Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Progged up, sold out

I’ve always been down on Genesis for a number of reasons, mainly because punk taught me to hate them and their ilk and, of course, because Phil Collins was in them.

Such was the ascendancy of Collins’ Genesis that I barely associated Peter Gabriel with the group, apart from occasionally seeing a picture of him dressed up as a giant flower or an old man and wondering what it was all about. Of late, however, I have come to reassess the group and, more importantly, to really enjoy some of their early, Gabriel fronted LP’s.

‘Selling England By The Pound’ was Genesis’ fifth studio album, and their first non-live recording to sell in significant numbers. It’s a curious, reflective work of intermittent brilliance. Made in a time of inflation, energy crisis and unrest home and abroad, the loose theme of the album is the loss of olde England to the consumer age, the slow, deadly encroachment of fast food joints and supermarkets and Green Shield Stamps on our green and pleasant land. It’s terribly English and, in places, terribly good.

The opening track 'Dancing With the Moonlit Knight' sounds like it may be some awful Dungeons & Dragons type whimsy but is, in fact, a master class in intelligent, rock that keeps you interested for nearly eight minutes by running the gamut from an acapella introduction to the full on and faintly ridiculous prog blitzkrieg of the synth driven middle eight.

Like all good records released in 1973, the last song on the album is a reprise of the first: ‘Aisle Of Plenty’ is short, sweet and full of tortuous puns, but I like it, so I’ve included it here as a natural coda to '...Knight'.

Gabriel would only make one more album with the group (the sprawling ‘Lamb Lies Down On Broadway’) before embarking on a series of interesting, oblique solo LP’s and a period of mega-stardom. Genesis went on to do that song about it being no fun to be an illegal alien and Phil Collins divorced his wife by fax, the twat.


rabbitkrishna said...

What about Phil Collins work with Brian Eno? I can remember how stunned I was when I found out it was Phil that worked on all those early Eno albums.

Glimmung said...

Great post. All true.

Rabbit is also right in pointing out Collins' excellent work as a session drummer. Perhaps, like Darth Vader, there was once some good in the man we now despise?

Brit_it said...

mmm..have a similar starting situation vis à vis genesis although have a spot spot for 1980's Duke where prog went pop for a bit. Note te self: check out "Selling England.."

Unmann-Wittering said...

I think Collins is an excellent drummer and vocal harmoniser, I just don't like his face, politics or any music he made where he took the lead role.

I think his main problem is that he was everywhere for such a long time that people like me grew to despise him where we may have previously just mistrusted and disliked him.

Reimer said...

I think his main problem is that he was everywhere for such a long time that people like me grew to despise him where we may have previously just mistrusted and disliked him."

I like the post-Gabriel Genesis rather a lot but have to agree that his ubiquitousness from the mid-80s to the early 90s or so didn't show him in a flattering light.

Glimmung said...

Flying from the British Live Aid concert to the American one, he was literally everywhere.

The bitterness with which he complained about Gabriel getting all the attention shows he clearly never understood the role of drummer is to sit at the back and keep your gob shut.

rabbitkrishna said...

Phil used to make cameo appearances on Miami Vice, I think there was one episode where he was shot in a coke deal that went bad.