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Genesis - Nursery Cryme CD (album) cover

NURSERY CRYME

Genesis

 

Symphonic Prog

4.42 | 2126 ratings

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Starette
Prog Reviewer
5 stars Nursery Cryme was the first Genesis abum I ever got. I write about it as if it were some years ago, really it was only a few months. After hearing The Fountain of Salmacis- I knew I had to get more, my ears had fallen in love with the song and since then, my love of Peter Gabriel-era Genesis has only grown more! This album is *almost* as good as Selling England by the Pound. In some parts- it's even better (I'm thinking of Return of the Giant Hogweed in comparison with the Battle of Epping Forrest). Therefore I still have their 1973 album as their highest in my ranking; this 1971 one is down by ONE step. But I cannot emphasize what a slight and shallow step that is.

The Musical Box: Does it not strike you as odd that one of the best songs in the history of Progressive Rock just so happens to be about the rape of a little girl by an old man? In fact- the story's more complex than that: 9-year-old Cynthia chopped 8-year-old Henrys' head off with a croquet mallet then, when she found his music box which played 'Old King Cole'- his spirit appeared from it and turned into an old man. He then proceeded to rape her till his Nanny found them both and killed them by hurling the Music Box itself at them....good grief, WHAT a *screwed-up* idea! It's the best of its' kind I tell you- you can almost hear the Police inspecting the Genesis' band-practice- room for drugs. Such a disturbing theme for a song...and yet, I wouldn't mind playing it to my children. Peter Gabriel has the golden gift of being subtle, NOT explicit in his lyrics. The piece begins with an eerie acoustic guitar and Peter Gabriel's 'old-man' voice...or at least it seems he's putting on another kind of voice: if one listens carefully, they find there's a whiny and croaky touch to it. The playful flute, in duet with the guitar, give the music an old-fashioned taste and also suggest the conventional music heard by children when they hear a nursery rhyme sung at pre-school. A childs world is what the song conveys. Hence the song-name. Hence the album-name too. The flowing guitar is heard till drums, flute and guitar strum a few chords together in the same slow, changed rythmn and there's no other way to describe this certain chordal progression that's used apart from, well, VERY 1970s! It's fantastic and it has an air of romance about it, or a comforting air: as the chords have changed from low and minor (the "sad" key) to high and major (the "happy" key). After this sudden change in time-signature and melody, we have Phil Collins drums pick-up on a more complex and ever-changing beat, Tony Banks on his organ and the electric guitar: these three instuments build-up the song together for a while. Aah- the guitar riffs in this song- this part is really all about how cool Steve Hackett is!- A member we don't pay enough attention to. Not forgetting Mike Rutherford either, of course. The guitar riffs have an orgy (so to speak) for a long time- so lets all jump around as if we're in a mosh-pit again! Suddenly, everything is calm like the start of the song- only an acoustic guitar and Gabriel's voice to charm us. "I've been waiting here for so long...and all this time has passed me by..." The organ and drumbeat gradually lead up to what is essentially the 'catharsis' of the whole song: "Why don't you touch me? Touch me, Touch me, TOUCH me NOW! now! now! now! NOW!" If you know the song, you find it hard to get that bit out of your head for a while after even thinking about it. How can a song about a rape be so good? I don't know if this has ever made you wonder but it's certainly got me thinking.

For Absent Friends: This song is just plain CUTE. It's more a song for children than us. A song I can play to my fundamentalist-christian neighbours WITHOUT offending them in one way or another. This is the first example of Phil Collins and his simple-formatted songs that I ever heard. Therefore: I like Peter Gabriel-era Genesis MUCH more. This song probably has a deeper meaning behind the lyrics but Honestly! It takes more than an acoustic guitar and a repeated melody to emphasize that meaning, let alone be 'progressive'. Pretty pop-tune but not very catching. More fool Me is his better effort.

The Return of the Giant Hogweed: This is another one of the best songs on the album. The very START is memorable- Steve Hackett strikes you with a solid and fact-paced guitar-riff. Tony Banks plays the havard-organ at its coolest (I don't think I've ever heard an organ stretched to that extent before- synchronised beat and stacatto chords hitting the keyboard.) The melody is rather jazzed-up and with good use of falsetto in Gabriel's voice too. Especially when the Giant Hogweed are taking out their revenge on the Londoners who stole them from the Russian Hills: "Mighty Hogweed is avenged. Human bodies soon will know our ANGER.... Kill them with your Hogweed hairs, Heracleum MantegazziANI...." and here is my favourite bit: all instruments change chords at the same time as one another in the most powerful, head-banging, changing-beat and complex chordal progression Genesis will ever use! Nothing can top it, and if anyone sees the Belgian TV 1971 studio-concert of Genesis- you'll see how infatuated the gorgeous young Peter Gabriel is, himself, with this part! So much that he pretty-much dances with the microphone-stand, as you do.

