Selling England by the Pound by Genesis

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Selling England by the Pound by Genesis
Selling England by the Pound by Genesis

Album Released: 1973

Selling England by the Pound ::: Artwork
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Cole Reviews  24th Apr 2017
The first half of Selling England by the Pound is as good as either side of Foxtrot, if not better. The only drawback is a bit of filler called "After the Ordeal".


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1.Dancing With The Moonlit Knight8:02
2.I Know What I Like (In Your Wardrobe)4:03
3.Firth Of Fifth9:36
4.More Fool Me3:10
5.The Battle Of Epping Forest11:43
6.After The Ordeal4:07
7.The Cinema Show11:06
8.Aisle Of Plenty1:34

Reviews

Sometimes I see Foxtrot cited as the pinnacle of Genesis' achievements during their prestigious 'classic period', but to me the album that represents the best possible realisation of the band's artistic visions during their time as an Art / Prog Rock group is its successor: Selling England by the Pound.

To my mind (and the minds of many others as well), this is the one that stands out as having the smallest proportion of 'monochromatic' elements and filler material in comparison to the others - Foxtrot especially sags a bit under the weight of its slightly murky production values, and some of it sounds a bit made up on-the-fly really.

This album meanwhile has always stuck with me more, for its far more comfy sonic balance all the way through the majority of its rather large 54-minute running length - its material consistently converging the best elements of Foxtrot (which were most evident in the much-revered side-length megasuite "Supper's Ready") with colourful and innovative-as-ever arrangements and production aspects, and the songs undoubtedly make very good usage of the durations given to each of them ...

... save for perhaps "Dancing with the Moonlit Knight", which has an 'unfinished' sort of feel in that it starts drawing to a close way too early right after it reaches its peak. That's a bit strange to say considering its 8-minute length, but then again its last two minutes are occupied entirely by a quiet repeated coda which I feel drags on for longer than it should have. Nevertheless, when this dramatically structured number reaches its peak, it gets REALLY good - and serves as an excellent demonstration of tight chemistry between keyboardist Tony Banks and guitarist Steve Hackett ... the latter's guitar tapping techniques during the instrumental segments are especially quite inventive and exciting for their time.

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by Reviewer: Ryan Alexander


If this isn't the greatest prog album of all time, then I don't know what is. I must have heard it well over a hundred times, and it continues to fascinate me. No other record in my collection or out of my collection (that I know of) contains such a rich variety of arresting textures, hooky melodies, and pure emotion.

I even get excited listening to the first two seconds of the opening “Dancing With the Moonlit Knight”. That's not because I'm particularly thrilled by Peter Gabriel singing a Medieval folk ballad acappella, but because I'm anticipating the journey that it's about to take me on. That song is a perfect example of how majestically Gabriel-era Genesis were able to interweave a variety of constantly evolving textures and emotions. If I were to play snippets of it in random places, they would seem like they came from completely different songs, but as I'm actually listening to it from beginning to end, everything fits together flawlessly.

Genesis were not only on top of their game as songwriters, but also as instrumentalists. For proof of that, look no further than “Firth of Fifth”. There, Peter Gabriel delivers a rather uneasy, somewhat paranoid flute solo, Tony Banks dazzles with a few chord-heavy keyboard solos, and Steve Hackett plays a guitar solo that sounds bigger than the universe. Not only do each of those solos have a distinct personality, but they're just as melodic and memorable as Peter Gabriel's vocal melodies, as memorable and melodic as Genesis ever was.

Not all these epic prog outings develop quite so wildly. The 11-minute “Cinema Show” starts as one of the sweetest gentlest folksongs I've ever heard, and then very gradually turns into something more dramatic and thunderous. That's quite a song too, one of the warmest most nostalgic pieces of music I've ever heard. I can imagine Peter Gabriel singing its fairy tale lyrics to his children by the fireside on a snowy day. Of course he ends up alarming the children with its rather tense and scary ending, but that's just like any other fairytale we were told as kids.

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by Reviewer: Don Ignacio (blogging at Don Ignacio's Album Reviews)


While I still favour A Trick of the Tail as my favourite Genesis album, Selling England by the Pound (a title supposedly referencing the growing Americanisation of Great Britain - ah boys, if only you knew how much worse it was going to get...) does give it a run for its money.

The grandeur of the opening "Dancing With the Moonlit Knight" sets the scene, before the rather surprisingly straightforward "I Know What I Like (In Your Wardrobe)", which - unsurprisingly - was released as a single.

Then there's "Firth of Fifth", which captivates me straight away with its opening piano runs, and keeps me enthralled thanks to a rivetting guitar solo (bearing in mind, I rarely get taken in by guitar solos), before things get a bit static with the Phil Collins-sung "More Fool Me". It's an alright song, but almost seems to not really be there.

Then there's the epic almost 12-minute "The Battle of Epping Forrest". Based on a news story of two rival gangs fighting over East End protection rights (according to the liner notes), it's a song that just captivates me throughout, with so many interesting melodies and instrumental indulgences, it never gets old.

So much so, that the following instrumental "After the Ordeal" tends to lose me a bit - it's a bit of a comedown. And so I have to struggle to get back into the album, which I'm able to do thanks to the quality of "The Cinema Show", especially Tony Banks' divine keyboard work. And that just leaves the brief and unmemorable coda, "Aisle of Plenty".

Selling England by the Pound is not a perfect album by any means, but the highlights are so good they raise it above virtually anything else Genesis has done, and that includes the previous Foxtrot, which I find to be somewhat over-rated and too dominated by Peter Gabriel. Here, Genesis sound more like an actual band, and that helps the record immensely.

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by Reviewer: The Doctor


There are only two kinds of pop music I enjoy - music with soul, or music as art. And it's the albums where the two merge, such as Quadrophenia and The Dark Side of the Moon, that I become truly excited and fall in love with an album.

What constitutes Art Rock is pretty easy to define: challenging lyrics, experimental song structures, long instrumental passages, varied instrumentation; pretty much anything that departs from traditional rock and roll.

'Soul' in music is harder to define. For me, soul is about the artist truly believing in the music they're making. It's a totally personal thing. The Temptations for example may've been a fabricated act, but when I hear "My Girl" my heart drops. They may be faking it, but they sure as hell sound like they mean it.

Genesis on the other hand, make no attempt to sound real. The band had no political message (except maybe that medieval England was better than modern England) and rarely wrote love songs. Gabriel's lyrics, as poetic as they are, mean nothing in the real world. And whilst the band's songs may be complicated and their musicianship brilliant (especially Collins on drums), emotionally they sound like nothing more than well-played sheet music.

Even so, most of Selling England by the Pound is quite listenable and impressive. The album's track sequencing is such that every prog/rock excourse is followed by a shorter, simpler, more radio-friendly tune.

The opening two tracks are the best. "Dancing With the Moonlit Knight" has the best Genesis melody of all, and some decent poetry from the band's crazy frontman too. The instrumental section is not overly impressive though - in fact, I'm not terribly impressed with any Genesis instrumental passage I've heard - I prefer it when they stick to more accessible stuff, like "I Know What I Like (In Your Wardrobe)" - a minor hit back in 1973.

The rest of the album basically follows the same pattern as those first two tracks - prog / pop / prog / pop. And while it sounds great at first, it does get monotonous, due to the dreadful instrumental passages - not poorly performed or anything, just uninteresting. And when it comes to evoking emotions in the listener, Selling England by the Pound fails miserably.

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by Reviewer: Marco Marco