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

SELLING ENGLAND BY THE POUND

Genesis

 

Symphonic Prog

4.62 | 2848 ratings

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Roland113
Prog Reviewer
5 stars In My Not So Humble Opinion:

"Selling England by the Pound" is one of the greatest progressive albums ever.

Not that I've been single for years, but back in the day . . . I had one of those on again off again relationships. We'd date then get into some moronic fight and break up, then we'd get back together and it'd be all special for a while then we'd drift apart again. I always kind of knew she'd be there when I needed to go back to her and every time we got back together, it was amazing.

"Selling England by the Pound" is that old girlfriend for me. When ever I needed her, she's always been there. (I've now said something new about Selling England, though in all fairness, that's possibly the most disturbing analogy that I've made so far.)

Rather than doing an in depth track by track analysis, which has been done countless times, I'll just throw some of my thoughts out there.

"Dancing With the Moonlight Knight": Gabriel's opening line is one of the most beautiful examples of his voice. There is so much tone and power to his voice, all stuck into the plea, "Can you tell me where my country lies." The last couple of minutes, the mellower part, are some of my favorites of this song; I love the airy feeling that Banks and Hackett's interplay gives me.

"I Know What I Like": ok, I feel a bit sheepish; I never realized that Hackett was simulating the sound of a Lawnmower here until the rerelease with video. There's a video that shows Gabriel mimicking mowing throughout the intro of the song. Yes, it took me twenty or thirty years to make the connection, oh well, more fool me (yep, did you see that, kind of a play on words there).

"Firth of Fifth" is a song that I didn't appreciate until spending time on here. I never quite picked up on the majesty of it, and here's why. The vocal parts sung by Gabriel sound very forced to me, it's almost as if the words and music are constantly tripping over one and other. In addition, I wasn't a big fan of the piano intro by Mr. Banks. In my youth, I'd routinely skip this song in youthful exuberance to get to my favorites. Now, I get it a bit more. While I still think the vocals sound forced and slightly out of time, I truly appreciate the solo sections of the song. Hackett's work here must be one of the most beautiful guitar solos in existence.

"More Fool Me" eh, what can I say, I don't mind Collins ballads, but his voice isn't strong enough at this point in his career to pull this one off well. This is the weakest part of the album (yeah, no surprise there).

Despite the grief it gets, I love "The Battle of Epping Forest". In particular, the run from the four minute mark to about five minutes and twenty seconds is beautiful, the inter play between the notes of Banks and Hackett's runs weave a tapestry of sound that is subtle but stunning once you pick up on it. At random times throughout the bit, random chords appear within the rhythms that each is playing separately, creating a third, independent rhythm. This is one of the most complex and beautiful bits of an all around amazing album.

"After the Ordeal" is a Hackett showcase piece that really shows off his mastery. Even though it's only a four minute song, this one should not be overlooked.

"The Cinema Show" is one of the most beautiful pieces of music ever written. There are at least three goose bump moments. The first notes of the guitar always give me that creeping feeling of majesty. The nanas at the four minute mark are equally beautiful. Finally, the last half of the song features Collins, Rutherford and Banks at their best. The rhythm section with Banks overtop is worthy of ELP, though without the machismo. Kind of like the quiet younger sister, able to let her beauty shine through without the pomp. Banks solo at the seven minute mark is the piece that taught me how to solo; it's not about the quantity of notes, but which notes you put where. The second half of the solo, a repetition of the first with the powerful choirs adding power behind the lead is truly one of the best choices of keyboard sounds that I know of. Literally, this song shaped my playing more than any other piece of music.

"The Aisle of Plenty" is a haunting closer to this masterpiece, revisiting "Dancing with the Moonlight Light's" main melody.

No, I didn't end up with the girlfriend that I mentioned in the first paragraph, and I'm quite happy with "The Flower Kings" and Frost* and the newer music that I listen to these days, but "Selling England by the Pound" will always be one of those CD's that will always have a soft spot in my heart.

Five stars, easily.

Roland113 | 5/5 |

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