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




Symphonic Prog

4.65 | 4650 ratings

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5 stars Ah- Dancing with the Moonlit Knight was the song that, only a week ago, picked me up off the ground at a time of strange indifference to most pieces of music I came across. To be suddenly inspired (or 'turned on' as you may say) is a sweet thing- which is exactly what this legendary music did to me. It's a real ear-opener to anyone- be they a genuine progger or someone, such as myself, who is still trying to find their feet in the world of music.

The album opens with this piece "Can you tell me where my country lies?- said the uniforn to his true love's eyes." What on earth is a uniforn? Or did he say uniCORN? It all boils down to the genius of Peter Gabriel- playing tricks with the minds of those who dare listen closely to the lyrics! Here I could go off on a tangent and talk about whether Peter is asking us to sympathize with the rapist in The Music Box or not but lets stick to *this* album now. Beautiful acoustic guitar playing from Steve Hackett and watch out for the passionate piano playing from Tony Backs too. Soon Steve begins the recurring guitar theme which is to begin the adrenalin of the whole song. I can't say I'm one for Peter's voice but after "young man says ' you are what you eat', well.." he sings with an emotion that takes over his style, therefore the rest of the song. Sythesized chroal voices, drumbeats and amazingly fast electric guitar riffs are perfect for the likes of me (a head-banger). Surprises all the way through: tempo and key change, new melodies: So far, in my listening, this is progressive rock at it's best! Peter suddenly sings as if he's talking to two different people- as if he's giving them instructions. He is the master of changing tones while singing. The repeated riffs,in both keyboard and guitar, make this an awesome piece for both prog-fanatics and mainstream-lovers alike. It ends with the same melancholy mood with which it began: a beautiful falling chord by a harp-like guitar and sythesized stings slowly rising, falling, rising in the background. Wonderfully dreamy. Two words: Absolutely gorgeous! This has become one of my top ten favourite pieces of music.

I know what I like (in your wardrobe): " It's one o'Clock and time for lunch." It's as if I'm listening to my Dad when he's in a good mood: Fantastic! I love it when artists are 'random' in a way that isn't *too* off the top- which is exactly what Genesis are at times. This is definitely an example. So..the first 'hit' from this album and said to be about a cross-dressing lawn-mower aye? Trust Genesis to use such a theme for a song! Nice sitar playing from Mike Rutherford. Needless to say this is a very poppy song but that didn't make it any less enjoyable for me. I'll sing along to the chorus anytime! The line: 'Me? I'm just a lawn-mower! You can tell me by the way I walk.' is purely unforgettable. High arpeggios in Peter' voice fter the first chorus: I laughed the first time I heard it; I found myself singing along the second.

Firth of Fifth: The Piano starts the almost-all-instrumtental piece in an almost Broadway fashion. That is to say- it's very sing-songy. Vocals, electric guitar and keyboard come in very suddenly and follow the piano's chordal progression but cause the music to move a tad more upbeat. Everything is very singsongy and happyclappy (mind if I use that word?) till the piano and flute do a duet. Suddenly a very melancholy, even depressing melody hits our ears.Thiis lingers on for a while. The original happy melody comes in played by the keyboard and suddenly eveything is upbeat again. (The word 'suddenly' is something I'm going to have to refrain from writing here but it's rather hard for me- this is Prog Rock!) Then the depressing tune is played by the electric guitar again. This piece certainly drifts in and out of moods! One realises that this technique is reflected in one of Peter Gabriel's closing lyrics: 'A River of Constant Change.'

More Fool Me: Phil Collin's voice is better than in 'For Absent friends' but I can see why most other reviewers think this song is a let-down in comparison with the rest of the album. This isn't a piece of proggressive rock at all; it's a gentle acoustic pop song. Phil is singing about his girlfriend who appears to have broken up with him: an over-done convention. Why do I immediately think of Bread? But I'm not going to disregard this song altogether- it's still a very pretty love song. So short- not even two minutes long!

The Battle of Epping Forest: This didn't hold me in it's clutches as much as DWTMLK did but it's still an 'epic' of Genesis: one that tells a story like The Music Box. The start reminds me of a mix of marching toy soldiers and the clapping of a football-stadium's croud. (I have a weird mind.) But the sound of Peter Gabriel with his casual sounding rock-band interrupt and change all that. The chorus dissappointed me a little- it sounds somewhat like a generic 80's pop band, therefore before it's time. Is it the simple melody or the chordal progression? It's hard to tell really- you hear it yourself! Changes in tempo keep all proggers happy. I especially like echo-pedal on Steve's guitar-riff that comes later. Now the Peter tells the others in the band a story to which they respond, and he changes his accents perfectly! Not only is he an awesome songwriter, singer and musician- this man has obviously been to drama class one or more times as well. I'd have to say that this track is electric guitar and honky-tonk keyboard dominated.

After the Ordeal: This is a great instrumental for background music while you eat, drink, get drunk...anything else that's relaxing to you. Harp-like classical guitar does a duet with a swift-playing piano. The Tambourine comes in a bit later to add a bit of tang to the percussion- it almost sounds like Spanish Flamenco Dancing at one point. This is until the electric guitar rings yet again and the flute joins in.

The Cinema Show: A Modern-day Romeo and Juliet go to the movies- now there's a beautiful thought and theme for a song! A slow ballad with dreamy slow guitars that seem to speed-up occassionally. As usual: an electric guitar and drumbeat make the song more upbeat. (Genesis have made this an effective technique in order to pull us out of the song's introduction. We were thinking about Juliet, but now we're thinking about Romeo.) Subtle hints at sex in the lyrics make the song very romantic indeed: "He will make his bed with her tonight." What I also love is the quick reference to a well-known character in Greek myth: Teiresias. He was a woman then he became a man again- and a blind prophet for than matter too. "Once a man- like the sea I raged. Once a woman- like the earth I craved...THERE IS IN FACT MORE EARTH THAN SEA." Is this conforming to the ideology of a woman's orgasm being larger than a man's? It makes you think. On a personal note- I was recently in a production of Antigone (a greek tragedy) as Teiresias' guide: This part of the song was in my head all the while! After this- the flute is heard and all the members use their voices as instruments at one point- making for an atmospheric break. Then back to Steve and Phil with their guitar and drums. Tony Banks does a delightful keyboard solo with using the sound of strings. It's all very fast-paced. This sets the scene for us. (What are R and J up to now? We are invited to use our imagination- if we're really up to it that is!) The piece ends with the first few harp-like chords on which it began.

Aisle of Plenty: "I don't belong here.." hmm- this sounds familar. After hearing the strumming guitar it sounds even moreso. Then incomes that wonderful guitar riff and one realises that it's definitely the other half of Dancing with the Moonlit Knight. Expecting us to know this (how can we not? After such a masterpiece to open the album!) the singers go crazy, meaning that they use their voices as instuments and experiment. Once again, Peter Gabriel at his most passionate (so far- in my listening of Genesis.) A brilliant short ending to a brilliant long opening of this album.

If you're a Prog Rock fan but you don't have this album, you're mad. Utterly mad. Just try it one day and let it melt into you- let the music take you over. It's worth the hassle- trust me!

Starette | 5/5 |


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