'low status' bass and not only learned to handle it but also produced some immemorial playing. It's fully possible to appoint the Beatle to a composing player as well.

Collins is competing with Bruford, Palmer, Barlow and other phenomenal percussionists and there's little doubt if he's up to it. His most interesting playing on the album says some reviews but the question is where on any other Genesis album? If you're interested in his jazzier stick work you have to search outside the boundaries of the band, like on Unorthodox Behaviour. Tony Banks changes from Hammond to mellotron because the conductor gives the green light. Or is it the sheet music? 'Salmacis' is made up of sparse instrumentation and this is one of the few exceptions. Luckily it wasn't recorded at a later time and inflated by greasy over-production. Engineer David Hentschel steers the volume from the bottom of the well up to the purest squirts of water. Swedish band Anglagard took notice and learned from the tutelage. To the hilt. Banks writing and playing is nothing but divine. It's real symphony rock and no supermarket fake. E-minor Opus 16 KV 299 (Seventh Movement). Gabriel is rendering a chanson d'amour that isn't an outcome from the singers own quill pen. It happened on Trespass as well. While his own lyrics deal with domestic matters then 'Fountain' is remote territory. There will come a time when things are the opposite. Genesis spent the summer of -71 in Crowborough rehearsing Nursery Cryme. This goodly country town in Sussex has a Café Baskerville. With the magnifying glass in hand you will find it on The Broadway.

Per Kohler | 5/5 |


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