|12-13-2013, 12:31 PM||#1 (permalink)|
Join Date: Feb 2013
Location: Back in Portland, OR
Genesis - Selling England By The Pound (written by Doug Boucher in 2004)
I wanted to share this. In 2004 I asked Dougie to write liner notes for this great Genesis album, I was making my own vinyl to CD transfer and I wanted Dougie to pen the liner notes. What he sent back had me belly-laughing, he just gets more and more pissed off about this once great band turning into cheeze-whiz soft-rock pseudo-prog mush
(I added a few YouTube vids)
Appearing in 1973, one of the most exciting years in rock history,
Selling England By The Pound remains one of the true classics in
the Genesis catalog, furthering their skills as writers, players, and arrangers.
While not containing anything as overtly ambitious as the side-long
masterpiece Supper's Ready (from the previous year's Foxtrot) SEBTP can only
be seen as a step forward, and their growth in the 4 years since their first album
is nothing short of remarkable.
Several classics are here. "Dancing With The Moonlit Knight" opens the
album with only the sound of Peter Gabriel's voice, then moving through
the strong melodies and excellent band interplay that would characterize the whole album.
"I Know What I Like" is this album's idea of a pop single, and it's an
excellent one, full of the humour, quirkiness, and invention that this
band's 80s lineup would have done well to remember when creating their
"Firth Of Fifth" is possibly the finest nine and a half minutes Genesis
ever laid down onto tape. This stunningly well-conceived and performed
composition contains strong moments from each member, but most obviously
in Tony Banks gorgeous piano intro (full of harmonic twists and shifting time
signatures) and in Steve Hackett's beautiful guitar solo, which proves that flash
and chops are hardly necessary when one has a perfect melody and a fabulous
tone to deliver it with. This song joins the others to make the album Hackett's
finest moment with the band, and his melodic character, his killer tone, and his
taste with both the simplest parts and his unique approach to pre-Van Halen
two-handed playing make it essential for fans of progressive-rock guitar.
Oh yeah, the rhythm section rocks like a mofo too.
Speaking of Mike Rutherford and Phil Collins, they wrote the next song,
"More Fool Me". This is Collins' lead vocal moment on the album, and while
hardly anything special, it's certainly far more listenable than his current
soporific dentist-chair-inspired Disney-soundtrack horseshit.
"The Battle Of Epping Forest" could only have been written by this band
in 1973. It's a bizarre trip through a busy, constantly shifting arrangement,
excellent playing all around, and even more bizarre Gabriel-penned lyrics.
There's nothing quite like it in the entire Genesis catalog. Written off by some
fans as being overly clever, there are more ideas in these 12 minutes than in
the whole of Invisible Touch - album, b-sides, and godawful wretched remixes all.
"After The Ordeal" was apparently an ordeal for Tony Banks, who says it's
his least favorite thing the band did. Apparently he never bothered to
listen back to anything he recorded after 1981, but to be fair to the poor
guy (who only wants to be able to sell more than five copies of his solo albums,
after all) it's hardly the most satisfying thing ever. Banks seems to play as if
he's trying to keep himself awake. (Insert "We Can't Dance"/"Calling All Stations"
joke here.) This is primarily Hackett's piece, and while he would have been better
off using his time planning on how to be heard on more than 17% of their following
album, at least the melody his guitar sings on the second half of the piece is rather pretty.
Finally, we come to a fabulous creation that even gives Firth Of Fifth
some competition, in "The Cinema Show". Even at over 11 minutes, this
seems the be a very model of compositional economy. Rutherford puts
down his bass (which he does some really cool shit on
earlier in the album, by the way, go back and listen if you don't believe me)
and pulls out his 12-string acoustic. The future cheese mechanic from Surrey
(with two frogs, one called Carrack, the other one not) has yet to lose his
mind and go "doink doink doink" on an electric guitar for a whole album. No,
Mike still knew a thing or two about acoustic texture and how to write songs
that don't make you want to go dig up your dead parents and scream at them
for fucking up your life so much during "the living years." ("If you two hadn't FUCKED,
maybe I wouldn't have been stuck down here with these goddamn Mechanics albums!
AH! AHH! AAAAHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!")
Anyway, dig the 12-string. The opening section is a beautiful, delicate
construction with tasteful accompaniment to Gabriel's tale of two
lovers boinking during a film (or something like that) and builds up to a
lovely Hackett lead before the rest of the band say "Bye! Tony's running
shop now! Try not to bother us too much during the writing sessions for
our next few albums!" and leave The Acolyte behind for a killer workout in
7/8, full of Collins' skittering drums (let it not be said that Collins was anything
but one of the most exciting drummers around before his hair went on
permanent holiday along with any trace of his dignity) Rutherford's lightning
rhythms, and Banks...oh, that Banks. He gets his licks in too, but mostly this
is all about melody, composition, and personality. This isn't a synth solo, it's
a way of life. If you want to cry a little, go cue up a copy of, say, "We Can't
Dance". Then, after you've drank a lot of caffeine to keep yourself from falling
out the window (or jumping, for that matter) come back and listen to "The
Cinema Show". Makes ya want to go hunt down three annoyingly over-polite
Englishmen and play football with their empty heads, don't it?
"Cinema Show" fades into "Aisle Of Plenty", an odd little coda that is
something of an anti-climax, but does serve to leave the album on a
quiet note. After fifty-four minutes of some of Genesis' finest-ever work,
and only a few brief dull moments, that's not a bad thing.
They would go on to create one of the strangest and most fascinating
rock theater moments around, lose their striking and oddly charismatic
singer, replace him with the drummer, record a couple more strong albums,
lose a guitarist they seemed to have forgotten all about anyway, and then
slowly slide into Hell. But if there's a Hell, there must be a Heaven, and if
God ain't playing Selling England By The Pound on a regular basis, I'll go eat
fish and chips with Lucifer, thank you very much. I hear he's hiring extra hands
to help beat the fuck out of Collins for the rest of eternity when he arrives.
Join us, won't you?
Gentle Giant Catalog Review
The entire Ditty Bops catalog reviewed
Last edited by Paul Smeenus; 12-13-2013 at 12:57 PM.