Seven Stones: This song actually took time to grow on me but when it did- I saw how it was one of the most peaceful songs in the world. The idea of there being 'seven' of something is such a cliched-convention- seen from both a biblical view and in greek mythology and elsewhere. At first this sounds like a beautiful love-song but, listening to the lyrics, it's about an old bastard. And he is one HELL of a bastard! He laughs at the worlds' despair and steals money from the farmer- for crying out loud! "The old man's guide is chance'. I suppose the point of the song is to show that the man is 'old' but he acts as if he's 'young', or vice versa. This is a melancholy song that adds up to crescendoes and changes key everytime the chorus comes round. The line "and the changes of no consequence will pick up the reigns from nowhere." adds a pleasant element of surprise to the song, in the way that it's presented. Watch out for the mellotron with the angry-sounding guitar at the end. The swinging-of-moods in this song sounds fantastic.

Harold the Barrel: This song is rather Broadway with the piano playing hony-tonk style. It's the 'comic-relief' of the album- not one of my favourites but still enjoyable. Amongst the up-beat dance of it all- the piano does a few peaceful and slow, almost eerie solos. I mentioned before that this song was comic-relief but I just had a good look at the lyrics and now I'm beginning to wonder...as it appears to be about a restaurant owner who served up his own toes for tea, got hunted down by the police and is, by the end of the song, about to commit-suicide by jumping off a building...or maybe about to turn himself in to the police as there's nothing else he can do. Now, I have no idea what story Genesis based this one on but, either way, drama is incorporated into this song and done very well. This is one of those Genesis songs in which the band members sing as different characters in a plot: "We're all your friends- come on down and talk to us son." "You must be Joking!!" "Take a running jump!" The soft and echoing piano chords, almost depressing in a way which makes up empathize with poor Harold, are great for leading on to the next song..

Harlequin: For a while I thought Phil Collins did the main vocals for this as falsetto is used all the way through. This song is dreamy, floating, ethereal- the lyrics take us to another world and they set a calming scene for us. Arpeggiating guitars and gentle hi- hat drumming used. There's also a guitar chordal-progression and rythym during the chorus which is so 70s and reminds me of Battle of Evermore by Led Zeppelin (hopefully I'm not alone in thinking this). A Harlequin is an actor with a mask- not that it has much to do with the actual song but I thought I may as well point that out. This song is not legendary but it does make a good lullaby.

Fountain of Salmacis: BRILLIANT!!! This is the first Genesis song I ever heard and it still gives me ear-gasms when I hear it: I don't think the spell will ever wear-off! The rising- falling-rising crescendo-decrescedo-crescendo-catch that Tony Banks has on his equipment have our attention immediately as does his jumpy keyboard-riff. Mellotron- use is excellent. Collin's drumming and Rutherford's bass are reminiscent of 60s jazz during the verse- and that's the kind of Jazz I actually *appreciate*. Greek Mythology! This song tells the story of Hermaphrodite- a young man who was lusted-after by a nymph called Naiad and who eventually became part of her in a fusing-of-the-genders miracle brought about by the gods. As a university student with Classical Studies as a major: I'm all for the story behind this song ("Hermaphrodite- son of gods!") Therefore, one of the first songs to get me into Prog has one of my favourite things written all over it- extremely exciting! Again- Genesis have put their theatrical talent into one of their songs and sung as different characters in a plot. Hermaphrodite: "Away from me cold-blooded woman, your lust is not mine." Naiad: "Nothing will cause us to part! Give me your guide.." (sorry if any of those lyrics were inaccurate- corrections are more than welcome) And Steve Hackett shows his gorgeousness at the transition from song to typical-progrock-dance-sequence. The whole songs slows down at "Both had given everything they had.." This is a classic. Admit it.

Remember- if you don't give music the chance to grow on you them you're not a very good listener of Progressive Rock. But this isn't the type of album that has to grow on you: this album BEGS you to listen! Apart from S.E.B.T.P,and possibly The Lamb Lies down on Broadway, no other Genesis album has quite matched this masterpiece.

Starette | 5/5 |

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