Genesis – Selling England By The Pound (1973) – Review

By Cal Meacham

3 Essential: Genesis Pt. 2

The 2nd in the trilogy of essential Genesis albums, Selling England By The Pound is a logical continuation of the strong song writing of Foxtrot.  A year of touring didn’t tire the band into a disappointing follow up, instead the creative energy was flowing.

Another amazing opener and the theatrics reach new levels as does Steve Hackett’s guitar prowess.  Opener Dancing With The Moonlit Knight showcases Hackett’s exploration into alternative guitar playing techniques including several two-handed tapping moments.  The brilliant part about his playing is that it never serves as a show off piece, but rather as a way to expand the sound of his instrument.  Peter Gabriel is up to his typical art-house delivery giving the song a grandiose feel.  You can just imagine the curtains being drawn back and the lights darting across the stage as they break into the musical interlude midway through the song.

The short “pop” songs (I put pop in quotations because it’s early prog Genesis) could easily stand on their own on which shows the great balance of the band.  Being able to inject their distinct prog rock style into concise, often slower songs.  More Fool Me as an acoustic tune fit for a Fleetwood Mac album and is a nice midway point on the record.  I Know What I Like previews what Peter Gabriel’s early career would sound like with a bass heavy melody and an abundance of percussive overdubs.

I would be remiss if I went without talking about the almost 12 minute The Battle of Epping Forest, which is the song that first pulled me in to this album.  It could be said that this is the most “Yes” that the band has ever sounded but with Peter leading the charge instead of Jon Anderson.  The musical turn it takes on synth at the 4 minute mark takes the drive down and turns the riff into a playful moment allowing you to focus on the narrative.  Peter jumps to multiple voices, playing several parts in his own story about rival gangs and a turf war.  The song might be too much for some as it dances all over the place with tempo and time signature, but it is a great musical theater.

Once again the album is split 50/50 with long players of 8+ minutes and “radio length” songs.  A distinct play of several ideas with peaks and valleys (or rests if you want to call them that) that reaches for the sky in grand fashion and touches it with its finger tips.  It never quite matches the best moments of Foxtrot but finds a balance for all the creativity pouring out of the band which would carry them into their double disc masterpiece.

Score – 8.0/10

Read Part One here – Link

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3 thoughts on “Genesis – Selling England By The Pound (1973) – Review

  1. Very nicely done. I think at points sometimes it’s best for a band to keep working while that creative mojo is flowing, because sometimes if the band goes on hiatus it’s difficult for them to return to that type of magic for sure.

    And as for the two hand tapping techniques, you’re right about that as well as there are all sorts of examples of someone showing off by doing that. However, when I think of “Showing off” Genesis is not one of the first things that comes to mind.

    Meehan

  2. Pingback: Genesis – Foxtrot (1972) – Review | First Order Historians

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