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
by Reviewer: Marco Marco