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

SELLING ENGLAND BY THE POUND

Genesis

 

Symphonic Prog

4.62 | 2875 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Tombo2
5 stars It's Scrambled Eggs.

What? Uh, thanks fellas, but I've already had breakfast.

Wow. I've owned Selling England by the Pound for twelve years now, and I still love listening to it. I've probably listened to it a few hundred times. Maybe not as much as some people, but enough, that hopefully, I'm qualified to review it. I'll try, anyway.

Time is the true test of an album's merit. Anything that keeps you coming back after repeated listens, must be pretty good. Anything that keeps you wanting to hear it again and again, after a few hundred, must be exceptional. Selling England is exceptional.

The album grabs you right away. Peter Gabriel's acapella introduces "Dancing with the Moonlit Knight", a song that bounces from unsettling calm, to furious excitement, and back and forth again, until it turns into a pulsating ring, that eventually fades away. Then, the low-timbre drone of "I Know What I like (In Your Wardrobe)" enters. Gabriel fires some strange spoken-word vocals at us, and it suddenly transforms into a springy pop-inspired melody, with quirky vocal harmony from Gabriel and Phil Collins, before it's bookended with similar spoken-word vocals, and the same deep drone.

After a mesmerizing piano intro, the album's best track, "Firth of Fifth", announces itself. Voice, guitar, organ, and drums, all blast out at once. The bridge resurrects the swirling piano, which gradually develops into a powerful intensity. The whole thing culminates in a unique mix of joy and ferocity. "Firth of Fifth" is worth the purchase of this album, all by itself. But there's still so much more:

Collins takes the lead on "More Fool Me", but the song belongs to Mike Rutherford's acoustic guitar. Mixing only guitar and vocals, it makes for a crucial break from the barrage of sounds Selling England has had so far. And not a moment too soon, as "The Battle of Epping Forest" rolls in, with the combination of marching drums and flute. Just as it fades, Collins' frantic hi-hat and snare attack, with an assault of beats. Still, Gabriel holds his own, with whimsical voices and bizarre lyrics. Introducing us, to the likes of; Bob the Nob, Mick the Prick, Jones the Jug, Sweetmeal Sam, and Liquid Len. After 12 minutes, the constant battery could be enough to knock you out. Fortunately, a melancholy instrumental, "After the Ordeal" enters, in perfect contrast to "Epping Forest". Sounding like something from one of Steve Hackett's solo endeavors, the song acts as the perfect transition from one epic to another.

One of the smartest tracks on Selling England, "The Cinema Show" weaves around in every direction. Even at this point, the album never stops moving. After a lengthy instrumental passage, led by Tony Banks' synth, "Cinema Show" transforms into "Aisle of Plenty", a short piece, which reprises the opening theme from "Dancing with the Moonlit Knight". Despite the common melody, however, the overlapping sounds that conclude the album, couldn't seem further from the lone voice that introduced it.

Selling England by the Pound is exceptional. In fact, there is nothing I've ever heard, that quite compares. Emotionally intense, brilliantly constructed, continuously engaging, and most of all enduring, Genesis has created a true masterpiece.

You want my opinion? Have the scrambled Eggs.

Tombo2 | 5/5 |

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