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

SELLING ENGLAND BY THE POUND

Genesis

 

Symphonic Prog

4.62 | 2843 ratings

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40footwolf
3 stars While it's arguable that Selling England By The Pound has some of the best individual moments of any Genesis album, as an entire work I think that it's flawed enough that I could only recommend it to somebody who was already avidly into, and used to the sounds of, progressive rock. Unlike some of Genesis' other albums, this is not an album that will transcend barriers easily.

I think the main problem with the album is that the band just didn't know when to call it quits on a lot of their longer tracks. The first song is a fine example: "Dancing With the Moonlit Knight" is positively enrapturing for its first 6 minutes and then, for no discernible reason, trails off into a sedate keyboard solo for the final 2. Similarly, "The Battle of Epping Forest" simply can't carry its runtime. The narrative of the song should be engrossing but the band simply keeps going and going and going, with very little change in the sound or structure of the song, until the listener is practically asleep by the 7th minute. Even "The Cinema Show" falls victim to such indulgences-a song that is charming and witty for the first half becomes a total slog for the second half thanks to yet another long, meandering keyboard solo.

I don't have a problem with musicians showing off their chops when it adds something to the song, but on Selling England these solos do the exact opposite-they take away power and listenability from songs that are otherwise quite wonderful.

Thankfully, the whole album doesn't fall prey to such dalliances. The one song that earns its extended run time is the magnificent "Firth of Fifth" largely because, while it too has a long keyboard solo, it manages to keep its sense of fun and grandeur even through the instrumental segments. It's consistency of tone, operatic lyrics and beautiful musicianship make it one of Genesis' very finest songs, if not their best song period. Likewise, "I Know What I Like(In Your Wardrobe)" is a charming little tune with some very inspired percussion from Phil Collins, "More Fool Me" is a sweet, tender ballad that doesn't come off as hokey, "After the Ordeal" is grand-but-concise palate cleanser between the album's two opuses, and "Aisle of Plenty", even considering its length, serves as a nice way to tie up the album and bring all of its themes full circle.

Overall, I simply wish that Genesis had taken more of a "show not tell" attitude to this album so that I could award it 4 or 5 stars. If even 10 minutes worth of keyboard showmanship had been slashed from the album's total runtime this album may have earned its place as the highest rated on PA. As it stands, it serves as a fine totem for prog enthusiasts but may prove to be too obtuse for those not willing to handle its pedantic, winding instrumental hedge-mazes.

40footwolf | 3/5 |

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