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Genesis - Nursery Cryme CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

4.42 | 3250 ratings

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5 stars In 1971, prog doyens Genesis released their third album -- and first true masterpiece -- NURSERY CRYME. The band's sound, songwriting, and lineup had matured and solidified at this point, with definitive Genesis guitarist Steve Hackett steps in for the regrettably stage fright-stricken Anthony Phillips, and superlative percussionist and secondary vocalist Phil Collins replacing John Mayhew on drums. With NURSERY CRYME, the tremendous promise of the excellent (if a trifle uneven) forerunner TRESPASS was now made manifest, and appreciative fans were treated to some of the most imaginative and hard-hitting music to yet emerge from the evolving genre of progressive rock.

The album has the perfect balance of raw, almost scary power and contrastingly airy beauty that makes early Genesis so compelling. For my tastes, each of the seven songs here is a fully-realized winner. Longstanding fan favourite "The Musical Box" (which served as the inspiration for the terrific Paul Whitehead cover art), from its ethereal opening, to its explosive ending some ten minutes later, contains all the necessary elements of a quintessential Genesis track: Hackett's guitar is simply spellbinding, Gabriel's voice is by turns delicate and dauntingly powerful, Banks' church-like organ sound is masterful and moving, and Collins' drumming, especially his cymbal work, is particularly adept. Factor in great lyrics, some nice flute from Gabriel, and Rutherford's room-shaking bass and bass pedals, and you have all that one could reasonably desire in a classic Genesis track!

After the thunderous climax of "The Musical Box," the Collins-sung ballad "For Absent Friends" offers a welcome, calming and nostalgic respite, admirably showcasing the new drummer's considerable vocal abilities. Then, the science fiction-themed "The Return of the Giant Hogweed" witnesses a return to grandiose song structure and creepy, storytelling lyrics, as ambulatory, revenge-bent predatory plants strive to exterminate the human race that had foolishly sought to "enslave" them.

The next track, "Seven Stones," is a dignified and burnished gem of a song which, replete with mellotron, deals with deliverance from earthly danger through the supernatural agency of seeming chance. Collins' drums, and Rutherford's bass are notably good here.

"Harold the Barrel" reveals a Genesis that are able to combine black humour and pathos, as Gabriel and company don multiple personas to tell the tragi-comic tale of a browbeaten restaurateur who manages to retain his dignity only through effecting his own demise.

The following song, the lovely and sparkling "Harlequin," has long been a personal favourite. This shorter piece finds Gabriel and Collins harmonizing in very nice fashion atop a simple and pretty tune founded upon twelve string, and tastefully understated bass, keyboards and drums. Beautiful!

Finally, on "The Fountain of Salmacis," the band delve into the fertile inspirational ground of Greek mythology, relating how, through divine intervention, the demi-god Hermaphroditus and a lustful naiad (or water nymph) were "strangely merged -- forever to be joined as one," thus explaining the origins of the dual-sexed biological oddities known to science as hermaphrodites. The lyrics are pure poetry, while the music, with sweeping mellotron and percussive bass, imparts a fittingly epic feel, and brings this terrific recording to a majestic close.

Thus, I give NURSERY CRYME the highest possible rating of five well-deserved stars, and exhort all fans of classic progressive rock to experience (or re-experience) one of the stellar works of the art form. NURSERY CRYME represents Gabriel-era Genesis at its resplendent best, and is, in my considered opinion, every bit as essential as the more frequently-cited favourites FOXTROT and SELLING ENGLAND BY THE POUND. Brilliant!

Peter | 5/5 |


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