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

SELLING ENGLAND BY THE POUND

Genesis

 

Symphonic Prog

4.64 | 4093 ratings

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TheWillowFarmer
4 stars Many Genesis fans consider Selling England by the Pound to be the best Genesis album, and since I already stated that Foxtrot is my favorite, you might have already guessed that I'm not one of those fans, Selling England is actually my fourth favorite Genesis album. That being said, I love this album for the most part, it's Genesis' response to some criticisms about them not sounding british enough and trying too hard to please american audiences or some stupid nonsense like that. So it is their most "british" album and the songs are widely about british society back in 1973, let's have a look at it then.

Dancing With the Moonlit Knight (8:01) - ★★★★★

I gotta say, Genesis really nails it when it comes to opening up their albums... well, most of the time anyway. But this is just beautiful, the acoustic intro with Gabriel's singing sets the mood for this album just perfectly, I love how this song slowly builds up to blow into one of Genesis' fastest and heaviest tracks ever, Phil drums his heart out here and Hackett is just as good with his guitar work. The lyrics are a social commentary on contemporary England and have a lot of references to stuff like Wimpey Burgers, the "Land of hope and glory" hynn and other english staples, it's among my favorite lyrical content from Peter.

I Know What I Like (In Your Wardrobe) (4:06) - ★★★★☆

The first hit single for Genesis and the poppiest track from the Peter Gabriel years of the band. The lawn mower sound Banks' mellotron makes at the beginning of this track is pretty unique, Mike's bassline here is funky as hell, especially during the chorus, which is extremely catchy. Easily one of the better pop songs Genesis did, it's hummable, but still musically complex, and the lyrics are a humorous look at a young groundsman's lack of an ambition in life, being perfectly happy with his job with his lawn mower.

Firth of Fifth (9:35) - ★★★★★

My personal favorite song off this album and one of my all-time favorite Genesis songs, largely written by Tony Banks no less. Every single one of these guys shines on in this song, Banks does it in the intro, Gabriel dellivers one of his finest vocal performances and plays his flute beautifully in the interlude, Phil does some awesome drumming at the 4:30 mark, Rutherford's bass in the "chorus" is one of his best performances and Steve Hackett's guitar solo here is arguably his most memorable ever. Well, Banks himself hates the lyrics to this song, and I can't say I totally disagree with him, the title in itself is a pretty bad pun on Firth of Forth and the lyrics do have some stupid lines such as "Like a cancer growth is removed by skill", but I still like the whole imagery Banks creates with his lyrics here, even if the actual words are kinda nonsensical.

More Fool Me (3:09) - ★★☆☆☆

Another acoustic number with Phil Collins on the lead vocals, and considering it worked very well last time with For Absent Friends, why not? Problem is, this song is nowhere nearly as good as For Absent Friends. Phil's vocals are pretty good, but the actual song is very repetitive and feels completely out of place in this album, even when it comes to lyrics, this time written by Mike Rutherford, just your typical break-up lyrics and yadda yadda, this isn't interesting in the slightest and should be a B-Side of some sort.

The Battle of Epping Forest (11:43) - ★★★☆☆

This one is a track that you might either love or hate, Genesis themselves kinda cringe when talking about it because... well, it's kind of a mess, really. The lyrics are about a gang war in the Epping Forest region of London, hence the song title, and once again Peter Gabriel incarnates different characters with his voice and delivers a pretty good theatrical performance... however, he never shuts up and I thought this got grating after a while. There aren't any instrumental passages in this song, instead most of the instruments feel like they're trying to overshadow each other, and Gabriel's voice is also in this struggle, which is a pretty good idea for a song about a conflict, but it could have been a lot better. I also think the story Gabriel tries to tell here is very hard to follow, even he got lost while writing it, go figure.

After the Ordeal (4:12) - ★★★★☆

A somewhat calming Steve Hackett instrumental track, and a very well-placed one since it comes after the whole chaotic mess of The Battle of Epping Forest. Hackett and Banks dominate the first half with lots of good guitar and piano work, but my favorite part is when the drums kick in and Hackett starts doing a guitar solo, which I also find to be among his best, Gabriel comes in with his flute during the end section for extra beauty, pretty good instrumental number overall.

The Cinema Show (10:41) - ★★★★★

Another of my favorite Genesis songs, Tony and Mike wrote this one and the lyrics are a mixture of The Waste Land by T.S Elliot and Romeo and Juliet. The 12-string intro reminds me a bit of Anthony Phillips' playing on Trespass and Peter and Phil dual-singing in it is fantastic, Steve's guitar work and Mike's melodic bass during the mid section are great, the chorus is very hummable and Gabriel's flute strikes back here as well. But my favorite moment has to be the closing section, Phil emulates Bill Bruford on his drumming, Banks performs one of my favorite keyboard solos of all time.

Aisle of Plenty (1:31) - ★★★★☆

Well... there isn't much to say about this other than the fact that it's just Dancing WIth the Moonlit Knight's intro reprised with Gabriel delivering more bad british puns. It's... something, I always consider this to be just an ending to The Cinema Show, considering that one segues into this as if it was.

Despite some drawbacks here and there, Selling England by the Pound has some of the finest material Genesis has ever made, and this more than makes up for weaker stuff like More Fool Me and The Battle of Epping Forest. This is Steve Hackett's favorite Genesis album and it's easy to see why, it's the one in which he contributed the most and there's lots of great guitar solos from him, for a guitarist, this album is certainly a must-listen, but I also like how Gabriel's flute is much more present here than before, it's a fantastic record without a doubt.

TheWillowFarmer | 4/5 |

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