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




Symphonic Prog

4.64 | 4291 ratings

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5 stars Mythological English history is juxtaposed with elements of less Romantic aspects of modern living to make a masterpiece. Peter Gabriel is a genius of the lyrical aspect, and proves himself more than capable as a dramatic vocalist. This by no means makes it his album; each member of Genesis demonstrates themselves worthy of applause.

"Dancing with the Moonlit Knight" Gabriel's almost anthemic voice alone opens the first song. Pastoral guitars and soft keyboard accompany him. The lyrics are full of references to English culture (or lack thereof- referencing Wimpy's burger restaurants and Green Shield stamps). Steve Hackett's electric guitar solo, with his two-handed tapping, swelling, and strange way of playing make this one of the most unique guitar solos of that time. The Mellotorn choir underscoring the heaviest part of the song is at once haunting and awe-inspiring. After the final chorus, the music begins to fall away, become less and less extant until only a strange acoustic section backed by Mellotron ends the piece. All said, this may just be my favorite Genesis song, both for the musicianship poured into it as well as its charming lyrical wit.

"I Know What I Like (In Your Wardrobe)" One of the quirkiest songs Genesis ever did, the second song is full of catchy lyrics about a lawn mowing man who has no motivation in life to be anything "greater," as he is perfectly happy trimming grass. Mike Rutherford's crawling bass is the musical centerpiece of the chorus for me. Hackett's guitar effect sounds very close to a motorized lawnmower.

"Firth of Fifth" Tony Banks showcases his talent with the introduction to one of Gabriel-era Genesis's most beloved songs. It goes right perfectly into the verse, with Gabriel's voice at its most majestic, and subtle layers of instrument flowing underneath like a gentle river. Once again, my attention turns to Rutherford's interesting bass lines. Following a short piano interlude, Gabriel treats listeners to a tenderly dark flute bit. Things pick up with Banks's piano, and the introduction is back, only this time it's in full force with the whole band behind it, and Banks using his synthesizer lead for the main melody while Collins batters his snare. Hackett's solo is considered one of the greatest moments of the song, during which he recalls Gabriel's flute line, making the lengthier notes quiver. The way the music travels back to the verse is masterful and a clear indication of what Genesis was capable of compositionally. The fading piano makes for a beautiful ending.

"More Fool Me" Phil Collins sings lead vocals on this short song, which is easily the weakest song on the album. The chorus is catchy, but the verses send me to sleep and are somewhat hard to follow (strange, since it's more of a pop song). This song gives some indication of the simpler direction the band would take after Gabriel's departure (consider "Your Own Special Way"); had this song been excluded in favor of something more interesting, this masterpiece of an album would have been even stronger.

"The Battle of Epping Forest" An underrated song to be sure, "The Battle of Epping Forest" boasts some of Gabriel's wittiest lyrics ever, chock full of double entendre and clever voices. Not only that, but the bouncy instrumentation, compliments of Rutherford's bass and Banks's various keyboards, make this one of the most interesting pieces the band ever played. The acoustic-based section is loaded with cunning words and interesting exchanges.

"After the Ordeal" A Hackett-composed instrumental that for some reason irked Banks and Gabriel, I find this to be one of Genesis's best wordless pieces, if not the best. It blends beauty and sophistication together in a way lost on so many artists. It is certainly strange how this lovely piece of music could be the center of disagreement, particularly part of the reason Hackett would eventually leave Genesis.

"The Cinema Show" Laden with twelve-string guitars, the beginning of this song discusses the romantic involvement of Romeo and Juliet before getting to the more upbeat chorus, which speaks of Tiresias, a man who according to Greek mythology, spent seven years as a woman. The chorus is one of the best choruses ever written, with engaging lyrics and an unforgettable melody. A short flute solo over twelve-string guitar and mounting organ, followed by some vocalizations, bridge the two recitations of the chorus. The second section of the song is a second key place for Banks to showcase his musical talent in a 7/8 time signature. Collins's drumming is equally spectacular here. The denouement is beautiful, as it eases into a reprise of "Dancing with the Moonlit Knight."

"Aisle of Plenty" This is the full reprise of "Dancing with the Moonlit Knight" that brings the album back around perfectly, referencing several aspects of modern English living.

Epignosis | 5/5 |


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