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




Symphonic Prog

4.64 | 4293 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
2 stars Quite possibly the most overrated album in progressive rock

Selling England by the Pound is usually regarded as the best Genesis album, both from the band's Peter Gabriel phase (or the progressive phase, as some say), as well as the latter incarnations of this famous English band. Some even consider it to be the best progressive rock album ever. Indeed, to some degree, it is hard to disagree: this was the Genesis best selling album prior to Trick of the Tail and it has great songs, such as Dancing with the Moonlit Knight, Firth to Fifth and Cinema Show. However, this album do have some songs that are simply sub-par , when compared to the rest of the band's progressive output, such as I Know What I Like (In Your Wardrobe), More Fool me and The Battle of Epping Forest and, for that, I do not think this is the best Genesis.

As I said, this album have both incrdibly beautiful songs as well as others that are quite weak. For that, I believe that the album is considerably uneven and unbalanced, because those weak songs completely break its flow, disturb the song to song musical progression.

Take the first two songs as an example: after the extraordinary, dramatic and powerful opening song, Dancing With the Moonlit Knight, the famous ballad I Know What I Like (In Your Wardrobe) breaks that flow considerably. the songs have completely different emotional tones to them and, to make it worse, they aren't even that much different, so it is not possible to defend this change even for the sake of contrast!

The same thing happens with the two following songs, Firth to Fifth and More Fool Me, but this time it is even worse, because in the first case (Moonlit Knight and I Know What I Like), at least the second song has an artistic outlook to it; instead, More Fool Me is a straight pop tune without any relation whatsoever to the rest of Selling England. In fact, the closet relation this song will have with any other Genesis album will be with Duke, more than half a decade later.

Fortunately, the second part Selling England by the Pound (side 2 on the vynil) actually goes in a crescent, differently from the album's first part. Starting with the seemly endless tune The Battle of Epping Forrest, the album manages to get better and better with each passing song. The mentioned track (Battle) has a decent opening part, but slowly descends into senseless notes being played in melodies that don't make sense in the big picture: one has little relation with the other and they are way too elongated. So, maybe if this song was to be trimmed down a couple or maybe even four minutes, I believe it would sound much better. Don't get me wrong here, this song isn't very good and reducing its length would make it sound better, but it does not mean that Battle would become an actual great song just for making it shorter.

After that point, the songs keep growing and growing in quality. Starting with the simple yet beautiful After the Ordeal, which presents us an interesting duet between the guitar and piano. The whole thing eventually amounts to the second to last song, Cinema Show, which manages to take the album back to the level of excellence it was in the opening track. Nevertheless, I don't believe this song alone could make up for almost half an hour of underwhelming (or dispensable, in the case of Aisle of Plenty) music.

The highlights go to Dancing With the Moonlit Knight, Firth to Fifth and Cinema Show.

Rating and Final Thoughts

Despite having some strong points, Selling England by the Pound cannot escape the facts that it is an uneven album with many songs that are less than exciting. I am also quite sure that ir is not the best album released byGenesis. In fact, I think that progressive rock fans value Selling England by the Pound much more than what it is actually worth.

EDIT 1: After listening to the album again and again recently, I have come to the conclusion that I have been somewhat generous in my review of Selling England. The lack of direction on the opening tune and the stark decrease on the quality of the songs in between the highlighted tracks have made me come to the conclusion that the appropriate rating for this album is three, not four stars. EDIT 2: After some more careful examination wile re-writing my review, I've decided that even the 3 stars rating was too much for this album. Its fundamental flaws in song placement as well as having downright bad songs made me reconsider my rating, downgrading it for 2 stars.

CCVP | 2/5 |


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