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Genesis - Nursery Cryme CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

4.42 | 3252 ratings

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James Lee
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars I'll never forget hearing "Nursery Cryme" for the first time- I went to a high school classmate's house after classes on a typically grey upstate New York late-winter afternoon and smoked pot (for the third time, but this was only the second time I actually 'felt it'). Devouring half a bag of pizza-flavored 'Combos' was most likely not the album's fault, but the memorable, transcendant experience wasn't solely caused by the THC.

No need to restate what everyone knows; "Nursery Cryme" is where the 'classic' line-up of the band and the resulting development of GENESIS' characteristic musical signatures happens. It's not the quantum leap that we saw between their first and second albums, but more akin to the difference between YES' "Time and a Word" and "Fragile"; the new members brought enough inspiration and skill to hasten the pre- existing development of the others' musical explorations. To put it simply, it was the difference between 'good' and 'great'.

"The Musical Box" singlehandedly shows us what the new line-up had to offer; while the opening minutes seem like a honed continuation of the best parts of "Trespass", once the harder section kicks in it is unlikely you'll further mistake the two albums. The band has obviously shed some of the timidity that veiled most of the previous album in mist- the lyrics are also more direct, and conversely more adventurous. Gabriel is still hiding in the mix more often than not, but to his credit he's more likely to make a dramatic and emotional outburst like the demanding plea in the song's climax- which Hackett's double- tracked guitars punctuate nicely. Not only an impressive percussionist, the newly added Mr. Collins demonstrates his admirable vocal work on "For Absent Friends". Though brief, it is a fine example of the sometimes buried emotional capabilities that let GENESIS rise to the top of the progressive pack- another facet being the unsettling but contagious humor that we first see clearly in "Harold the Barrel". "The Return of the Giant Hogweed" is another daring (and often succesful) attempt at a long musical tale, which also contains some interesting guitar experimentation among the generally harder sounds. The tenderness that begins "Seven Stones" is but one of the evocative moods that the band sketches in the song's duration; the more truncated "Harlequin" furthers the pastoral quality and achieves in less than three minutes what much of "Trespass" had stuggled to portray. Finally, "The Fountain of Salamacis" links a number of disparate elements, from the jazzy drumming to the symphonic crescendos, into a cohesive and flowing whole. Oddly enough, while it brings the album full circle with the approximate style of the opening tack, the piece itself seems to lacks some closure; the final rolling climax sounds a bit like an add-on.

This exemplifies my only real concern with the album; like the other two that make up classic GENESIS trio of albums, the musical moments are stellar but somewhat interchangeable; there are many passages on "Nursery Cryme", "Foxtrot", and "Selling England by the Pound" that feel like they could be extracted from their respective songs. I can imagine the band coming up with a musical idea and throwing it into an existing song, or needing to fill a section and shuttling through various ideas to see what will work. That's relatively standard practice, especially among the more democratic bands, but for some reason it seems more apparent here than elsewhere. Minor misgivings aside, this is almost an essential disc- perhaps slightly less so than the two that follow, but still highly recommened for any comprehensive progressive rock collection.

James Lee | 4/5 |


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