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Genesis - Nursery Cryme CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

4.42 | 3252 ratings

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Eclectic Prog Team
4 stars Genesis was becoming a more formidable progressive rock act, but they would reach their zenith over the span of the next three albums. With this album, they established quite a bit a credibility, and while I was unimpressed the first two or four times I heard it, the music gradually weaved its way into my subconscious, and I found myself needing to hear this grand achievement again. I would compare this album to Yes's Fragile simply because there are a few long and essential Genesis pieces on it, but they are interspersed with somewhat weaker material. What's more, this album has one of the worst productions in progressive rock music. The vocals are swamped in the mix, and "muddy" is an adjective most often used to describe the sound. At times the vocals sound isolated, but perhaps that is to good effect given some of the themes of the songs. Any fan of Gabriel-era Genesis should get this album in his collection, although he probably already will have it.

"The Musical Box" Layers of gentle guitar and quiet vocals begin this bittersweet masterpiece. Steve Hackett's weepy guitar sets the tone for the song as Gabriel sings the haunting words. The story behind them is ridiculous at first glance, but something about them resonated with me on a visceral level. There's a menacing change of pace after a while as the sound fills out: Tony Banks comes in on organ, the bass rumbles, and the guitar is heavier and shrieks into a solo. There's a brief soft section that bridges the harder rocking ones, masterfully inserted as the protagonist sings a haunting nursery rhyme. The part that follows the second torrential segment is hands down one of the best moments in all of Genesis. The inflections in Peter Gabriel's vocals are perfect given the context of the song, and as the organ rises back in, he begins singing so pleadingly, its impossible to not feel sorry for the character. "Why don't you touch me?" he cries.

"For Absent Friends" Under two minutes, this little ditty is a quaint acoustic piece with Phil Collins on vocals. It's a pleasant enough song.

"The Return of the Giant Hogweed" Things get a lot heavier, with this alarming track that has two lead guitars, one low and one high, panned on both sides. Gabriel sings with a fair bit of vitriol as he tells a bizarre story about a hogweed that takes over the country. The riff during the verses is extremely inventive, and Mike Rutherford does a remarkable job in the background. The soft tinkling of the piano provides an excellent backdrop for the bass and lead guitar to work over during the instrumental section. After a short vocal bit with some of Gabriel's strangest vocals, there's a fiery and thunderous conclusion.

"Seven Stones" This beautiful song reminds me very much of good Seals and Crofts. Despite his youth, Gabriel's voice sounds aged as he reaches in the falsetto range and even as he sings naturally. The strings at the end are mesmerizing and gorgeous.

"Harold the Barrel" Here's a frantic song with amusing lyrics and giddy piano playing. It describes a restaurant owner who has apparently had enough of goes up to a window ledge. As a last resort, when his mother comes to the scene, she tells him his shirt is dirty and there's a man there from the BBC.

"Harlequin" Another gentle folk song, this one is nothing incredible, but it is at least very pretty and warm.

"The Fountain of Salmacis" The other great achievement on the album is this amazing song. Swells of Mellotron wash over a stark organ three times before the singing begins. The story is that of Hermaphroditus (son of Hermes and Aphrodite in Greek mythology), who unwillingly blends with the naiad Salmacis, thereby explaining the phenomenon a person displaying both male and female sex characteristics. This piece has Rutherford at his absolute best; I often find myself focusing on the bass line during the verses. But the singing is so very hard to ignore also! This is probably my favorite song on the album, even though on some days I find myself yearning to hear the first one more.

Epignosis | 4/5 |


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