Monday, June 04, 2007

280. Genesis - Selling England By The Pound (1973)

Track Listing

1. Dancing with the Moonlit Knight
2. I Know What I Like (In Your Wardrobe)
3. Firth of Fifth
4. More Fool Me
5. Battle of Epping Forest
6. After the Ordeal
7. Cinema Show
8. Aisle of Plenty


Here we are with the first Genesis album on the list, fortunately you will be spared any Phil Collins era Genesis, and I must admit that I quite love Peter Gabriel's Genesis. It's prog but it doesn't take itself too seriously and is able to ally quite interesting lyrics to some amazing music.

There is only one song I am not a particular fan of in this album and that is Battle of Epping Forest, mostly because Gabriel's antics trying to mimic regional accents are quite pitiful. Other than that I love all of it, even More Fool Me which has been graced with Collins' vocals, his first foray into singing, opening a Pandora's box of shit. Still you have to admire his drumming which is excellent throughout the album.

In the end Genesis comes across as actually more grown up Prog than that committed by fellow progsters like ELP or Yes, precisely because they are more easygoing about it instead of pretending to be the apex of musical endeavour, while actually being just as good technically as the above mentioned bands. Lyrically it is one of the best prog albums ever done, it marries the idea of England as a fairy tale land of knights and battles with the grim reality of what Britain is actually about. Tolkienesque it ain't, the Battle of Epping Forest with it's fairytaley title is about cutting people's faces with broken bottles and the first track is about urban decay even though it is called Dancing with the Moonlit Knight. So it is a smart album but not a pretentious one and that is something rare and worthy in prog. So get it from Amazon UK or US.

Track Highlights

1. Dancing with the Moonlit Knight
2. Cinema Show
3. Firth of Fifth
4. I Know What I Like (In Your Wardrobe)

Final Grade



From Wikipedia:

The musical performances are much more polished and tight than on the preceding LPs. Musical diversions are more often unified into the general song structure. In particular, Steve Hackett's guitar solos in "Firth of Fifth" show his unique voice on guitar at its best, while the song opens with a highly structured classically inspired piano-instrumental by Banks. As with previous efforts, unusual time signatures and shifts in key and pace continue as key structural devices, and while these formal aspects are no less present on this album, they often serve to support the general melodies of the songs, rather than dominate them. In fact, this album in general shows a focus on melody as the structural unifying force of the songs, as opposed to having the music centre around Gabriel's vocal and lyrical forays.

The album contains many pieces that would become central to Genesis' live act for years to come, particularly "Firth of Fifth" and "Cinema Show," both of which use short lyrical sketches to frame extended instrumental compositions. Along with "The Battle of Epping Forest," a song based upon a gangland brawl yet full of references to the squabbles for the English countryside of the far removed past, songs such as "Firth" and "The Cinema Show" make prominent use of synthesizers, introduced to the band's sound on this album. Compositionally, "The Cinema Show" provides the climax for the album's second side, starting off with Rutherford and Hackett's trademark intertwining acoustic guitars, providing the backdrop for mythological lyrics, and leading to a long-form synthesizer solo by Banks. This anthemic solo section would later form the melodic centrepiece of the extended instrumentals at the core of the band's 'Cage Medley' (a combination of song excerpts that Genesis would perform live years after it had stopped performing other songs from the 70's), demonstrating Banks' increasing role as one of the band's primary songwriters.

Dancing With The Moonlit Knight... Gabriel is dressed as Britannia:

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