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

SELLING ENGLAND BY THE POUND

Genesis

 

Symphonic Prog

4.64 | 4419 ratings

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bluetailfly
5 stars It's sort of difficult to review this album because to me most of these songs I've heard for years and I consider them prog music classics: "Dancing with the Moonlit Night," "I Know What I like," "Fifth of Firth," "The Cinema Show." And to anyone reading this review who is unfamiliar with these songs, I recommend purchasing this album and spending a lot of time with it. For those who appreciate the guitar, Steve Hackett's contributions are some of prog rock's finest moments-his solo in "F of F" is one of the most sublime moments in modern music history. But what's really noteworthy about this album is that it's the collective contribution of all band members that creates this masterpiece--the sound of the entire band as each contribution intertwine to create that perfectly distilled, distinctive Genesis sound. There is no other band that sounds like this: it's pure top-of-their-form Genesis. In my opinion, it never got any better than this, much as I like some of the band's later albums. "Lamb Lies Down" was of course recorded with the same line up, and while I see it as a masterpiece of sorts as well, the album is too dominated by Gabriel's narrative concept to be seen as balanced group effort, much as "The Wall" is much too dominated by Waters to be judged a truly Pink Floyd album (though really what post-Barrett PF wasn't).

And the difference between "Lamb" and "Selling" is that, on "Selling," the band is allowed the freedom to develop extended instrumental passages that build-out and complete the song ideas and vocal ideas of Gabriel and the other members. And while the band's been doing this since "Trespass," they really achieve an ease and precision on "Selling" that is truly amazing.

After many listenings, the one song that seems to sort of confounds me each time is "The Battle of Epping Forest." Unlike the rest of the songs on the album, this song somehow fails to groove itself into my musical memory. It's too much a narrative and too little a compelling piece of music. In contrast, "The Cinema Show," which is of comparable length, succeeds both lyrically and musically and never fails to satisfy the listener. Maybe it's because I just can't relate to the comical story of this English gangland struggle for power. It seems a rather too contrived to me, much like an extended version of "Maxwell's Silver Hammer" or something; too sing-songy. The other members do their best to flesh out this Gabriel conceit, and there are excellent instrumental passages, but they don't add up to anything more than the sum of their parts. The song fails to achieve the blinding critical mass that almost every other song on this album does.

But, hey, it's the blinding critical mass that really matters to me.

Five stars.

bluetailfly | 5/5 |

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