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Genesis - Selling England by the Pound CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

4.64 | 4296 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars "Can you tell me where your archive lies?" said the prog-rock fan to his moderator's eyes.

"It lies with this, by Genesis; for our top chart spot, they traded in their lot..."

Until quite recently (2010) this was the album with the highest rating on this website. I find it to be very high quality in places, but lacking the cohesion and consistency of other pseudo- concept albums. It deals with themes of England, working life, history and love, with plenty of variation in dynamics and instruments. Watery organs provide chords for furious guitar licks, while 12-string melodies intertwine across sweet mellotron sounds. The dissapointment for me is Banks' synth patches, which often lack the energy or attack needed for ceratin passages; they are generally uncool and plodding (this is no coincidence; he is probably the only prog keyboard player not to be using moogs). Gabriel's lyrics are poetic throughout and beautifully sung, although half of the puns are not funny or clever and it seems that entire verses are constructed around them. Regardless, this is one of Genesis's better albums and remains a must-have due to two songs alone.

'Dancing with the Moonlit Knight' is a wonderful, exhilarating journey; it has a great structure that keeps you interested all through it. The fast riffing parts are progressive yet catchy, and help Peter's story to unfold. 'Firth of Fifth' is the other gem. It is a majestic, keyboard-led epic with contrasting sections of varying weight and significance, until the Crimson-esque guitar solo appears. This is Hackett's only chance to shine on the album really (yet his guitar still has a rather weak, tinny sound to it). The main themes are reprised to good effect.

The single about the lawnmower is rather silly but a nice song nonetheless, while 'More Fool Me' is forgettable and 'After the Ordeal' drags on but gets nowhere. 'Aisle of Plenty' is merely a reprise of the opener's main theme but has a point, which is to bookend the album, unlike these other short songs. 'Epping Forest' has odd time signatures, but they are only that way to fit around Gabriel's awkward lyrics with loads of syllables to fit in, and these lyrics go on for days [it seems]. 'The Cinema Show' is a better song but I fail to see how the synth solo is linked in any way to the first half; it's all good music anyway, apart from the tones used.

So, more of a mixed bag than I expected for such a praised album. The unnecessary nature of some of these tunes is emphasised by the fact that if they were removed, the album would still be of sufficient length, and would have better flow and no filler. Consider the end result to be the product of a band that was disintegrating due to their inability to agree with each other and make creative, progressive decisions. With that in mind, some of the fantastic music here is an achievement for it's writers. It should have been called 'Padding out England by the Pound'......

thehallway | 4/5 |


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