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




Symphonic Prog

4.64 | 4296 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
5 stars Originally I was going to give this 4.5 stars, but finally I decided on 4.75 stars or somewhere in the neighborhood of that number. It's just too good to not give it an essential rating!

It begins without any music, with Gabriel's voice asking "Can you tell me where my country lies?" This album is the reply to that very question, and the reply (while musically mind-blowing) is not very encouraging. This album is really something of a concept album, but the songs are not linked together in traditional concept fashion. There is a repeated riff that can be found in "Dancing with the Moonlit Knight" and the last tracks, and it sort of draws the album together.

The first song is about the decay in England. It starts quietly, then slowly becomes louder before going into a faster section which is about as hard as I've ever heard GENESIS rock. The guitar/organ solo is very interesting, which is interrupted for more lyrics depicting England's sad state, and then fires back up. The lyrics offer the listener to "dance with the moonlit knight," or defy the trends which are destroying us.

"I Know What I Like" is a shorter, less serious song which is based on the album's cover, with the lawn mower and all the people rushing into the field. The song is sung from the point of view of a lawn mower, and the lyrics are fairly cryptic. A good shorter song which fits the album well.

Following is the longer "Firth of Fifth," a great piece which is mainly keyboards and a long soft guitar solo in the middle. It begins with a wonderful BANKS overture, using constantly shifting meters. Then it enters a sort of song section, then slows and builds as the rest of the band joins, creating a creamy mixture of sound which flows throughout the rest of the album.

"More Fool Me" is a ho-hum song which doesn't fit up to the rest of the album, but somehow keeps from dragging it down. It is a bit bluesy, but keeps with the general theme. The only song really worth skipping on the album.

Then we come to the longest (and one of the best) tracks, "The Battle of Epping Forest." It depicts a battle between two rival gangs over the boundaries of their territory, and is laced with commentary on the English way of life as described in the first song. It begins with a drum march mixed with keyboards, which fades out and the main theme springs in, along with the lyrics. The big gang battle is made out as a huge media event, with people having picnics and watching the battle while doing nothing to stop the carnage which ensues. Strangely, the song keeps an upbeat, lighthearted tone throughout, reflecting the lighthearted way the people watch the horrid fight. To them, it (like this song) is just entertainment.

When the battle begins, the song suddenly goes back in time to describe the adventures of the Reverend, whose involvement in the event is not apparent. He goes into a sort of strip club, I think, and initially refuses temptation, but I think gives in (Gabriel's writing is not the clearest). He then joins Little John in founding a business called "Love Peace & Truth, Incorporated" which may be part of a gang "business." I'm not very sure, however. Then the song goes back to the present, where the battle is being fought.

Who wins? Nobody. They're all dead. The entire thing was just a huge waste of life, which could have been stopped by the people who instead made it a public spectacle. Even after all this death, nobody can stand with it being a draw. So they flip a coin to decide the winner. They all died fighting when a simple coin flip could've prevented the whole thing! The message here is: War is pointless.

Following this wonderful song is the interlude "After the Ordeal." At this point, I really wish GENESIS had woven these songs together. It would fit perfectly! Anyway, "After the Ordeal" continues the creamy, sugary feel of the album and nicely bridges the two major pieces.

After this is "The Cinema Show," a more instrumental track. The lyrics it has are all at the beginning of the song, and they essentially compare a woman worried about cleanliness and appearance and a man trying to bed the woman. Very English sound here, but some excellent instrumentation. Some of the best by GENESIS ever. And still we find that buttery smooth feel.

After the repeating of the original riff from "Dancing with the Moonlit Knight", the final track "Aisle of Plenty" begins. A lady in a store is confused, and it reprises the first song in a shorter form. The social commentary here is fairly apparent. Then the original riff is repeated and faded out as salesmen tell about their products in monotone drones...

Overall, very good. As good or better than "Foxtrot". A nice album to start with if you want to start on with GENESIS.

It's scrambled eggs.

penguindf12 | 5/5 |


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