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.