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




Symphonic Prog

4.65 | 4674 ratings

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5 stars This is the quintessentially English prog album, that has polarised prog fans. Many (including me) think that this, along with Close to the Edge, Fragile, Relayer, Court of the Crimson King and Lizard, represents the apex of progressive music. A significant minority can't see what all the fuss is about.

Maybe it's time to try to analyse what we mean by progressive music. Several tracks on this album are not "progressive" in the classic sense - they are not very long, or infused with unusual time signatures or chord changes. Most though do have superb individual instrumental solos, the obvious exception being "More Fool Me," a much maligned piece largely because it's sung by Phil Collins, who over a period of several years managed to turn Genesis into an AOR/soppy ballad band. Yet at this stage he was seen only as part of a supremely talented ensemble, and performed a sweet, gentle ballad, similar to several tracks on Foxtrot or Nursery Cryme. The track wouldn't set the world alight, but was pleasant and lyrical, just like many other earlier Genesis short pastoral pieces.

The obvious barnstorming tracks, Dancing With the Moonlight Knight, Firth of Fifth and the Cinema Show, fall more readily into the prog category - they have astonishing instrumental passages, switch keys and time signatures seamlessly, and tell fantasy sagas. But none of that would matter if behind it all wasn't a strong melody and a good story (Dream Theater et al take note! Great instrumentalists do not a great song make!).

Great music does not have to be complex, it simply has to reach out to the listener and evoke a powerful response. Genesis succeed in doing this on this and other albums; so does Sting with his song Fragile, or Natalie Imbruglia with Torn - or Karen Carpenter singing Goodbye to Love! Many prog fans do not like to admit that other music genres have any relevance - this is a form of snobbery that I was prone to myself until I realised that music in all its forms has skilled performers who can grab you and transport you to another world. (Well, I'm still struggling to find any worth in rap and hip-hop, but maybe that's just me...).

Selling England is diverse, never less than interesting, and lifts the spirit. That's all I would ask of any album, and This one does it more than almost any other album, so I have to give this a maximum rating. In another forum, I would give five stars for Fleetwood Mac's Rumours album, but that's another story... Just enjoy the music, and don't feel guilty if you like something whether it's mainstream or esoteric. Music appreciation is subjective. Whatever turns you on!

bruin69 | 5/5 |


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