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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Genesis

Selling England By The Pound

Review by Greg Olma

This record from 1973 is the predecessor to the behemoth The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway.  Even though the latter is always regarded as the pinnacle of the Gabriel-era, I was always partial to Selling England By The Pound.  I do like The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway but felt that it was less of a Genesis album and more of a Peter Gabriel project.   This release, although it contains longer tunes, didn’t have that over-blown feel that the next release possessed.  To show the importance of this LP, two of the standout epic tracks “Firth Of Fifth” and “The Cinema Show” were concert staples long after Gabriel left the band.  For you slightly younger fans who discovered prog in the 80s, grab a listen to Selling England By The Pound and see where Marillion got the sound for their earlier releases.  The Phil Collins fronted albums always overshadow the Gabriel-era product but I feel this release still holds up after 37 years.


This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2010  Volume 3 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Dancing With The Moonlit Knight

The song starts with Gabriel singing accapella but quickly works itself into a great prog tune.  There is some great guitar work courtesy of Steve Hackett.  At the time it was probably common for prog bands to open a record with an eight minute tune but based on the opening, I could not picture this song being placed in any other part for the record. 

I Know What I Like (In Your Wardrobe)

Gabriel starts off this tune also with some talking but before we know it, we are knee deep in a bouncy prog cut that ultimately became the single for the record.  Oddly enough, even though this is the hit, it is my least favorite on the album.  There is almost a silliness about it.

Firth Of Fifth

Tony Banks starts off this concert favorite.  He tickles the ivories for a little over a minute before the rest of the band make their presence felt.  Hackett puts in another great solo on this tune that has a sound that is just recognizably his.  The track ends as it started with Banks’ piano fading out.  If you are looking for one of the quintessential prog-era Genesis cuts, then this would fill the bill.

More Fool Me

Phil Collins takes over lead vocals for this ballad.  It is very un-prog due to being only acoustic guitar and vocals but somehow in the context of the record it works.  I had not known Collins sang lead vocals on any of the Gabriel –era records until I rediscovered this gem.

The Battle Of Epping Forest

A fife and drum intro is a little out of place because the rest of the song is pure prog magic from Genesis.  The song is a story about rival gangs fighting a turf war and with any story, sometimes it gets in the way of the music.  I can see how this was a precursor for the next release.

After The Ordeal

 Here is an instrumental that features mainly Hackett and Banks.  It is a classical piece in the beginning but gets a little electric for the second half.  Electric guitar and drums are added but do not really show a sharp contrast between the two halves.

The Cinema Show

This is how 70s prog was done.  This epic tune had it all.  Different parts, time signatures, and members got to really show their stuff.  The beginning starts off with Hackett and Gabriel but as it progresses, the rest of the band comes in.  There is a flute solo a quarter of the way into the track.  After that, it is pure prog heaven.  After listening to this again, I now know why this was in the set list for many, many years. 

Aisle Of Plenty
This track is basically a reprise of the opening tune “Dancing With The Moonlit Knight”.  It bookends this Genesis prog gem nicely.
 
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