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

SELLING ENGLAND BY THE POUND

Genesis

 

Symphonic Prog

4.64 | 4105 ratings

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jamesbaldwin
Prog Reviewer
4 stars Review n. 99. "Selling England By The Pound" is considered one of the greatest masterpieces of progressive rock and here in Progarchives occupies the second place of the ranking of all times, having surpassed, since two years or three, "Thick As A Brick".

Is this the best work of Genesis? Is one of the insuperable peaks of prog? My answer, once again, is no. I Don't consider this Lp one of the absolute vertices of prog. I try to explain my position. I recognize that the first three songs of "Selling" are brilliant both individually and as a sequence in a way that has no equal in the Genesis discography ("Trespass" is surpassed, but not by much). In particular, the first and the third songs are among the absolute masterpieces of Genesis. Ok. But the rest of the Lp is just quite good, it's not at the height of the sequence of the first three songs. Here's to you the details.

The first, "Dancing With The Moonlit Knight" (8:01) after a beginning where the voice of Gabriel sings a hymn, very English, enjoys a melody very inspired, and this, when it's joined to the arpeggios on the guitar of Hackett produce the best pathos in the music of Genesis. But the song is not only beautiful in the melodic part, because even the rock part has a very convincing, compelling, spontaneous progression (not forced as it often happens to Genesis), resulting perhaps the best part of the piece, which ends with a refined nuanced tail, always very beautiful thanks to Hackett's arpeggio (rating 8,5).

"I Know What I Like (In Your Wardrobe)" (4:06) is a pop song with an excellent, tribal arrangement. It's not at the same height of the previous song but with its cheerful and carefree rhythm makes the album take off. The mood of the song is very captivating, worthy heir to the Beatles (rating 7,5). And here comes the peak: "Firth Of Fifth (9:34)". Introduction to Banks' piano, which surpasses himself in technique (he will not be able to reproduce this introduction live and he will cut it from the song), with odd rhythm changes worthy of a classical composer, then Gabriel's vocals announcing a dramatic rhythm, then melodic bridge, slowed down and then again dramatic verse, as long as the sequence of instrumental solos starts, which is the most sublime part of the song. Gabriel's pastoral flute begins, continues Banks on the synth, supported by Collins's percussion, causing a progression that culminates in Hackett's solo, perhaps his best in Genesis, which reaches moments of high epic ... then the singing returns, at the conclusion of the piece, which fades with the initial piano notes. Absolute masterpiece, I believe the best Genesis song (rating 9,5).

"More Fool Me (3:09)", sung by Collins, is a song made of California-style vocal harmonies, and little else, modeled on Crosby-Stills-Nash-Young tracks (rating 7). End of Side A.

"The Battle Of Epping Forest (11:43)" opens side B with a sustained rhythm. The song is very spoken (the text is too long) and this suffocates the instrumental pieces (Banks' keyboards, for once, represent the best sound of the piece). There are variations on the theme: verse, refrain, bridge, variation, return to the verse. It's a rock opera piece, after all this is an aspect always present in Genesis: their theatrical vocation, which often invalidates the musical moments. In this case, the best moments are the melodic moments of the refrain and the bridge with the background of Banks keyboards. However, the track is out of proportion, it is too foreign to the first side, too verbose, too long, to be considered a good song. There is too much meat in the fire, too much descriptive theatrical spirit (rating 6,5).

"After The Ordeal (4:12)", instrumental, is written by Hackett. Good composition, classic atmosphere, good progression by guitar solo... but anyway a true development and a memorable melody are missing (rating 7+).

Here's to you the final moment: "The Cinema Show / Aisle of Plenty). The first two minute of "Cinema Show" are heavenly, thanks to Hackett's guitar arpeggio, which has a ringing and evocative tone. The Gabriel-Hackett combination is almost always a winner. The song is dreamlike, delicate, soft, and in fact Gabriel's flute also arrives, which together with Collins' drums continues the piece in a very suggestive and delicate way. One notices, however, a lack of variation, of the development of the melody, and in fact the refrain does not arrive but, towards the six minutes, Banks's solo, accompanied by a great work of Collins on the' drums, which shows off his virtuosity. Banks's solo is the weakest part of the track, as it's not very inspired, but fruit of the trade. After the inspiration, the exercise of style arrived, the display of the technical expertise of Banks and Collins, only that the work of Collins, in the background, is really refined, worthy of the best jazz, while Banks's solo is didactic , pedantic, basically banal. This song is an excellent example of how the canons of progressive can sometimes worsen the result of an excellent melody and an excellent arrangement, bringing a song that could end in 5-6 minutes up to 10 minutes thanks to a solo end in itself. Rating 7,5/8.

The song ends with the voice of Gabriel who returns and remembers the melody of the beginning, just mentioned, and followed by a polyphonic singing accompanied by percussion. The idea of ​​the reprise of the first piece is good, only that it's executed too quickly (duration two minutes), as if they were in a hurry to finish, as if it were a conduit of Cinema Show. Thus ends, with a good but not performed piece at its best, this album, which, I repeat, could compete to be among the best in progressive history until the third song, then the average quality of the pieces unfortunately decreases considerably and not being a really bad piece, overall the second side is good but nothing more and therefore penalizes the overall result which (average quality: 7,71), in my opinion, does not reach the five stars, the absolute masterpieces of progressive, settling on a score of 8.5, which in my evaluation criteria corresponds to four full stars.

jamesbaldwin | 4/5 |

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